Basically there are three issues being discussed: censorship, cut down
wikipedia for schools, and an offline wikipedia.

The schools issue is also confused. What is its purpose? Are we talking
censoring images? Protecting children from dangerous information? Legal
concerns? or are we trying to create textbooks? Use more appropriate
(simpler) language? Create an offline Wikipedia? Filter content for children
who are not old enough to tell nonsense from fact? Pick the best revision of
an article for children? I don't see (which is) the purpose.

But here's my two cents on these issues all the same:

1) We should be working with schools and concerned parents on these issues.
We're not exactly being preemptive with schools anyway: Schools have been
using Wikipedia for years, often having specific policies relating to its
use in assignments. So before we do anything, we should be talking with
schools. Do schools even have an issue with explicit images on Wikipedia?
This thread was started by ISPs in England censoring Wikipedia -- not
schools. Would hiding images be enough, or do they want entire articles
censored? Are they happy enough censoring it themselves, or do they want
more precise filters (e.g. removing/hiding images).

2) a schools wikipedia should not simply be a "whitelist" of "good pages" --
there are 2.5 million articles and we're not going to classify each one. For
one it's far easier to blacklist, and then you're just censoring.

3) But if you want to pretend that a cutdown wikipedia is different to a
censored Wikipedia .. A cutdown pedia needs a specific curriculum. I believe
schools-wikipedia is based on some UK curriculum. If we make one for
Australian schools (which I do not personally think is a great idea) it
needs to be based on topics from Australian cirricula (and every state has
its own). Probably should be based on an age group (because I really don't
think year 12's need a special cutdown 'pedia) It also needs to be based on
demand from schools, parents and students (see #1), which I'm not aware of.
Also, it seems to be a massive waste of effort, as it's just going to be a
poorer version of the full Wikipedia. What is the specific need we're
addressing? (see questions at top) If there's content school kids shouldn't
be allowed to see, then we need to work with schools. If there's a need for
offline viewing, then there's probably a better way than putting HTML on a

4) a CD/DVD/USB stick offline version of Wikipedia fails in a number of
fundamental ways. Apart from being inherently incomplete, uneditable and
immediately out of date, the only real purpose is to make Wikipedia
available where there isn't internet access. This is an odd way of making
the internet available where there isn't internet. In my opinion, lobbying
governments to give schools internet access would be more effective than
trying to tackle the impossible task of turning a massive, dynamic,
interactive website (Wikipedia) into a DVD. (What came of the German DVD
anyway? Honest question, not retorical)

I'm writing another message on how I think an offline WIkipedia could
possibly work, in a general way, if there are keen developers and/or
resources to get it done.

Basically, what is the driving force for a Schools Wikipedia Australia, and
who needs it?

Peter Halasz
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