This week in class we read about Wikipedia and its history. So, when I came across an article about China’s banning the use of the site I thought that it was a perfect fit for this week’s blog post. I found the article on Mashable. It is written by Stan Schroeder and entitled, China has blocked all language versions of Wikipedia. It talks about how China had already blocked all the Chinese language pages on the site and now through monitoring the lack of traffic, they have concluded that China has blocked all language versions of Wikipedia’s pages in mainland China.
We often visit Wikipedia to start our investigation into a subject. We don’t think about how often we use this resource. Pew Research put out an article saying, “Wikipedia averages more than 18 billion page views per month, making it one of the most visited websites in the world, according to Alexa.com, a Web tracking company owned by Amazon.” I know we often overlook Wikipedia when we are doing school work, but we look for it when we just need a launching pad into delving deeper into a subject. Even though it is not itself a reliable source to quote in a scholarly paper, it is important that people have this resource in order to have free access to information. In class, we learned that Wikipedia wants to democratize knowledge, taking it out of the hands of only the experts and putting the knowledge into the hands of ordinary lay people. This makes sure that lay people aren’t overlooked and marginalized. This is an important hallmark of American values. Making sure that those with power or those with the majority opinion don’t trample those with differing or uncommon views.
When Wikipedia was founded, the founder probably never thought that the information shared on the platform would be so dangerous to those in power that it would be banned in a whole country. It is hard to enslave a population that is knowledgeable, but easy to enslave those who don’t know better. In a Communist country like China, it would make sense that they wouldn’t want their citizens to hear ideas from other countries and other people. Information is the enemy of people who want to keep power. After all, knowledge is power. If you only know what you have, you will never know that things can be better. China wanting to block their citizens from accessing Wikipedia is an obvious attempt to keep their citizens in the dark. An article on Business Times quotes Charlie Smith, who they say tracks online censorship in China, “‘Blocking access to all language versions of Wikipedia for Internet users in China is just symbolic,” he told AFP. “It symbolizes the fear that the Chinese authorities have of the truth.'”