Moscow on Tuesday lifted a ban on the Russian-language version of Wikipedia less than a day after imposing it.
Internet regulator Roskomnadzor said an article about Charas, a form of hashish, ruled illegal by a local court in June, had now been sufficiently edited on Russian Wikipedia to put the online encyclopedia in compliance with the ruling.
The webpage has therefore been excluded from its internet blacklist, it added.
Several Russian internet service providers started blocking access to the Russian-language Wikipedia site after the regulator added it to its registry of forbidden information on Monday.
Internet users in some Russian regions saw a notice from the registry instead of the Wikipedia page when trying to access it.
Wikipedia said the outlawing of some information triggered a blacklisting of the entire service because the website uses the secure protocol HTTPS which prevents the filtering and censoring of its content from the outside.
Russian Wikipedia said the entry in question had already been edited to rely only on public scientific and UN sources before Monday’s ban.
The lifting of the ban defuses what threatened to become the most serious fallout yet from growing Russian internet censorship on global internet services. So far, stricter internet regulations introduced over the past three years have mainly hit Russia’s online media.
However, the shortlived ban demonstrated to a larger audience the impact stricter internet control rules introduced in early 2014 can have. Since then, the authorities have had the power to blacklist websites without a court order.
Following these legal changes, the list of web pages blocked in Russia on orders of the prosecutor-general has quickly grown. Information on drugs tops the list of reasons given for blocking orders, but charges of extremism and threats to state security are also common.
The English edition of Wikipedia Encyclopedia contains around 5 million articles and if someone were to print the entire Wikipedia encyclopedia into a book, the size of the printed book would roughly be equivalent to 2000+ volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica (source).
Rob Matthews, a graphics design student from UK, converted 5000 pages of Wikipedia into a printed book in 2012. He downloaded few hundred featured articles from Wikipedia and bound them together in a physical book that was almost 1’7″ thick.
Rob’s website (rob-matthews.com) has been taken over by domain squatters but the pictures of the printed Wikipedia book have survived.
While Rob limited his printed book to the featured articles, Michael Mandiberg’s team has a more ambitious plan. They’re working on making the entire English-language Wikipedia in print format. The work has about 7500 volumes, each made up of 700 pages, and you’ll soon be order individual volumes from Lulu.
The project launched at the Denny Gallery this month and visitors to the exhibition can see the process in real time as Wikipedia pages are converted in digital books and uploaded to Lulu. A Twitter bot, @PrintedWikipedia updates when new volumes are added to the book library.
Here are pictures of the Printed Wikipedia project courtesy Wikimedia.
Print your own Wikipedia Book
Wikipedia does include a built-in book creator that would let anyone, include anonymous non-logged users, create ebooks from Wikipedia articles. You can download these ebooks as PDF files or send them to a print-on-demand service like Lulu or PediaPress and have a custom printed book made of your favorite Wikipedia pages. See more Wikipedia tools.
But if it’s global influence you’re after, maybe it’s time to scrap the Baby Mandarin classes. In a fascinating new study (pdf) mapping the flow of information online, and through book translations, found the languages that reach the most linguistically diverse readership tend to be the ones most connected by multilingual speakers—English, Spanish, French, and German, to name a few (the team’s interactive website lets you delve into each language).
This map plots the activity of Wikipedia editors contributing to the site’s various language editions:
Line thickness indicates the number of Wikipedia editors using both languages, while the size of the circles represents—in a non-linear way—the number of people who speak the language.
Twitter line thickness indicates likelihood that a user Tweets in both languages.(“Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Ronen et al. 2014)
Line thickness indicates volume of translations; arrow points to the language into which the work is translated.
(“Links that speak: The global language network and its association with global fame,” Ronen et al. 2014)
As you can see, some languages are more isolated than others—and speaking a language favored by polyglots connects you with a more diverse range of tongues.
This means that the ideas of, say, Portuguese-only writers are much more likely to reach a monolingual Pole than the ideas of a Chinese-only writer, thanks to Portuguese’s relatively stronger connectivity in the global language network.
To check these findings against other measures of a language’s global significance, the scientists used two independent datasets, controlling for the number of speakers and GDP.
In some cases, the the global language network predicted the number of famous people born into the language with accuracy levels that are “unheard of” in social sciences, explains César Hidalgo, a computer scientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who co-authored the study.
Of course, the study’s authors emphasize that their research omits oral communication, and reflects mainly activity of elite intellectuals.
Another potential quibble with their methodology: The Chinese government bars a billion or so Chinese readers from using Twitter anda good deal of Wikipedia.
Hidalgo says this isn’t exaclty a glitch, though.
