Schools/colleges banned Wikipedia use in 2007-2008
This is just a quick link to news about the growing ban against English Wikipedia in schools and colleges (universities) during 2007-2008 (also in 2009). I thought this issue had been obvious, old news, but perhaps not, so I created a short enWP essay:
- "en:WP:Schools and colleges banned WP in 2007-2008" - links 19 news articles
Although some schools considered the 2007 quality of articles to be a problem in misleading students, other school boards worried that Wikipedia was making student research "too easy" compared to traditional paper research, where in olden days, students would go to a large, printed encyclopedia and hope to find some (tiny) articles, or dusty books, about their classroom research assignment. Instead, Wikipedia article's were linking numerous online sources, or popular books, which made student research seem overly easy, to those school-board members.
Perhaps I remembered those years, clearly, in noting the extreme censorship caused by such bans, and the typical chilling effect throughout history. There is the famous saying, "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" attributed to Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S. President) and Benjamin Franklin (the "Grandfather" of America). So, I am intensely focused on effects of censorship. When looking for a trend which quickly shuts out participation, always consider official bans to have quick, devastating effects on people's behavior. Most people do not change because a few bio pages were embarrassing in news headlines, but ban use of a website in colleges, and thousands of people will stop very quickly. In 2008, half of all WP users were younger than 22 years. Censorship is not just a wiki problem: after the major inventions of WWII (the Scientists' War), in 1946 the U.S. military wanted to ban all scientific research, from industry or colleges, and fortunately, Albert Einstein and others were able to explain or stop that "bad idea" and allow open exchange of scientific studies, which thus changed the world. -Wikid77 06:33, 17 March 2011 (UTC)
- P.S. This issue was discussed in reply to topic "#What happened in May 2007?".
In 1995-2005 educators were enthusiastic about the Internet as an exotic new environment. Then in the current era 2005-2015, when several projects (Wikipedia, Google Book Search, Google Maps, ...) have started to actually fill this new environment with real, useful knowledge, educators are worried that knowledge is too easy to find, far easier than in traditional libraries, and sometimes not as well researched. When students come back with term papers citing Wikipedia, the teachers' reaction is to ban Wikipedia. But the students didn't go to Wikipedia, they went to Google and Google returned the best of the web. So next time, students will go to Google and pick the second best of the web, because that website is not banned by teachers. How long will it take before teachers start to understand the web and Wikipedia's role within the web? A full decade?
What is the average age of teachers? When the current cohort of young Wikipedia users grows up, some of them will be teachers. Then they will encourage their students to use Wikipedia, and try to ban whatever has come after Wikipedia. The purpose of adults is to delay progress.
That essay about the "Wikipedia bans" mixes various almost unrelated phenomena. Mostly, colleges and schools rightly said - with the support of the WMF's communications manager - that students should not be blindly citing "Wikipedia" as a source of information. Which should be uncontroversial - students should be clicking through or visiting the library to read the actual sources cited, for obvious reasons. But a few of the articles concern the w:Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (and a subsequent resubmission), a mercifully failed effort to ban children from accessing any kind of user-submitted content on social networking sites, possibly including Wikipedia (with the FCC being able to rule at whim about what is included or not). Such a ban, among other things, expresses either an incredible naivete or an unspeakable deceptiveness about how children are abused, when we consider that, by contrast to the perhaps seven children that might be saved by such a law as detailed in the article, there are estimates of hundreds of thousands of children being forced into prostitution in the U.S. This was truly one of those cases where the tribal witch doctors were asking for statues to appease the gods when what they needed was penicillin to stop the infections. The good news is that DOPA didn't pass... the bad news is that the U.S. still hasn't freed these children, as might be achieved e.g. by a carefully regulated legalization of adult prostitution. Wnt 23:16, 21 April 2011 (UTC)