A group of right-wing Zionists wanted to try to get Wikipedia to represent their opinions better, so they tried to organize a course about it. They didn’t exactly have an instructor, so a couple of prominent Hebrew Wikipedia editors volunteered to help them: To give them a lecture about Wikipedia and the way it assures political neutrality. I know both of them personally and i believe that they did their job honestly.
Apparently, this piece of news was so important, that it reached The Guardian (Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups). Richard Stallman mentioned it in his “Political Notes” blog, saying: “Israeli expansionists are planning courses on how to slip their views into Wikipedia without triggering resistance.”
It’s actually not completely incorrect to call them “expansionists”, although it reminds me too strongly of the Soviet press, which used the exact same term to describe Israel. But it’s quite ridiculous to say that anyone in his right mind can plan to slip his views into Wikipedia without triggering resistance. It’s 2010 outside, and even people with strong political opinions already know that Wikipedia is supposed to be neutral. It doesn’t necessarily succeed at it, but to slip in views without triggering resistance? That’s patent nonsense.
One of the expansionists was quoted in the Guardian: “We don’t want to change Wikipedia or turn it into a propaganda arm, we just want to show the other side”. What do you know, an expansionist Zionist land-grabbing settler said a sentence that makes sense!
But what’s most disappointing about this whole thing is that it is a complete non-issue. Because if it is a significant newsworthy issue, then so are the lectures about Wikipedia that i gave to the left-wing youth movement Hanoar Haoved Vehalomed, to the Israeli Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center, to the Rehovot Perl Mongers group and to several groups of the Hebrew University students and staff. These were the same lectures: Free culture, spreading knowledge, editing history, citing sources, neutral point of view. We the Wikipedians who volunteer to lecture on the website we are so passionate about say the same things about Wikipedia to left-wing people, to right-wing people, to programmers, to students and to scientists.
But hey, i’m happy to have read that silly Guardian article, because it made me realize that Wikipedia won: It is perceived as a website that is difficult to trick. Well, it really is.