“The exclusion of people in mainland China from Wikipedia and Twitter are not a bias, but a reality,” he says, noting that the prevalence of VPNs mean the Great Firewall isn’t “as mighty as it looks.”
Seen this way, the study suggests the Great Firewall might hamstring China’s quest for global influence. For instance, Shahar Ronen, another author also at MIT, tells Science that governments concerned with boosting linguistic soft power to “invest in translating more documents, encouraging more people to tweet in their national language”—which China is clearly not going to do any time soon.
“On the other side, if I want our ideas to spread, we should pick a second language that’s very well-connected,” says Ronen.
Even though English-speakers abound in mainland China, the Great Firewall has sprouted China’s own social networks, encyclopedias, and news networks—platforms so rigidly monolingual they’re unlikely ever to connect global polyglots.
Asked what might happen if the Great Firewall were suddenly lifted, Hidalgo said he expected a gradual Chinese increase in Twitter and Wikipedia participation.
“I am not sure if this would make Chinese a ‘bridge’ language, however,” he says, “since this would require Chinese speakers to speak Chinese and many other languages.”
THIS MAGIC WAND GIVES WIKIPEDIA A MODERN REDESIGN ON ANY DEVICE.
We’ve seen our share of concepts for imbuing Wikipedia with a more modern and responsive design. But it’s not likely that Jimmy Wales and Co. will adopt any of them–or any radical redesign, for that matter. The reason why is relatively straightforward.
Wikipedia wants its site to work just as well on 10-year-old computers with low-resolution monitors and slow dial-up connections as it does on more modern devices.
So Wikipedia plays things conservatively. But there’s no reason you can’t enjoy a better-looking Wikipedia.
Wikiwand is a tool that showcases Wikipedia articles with better typography, navigation, and layout on both widescreen and mobile devices. Using Wikiwand is easy.
Instead of going to Wikipedia’s website, just search for your articles through Wikiwand.com, which will then dynamically translate your articles into a more responsive layout with big, beautiful header images, easier-to-read typography, a universal navigation panel, and more.
If you’re a Google Chrome user, you can even install an extension that will automatically translate Wikipedia links into the Wikiwand format. Because the extension intelligent pre-fetches assets, the Chrome extension actually allows you to load Wikipedia pages faster than on Wikipedia proper.
Wikiwand’s not going to be for everyone–the abundance of italics in the Wikiwand design makes our editor Suzanne LaBarre seethe in a festering rage–but if you’ve been looking forward to Wikipedia joining the rest of the Internet here in good ol’ 2014, it’s certainly worth a look. I might never go back to stock Wikipedia again.
A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing “terrorists” with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner
A political battle has broken out on Wikipedia over an entry relating to the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, with the Russian government reportedly removing sections which accuse it of providing “terrorists” with missiles that were used to down the civilian airliner.
A Twitter bot which monitors edits made to the online encyclopaedia from Russian government IP addresses (unique numbers relating to certain computers or networks) has spotted that changes are being made to a page relating to the crash.
It appears that an internet user from within the All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) changed a Russian language version of a page listing civil aviation accidents to say that “The plane [flight MH17] was shot down by Ukrainian soldiers”.
That edit replaced text – written just an hour earlier – which said MH17 had been shot down “by terrorists of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic with Buk system missiles, which the terrorists received from the Russian Federation.”
All edits to Wikipedia are permanently logged, with the username and IP address being stored along with the changes they have made.
An automated Twitter bot called congress-edits was created to monitor for changes made from US Congress computers and immediately tweet them. The source code powering that project was released to the public, allowing the creation of RUGovEdits which performs a similar role in Russia.
A tweet today from that account, translated into English, says: “Wikipedia article List of aircraft accidents in civil aviation has been edited by RTR [another name for VGTRK]”.
Flight MH17 crashed in Ukraine on Thursday, on the border with Russia, with 298 people on board. There were no survivors.
Ukraine’s interior ministry says the plane was shot down by a missile, while President Obama on Friday afternoon also said that it was likely to have been targeted by separatists.
Mr Obama said that the US does not “want to get ahead of the facts” but added: “A group of separatists cannot shoot down military planes without sophisticated equipment – and that is coming from Russia.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied any responsibility, however, telling advisers on Friday that: “certainly, the government over whose territory it occurred is responsible for this terrible tragedy.”
If the Russian government has indeed edited the page it will be far from the first time that politically or commercially embarrassing Wikipedia updates have been exposed.
In 2006 United States Congressional staff were found to have edited articles about members of Congress, Microsoft once offered an engineer money to update articles on two competing standards, PR firm Bell Pottinger tweaked articles about its clients and, in 2012, MPs were discovered to have asked their staff to remove criticism about them.