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Wikipedia Explodes In China 151

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the people-like-to-post dept.
eldavojohn writes "The Chinese have recently been allowed to enjoy the Chinese version of Wikipedia now that the ban has been lifted. And the result is an explosion in use after being banned for a year. From the article, 'Activity on nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation's Chinese Wikipedia site has skyrocketed since its release, which Internet users in China first started reporting on Nov. 10. Since then, the number of new users registering to contribute to the site has exceeded 1,200 a day, up from an average of 300 to 400 prior to the unblocking. The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before, with the total now surpassing 100,000, according to the foundation.' No one's sure how long this will be available to the People's Republic of China but hopefully the government will recognize that at least a significant part of the populace enjoys a Wikipedia community."
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Wikipedia Explodes In China

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  • If the Chinese government doesn't see the threat that Wikipedia poses, I can only assume they already have filters in place to block objectional content.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      And if the filters don't do the trick, rifles.
    • by RailGunner (554645) * on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:56AM (#16852882) Journal
      I'd be interested in what the Chinese wikipedia article says (if anything) about the Student Massacre at Tienanmen Square...
      For example, would they use the PRC Body count (23) or the Student Association's and the Chinese Red Cross body count? (2000 - 3000, as many as 10,000 injured).
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        It's right here: Original Page [wikipedia.org] Google translation. [64.233.179.104]

        As noted at the top though, People behind the Great Firewall may not be able to access it.
      • by Sinbios (852437) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:21PM (#16853328) Homepage
        Actually, the page is locked due to vandalizing and a dispute notice is put up, just like any other controversial article. And just like other articles, the article itself [wikipedia.org] is pretty objective. As for the death toll specifically, the article says that the number of deaths is disputed; it cites one of the protesters Chai Ling [wikipedia.org] as saying in a recording: "Some say there are about 200 dead, but some claim there are more than 4000. I am not sure of the exact numbers, either." Again, just like any "free" wiki article - explains the controversy and cites an objective source instead of making groundless assertions.

        So yeah, I really wish people would stop making snide remarks as if the Chinese wiki is the government's parade ground, without even taking a look at it. Controversial topics aren't really censored, and it operates pretty much like the rest of Wikipedia when it comes to these topics. You have to remember that in the end, it's still managed by Wikipedia moderators, who ideally will try their utmost to ensure that articles are accurate and objective.

      • For example, would they use the PRC Body count (23) or the Student Association's and the Chinese Red Cross body count? (2000 - 3000, as many as 10,000 injured).

        It'd go something like this...

        - Original article would cite the 2000-3000 number.
        - Another visitor would edit this to say 23.
        - Authors would re-edit back to 2000-3000.
        - Another edit changes it back to 23.
        - Irate users re-edit again back to 2000-3000.
        - Talk page would get filled up with debate over the issue. Number would be tagged with "citation nee

      • by davidsyes (765062) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @04:01PM (#16857612) Homepage Journal
        There are at least TWO ASIAN, non-Communist, democratic, friends-of-the-US countries that had student dissident uprisings after 1960, and their death counts were HIGHER than at Tienanmen Square. Yet we rarely get ANY press or writing about this. Always Mainland China the evil, oppressive, censoring one. Whipping boy for politicians and cozy buddy for on-the-cheap foreign manufacturers and foreign politicans and foreign tax collectors. I don't see why PRC/China hasn't decided to ease up just based on THIS.

        Oh, and yeh, there are a LOT of foreign nationals who work in China and vastly under-report their earnings. Effectively committing tax evasion, just like they would if they could back home. (Not sure about this part, but I also understand that the tank did NOT run down that man, but he was under the body cavity area, uncrushed. If THAT is true, then there are a lot of opportunistic and sensationalistic jerks in the media who need to be brought up/flogged...)

        I wonder if China's Wikipedia site will report about the foreigners there who are exploiting the system.
        • Your first assignment is to name these two countries and provide sources for your assertion. Your second assignment is to explain whether this excuses the PLA's actions, and why.
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by davidsyes (765062)
            Jesus H. Christ, man! Korea and Taiwan. In BOTH cases the USA/CIA IMPLICITLY gave the local forces permission to (or looked the other way when approach for input) use their MILITARY units against students.

            It was a bloody, SAD even in the history of each, but relatively speaking Tienanmen, by many accounts, was NOT as bad as in South Korea and in Taiwan. These happenend. The western news likes to IGNORE IT. (Where are YOU from? There are any NUMBER of esteemed, unreproachable authors (not myself) and histori
            • That bit was a bit off topic, but if you and your assigning ME homework instead of just elucidating for the audience what I alluded would have helped.

