October 22, 2021

New Research Report: “Analyzing Accessibility of Wikipedia Projects Around the World”

The following report was recently released by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

Title

Analyzing Accessibility of Wikipedia Projects Around the World

Authors

Justin Clark

Robert Faris

Rebekah Heacock Jones

Source

via Harvard DASH Repository

Abstract

This study, conducted by the Internet Monitor project at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, analyzes the scope of government-sponsored censorship of Wikimedia sites around the world. The study finds that, as of June 2016, China was likely censoring the Chinese language Wikipedia project, and Thailand and Uzbekistan were likely interfering intermittently with specific language projects of Wikipedia as well.

[Our emphasis] However, considering the widespread use of filtering technologies and the vast coverage of Wikipedia, our study finds that, as of June 2016, there was relatively little censorship of Wikipedia globally. In fact, our study finds there was less censorship in June 2016 than before Wikipedia’s transition to HTTPS-only content delivery in June 2015. HTTPS prevents censors from seeing which page a user is viewing, which means censors must choose between blocking the entire site and allowing access to all articles. This finding suggests that the shift to HTTPS has been a good one in terms of ensuring accessibility to knowledge.

The study identifies and documents the blocking of Wikipedia content using two complementary data collection and analysis strategies: a client-side system that collects data from the perspective of users around the globe and a server-side tool to analyze traffic coming in to Wikipedia servers. Both client- and server-side methods detected events that we consider likely related to censorship, in addition to a large number of suspicious events that remain unexplained. The report features results of our data analysis and insights into the state of access to Wikipedia content in 15 select countries.

Direct to Full Text Report (74 pages; PDF)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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