Why Wikipedia Decided To Join The Blackout And Potentially Threaten Your Homework

Wikipedia prides itself on being neutral… so why is it taking itself down to protest something political? According to their official explanation of the protest decision, the members of the Wikimedia Foundation feel that “although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not.”

You can read the entire explanation here, but this is the part we like best:

Readers trust Wikipedia because they know that despite its faults, Wikipedia’s heart is in the right place. It’s not aiming to monetize their eyeballs or make them believe some particular thing, or sell them a product. Wikipedia has no hidden agenda: it just wants to be helpful.

That’s less true of other sites. Most are commercially motivated: their purpose is to make money. That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to make the world a better place – many do! – but it does mean that their positions and actions need to be understood in the context of conflicting interests.

My hope is that when Wikipedia shuts down on January 18, people will understand that we’re doing it for our readers. We support everyone’s right to freedom of thought and freedom of expression. We think everyone should have access to educational material on a wide range of subjects, even if they can’t pay for it. We believe in a free and open Internet where information can be shared without impediment. We believe that new proposed laws like SOPA and PIPA, and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States, don’t advance the interests of the general public.

The reality is that we don’t think SOPA is going away, and PIPA is still quite active. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. All around the world, we’re seeing the development of legislation intended to fight online piracy, and regulate the Internet in other ways, that hurt online freedoms. Our concern extends beyond SOPA and PIPA: they are just part of the problem. We want the Internet to remain free and open, everywhere, for everyone.

We hope our readers feel the same way about Consumerist and our stand on this issue. We are a non-profit. We accept no outside advertising, we take no free samples, and we are against SOPA and PIPA. Our agenda is simply to help inform and entertain consumers.

Consumerist urges you to take a moment and contact your members of Congress. You can do so easily at the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.