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  • We exist to shine the light of scrutiny into the dark crevices of Wikipedia and its related projects; to examine the corruption there, along with its structural flaws; and to inoculate the unsuspecting public against the torrent of misinformation, defamation, and general nonsense that issues forth from one of the world’s most frequently visited websites, the “encyclopedia that anyone can edit.”
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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

Jimmy Wales, Kazakhstan, Tony Blair and Wikipedia: A Timeline

For an overview of this story, please see last week’s post, Jimmy Wales in: The Dictator and I.

The following timeline, compiled by a group of Wikipediocracy site trustees, chronicles some less-well-known facts about the development of the Kazakh-language Wikipedia, its ties to the Kazakhstan government, the Wikimedia Foundation, Jimmy Wales, Tony Blair, and other related persons and entities. We hope that this raw data will aid further discussion of this topic in the New Year. To view or participate in a forum discussion on this topic, please click here. If you have additional relevant information not included here, please contact us at media@wikipediocracy.com.

2007 16 January 2007 – Jimmy Wales is named a Young Global Leader by The World Economic Forum in Davos, as is his eventual wife, Kate Garvey, formerly Tony Blair’s diary secretary. Tony Blair also speaks at the event, his third consecutive annual visit. (Blair will become co-chairman of the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2008, and Tony Blair Associates will later form deep business ties with the Kazakhstan government. Garvey will go on to a director role with Freud Communications, where she will count the Tony Blair Faith Foundation as a client. She will wed Jimmy Wales on 6 October 2012 – his third marriage.) 30 March 2007 – Oralgaisha Omarshanova disappears. She is a journalist working at Zakon i Pravosudiye (Kazakh: Закон и правосудие), a newspaper based in Almaty, Kazakhstan, investigating and publicizing government corruption. September 2007 – Jimmy Wales and other World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders attend the WEF “Summer Davos” summit (“Annual Meeting of the New Champions”) in Dalian, China. 2008 January 2008 – Tony Blair co-chairs the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos. 14–16 March 2008 – Richard Branson assembles a meeting between Jimmy Wales, Tony Blair, Vinod

…continue reading Jimmy Wales, Kazakhstan, Tony Blair and Wikipedia: A Timeline

Jimmy Wales in: The Dictator and I

Wikipedian of the Year runs wiki organisation funded by an authoritarian regime

 

By Andreas Kolbe

 

[To view or participate in a forum discussion on this topic, please click here.]

The other day an obscure news article caught my eye online: Wikipedia founder to visit Kazakhstan in 2013. Underneath one of Jimmy Wales’ favourite pictures of himself – the one where he is wearing a blue business shirt, nonchalantly leaning against a wall, his famous blue eyes smiling at the reader – the text said, “Wikipedia founder is expected to visit Kazakhstan in 2013, according to Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, founder of WikiBilim Foundation [an NGO to develop the Kazakh Wikipedia].” A little further below, the article said that the project to expand the Kazakh Wikipedia was supported by Karim Massimov, until recently the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, and today President Nazarbaev’s chief of staff.

This piqued my curiosity. Supported by whom? Expanding the various language versions of Wikipedia is not usually a task performed with government support, least of all support from the sort of government Kazakhstan has.

An authoritarian regime

Kazakhstan, oil-rich and the worldwide leader in natural uranium production, is ruled by Nursultan Nazarbaev, a Soviet politburo veteran who has been president of Kazakhstan for as long as the nation has existed (1991). He was already its president when it was still a Soviet republic: he has been in power since 1990. A 2007 constitutional amendment made Nazarbaev personally exempt from any term limits, enabling him to remain President for life. He won his most recent term extension in April 2011, running against token opposition and winning 95% of the vote in an election deemed unfair by international observers.

His presidency has been criticised for human rights abuses and the curtailment of press freedoms, including attempts to control

…continue reading Jimmy Wales in: The Dictator and I