              I honestly did not know what you were talking about. Being coy doesn't win you any points--being specific, and providing sources (even Wikipedia links) lends you at least enough credibility for the rest of us to know what you're talking about. In any case, you have completely failed to explain how this excuses the PLA's actions.

            • I'm not aware of the Taiwanese incident you mention, but for Korea are you talking about the Gwangju_Massacre [wikipedia.org]? I think different attitudes to this and the Tiananmen Square protests are mostly caused by the fact that South Korea has apologized for the Gwangju Massacre and president Chun Doo-hwan, who most consider responsible, was sentenced to death. (He wasn't actually executed though.)

              If China apologized to the students at Tiananmen Square and sentenced Li Peng (China's prime minister at the time) to dea
    • I'm not so sure about assuming the quality of Chinese censorship. If you're only watching mainstream news feeds, it looks like "another day, another protest" in China. In the Washington Post via MSNBC this morning, it's One-dog policy resisted in Beijing crackdown [msn.com] where in these near-daily articles, juicy quotes like this one are increasingly common, too:

      "More and more people own dogs. It is pointless to restrict dog-raising. The stricter the government is, the more people will love to own a dog," said Liu

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by LindseyJ (983603)
        Seems like a perfectly operational misdirection campaign to me. Why worry about people maybe getting sent to prison for saying something the government doesn't like when, look! we can all have as many puppies as we want now! The government can allow meaningless protests like this one to go on unopposed to take the spotlight off of other, more nefarious things they may be up to.
        • by Tanktalus (794810)
          +1, Cynical.
          -1, Conspiratol.
          +1, Probably right.

          Slashdot needs more moderation options.
          • Conspiratol, another product of I.G. Farben Pharmaceuticals. Possible side effects include nausea, sweating, paranoia, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, toothaches, and death by firing squad. Talk to your doctor today!

    • by jovius (974690)
      Another angle in censoring the sensitive political topics is that it leads to more concentrated efforts on culture, arts and sciences... which themselves are the creations of free societies. Criticism can be masked in articles seemengly not on sensitive topics - history provides great references and people are able to read between lines and think for themselves. The Chinese may well change the world we live in, not their government.
  • Ugh... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    ...just another of many good reasons to learn Chinese.

    Imagine.. a completely different culture that was hidden from us by democracy loving folks exploits itself in 100.000 articles/day...
    • If I need to learn Chinese, the site could at least help out a little with anti-aliased fonts ... yuck.
      • by jdgeorge (18767)
        If I need to learn Chinese, the site could at least help out a little with anti-aliased fonts ... yuck.

        The site looks great to me, anti-aliased fonts at all. You seem to be experiencing an issue with the fonts you have installed on your system, not the Chinese Wikipedia site.

        Good Luck!
  • But.... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by varmittang (849469) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:36AM (#16852558)
    How many of those people signing up are government agents there to just delete and change everything to what the government wants.
    • Re:But.... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ajs (35943) <ajs@aj s . com> on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:48AM (#16852766) Homepage Journal
      Well, they probably do, but the main benefit, I'm sure, is being able to track who contributes what. Don't just censor history, censor the historians... it's an old trick, but a damn effective one. :-/
    • How many of those people signing up are government agents there to just delete and change everything to what the government wants.

      Probably not as many as you would like. Whatever the number is, it will eventually be offset by "real" users.

      In these terms, it makes no difference whether they are "government" or not, they are the same as pranksters or Colbert acolytes who would fake information just for the hell of it

      • Oh, I daresay that fakery isn't limited to Colbert acolytes.
        Over the long term, wouldn't exposure to "incorrect thought" tend to trigger some questioning in the minds of censors?
        One hopes that this plays a tiny, yet helpful part in the demise of the authoritarian regime in the long term.
        How to get some unfiltered information into North Korea would be the next challenge.
        • by vmcto (833771) *
          Most useful way would be to put messages on food since a significant portion of the population lives on the threshold of survival.
        • by gravesb (967413)
          Not if the censors already know the truth and don't care because their job provides them with either power or money or both. Its not hard to find people who are easily corrupted, and is much safer than employing people who are dedicated to your cause because they don't know the real truth.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by owlnation (858981)
      That's a very good question. I suspect many contributors and editors will be Government agents.

      There lies the true danger and the power of wikipedia, and the reason why no-one must ever take wikipedia seriously. I think this can't be stressed enough - never ever trust wikipedia, nothing on wikipedia is necessarily true. That should be recited like a mantra. Wikipedia is fine as long as everyone always remembers that and doesn't try to elevate it to anything even approaching truth.

