Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Post-blackout community review

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The normal diurnal editing levels on one server resume after the blackout.

While the Wikimedia Foundation is conducting their own analysis of the 18 January action, the community of engaged editors at en.wikipedia should conduct their own.

What en.wikipedia did well[edit]


The Wikimedia Foundation, invited all users of the English Wikipedia to be consulted, rather than make a decision by themselves. Whenaxis about | talk 00:49, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

  • The two months of debate by users who engaged worked well. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:03, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Decision making[edit]

  • We demonstrated a discussion with very high volumes of participation could be conducted, and could be effectively closed. Fifelfoo (talk) 01:52, 25 January 2012 (UTC)


  • The implementation of the blackout was attractive in terms of graphic design. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:27, 25 January 2012 (UTC)
  • We ensured that WMF implemented most of our decision, and interrogated WMF members over technical versus policy reasons for not implementing sections of our decision. Fifelfoo (talk) 02:27, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

What en.wikipedia could do better[edit]


  • I worked on the mobile version of a splash page and posted Monday before blackout, was not told that this would not be technically feasible until some 2 or 3 hours before the blackout began. If something like this were to happen, someone in a position of authority should have come along and mentioned that the technology wasn't in place beforehand (suggestion for mobile version had been posted even longer before.) Sean "esqew" Quinn (talk) 16:19, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
  • I understand the final decision rests with the Foundation, but an overwhelming majority voted for blackout page designs other than the Foundation's, and that overwhelming majority was essentially ignored in the end. Sean "esqew" Quinn (talk) 16:19, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
    • I disagree that it was an "overwhelming majority" that voted for the blackout. Voting procedures and the notification of users before a vote for an issue of this magnitude need to be improved. Many casual users were not aware of the vote and no banners appeared for them letting them know that a blackout was being planned. I propose that if something this controversial is planned in the future a publicly viewable banner ad like the blackout countdown timer be displayed to every user regardless of if they are logged in or not for a week prior to the vote to ensure maximum community participation and make claims of majority support valid. Washuchan (talk) 02:19, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
      • Hi Washuchan, I took the liberty of adding a {{cent}} template to the top of your Talk page which you can keep an eye on. There were banners for three or four days if I remember correctly, and we got more participation than any other project-wide discussion, as I understand the situation. The initial straw poll was a handful of votes short of 90%. Selery (talk) 20:21, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
      • By "overwhelming majority," I thought only of the people who actually did vote. (talk) 02:33, 22 January 2012 (UTC)

Decision making[edit]

I don't consider that proper consultation of contributors outside the USA was carried out. How much time was actually allowed for debate? Deb (talk) 12:43, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

Weeks. Thousands of editors participated. A clear near-90% consensus emerged after the first straw poll and the community overruled Foundation suggestions on at least two aspects. Selery (talk) 15:43, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I hear Selery, but these statements from the 18th's Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Action "Over the course of the past 72 hours, over 1800 Wikipedians have joined together to discuss .... This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia..." made the most impact on me, yesterday, as I pondered it all. I'm not sure what forum/s Selery refers to of longer duration; I know I was involved in the issue/alerted to the issue's scope and the depth of Wiki interest via the SOPA article/Talk over say the last 2-3 weeks (and I'd love to find in my memory/logs what led me to the article). In turn that's what led me to follow the SOPA banner when it appeared sometime in that 72 hours. I hope Deb keeps on her concern. It was a self-selected/-generated Wiki process. The straw poll article pretty well covers it (nb Robert's Rules): not the peak democratic process I'm sure most concede (though maybe the best Wiki could do/can do ... for the while). I would be curious how many "signed" Google's petition or clicked on Wiki's referral page(s) (see below for where I started my look at all this, today). But, Deb, I would also be curious to hear if/how/why you missed/passed on the "Action" process. Swliv (talk) 16:38, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
I'll be honest - I didn't even notice the banner until about 2 days before the withdrawal of the service. I have no idea how long it had been there. It asked if we should "protest SOPA" - that's an Americanism. In the UK we say "protest against"; to "protest" as a transitive verb in English means "to affirm" (as in "he protested his innocence" - it doesn't mean "he protested against his innocence"). I wondered what SOPA was, and would have got around to having a look in the next couple of days. There was no clue that we were being invited to discuss using wikipedia as a mechanism of protest, so it came as a total shock to find we had apparently decided to do so. Deb (talk) 19:50, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Deb, I took the liberty of placing a {{cent}} template at the top of your talk page. I hope it helps you keep on top of the major discussions. Selery (talk) 21:23, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
Swliv, Google says 4.5 million people signed their petition, and Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Learn more says 8 million people looked up their congresspeople's contact information on Wikipedia. Selery (talk) 21:25, 19 January 2012 (UTC)

The whole process was a fascinating example of colliding OODA loops. I'm an Electronic Frontier Foundation member, so I was already savvy about SOPA and primed to participate (indeed, I had already telephoned my Representative). I was surprised and pleased at how quickly a majority gelled for a global blackout... For the proponents of SOPA to claim that a bunch of geeks had been "mislead" is risible. kencf0618 (talk) 01:35, 25 January 2012 (UTC)


The text size (at least in my usual browser, Internet Explorer 8, which is set to the default "medium") was very small and made the message a little hard to read. I have a feeling that in my other browser (Opera 11.6) it might've been even smaller, since when I normally use Wikipedia on Opera the text is smaller. - Purplewowies (talk) 01:53, 25 January 2012 (UTC)

Neither good nor bad, but interesting[edit]

A screen shot shows all edits made during the 24 hours of blackout. One of the most rare scenes on Wikipedia.
  • Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Learn more was viewed 9,716,454 times on the 18th. Wikipedia:SOPA initiative/Action was viewed 202,646 times in about the four days building to the 18th; nearly 80,000, the high, on the 18th. Via respective "Page view statistics" on "View history" pages, Action here. 16:38 Note: There's a five-hour-lag skew; page stats are UTC, the blackout was midnight-midnight 18th EST. So 5 hours worth of 17th evening EST are in the above figures; and 5 hrs of 18th'll be in the 19th figures, not yet available. And, yes, I do think 9 million hits is pretty good but don't know. Swliv (talk) 17:05, 19 January 2012 (UTC)
  • Actually good (but here because it's orthogonal to planning): I couldn't find any substantial vandalism on my watchlist, even though recent changes had a spike shortly after the re-activation. Selery (talk) 00:11, 20 January 2012 (UTC)