Regarding recent events on Italian Wikipedia

Today the volunteers of the Italian Wikipedia community made the decision to replace all of Italian Wikipedia with a message to readers about a law (PDF in Italian) being discussed before the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian parliament. The message outlines the viewpoints of the Italian Wikipedia community, and provides details about the proposed bill, and how it threatens the ability to openly collaborate in the sharing of knowledge. This is certainly a decision the Italian Wikipedia community did not take lightly.

The Wikimedia Foundation stands with our volunteers in Italy who are challenging the recently drafted “DDL intercettazioni” (or Wiretapping Bill) bill in Italy.  This bill would hinder the work of projects like Wikipedia: open, volunteer-driven, and collaborative spaces dedicated to sharing high-quality knowledge, not to mention the ability for all users of the internet to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.

Wikipedians the world over pride themselves on their ability to rapidly remove false information from their project.  Wikipedia has established methods to receive complaints or concerns from individuals or organizations and a strong system exists to remove incorrect or false information, and if necessary to remove complete articles in an effort to prevent vandalism. For Wikipedians, there is no value nor need for this proposed legislation.

The Wikimedia Foundation supports the rights of all people to access our free knowledge content everywhere in the world, and we equally support the work of our editors to collaborate in the production of this free knowledge without the spectre of sanctioned punishment or attacks towards their work.

Jay Walsh, Communications

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130 Comments on Regarding recent events on Italian Wikipedia

George Campbell 4 years

I protest this decision which is highly politically oriented and is not even related to an established law, but to a proposed law. Questa `e manipolazione politica contra il governo attuale d’Italia e non mi importa chi sia Presidente del Consiglio di Ministri. Il Popolo ha diritto internazionale ad una edizione di Wikipedia in Italiano, piace o non piace a qualsiasi. Non c’`e nessuna legge e se ci sara’, che importa a Wikipedia. E allora non si puo’ avere Wikipedia in Cino o Arabe o Farsi o qualche lingua dove c’`e un sistema autoritario? La foto di Berlusconi perfino `e presentato di una forma che somiglia a Mussolini, e si dice che non c’`e manipolazione politica??? If they have a photo of Berlusconi in a form that reminds one of Mussolini, who’s going to say that this is not political manipulation?

Jarett Mackswell 4 years

Robbert van Eijndhoven: I’m not sure if IT would shut down. It would lose a lot of its contributors.

Robbert van Eijndhoven 4 years

Dear people who complained about this action:

There is nothing disgusting about what the WMF is doing here. You just don’t understand it…

In the event that the bill passes, this pulling of the Italian-language version of the Wiki will become permanent. Not in protest, but because the Wiki will no longer be able to function as it should. Because if the bill passed and the Italian Wiki continued to exist, anyone whose name is mentioned anywhere on the wiki (be it as part of a page, a citation or even an off hand mention in a discussion page) would be able to drag the WMF to (italian) court over it.

There is very little political about this. NPOV does not mean ‘stay ambivalent’, Neutrality does not mean ‘maintain apathy at all costs’ and independence most certainly does not mean ‘never defend yourself’.

Anyone who claims this couldn’t have made it through court fails to realise that when people say the Berlusconi owns most of the Media and Information services in Italy isn’t speaking figuratively in the sense of ‘they respect him greatly’ or ‘they always do what he tells them’. They mean that he is literally the owner of most of the Newspapers and Radio- and TV stations in Italy and a majority share of the non-international ISPs on top of being the head of state.

It’s not so much that Berlusconi can do whatever he wants as it is that the internet is one of the few places where people can find out he’s done something he shouldn’t have. So yeah, you betcha he’s motivated to push this through and you betcha he’ll bribe, threaten or otherwise pressure anyone he has to to get it approved if he can. (After all, who’s going to report on him afterwards? The reporters who are literally on his pay-role? No. The internet? Not any more).

tonii 4 years

Massimo: the decision of closing down it.wp for a few days was taken by it.wp contributers. Swiss contributers INCLUDED.

If you have the opportunity to read it.wp is 99% merit of italian users. And not supporting us means that you risk of not seeing it.wp anymore.

As a it.wp contributer I totally agree with the decision taken by my community (even if i did not partecipate in the discussion): it was the most effective way to defend wikipedia and freedom of speech of its users.

