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China Unblocks Wikipedia 213

ZZeta writes "Even though the information on the site is still scarce, Editor & Publisher is already publishing the scoop: Apparently, Wikipedia has been unblocked in China. From the article: 'Wikipedia reported on its site that it had received word from multiple users in the country on Chinese-forums.com that the site had been restored.'"
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China Unblocks Wikipedia

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  • Woohoo! (Score:2, Funny)

    by east coast ( 590680 )
    I'm off to edit the "gang of four" article with some "facts". Let's see how fast they can censor it again.
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

      by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:33PM (#16402883)
      What do they have against design patterns? Oh ... never mind.
    • Re:Woohoo! (Score:5, Funny)

      by lawpoop ( 604919 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:37PM (#16403443) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, you versus 1.2 billion party loyalists. Good luck.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:31PM (#16402865)
    China's internet tube to Wikipedia was clogged up under North Korea. Their recent nuclear test loosened up the clog, and now people in China can use the tube again.
  • Probably last until people in China start reading how their central government was made a fool by North Korea. Can't have that.

  • by Sir Homer ( 549339 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:32PM (#16402879)
    Quick, before they block it again!
  • Interesting times (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:36PM (#16402913)
    But I wonder if people in China who choose to visit certain articles might get tagged and investigated (like people in the United States do under the Patriot Act for checking out certain books from the library).
    • by njchick ( 611256 )
      For the users who are registered on Wikipedia, their account name is used instead of the IP address. This may be harder to track down, since it would require snooping the http traffic to find the IP address for the given username. And then there is plausible deniability by claiming that someone else guessed the password. This works best if the password is simple.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        The GP mentioned users who *visted* the Wikipedia, not edited, but editing might be more incriminating as well as easier to track. Tracking down the IP address would be the easiest way to do such snooping automagically, but there are probably clues to be gleaned from the information the contributor adds to the 'pedia themselves...

        A thought occurs - the Wikipedia is a fairly well known site, like CNN, New York Times, etc. Unlike many blocked and well known news and politics sites, the content is created by t
    • by TheModelEskimo ( 968202 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:03PM (#16403627)
      might get tagged and investigated (like people in the United States do under the Patriot Act for checking out certain books from the library).
      Interesting, can you share your source for that? I've heard of the government requesting library cooperation in certain cases when they want to know about a specific person, but I've never heard anyone say there is general monitoring going on. I wonder how many libraries would cooperate with that, and given the completely heterogeneous ecosystem of library computer installations, I wonder if it would even be *possible*.
    • like people in the United States do under the Patriot Act for checking out certain books from the library

      Right. I'll worry about that right after my library figures out how to actually keep track of the books I have out.

      Do you have any idea of the amount of resources it would take to create an interconnected system capable of tracking what books people have out? It would be ridiculous. Given previous government efforts on things of that scale (a few of which I've worked on), I suspect it would probably cost
      • There's no giant interconnected database, but the Feds don't need a subpoena or warrant anymore. That was one of the main provisions in the USA-PATRIOT act.

        My library deliberately destroys all its records (at least, it says it does) after a few days, to protect its patrons' privacy. That isn't illegal yet.
  • Did they really? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:40PM (#16402937) Homepage
    Censorship works best when people don't realize they are being restricted. So how do we know they are viewing the real wikipedia and not a government controlled and filtered proxy? Considering all the sites and people out there pointing to wikipedia, it's only logical to put up something to keep people from asking questions and trying to see what they are missing.
    • Re:Did they really? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Kleinigkeit ( 903166 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:44PM (#16402981)
      Yup, especially as the majority of links are to en.wikipedia.org, zh.wikipedia.org is still blocked. I just had a friend in China hit the main page of both wikis and only en. was available. Now to get her to run a search on 'Tibet'...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by nihaopaul ( 782885 )
        i'm on both and i'm in shanghai, this is awsome news for us, i get alot of information from wikipedia via tor and we all know how slow tor can be, zh.wikipedia.org is also unblocked. the site is being filtered, but atleast i can still access other information.
      • by 2Bits ( 167227 )
        zh.wikipedia.org is accessible from here, in Shanghai, just did that for a check.

