I’m sorry, Andreas, but I cannot in good conscience support your stance calling 
for the closure of Wikipedia Zero, coming from a country that has so far 
benefited from the program not only in terms of the number of new readers that 
we have, but also potentially pave the way for more users as well.

While I understand the risks of the program in countries like Kazakhstan, you 
cannot possibly think that every country where Wikipedia Zero has been deployed 
would go so far as to actively manipulate information to keep readers ignorant. 
 The Philippines prides itself for a strong culture of freedom of speech and we 
have Wikipedia Zero.  I don’t see the Philippine government actively dictating 
the course of the projects’ evolution, so it isn’t fair that we would have to 
suffer from any loss of Wikipedia Zero because of what a totalitarian regime 
can do, when you don’t even materially benefit from the program’s existence.

I’ve become extremely annoyed at the insistence of Wikipedians in developed 
countries that Wikipedia Zero poses no net benefit to the movement, when in 
fact in developing countries it not only has helped bring greater awareness of 
Wikipedia, but also provides a conduit for passive readers to become 
Wikipedians as well.  Having seen this first-hand (Wikipedia mobile pageviews 
in the Philippines jumped, based on what I’ve been told, after Wikipedia Zero 
was rolled out), it is not fair that you’re asking the developing world to 
sacrifice bringing knowledge to people simply because you Wikipedians in the 
United States, Western Europe or wherever have the luxury to actually dictate 
the finer points of net neutrality on your own terms.  We don’t have that 
luxury when we have to pay sky-high data usage charges (and, in the 
Philippines’ case, sky-high data usage charges with onerous data caps!).

I am all for freedom of speech.  I have always advocated for freedom of speech, 
and will continue to fight for it.  But if your problem with Wikipedia Zero is 
that content could be warped to fit a certain state’s agenda, then the problem 
is not on your reader, but on us as a community.  We HAVE to make more users to 
prevent this from happening, and you don’t do that when you shut out a 
potential base of new users because we think that Wikipedia Zero serves to keep 
people ignorant rather than challenges them to think.  I think people, no 
matter where in the world they’re from, are smarter than that.

Seriously, I’m sick and tired of hearing people in the developed world tell us 
in the developing world that Wikipedia Zero brings no net benefit to us.  
Remember that Wikipedia Zero is a platform for distributing content—it doesn’t 
generate content on its own.  If you have problems with the program, then the 
onus is on us as a community to fix it, since all I’ve been hearing from 
detractors of the program is that we’re filtering out content.  Then why don’t 
we try harder to make our content even more inclusive, huh?

