The English section of Wikipedia was blacked out yesterday, protesting against SOPA and PIPA, the draconian Internet laws the American Government is pushing. I am against these laws as they sound very oppressive and give a lot of arbitrary power to certain individuals and organisations to control how Internet works. However, I do not think Wikipedia did something its members, administrators and funders can be proud, by blacking out the site for a day. They have set an undesirable precedent.
It is very fashionable these days to show that you stand up for a social cause. However, the issue of SOPA and PIPA is an all American Issue. Wikipedia is a service that caters to a global audience, funded by people from all over the world. True, the laws in question affect people and businesses all over the world as they give power to American Government and Internet Services to take down even websites that do not operate in USA. But, it is an American-specific issue!
Now the question is, will Wikipedia assume the role of an activist to support any social or political cause anywhere in the word? Will they proclaim their support to almost all political revolutions in the world? Will they protest against every human rights violation that happens in any country?
Wikipedia is not an activist site. It is an information site. If you are an activist or advocate, you need to have an opinion. Wikipedia is about facts. And facts are neutral. Opinion is not neutral. At this rate, where will Wikipedia draw the line between activism and information delivery? How can it stop people from voicing their opinion on controversial pages in wikipedia?
Now, they say that wikipedia arrived at the decision to blackout the site through a democratic process. So, does that mean that from now on through a democratic process wikipedia members can decide what facts are to be mentioned on a particular page? All they would need are ten morons who agree against the five morons who don't.
If you think about it, democracy is about opinion. It is about majority opinion vs miortiy opinion. Just because the majority has an opinion, it does not mean that the opinion becomes a fact by default. An opinion is an opinion. A fact is a fact. It doesn't matter what number of people support it against what number of people don't support it.
What Wikipedia community did yesterday was foolishness at its best. Wikipedia just killed the notion that it is neutral. Now, Wikipedia will have to come down for every damn issue that comes up in every damn place in every damn corner of the world. At that rate, Wikipedia will have to be permanently taken down!