The Wikipedia Blackout

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James L H
Posts: 68
Joined: Mon 18 May, 2009 18.52
Location: North East

As many of you may already know, today the English Wikipedia is down for a planned 'blackout' regarding the SOPA and PIPA planned legislation in the US. The main thing I am interested in is if people have been affected by the site not being there or if they simply go to another website to find the information. I mean don't get me wrong, its a great website with a vast amount of content that other sites cannot rival, but if it went would people simply make do and pop onto the next link on Google?

Also, if you still want to view pages on Wikipedia today simply search on Google, click on the page of your choice then before it finishes to load click the 'x' next to the address bar to stop the blackout message kicking in.
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lukey
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What it's made me realise is just how much inane shit I look up on an average day, and for that sort of high-level overview of stuff, no, I don't think anything could displace it. This morning, I've apparently tried to wiki the remit of the ASA, a list of X-Men episodes (lest we forget), NeXTSTEP, and to learn that Toni Collette was only 22 in Muriel's Wedding and even then wasn't ageing at all well. All information I could've scraped elsewhere, but I didn't.

The blackout doesn't have the same feel as say, a public sector strike, where generally the denial of a service is meant to engender a wave of sympathy among the people who use it, and make them reflect on the necessity of maintaining that for their lives (although, as I suggest, for Wikipedia it kinda does have that effect). This is perhaps more like your wildcat strike, a show of solidarity; a statement. In itself I don't think it's what will kill the bill; we're not going to see 14-year-olds doorstepping their congressman because they couldn't lift some material from Wikipedia, but it's, if nothing else, an interesting exercise in memetics for good (something I hear the internet is well versed in), particularly among what are now, in some cases, becoming the corporate stalwarts of the web. This isn't just Stallman ranting in a temperature-controlled corner, it's a fascinating battle because we have two sides of the same media/tech coin at complete cross-purposes, baffling because it means for the first time in any major rhetorical lobbying battle, the people (granted, the techie people) are actually quite firmly aligned with some fairly huge corporate players, if for not quite the same reasons.
JAS84
Posts: 431
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Location: Hull, UK

Wikia isn't blacked out, so you could've got the X-Men episode list from http://marvel.wikia.com :)
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Pete
Posts: 7167
Joined: Fri 15 Aug, 2003 13.36
Location: Dundee

Yes the ways around are to turn off javascript or to use the mobile site by changing the URL from en.wiki to en.m.wiki

The sheer torrent of shite I look up every day is shocking. Still, means I do rather well in quizzes.
"He has to be larger than bacon"
Ant
Posts: 629
Joined: Sat 15 May, 2004 13.48
Location: Edinburgh

Pete wrote:Yes the ways around are to turn off javascript or to use the mobile site by changing the URL from en.wiki to en.m.wiki

The sheer torrent of shite I look up every day is shocking. Still, means I do rather well in quizzes.
Even pressing Esc before the blackout page appears works for me.
Alexia
Posts: 2967
Joined: Sat 01 Oct, 2005 17.50

It made Wikipedia into the hated party, and everybody continued to be largely indifferent to SOPA. They should have taken the site offline properly for 24 hours.
Wikipedia was just one of 115,000 websites which altered their homepages, "blacked out" content or similar, so to single them out is unfair.

Also your average Joe or Jill in offices and bedrooms up and down the land (including the clueless wanky fucktards writing our newspapers) wouldn't have the slightest clue where their Disable Javascript option was on their web browsers.

Also, it was the case for me, but the website loaded so fast that I barely had time to hit ESC or press the [X] button before the black sheet came down.

I'd be interested to know how you would take down a website with 4million+ pages in 24 hours? It's not just a simple case of redirecting en.wikipedia.org - in simplistic terms you'd have to physically remove the content from the multiple servers, back it up and then re-add it later. Not worth the effort just to make a symbolic statement.

As for SOPA - it's been postponed, with many of its previous supporters deserting it.
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dosxuk
Posts: 570
Joined: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 21.37
Location: Sheffield

Alexia wrote:I'd be interested to know how you would take down a website with 4million+ pages in 24 hours? It's not just a simple case of redirecting en.wikipedia.org - in simplistic terms you'd have to physically remove the content from the multiple servers, back it up and then re-add it later. Not worth the effort just to make a symbolic statement.
With a completely database driven website like Wikipedia, very easily. Just rename the includes/parser/parser.php file and every page on the site will stop working.

Alernatively, alter the main stylesheet to have body { display: none !important; } in it.
bilky asko
Posts: 1115
Joined: Sat 08 Nov, 2008 19.48

Couldn't you just change the DNS entry or something, so en.wikipedia.org resolved to a different server, with just the holding slide on it?
I presume the pages were kept in order to keep search engine rankings for their pages.
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dosxuk
Posts: 570
Joined: Thu 07 Feb, 2008 21.37
Location: Sheffield

Couldn't you just change the DNS entry or something, so en.wikipedia.org resolved to a different server, with just the holding slide on it?
DNS changes can take over 24 hours to be copied across the internet. It'd be a bit embarrasing if people stopped being able to access your site after your protest officially finished!
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Ebeneezer Scrooge
Posts: 323
Joined: Tue 23 Sep, 2003 13.53
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I think their blackout was pretty much spot on. I haven't heard anything of Wikipedia being hated at all (over the blackout anyway).

What Wikipedia did was raise awareness of the SOPA issues; probably on a level that no other site managed. Yes you could get round it, but that was what made this different from your average strike and meant that people didn't get angry about it. The fact that you had to acknowledge the 'blackout' before viewing the page you wanted got the point over adequately.
Snarky
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