Marianna 4 years

A Massimo: non mi sembra il caso di ridurre Wikipedia a risorsa linguistica per Italiano come Lingua Seconda. Se il problema è soltanto reperire fonti in lingua italiana ci sono mille altre risorse.
Se il vero problema, invece, è la correttezza e la neutralità di ciò che ci è scritto ecco che riguarda tanto chi l’italiano lo parla quanto chi l’italiano lo studia. La mossa voleva proteggere entrambi i tipi di utenti. Leggere un articolo in lingua non significa certo ricavarne solo grammatica e vocabolario, ma anche il contenuto, e se il contenuto non è vero, o è parziale, o è oscuro, ecco che Wikipedia diventa strumento di diffusione di falsità e inesattezze.

Stefano Arrigoni 4 years

I find this “sciopero” (this word just does not translate to a civil “strike”) and the above endorsement by the Wikimedia Foundation absolutely unacceptable, and frankly quite disgusting.

I’m no fan of Berlusconi, but what Wikipedia has done here is it lost its political independence. Forget about 3 days of downtime, that’s not the real issue. This is, so far as I know, unprecedented, and the Foundation should think twice before making this happen ever again. Wikipedia is not a political platform for a bunch of admins that act like they own the place (yes, even more than in the English WP).

This proposed law is totally unenforceable, and more to the point, it does not affect the Italian WP in the slightest, along with any other website which is hosted outside of the Italian borders. It’s the law of the state of Florida that matters.

There are many countries that have English as their official language. If one of them descends into (or already is) a dictatorship, are we going to pull the English WP in sign of solidarity? No? Didn’t think so!!

How about the Internet censorship and erosion/lack of freedom of speech and civil rights in, I don’t know, China? Are we going to close the Mandarin WP? No? Didn’t think so either!!

NEVER AGAIN please. WP is a GLOBAL project, it belongs to EVERY human being.

LombardBeige 4 years

Errata corrige: Above (No. 120) I referred to the Italian “Code of Civil Procedure”, I really meant “Code of Criminal Procedure” (cf. “… the Penal Code of 1890 and the Criminal Procedure Code of 1912 caused Italy to be regarded by many European legal scholars as the leader in scientific criminology”. Source: The Principles of Roman Law and their Relation to the Modern World, William L. Burdick, Rochester N.Y., 1938, p. 23). This opinion may seem strange in view of current events, but it is further proof of my contention that Italy should be judged in relation to its past as well as its present.

Massimo 4 years

Comprendo pienamente i timori degli utenti della vicina penisola in merito, ciò che non comprendo è per quale motivo non si tiene conto che la lingua italiana non è parlata esclusivamente in Italia. Come cittadino svizzero residente nella regione di lingua italiana sono stato penalizzato da questo provvedimento, seppur provvisorio, di bloccare l’accesso alle voci in lingua italiana, suppongo che anche chi stia studiando tale lingua in tutto il mondo e che faccia uso di questa meravigliosa possibilità venga quindi penalizzato da eventuali “limitazioni” (qualsiasi esse siano) delle voci di Wikipedia in italiano. Questo comportamento è giusto?
(Massimo Enzo Grandi)
(I try this on English too..)
I understand the fears of italian people about this issue, what I don’t understand is why you didn’t realise that Italian is not spocken only in Italy. I’m a swiss citizen livin in the italian speacking part of Switzerland and I’ve also been penalized about this, same as in the rest of the world people who learn or speack italian has been. Is this behaviour correct? (Massimo Enzo Grandi)

Claudio 4 years

i hope that this event will be taken as an example of the power of the web to connect people, a power that has a lot of consequence in real life in so many ways that we can’t even imagine.

io 4 years

Grazie a questo “sciopero”, tanti italiani hanno capito di cosa si stava discutendo in Parlamento;
purtroppo, l’informazione in Italia e’ quella che è, ma vi assicuro che non ho mai visto come questa volta, tanta gente “comune” fare delle critiche alla discussione di una legge, grazie anche a
wikipedia, imho.

Quindi, la “pausa” di tre giorni, e’ stata utile anche per far aprire gli occhi alla gente.

Jeandré du Toit 4 years

The problem with waiting until the law is passed before the Wikipedians who write almost of it protest, is that such protests ███ ██ ██████████ ██ ███ ███ ███ ████████ ██ ████ ██████ ███ █████ ████████ ██ ███ ████████ ███████ █████ ████ ████ ███████ ██ ███ ███████ Fuzzy bunnies are nice.