    • by slashbob22 ( 918040 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:44PM (#16402985)
      Ahh.. Truthiness [wikipedia.org]. You rear your ugly head again.

      Did you know that the population of African Elephants has tripled in the past four months?
    • by Quadraginta ( 902985 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:49PM (#16403041)
      Censorship works best when people don't realize they are being restricted.

      A common trope. But actually censorship works best when people do it to themselves, for the most noble motives, because it furthers some grand and wonderful higher purpose.
  • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @08:58PM (#16403131)
    We have our kent state, lynchings, etc. in the US.

    Perhaps they can start talking about tienamen square maturely instead of pretending it didn't happen.

    • by Cheapy ( 809643 )
      When we went over Kent State in high school, my (conservative) teacher tried to show that it really was the protester's fault for being shot.

      I am dead serious. (pun not intended)
    • Perhaps they can start talking about tienamen square maturely instead of pretending it didn't happen.
      *snort* Good luck on that one. I still have yet to hear a mature discussion outside of university walls on the internment of Americans during WWII: "Them Japs got whut came to them, I tell ya'!" 60 years and Americans are still saying it was OK and necessary.
      • Any discussion inside university walls is probably pretty tainted by hard left / "America is uniquely bad in the entire world" type attitudes.

        The situation was complex as this wiki excerpt indicates:
        The most widely reported examples of espionage and treason are the Tachibana spy ring and the "Niihau incident." The Tachibana spy ring was a group of Japanese nationals who were arrested shortly before the Pearl Harbor attack and were deported.[citation needed] The "Niihau incident" occurred just after the Pear
      • by jc42 ( 318812 )
        > Perhaps they can start talking about tienamen square maturely instead of pretending it didn't happen.

        *snort* Good luck on that one. I still have yet to hear a mature discussion outside of university walls on the internment of Americans during WWII: ...


        I have, but I'd agree that it's not a common topic of conversation. I even grew up in the Seattle area, with a lot of friends of Asian background, and I remember a number of calm discussions of the shameful event. Most of the people that I knew, both of
  • Pragmatism (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ghyd ( 981064 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:02PM (#16403177)
    Sounds like economic pragmatism. Without being perfect, wiki is a major knowledge (and therefore wealth) database.
  • Wasn't the Great Wall of China always been open to tourists? Or has the Chinese government been brain washing people to stand in front of fake pictures of the Great Wall for all these years? Inquiring minds want to know...
  • Some quick testing.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jarl1976 ( 1000672 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:23PM (#16403345)
    A quick test of certain articles indicates the government has moved to more fine grained blocking. The page of some events 17 years ago did not load, but trying to load it did not temporarily block the ip(which is what happens if it just stalls on banned words). So I guess they have decided that cencoring all of wikipedia is overkill..
  • by perfectlynormalbeast ( 221743 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:24PM (#16403351)
    From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tienamen_square [wikipedia.org]

    The protests of 1989 resulted in the killing of Chinese protestors in the streets to the west of the square and adjacent areas. Some sources (Graham Earnshaw and Columbia Journal Review) claim that none died on the square itself. However, Chinese expatriates who left the country after the killings said that the numbers ended up being in the thousands. This was a combination of the hundreds killed on the spot and the "miniature" purge that followed.

    But http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_prot ests_of_1989 [wikipedia.org] is blocked

