Bjork declared Independence for Tibet in the end of her concert in Shanghai earlier this month. Munks led the the biggest protests in Tibet in 20 years two weeks ago and pictures of violent demonstrations were spread all over the world. France considers abandoning the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics in August. China’s suppression of protests in Tibet is just one of many concerns and controversies that challenge the Chinese government and the 2008 Summer Olympics. Because of this I am expecting that there will be some interesting discussions and edits on the 2008 Summer Olympic Wikipedia page. I am tracking the edit history using WikiScanner.
1. Who and How Often
On the search retrieved on March 25th 2008 from WikiScanner there are 493 edits for page 2008 Summer Olympics. The top 10 edits are created by:
- Verizon Internet Services Inc. (Elkins, West Virginia, USA) 17 edits
- Bt-Central-Plus (London, England)14 edits
- Charter Communications (Hickory, North Carolina, USA) 14 edits
- Bt-Central-Plus (London, England)13 edits
- PCCW Limited (Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Sar) 13 edits
- Earthlink Network Inc (Atlanta, USA) 11 edits
- -(-,-), 8 edits
- Adelphia (Leesburg, Virginia, USA) 8 edits
- Committee Gestor Da Internet No Brasil, 8 edits
- University of Sydney (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia) 8 edits.
A lot of the IP IP addresses belongs to Internet providers like Verizon Internet Services in West Virginia, USA, where nine different IP addresses have been used. I have only discovered one prominent IP address. It is Bank of America, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA. Some one from the bank has edited the page five times, but it is minor editions.
Protests and boycotts
As expected the major controversy is related to the page Protests and Potential Boycotts. It is interesting to see how this page has changed during the last couple of years. The debate is about how detailed the description of especially the pro-Tibetan independence groups should be. In June 2006 that debate peaked with some hot comments about vandalism and point of view (POV) material. Sections are added and deleted over and again during these days. The question is how detailed the description of the pro-Tibetan groups should be. The risk is that it is hard to keep the neutral point of view if too many allegations and details are covered. One allegation is that one of the mascots of the 2008 Summer Olympics, the Tibetan antelope is used as propaganda to legitimize Chinese “occupation” of Tibet. The allegation is not backed by any other fact or analysis, and the Chinese point of view is not represented. There is also a debate about the existence of the section of boycotts. Is it relevant because on the pages about former summer Olympics the boycotts are only mentioned in the footnotes? Due to the neutral point of view principle it is fair – as in the existing page retrieved on March 25th – to mention the controversies and link to more information about them just like it is the norm on very Wikipedia page. Chinese language
Some editors add here and there some of the Chinese characters and clarify the meaning of certain words. I have not noticed a debate between users with great knowledge of the Chinese language. I just mention this to show the variety of edits and layers composing a Wikipedia page.
In general, most edits are enhancing the form or adding or deleting a few words which of course can change the whole meaning. Other issues that come up in the comments colon in WikiScanner are about the Beijing National Stadium, broadcasting, marketing, the slogan, and the mascot. But there is not any major controversy in these edits.
What’s not there
It is interesting to notice the difference between the discussion that WikiScanner reveals and the discussion about the article presented on the Wikipedia page (discussion). On the Wikipedia page Tibet, protests and boycotts are not mentioned at all except for a comment that “Mia Farrow’s comparison of Beijing with the 1936 Berlin Olympics is not out of order. These are the most political games since then.” (I found a few comments on this in my WikiScanner search). The WikiScanner search does not reveal the discussion about metal theft that takes up the biggest discussion on the discussion site of the Wikipedia site. I am surprised that broadcasting has not drawn major controversy because the foreign TV outlets will be restricted due to the Chinese law (that Western media and citizens will consider as restrictions).
I noticed right away that WikiScanner did not track any edits made in 2008. Most of the editions have been made in 2006 and 2007 and a few in 2004 and 2005. Why not? Probably because the Tibetan riots and the maybe French boycott of the opening ceremony belong to other pages, or because Wikipedia is not a news site!
The majority of editors are American – or at least they are using an American IP address. There are a few IP addresses hosted in Hong Kong. But there are not any Chinese IP addresses. Surprised? Not really, just like Google experienced the Great Firewall of China, Wikipedia is blocked in mainland China for most of the time.
What did I learn from this exercise? Well, just like BeckBlogic Weblog I did not find any material for a new Watergate scandal. I did not find anything that fits for print or blogging news. But I did find that for this page the principles of Wikipedia work. The controversies will always offend the opponents of a certain view. But that is not reason enough to leave it out (see some of the controversial pages like the Muhammed Cartoons) as long as the information adds extra value for the reader and as long as the opposite point of view is presented.