      I must say though t
      • by mspohr (589790)

        There lies the true danger and the power of wikipedia, and the reason why no-one must ever take wikipedia seriously. I think this can't be stressed enough - never ever trust wikipedia, nothing on wikipedia is necessarily true. That should be recited like a mantra. Wikipedia is fine as long as everyone always remembers that and doesn't try to elevate it to anything even approaching truth. I must say though that I think the last thing the Chinese need is yet another dubious source of information. They need o

    • The ancient computer master [rotten.com] whispered into his student's ear one night, over dinner [slashdot.org]:
      1. Filter them.
      2. Troll them.
      3. Jail them.
      4. ????
      5. Send me the Profit

      You are at step 2. Steps 3 and 5 are ongoing and it's not really funny when those in jail might be executed for their organs. [theepochtimes.com] Yes, Microsoft is still "committed" to business in China [bbc.co.uk].

      Trade with Communits Countries like China endorses crimes against humanity and makes the criminals stronger and richer.

      • by jb.hl.com (782137)
        Yes, Microsoft is still "committed" to business in China.

        Nasty and unethical, yes (and so is Google's commitment to business in China; let's not even mention the adoption of Linux in China, shall we? That would be the sort of dishonesty you would employ) but completely irrelevant to the subject at hand.
    • How many of those people signing up are government agents there to just delete and change everything to what the government wants.

      Well, seeing as how our own "freedom" loving governments are doing the exact same thing already, I would have to assume that the Chinese do it as well. And we've got people doing this sort of thing all over the web just to promote Ashley Simpson and the like, so you can be your bottom dollar that our own governments are just as bad.

  • by gEvil (beta) (945888) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:38AM (#16852610)
    I hope nobody was hurt...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by NinjaFarmer (833539)
      That title sounds like the climax of a bad erotic novel.
    • I hope nobody was hurt...

      No injuries were reported. Working together, the users were able to delete all the harmful parts of the explosion. Of course, there was a lot of debate first on whether or not to delete them, since some argued that both the harmful and non-harmful parts should be represented, but in the end the 'delete' votes outnumbered them.

      • by uwnav (1009705)
        there's something incredibly strange and symmetrical about your response. not in what you say... just .. visually. it's mind boggling really
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      All those fire drills [wikipedia.org] paid off.
  • What's it Like? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pantero Blanco (792776) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:40AM (#16852632)
    I can't read Chinese, so I really can't go check this myself. How accurate is the Chinese version of Wikipedia in respect to events and topics China's government sees as threatening? Do "Party-approved" versions of articles win edit wars over other ones?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by daranz (914716)
      I heard the benevolence of the Communist Party of China tripled in the last six months.
    • contrary to all the ill effects conspiracy and communistic type reasons some of you are citing. The fact remains information wants to be free and people the world over want access to it, to better their lives and to be connected to the global community.
      even if there are govermental red herrings in those articles, in a population of 1billion ppl the design of the WWW is on the side of the latter and i believe this chinese wikipedia will let the peoples voice be heard in a resounding way the chinese goverment
      • by kamapuaa (555446)
        I mostly think it's that censorship policies in China are arbitrary and change on a rapid basis. Recently blogspot has been flipping between working freely and needing a proxy, about every week or so. Recently flickr.com has been working fine (as it usually does), but uploading pictures will cause a 5-minute blockout of access to the site. This happens frequently, but usually flickr.com works normally after a few days.

        Half a year ago, Wikipedia was entirely uncensored. Then, the Chinese language versi

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by ComaVN (325750)
      This page [wikipedia.org] seems to be about the 1989 protests, and it contains the tank man picture (the one mysteriously absent from images.google.cn)

      It also seems to be protected because of vandalism...
    • by Sinbios (852437)
      A good example is the Tiananmen Square Massacre [wikipedia.org]. I'm not sure about the accuracy of facts (I Am Not A Historian... how accurate can you get on controversial topics, anyway?), but it cites multiple sources with several different opinions on topics like the death toll (it cites a pretty well-known protester claiming that various sources report the number of deaths as ranging from 200 to 4000, and also cites Beijing's mayor claiming there are only about 200 dead).
    • by 4v4l0n42 (897836)

