Jens Best writes:

> First it's kind of interesting that net neutrality which is very clear in
> its definition becomes "overly simplistic and unrealistic" and "inadequate"
> the moment it collides with an organisations own interests. Isn't that
> quite an coincidence? ;)

Jens, rather than argue with you point by point, let me outline what
my own views are.

First, I'm a long-standing supporter of the Wikipedia mission to make
the world's information available for free to everyone. Second, I'm a
longstanding supporter of network neutrality. Third, I have no
organizational interest in favoring Wikipedia, although I consider
myself a Wikipedian.

I do not believe the Wikimedia mission--providing the world's
information to everyone for free--has any necessary connection to
network neutrality, even though I favor the latter very much. In
short, I'm entirely willing to modify my secondary goal (net
neutrality) if it advances my primary goal as a Wikipedian (free
knowledge for everyone). Conversely, I'm not willing to modify my
free-knowledge goal at all if it conflicts with an absolutist model of
network neutrality.

Here's what we know about internet access in the developing world
(which Wikipedia Zero is designed to serve): it relies primarily on
mobile platforms, and mobile smartphones typically are saddled with
data caps. Data caps discourage users from using Wikipedia as
extensively as we in the developed world use it. Furthermore, they
certainly discourage contributions from the developing world for the
same reason. Sidestepping those costs for would-be Wikipedians and
Wikipedia users is something very closely aligned with the
long-standing mission of the project.

Does this mean some platform providers will use Wikipedia Zero to
justify their own self-serving economic alliances? Of course it does.
But we don't have to let their propagandists define us. Instead, we
have to communicate why Wikipedia Zero is not like what commercial
interests are doing.

What's more--and this is central--Wikipedia Zero, by encouraging
higher usage of Wikipedia without additional costs to users, actually
increases demand on the mobile infrastructure. Providers will have to
increase capacity to handle the increased demand. In the long run,
this promotes overall increased internet access in the developing
world. That is an unalloyed positive result, in my view.

And the necessary build-out in capacity driven by Wikipedia Zero will
make network neutrality--which I care deeply about--a more tenable
policy in the developing world.

Trying to understand Wikipedia Zero as some kind of self-interested
organizational move is a mistake, in my view. What it is, IMHO, is a
logical development based on the core mission statement of Wikipedia.
And in the long term it's actually helpful to the advancement of
network neutrality without posing the anti-competitive risks that
other zero-rated services may pose.

--Mike Godwin

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