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Wikipedia – the new ministry of truth

By Andreas Kolbe

Wikipedia, the crowdsourced online encyclopedia that anyone can edit, has often been credited with “democratising knowledge”. But it’s a strange sort of democracy. Wikipedia has a near-monopoly online: almost any search engine query will return a Wikipedia article as a top result. Most internet users only read the first search result. And in fact, users often do not even have to click through to Wikipedia. More and more material from Wikipedia is displayed on Google’s own search results pages, thanks to the Google Knowledge Graph panel and Google’s new snippet overlay. No wonder that there is such great interest from the most diverse parties to influence Wikipedia’s content.

News from Azerbaijan

A case in point is the government of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan is an oil- and gas-rich former Soviet republic that has for more than two decades been ruled by the Aliyev dynasty. Likened in leaked US diplomatic cables to a mafia don, its current president Ilham Aliyev is seen as “increasingly authoritarian and hostile to diversity of political views.”

The 2014 Human Rights Watch report on Azerbaijan reads as follows:

The Azerbaijani government’s poor record on freedom of expression, assembly, and association dramatically deteriorated during the year. The authorities arrested dozens of political activists on bogus charges, imprisoned critical journalists, broke up several peaceful public demonstrations, and adopted legislation that further restricted fundamental freedoms. This crackdown was the backdrop for the October 2013 presidential election, in which incumbent President Ilham Aliyev was re-elected for a third term with 84.5 percent of the vote.

So when in September of last year an obscure news item about the Azerbaijani Wikipedia was raised for discussion in our forum, it seemed worthy of a second look. Published by Azeri business news portal abc.az, it told the world, in somewhat broken English:

…continue reading Wikipedia – the new ministry of truth