      At least the article about the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 is present, including the picture of "the man with the bags" (the Tank Man/the Unknown Rebel)

      http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%85%AD%E5%9B%9B%E4 %BA%8B%E4%BB%B6 [wikipedia.org]
  • by aicrules (819392) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:44AM (#16852698)
    Other than a loose metaphor between the intellectual socialism of wikipedia and the communistic regime that is China, the government will only keep it available for as long as it takes for "unseemly" articles about government tyranny to make there way on to the site. Make no mistake, China's government is allowing this solely for its own benefit. Who knows what that benefit is, but when the potential costs begin to outweigh those benefits, suddenly participation will be down to zero.
    • by db32 (862117) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:01PM (#16852966) Journal
      If you were the "decider" and had a nasty problem of finding dissenters what would you do? Make it difficult to be a dissenter and rely on spying programs to try and root them out at great cost and effort? Or maybe make it easy, let them out themselves, build up a nice hefty database of potential leads, hunt them all down, expose them for the 'traitors' that they are and a threat to the good people,then destroy them to serve as a warning to any others.

      Not that I'm really saying that this is what they are doing. But it is certainly a valid possibility. So many decry this type of thing as paranoid and conspiracy, but the fact of the matter is people with power and control will do anything they can to remain in power and control. This has been proven countless times in human history. It really irritates me when people fail to admit that this type of thing could happen at home or abroad...America had to fight a war to remove ourselves from tyranny. Do people think that you really only have to do that once?
      • Or it is possible that it was becoming too hard for them to stop this information anyway.

        At least this way, they can make sure it is within a range close to reality (200 to 3000) vs wierd stuff (and they killed 30,000 students and tortured them to death!).

        It will be wierd from some tho- prior posts here indicate many chinese are not aware of their own recent history.
      • by timeOday (582209)

        So many decry this type of thing as paranoid and conspiracy, but the fact of the matter is people with power and control will do anything they can to remain in power and control.

        For that matter the same thing could happen without any foresight (aka conspiracy). Even if they have no current plans to round people up, who's to say unfolding events might not motivate them to do so in the future? I think this is why the NRA opposes gun registration in the US. I also think about this when I post to Usenet.

        • by db32 (862117)
          Exactly. Which is why all of these super spy laws coming are just a BAD thing period no questions asked no "protecting the citizens" crap. Because even assuming you DO trust the current administration with this power, you cannot trust all future administrations with it.
    • by jamar0303 (896820)
      And I'm guessing this is the same logic behind their rather lax enforcement of copyright infringement laws? I don't otherwise see why they would allow something that the whole world has complained to them about. Though, I don't see the potential costs of piracy ever outweighing the potential benefit because otherwise the adoption of technology in China will slow down greatly if people were forced to buy at retail (hardware prices are inflated in China- PS3s are going for US$1000+ in China, and the cheapest
    • The article said that the government might discover people enjoy having it. If they weren't already aware that people enjoyed it, they wouldn't have bothered to ban it to begin with. Why do you think there's no ban on smashing your thumb with a hammer?
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:49AM (#16852774) Homepage Journal
    Did you know that the number of Tiannenmen Squares has tripled in the past six months?
  • Uh huh... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:52AM (#16852828)
    "No one's sure how long this will be available to the People's Republic of China"

    Just as long as it takes to build a representative statistical sample pool of the individuals doing all the recent updates...once that's ready - OH! ...and the guys are done clubbing dogs. THEN we're gonna see some real head-banging :)
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:52AM (#16852838)
    1 Library of Congress == 6.19 * 10^17 fortune cookies
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by hellfire (86129)
      You realize fortune cookies are technically an american invention right?
  • Tienanmen Square (Score:3, Informative)

    by Darvin (878219) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:59AM (#16852924)
    Very interesting to see the Tienanmen Square wiki in Chinese. Already it has been locked down due to 'vandalism'

    Heh.

    See it zh.wikipedia.org/

  • Population Bomb (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @11:59AM (#16852932) Homepage Journal
    Activity on nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation's Chinese Wikipedia site has skyrocketed since its release


    How about donation activity? OK, it's only 5 days into the popularity explosion. But if Chinese support of the nonprofit doesn't also explode by, say, Feb 18, 2007 [wikipedia.org], then how will Wikipedia accommodate the huge demand increase that Chinese popularity represents?

    Will the "capitalists" now paying to operate Wikipedia have to give the "Communists" a free ride? Just how does Chinese Communism cooperate with global nonprofits when their government isn't managing the process?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by estarriol (864512)
      I see no evidence to suggest that the people of China will be unable to donate to Wikipedia for any reason. What makes you think that they won't? The concept of charitable donation was not created by, nor is owned by, Capitalism.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        To the contrary, I believe that communists are much more geared towards voluntarily donating to nonprofit community activities than are capitalists.

        I pointed out that population explosions aren't necessarily entirely good, when they don't support themselves, and pointed out the mechanism to watch for that support.

