Jimmy Wales built it and they came… eventually.
Wales founded Wikipedia – for those who live under an information rock www.wikipedia.org is “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” – and refused to remove articles on controversial subjects in China like the Tiananmen Square events in 1989. The big American internet companies like Yahoo, Google and Microsoft all compromised and self-censored content to get into the market.
Wales stood firm.
Granted, the stakes for Wikipedia are less. The site is run by a non-profit organization that has the luxury of being able to shrug its shoulders at China’s rules. Profit-driven companies – particularly those with shareholders – can’t do that.
The Chinese government has denied censoring the internet but Wikipedia, among other sites, have often been impossible to access. A little more than a year ago, authorities began putting blocks to Wikipedia. These blocks were spotty and some people in some places had some access but generally residents of China could not get on.
Last month, the English version was reportedly unblocked and Chinese users reported access last week. Although some articles in Chinese – Wikipedia has more than 100,000 Chinese articles, the New York Times reported – on sensitive subjects like high-level politics were reportedly still blocked.
"The community in mainland China is basically telling us that they’re able to access," Wales told the Boston Globe.
Sources to the paper theorized that maybe the officials figure Wikipedia’s modus operandi would allow them to present their spin.
Maybe. Hopefully. That’s what openness is all about.