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Wikimedia Foundation statement regarding the nearly 9 months Wikipedia has been blocked in Turkey
(San Francisco, California) 18 January 2018 — For nearly 9 months, the world has missed the knowledge, voices, and perspectives of the people of Turkey on Wikipedia. This block, one of the most wide-spread blocks of Wikipedia in its history, also prevents the people of Turkey from using Wikipedia in everything from research, study, and education to keeping up on favorite sports teams and pop culture.
The Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia, has made restoring access to Wikipedia to the people of Turkey a high priority. We have asked the Turkish courts to review the block, and have engaged in a series of discussions with Turkish authorities. Our goal has been to understand the Turkish government’s concerns and explain Wikipedia’s unique model, while remaining committed to our own values and opposition to censorship.
We have clarified that Wikipedia is not written or controlled by any central authority, but is continuously built and cultivated by a global community of everyday people—students, teachers, professionals, and more. The Wikimedia Foundation generally does not edit or remove content. Rather, Wikipedia is open for anyone to edit, and editors work together to write and update articles in real time, collaborating to ensure that information is neutral and based in reliable sources. They do so across hundreds of languages, millions of articles, and hundreds of thousands of edits each day, and edits are visibly recorded in the article’s history. This open and transparent model means that Wikipedia’s content is independent, and results from a conversation between many different people.
This model has made Wikipedia one of the world’s most popular and beloved sites on the internet, regularly ranked among top websites worldwide, and supported by millions of small donations. It is available in hundreds of languages, including Turkish Wikipedia—written by Turkish speakers, for Turkish speakers. Today, Turkish Wikipedia includes more than 300,000 articles. It could one day include millions if it was accessible to the people of Turkey to contribute their knowledge. Throughout our conversations with Turkish authorities, we remain committed to our values and maintain our opposition to censorship, while doing what is in our power to have a constructive conversation and restore access to Wikipedia in Turkey. We believe that the concerns that led to the block are addressed through Wikipedia’s standard editorial processes: since Wikipedia is open for improvement by anyone, its articles improve over time as people continue to edit them.
We invite Turkish officials to consider the great value the world is missing when the people of Turkey are unable to contribute their perspectives to Wikipedia. The block has been under review of the Turkish Constitutional Court for the past eight months. Should the block be lifted, we look forward to helping the people of Turkey engage in the collaborative project of Wikipedia by providing public training sessions and other resources. We remain open to discussion with Turkish authorities in finding a resolution, but would always maintain our commitment to openness, neutrality, and restoring access to Wikipedia in its entirety.
Wikipedia is unlike any other internet platform. Today, it exists in more than 45 million articles in nearly 300 languages, including Turkish Wikipedia. Every month, more than 200,000 editors contribute to Wikipedia. It is a collaborative project written and edited by everyday people -- teachers, professionals, students from around the world in hundreds of languages. These volunteers are united in their goal of making free knowledge available to every single person. Wikipedia is constantly improving, with hundreds of thousands of edits every day. There is no central authority with the power to remove or censor content -- not even the Wikimedia Foundation. Censorship of any kind runs counter to the very nature of Wikipedia’s open model and our commitment to free, open knowledge. With this model, Wikipedia has managed to become one of the world’s most popular websites, and one of the greatest examples of human generosity. Wikipedia thrives when as many people as possible can freely access and improve its articles.
About the Wikimedia Foundation
The Wikimedia Foundation is the non-profit organization that supports Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects, including Wikimedia Commons. The Wikimedia Foundation operates the technology behind Wikipedia and related sites, supports the global volunteer communities that make Wikipedia possible, and raises funds to support the Wikimedia movement. The Wikimedia Foundation does not control editorial content on Wikipedia or any other Wikimedia projects. That is up to a global movement of volunteers who seek to make the sum of all knowledge freely available to every single person. Based in San Francisco, California, the Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charity that is funded primarily through reader donations.
Wikimedia Foundation press contact
Samantha Lien, Communications Manager