Jan 172012

I just wrote a comment, registering my objection to Wikipedia’s decision to protest a proposed US legislation with a total blackout of its English-language site.

In a letter titled “Summary and conclusion”, those behind this decision state that “over 1800 Wikipedians […] is by far the largest level of participation […], which illustrates the level of concern”. I was one of the 1800+. But, my concern was not about SOPA (I am concerned about it, but that’s another matter) but about the proposed radical action and its possible negative consequences for Wikipedia.

I also pointed out that given the way the vote was organized, it is clear that the decision was not a result of a majority (50%+) vote. It was merely the option (one out of many) picked by the most vocal minority. Taking such radical action without a clear majority mandate is a badly misguided step, to say the least.

There were also calls to make the blackout more thorough: block attempts to view cached versions of Wikipedia pages on Google, or attempts to bypass the JavaScript code that redirects the user to the blackout page. This is childish and vindictive, and also kind of pointless: the stated goal (raising awareness of the proposed legislation and its negative consequences) is easily accomplished without such thoroughness.

Lastly, I pointed out that with the legislation effectively dead (in the unlikely event that both houses of Congress pass the legislation, the White House all but promised a veto) proceeding with the blackout makes little sense. It is as if we threatened nuclear war, our opponent backed down, and then we went ahead and nuked the hell out of them anyway, just for good measure.

 Posted by at 10:02 am