        I don't think they won't. I just want to know whether they will. What makes you think I don't?
    • "Activity on nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation's Chinese Wikipedia site has skyrocketed since its release, which Internet users in China first started reporting on Nov. 10. Since then, the number of new users registering to contribute to the site has exceeded 1,200 a day, up from an average of 300 to 400 prior to the unblocking. The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before, with the total now surpassing 100,000, according to the foundation."

      Actually, I think these are surpr

      • by Doc Ruby (173196)
        I think the "explosion" is in the article writers population: "The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before". 75% growth in a week is big. And 25K articles isn't such a small base. I expect that the new contributions are mostly from old contributors waiting for the ban to drop.

        China is so big, and so ready to consume such cheap/open services as Wikipedia, that "explosive" isn't going to describe real growth in that market.

        Again, I think the first 5 days after the ban is lif
  • by djupedal (584558) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:02PM (#16852978)
    The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before, with the total now surpassing 100,000

    You gotta love scale. Imagine what will happen once they get genuinely interested in the West and start checking out something more than just college entrance fees...

    Maybe this will finally get people outside China to start showing a bit of awareness when told they have no reliable/previous experience with the shear scale of things China brings to the table.

    Maybe, just maybe, a few outsiders will get a clue and stop thinking they can judge China according to how they go about their (statistical) lives every day. More than one business model is going out the window, I can promise that much :)
    • by hkBst (979461)
      That sentence you quote certainly is open to the interpretation of "having a total of more than 100,000 new articles a day", but that interpretation would be wrong.
  • by shirizaki (994008) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:03PM (#16852980)
    This article has been marked for deletion. Reason: "Doesn't exist".
  • hopefully the government will recognize that at least a significant part of the populace enjoys a Wikipedia community

    As if they care if anyone enjoys it.

    The real question is how long before they demand that they be the ones to control it, including full access to the user logs.

  • by fuzheado (733418) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:16PM (#16853216) Homepage
    Strangely, the WSJ article does not mention any links or references to where to find the raw data.

    It was based on charts and research I did from Beijing. [andrewlih.com]

    Cheers.

  • by retrosteve (77918) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @12:19PM (#16853282) Homepage Journal
    Sony has recalled all their batteries used in Wikipedias in China. Sony stock fell another 3.75 on the news.
  • I smell.. (Score:1, Troll)

    by SQLz (564901)
    I smell some re-education torture in the near future.
  • As to be expected, there isn't any critical information in the obvious searches (democracy, Tiananmen Square, PRC). I wonder if any of the edits will add this. I'm also curious of the Chinese authorities have secured a way of seeing all edits to the entire site from day to day, purging all the information that is damning to the government.

    Under "democracy", I wonder intrigued to see how China is described on the map [wikimedia.org] [from CIA world factbook originally] as "democratic, but does not allow for alter
  • Yes, 1200 new every day. That would perhaps be a significant part of the Lichtensteinian populace. What country are we talking about again?
  • See also the explanation I gave as to why Wikipedia was unblocked in China [andrewlih.com].

    The short version:

    November 9, 2006 saw the complete unblocking [andrewlih.com] of Wikipedia in China, resulting in a four-fold increase [andrewlih.com] in new user registrations. Though it is still subject to URL- and page-level keyword blocking, the vast majority of the site is freely accessible.

    Why was it unblocked? No one can know for sure. But in the end, I believe consensus among the Chinese authorities found the benefits of Wikipedia far outweigh the r

  • What's the point of allowing people outside China to access the Chinese wiki, but censoring the rest of Wikipedia? It still allows access to incoming information.
  • The number of new articles posted daily has increased 75% from the week before

    Um, it's not too hard to increase the article count that fast when the articles are just filled with nothing but question marks. Visit the site and see for yourself!

    Dan East

    (mtcf)
  • Here is the text of http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%85%AD%E5%9B%9B%E4 %BA%8B%E4%BB%B6 [wikipedia.org] above the Table of Contents translated by http://translate.google.com/translate_t [google.com] (white space reinsertion attempted):

    Due to the recent frequent sabotage half of this page has been protected, anonymous users or users can register new editor. And if that entries can be obtained for the revised use of the discussion page, or for the discharge of the protection. (Protection is not an authorized version of the current page.

  • Wikipedia Explodes in China. Oh, the humanity!
  • by teflaime (738532) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @01:45PM (#16854974)
    30 Million people dead! News at 11! :p
  • Something I didn't see at the top of every Chinese Wikipedia page:

    Your continued donations keep Wikipedia running!

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