lørdag 18. desember 2021

The war over Chinese Wikipedia is a warning for the open internet

This past July, before he was banned from Wikipedia, Techyan was one of dozens of volunteers preparing to speak at the free-knowledge movement’s annual conference, Wikimania. Born in China’s northeast, Techyan, as he’s known in the Wikipedia community, had been editing Chinese Wikipedia since his early teens. As one of its three dozen elected administrators, he hoped his presentation would put a more positive spin on what, lately, had become Wikipedia’s ugliest battlefield.

Rather than the edit wars and personal threats that had come to define some of its hot-button political topics like Hong Kong and Taiwan, Techyan planned to talk about how his three-year-old user group, the Wikipedians of Mainland China, or WMC, had thrived. It had done so in spite of government restrictions, and without official acknowledgment from the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that hosts the site in over 300 languages and hands out millions in grants.

Then in July, weeks before Wikimania, an email from the Foundation landed in his inbox: His presentation had been canceled. “Weeks later, I was banned,” he says.