*rant over*



> Wiadomość napisana przez Andreas Kolbe <jayen...@gmail.com> w dniu 31 mar 
> 2015, o godz. 02:37:
> The recent Newsweek story on the Wifione / IIPM admin corruption case[1]
> has clear implications for Wikipedia Zero.
> Wikipedia Zero creates hundreds of millions of passive Wikipedia users who:
> - Cannot see the sources of a Wikipedia article (I believe SMS users cannot
> even see which statements *are* sourced and to what)
> - Cannot view alternative sources
> - Cannot meaningfully edit Wikipedia (lacking access to new sources)
> At the same time, Wikipedia Zero creates a monopoly position for Wikipedia
> that makes the site an even greater target for manipulation by local
> elites, who *do* enjoy full read/write access to Wikipedia. Such monopolies
> are fundamentally incompatible with the values underlying the idea of a
> free and open web. Monopolies ultimately result in *control* rather than
> *freedom* of information.
> The Wifione case illustrates that even in the English Wikipedia attempts at
> manipulation, focused on topics that the average Wikipedia contributor has
> little interest in or knowledge about, can be successful and remain
> undetected for years. Small, regional-language Wikipedias are far more
> unstable still, as the example of the Croatian Wikipedia demonstrated all
> too clearly.
> Wikipedia is far too vulnerable to become the gatekeeper for information in
> developing countries -- if such a gatekeeper were even desirable (which it
> is not).
> To give another example, I see that Wikipedia Zero is available in
> Kazakhstan.
> Jimmy Wales recently asserted on Reddit that the Kazakh government "does
> not control the Kazahk *[sic]* Wikipedia".[2]
> The Kazakh government, however, seems to disagree with Jimmy Wales.[3]
> The Kazakh Prime Minister's official website has stated since 2011 that the
> Kazakh Wikipedia project "is implemented under the auspices of the
> Government of Kazakhstan and with the support of Prime Minister Karim
> Massimov", quoting the head of WikiBilim and 2011 Wikipedian of the Year,
> who today holds the office of a Deputy Governor in the Kazakh government[4]
> and is the Founding Director of a Brussels-based think tank, the "Eurasian
> Council on Foreign Affairs", which is widely considered a PR front of the
> Kazakh government.[5][6][7]
> Is aiding the market dominance and penetration of such a source through
> Wikipedia Zero in line with movement values? Is the type of collaboration
> described on Wikimedia's Outreach page for Kazakhstan?[8] I don't think so.
> I thought we were on the side of those fighting for freedom of speech, not
> the side of those suppressing it.
> It's a concrete example of Wikipedia Zero aiding an oppressive government
> in the control of information -- not at some point in the future, but today.
> For a thoughtful examination of the issues surrounding Wikipedia Zero, I'd
> ask everyone to take 5 minutes of their time to listen to the presentation
> Thomas Lohninger gave at the Chaos Communication Congress in December 2014,
> "Net Neutrality: Days of Future Past?"[9] Time code 37:00 onward.
> I would be glad to see the Wikimedia Foundation rejoin the ranks of those
> fighting for freedom of speech, and a free and open web for all.
> [1]
> http://www.newsweek.com/2015/04/03/manipulating-wikipedia-promote-bogus-business-school-316133.html
> [2] https://archive.today/nyt1z – for the entire discussion three, see
> https://archive.today/V1uG4
> [3] https://archive.today/7kSLO
> [4] http://www.inform.kz/eng/article/2730173
> [5]
> http://www.silkroadreporters.com/2015/02/20/jack-straw-slammed-taking-job-kazakhstan/
> [6]
> http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/jack-straw-criticised-for-accepting-parttime-job-paid-for-by-kazakhstan-10057426.html
> [7] http://www.equaltimes.org/pr-firms-at-the-service-of-human
> [8] https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Education/Countries/Kazakhstan
> https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/Talk:Education/Countries/Kazakhstan
> [9]
> http://media.ccc.de/browse/congress/2014/31c3_-_6170_-_en_-_saal_g_-_201412282145_-_net_neutrality_days_of_future_past_-_rejo_zenger_-_thomas_lohninger.html
> On Sat, Mar 28, 2015 at 12:15 AM, Jens Best <best.j...@gmail.com> wrote:
>> Well,
>> first of all, welcome Kourosh.
>> I'm looking forward to see how the reality of this exciting job description
>> gonna look like. For me this also sounds like a clear move to a more
>> politically positioned understanding of this aspect of the growing
>> importance of the Wikimedia-Movment globally. "Advancement Department"
>> sounds pretty neutral, but certainly it isn't at all.
>> When it comes to "collaboration with like-minded organizations" decisions
>> surely are also carried by a stronger public postioning of the values of
>> the movement. Some of the decisions in the past, especially when it comes
>> to collaborations with commercial internet players maybe need to be openly
>> and transparently re-evaluated.
>> If Kourosh is settled in I would like to see a global, transparent and open
>> discussion about our program "Wikipedia Zero" which is under global critic
>> by OpenWeb-NGOs and other worried members of the civil society in the US,
>> in the "Global South" and in Europe.
>> Wikipedia Zero which for me is a straight marketing element of some clever
>> telecoms to sell their mobile products in developing markets and therefore
>> infusing an user-experience of data-specific payment habits, needs to be
>> re-evaluated with a professional look that includes awareness of what
>> implications strategic partnerships can have on our core values.
>> The well-meant intentions which carried the Wikipedia Zero programme inside
>> WMF to the point where it is now maybe were a little starry-eyed. Let's not
>> forget that a zero-rated Wikipedia which can't connect to the linked
>> knowledge of the world is just a *Walled Wikipedia *and therefore a
>> questionable  contribution to our core belief of giving free knowledge to
>> the people - by the people.
>> The intensity with which the global fight about net neutrality is lead
>> because of the commercial interests of the telecoms surely doesn't stop at
>> the markets of the Global South - therefore Wikimedia movement has to make
>> perfectly clear which line is walked on this central matter of a free and
>> open internet.
>> You see, Kourosh, the challenges are big and I'm looking forward to have an
>> experienced person overlooking the future developments in this field.
>> best regards and a good start
>> Jens Best
>> 2015-03-27 21:13 GMT+01:00 Lila Tretikov <l...@wikimedia.org>:
>>> Dear Wikimedians,
>>> In order to encourage the expansion of knowledge, we’ve been considering
>>> new ways to support and develop the work you do. Collaboration is an
>>> essential part of the Wikimedia movement, and today, I’m excited to let
>> you
>>> know about a new addition at the Wikimedia Foundation that will support
>> our
>>> collaboration with like-minded organizations.
>>> For some time now, we’ve planned to hire a Vice President of Strategic
>>> Partnerships. Today, I am pleased to announce that Kourosh Karimkhany
>> will
>>> step into this role on March 30, 2015.
>>> Kourosh will be responsible for crafting a strategy to grow long-term
>> value
>>> for Wikimedia projects through building meaningful partnerships,
>> projects,
>>> and relationships on behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation. He will become
>>> part of the C-level team and will report to Lisa Gruwell. Kourosh will
>> also
>>> oversee Wikipedia Zero, which will transition to the partnerships team.
>>> The Wikimedia community has many fruitful and creative partnerships that
>>> help support knowledge creation and sharing around the world. The
>>> partnerships Kourosh will support will will help us better support these
>>> partnerships and your work, as well as grow strategic initiatives we take
>>> on at the WMF.
>>> Kourosh was born in Iran and moved to the U.S. as a child with his
>> family.
>>> Today, he is an experienced digital media professional with a passion for
>>> sharing information with the world. He started his career as a technology
>>> journalist covering Silicon Valley for Bloomberg, Reuters and Wired. He
>>> switched to the business side of media when he joined Yahoo as senior
>>> producer of Yahoo News. Later, he led corporate development at Conde Nast
>>> where he spearheaded the acquisition of Wired.com, Ars Technica and
>> Reddit.
>>> He also cofounded Food Republic in 2009, which was acquired in 2013. He's
>>> an active angel investor and startup advisor.
>>> In light of the expanded scope of the Fundraising team and the revamped
>>> partnerships team, we’re changing the team's name to better reflect their
>>> mission. The new name is the Advancement Department.  To learn more about
>>> the new role, visit the FAQ here:
>>> https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WMF_Partnerships_FAQ
>>> Please join me in welcoming Kourosh as the newest member of the WMF
>>> leadership team. We have many exciting projects in 2015 and I’m looking
>>> forward to all the great things we will accomplish as we work together to
>>> support our mission.
>>> ~~~~Lila
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Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Class of 2013, Ateneo de Manila University
Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines

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