On Wed, Sep 4, 2013 at 7:46 AM, Brion Vibber <bvib...@wikimedia.org> wrote:

> I would love to see Wikipedia content made available in China on Chinese
> infrastructure operated by a Chinese organization, with total ability to
> determine their own security and censorship policies.
> "But that's what Baidu did and we hate them!" you say?
> We could work *with* such an organization to coordinate, share content,
> etc, without compromising basic web security for our sites or giving up our
> liberal content policies on Wikipedia "proper".

I don't buy the argument. Last time I checked, Hudong (now just
"Baike") and Baidu Baike were the main wiki-like encyclopedias
operating out of and serving mainland China. Both use non-free
licensing terms, and both are subject to local censorship policies and
practices. That may include turning over contributors if they post
content that's deemed to be problematic by local authorities.

At least on the surface, the projects are successful, with millions of
articles and lots of traffic. I have no idea what the quality of the
content is, but looking at an article like DNA, I'm guessing it
provides useful value to its readers:


Where they are failing to do so, they can improve, if necessary by
copying Wikipedia content. But the one thing that they _cannot_
provide, and that a neutral encyclopedia _must_ provide, is precisely
information of the kind that the Chinese government would censor.
Neutral information about people, politics and history, irrespective
of whether that information afflicts a comfortable bureaucrat

I would posit a different argument. The problem of providing basic
information about any subject _is_ being solved for by local
information providers. China isn't some backwater waiting for us to
educate them about physics and disease control. The problem of
providing a neutral, uncensored encyclopedia in the Chinese language,
on the other hand, isn't being solved for by anyone but us. The answer
is not to water down our security or partner with local information
providers that allow censorship and are willing to turn over user
data. It's to find ways to get that information to people, including
the bits they'd rather have people not see.


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