    Interesting... More than I expected to be avaliable...
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:26PM (#16403369) Homepage
    Did the Chinese government just realize they can hire a million-strong standing army of Wikipedia editors? Why censor when you can edit to taste?
  • by edwardpickman ( 965122 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:31PM (#16403405)
    Not sure about a few entries. Did Chairman Mao really start off as a showgirl in the Peking Opera and is Japan really twice the size of China?
  • What Language? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jack Action ( 761544 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:31PM (#16403407)
    Do Chinese users have a Chinese language Wikipedia, or do they use the English one?
  • by Datamonstar ( 845886 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @09:33PM (#16403421)
    Obligatory... especially in Soviet China where Wikipedia unblocks you.
  • Maybe they finally realized that in China, you can get to Wikipedia (and any other site) through one of many proxies [proxy.org]?
  • I can't imagine the Chinese even remotely allowing it's citizens to view articles about the Dalai Lama for example, or anything that seems pro-Taiwan.
  • English, Tiananmen Square http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_square/ [wikipedia.org] (Wikipedia.org) Chineese,http://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E5%A4%A9%E5 %AE%89%E9%97%A8%E5%B9%BF%E5%9C%BA [wikipedia.org] (zh.Wikipedia.org ) Scroll down to events or where it would be (navigate by pictures, its the one by the flag) on the chinese site, the chinese site is missing a link to this page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiananmen_Square_prot ests_of_1989/ [wikipedia.org] (wikipedia.org) among others and i dought that they will ever take a hose to their firewall.
  • by Eye-of-Modok ( 991809 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:08PM (#16403657) Homepage Journal
    I've been in China for 3 and a half years now and this is good news indeed, but there is still a long way to go. Considering how many times Google has been blocked and unblocked since I've been here, I wouldn't be surprised to find Wikipedia blocked again soon. I still have to play the proxy server game to surf a lot of the sites I want to see, and they have gotten very good at outsmarting proxy servers for certain content they absolutely don't want people to see. Maybe someone can enlighten me how they would be able to block a site even if it's going through an anonymous proxy server in, say Korea. I'm sure they have the brightest of the brightest hard at work on it. Of course, no proxy server ever works for more than a few days before it gets added to the "list". In fact, I'm probably on more than a few lists, myself. Lists only matter if they need evidence for something, and as I'm not inciting anything, I'm not particularly worried. I count my blessings that I have as much freedom to do what I want here as I do. In fact, I feel far more free to express myself here than I did back in the States, with its citizen watchdogs doing their best at every turn to censor me.
  • by fuzheado ( 733418 ) on Wednesday October 11, 2006 @10:50PM (#16403953) Homepage
    Since I'm writing a book about Wikipedia and live in China, here's what I posted to my blog [andrewlih.com]

    The good news: The Wikipedia block in China is partially lifted

    The bad news: The Chinese version is still not generally accessible, and the Western media reporting has been poor

    Editor & Publisher magazine put out an article October 11 saying:

    "The online interactive reference site Wikipedia announced Tuesday that the site had apparently been made accessible in China, after being blocked for just over a year by the country's government. "
    Well not quite correct. Reports started coming in on October 10 from different parts of the PRC, saying that the English Wikipedia was now accessible. A friend using an open Wifi in Beijing emailed me saying he could suddenly start using Wikipedia again. Some folks in Hubei said it was still blocked. Shanghai and Guangdong users said parts were accessible.

    From a Beijing China Netcom's residential DSL connection, the English language and other foreign language versions are now accessible, but the Chinese version is still blocked (zh.wikipedia.org).

    There is no monolithically run Great Firewall of China, even though it is a cute and useful moniker.

    The "GFW system" depends on a distributed system of checks and filters that depends on the particular ISP, the type of connection being used, and the geographic locale. A commercial connection in Hubei is different than a residential DSL in Guangdong is different than an academic network in Shantou. Something blocked in one area of the country may be totally fine in another. A keyword that is filtered in one place could be allowed in another.

    So for folks in China's tech circles, it's pretty frustrating seeing blanket "China blocks" or "China unblocks" declaration without specifics or accurate reports.

    Filtering also happens on different levels between the domestic network and the greater Internet, so even though Wikipedia is generally accessible in English, it's still subject to:

    • URL-level filtering - host header or keyword in URL rejected
    • Text-stream level filtering - offending keyword in Web page
    More info as it arrives, and the "unblock" may still be making its way around the country. But let's not forget that for now the most important part of Wikipedia for PRC users - the Chinese version - is still not generally accessible.
  • I just had a chat with a friend in China, and she wasn't able to get to the WP article on the 1989 Tienanmen Square massacre.

    -jcr

Disclaimer: "These opinions are my own, though for a small fee they be yours too." -- Dave Haynie

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