Lucian 4 years

I hope there will be a mark for the websites where lies are easily removable, similar to the holographic stamp that you see on genuine Italian wine, but not on Bella Serra fakes.
Also, there is only one difference between blocking access to Italian Wikipedia before the law has passed (as it happened on October 3) and a future block imposed the government because it does not comply with this law (as many here pretend it would have happened). All other things would be equal: millions of people will find out that the site is blocked, it will interfere with research work of clueless bystanders, and so on. The difference is that the latter is not even a potential scenario, it is only a lie. Again, to pretend the law would have passed in Strasbourg courts is a lie.

Marianna 4 years

P.S. According to the latest news, we cannot consider Wikipedia safe yet…

Michele 4 years

As user and (minor) contributor of Wikipedia, I support the protest of the Italian Wikipedia community; a protest clearly focused on the problem of freedom of expression and on the problem of accessibility of information; a protest that I recognize free of any political content.

To those who rightfully are protesting for the temporarily inaccessibility of the information on the Italian Wikipedia: I beg you all to be patient for a while and I ask you to understand the importance of such a strike: the discomfort that you are now experiencing – that we all are experiencing – in terms of inaccessibility of information is both a clear demonstration of the unbearability of a risk like that of forever loosing free and unconditioned acces to information and an inevitable pain that we all have to pass through in order to have such a right granted for the future.

Let me add that the worldwide resonance of the Italian Wikipedia community protest is already registering some positive feedback in terms of perspectives of modification of the bill text. Let’s cross our fingers… No, let’s stay together to support human rights in peaceful cooperation.

Marianna 4 years

So how did this story end? Only amateur sites and blogs that are not registered under the Press Law will be able to publish what they want. Every other online newspaper which is registered under this law will have to delete unwanted information within 48 hours. Wikipedia protested – wikipedia is safe.

Marianna 4 years

Do you realize that if Wikipedia hadn’t shut down for a while, thousand of people in Italy wouldn’t have had a clue about the law that is being discussed right now? Do you realize that many newspapers, online magazines, TV news protect Berlusconi and do not talk about things that could harm his reputation (if he still has one?) We would have woken up one day only to find out that this law has passed on dd/mm/yy and “where was I on that day? I was reading about George Clooney and Elisabetta Canalis, that’s what I found on the paper!”
Rights are protected by laws and laws are made by politicians. Does it means that we have to SHUT UP olny because of this connection? I thought it was only Berlusconi who wanted us to shut up!
I am proud to see a reaction in Italy, I am proud to see that that man cannot do whatever he pleases without a reaction from us.
I don’t expect support from all over the world, but I was DISGUSTED to read that some people think that doing whatever is possible to protect our freedom, our culture, our independence is disgusting.

Starbox 4 years

I wholeheartedly support this endeavor. I think that the new bill should be amended so that if a site is deemed to already have a method of raising a complaint, then it is exempt.

Claudio 4 years


If your opinion is that “someone in the parliament was carrying forward our cause”, i don’t want to criticize about that, it’s not the time and the place.

This is not about ‘carrying forward our cause’, this is just a (maybe strong) way to (pay attention to this) get the people warned about what’s happening in our government.

You’re italian, you can read this yourself:

“Con questo comunicato, vogliamo mettere in guardia i lettori dai rischi che discendono dal lasciare all’arbitrio dei singoli la tutela della propria immagine e del proprio decoro invadendo la sfera di legittimi interessi altrui. In tali condizioni, gli utenti della Rete sarebbero indotti a smettere di occuparsi di determinati argomenti o personaggi, anche solo per “non avere problemi”

LombardBeige 4 years

Another idea for a Swiss Wikipedia: would it not be possible, instead of creating a national Wikipedia, to use the EXISTING Rumantsch-language Wiki as the reference point for Swiss users?
(Just as Rumantsch is used on Swiss banknotes, etc.)
To avoid problems, such as that which today affects Italy, but tomorrow could affect France or Germany, this Wiki would link to full updated copies of it:wiki, fr:wiki and de:wiki located outside of their reference countries, not necessarily in Switzerland (Florida is perfect).
Also this would increase world-wide awareness of Rumantsch and I don’t think it would bother the Rumantsch-speakers to be seen as the representatives of Switzerland as a whole.

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