Regarding recent events on Italian Wikipedia

Today the volunteers of the Italian Wikipedia community made the decision to replace all of Italian Wikipedia with a message to readers about a law (PDF in Italian) being discussed before the Chamber of Deputies of the Italian parliament. The message outlines the viewpoints of the Italian Wikipedia community, and provides details about the proposed bill, and how it threatens the ability to openly collaborate in the sharing of knowledge. This is certainly a decision the Italian Wikipedia community did not take lightly.
The Wikimedia Foundation stands with our volunteers in Italy who are challenging the recently drafted “DDL intercettazioni” (or Wiretapping Bill) bill in Italy.  This bill would hinder the work of projects like Wikipedia: open, volunteer-driven, and collaborative spaces dedicated to sharing high-quality knowledge, not to mention the ability for all users of the internet to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.
Wikipedians the world over pride themselves on their ability to rapidly remove false information from their project.  Wikipedia has established methods to receive complaints or concerns from individuals or organizations and a strong system exists to remove incorrect or false information, and if necessary to remove complete articles in an effort to prevent vandalism. For Wikipedians, there is no value nor need for this proposed legislation.
The Wikimedia Foundation supports the rights of all people to access our free knowledge content everywhere in the world, and we equally support the work of our editors to collaborate in the production of this free knowledge without the spectre of sanctioned punishment or attacks towards their work.
Jay Walsh, Communications

Archive notice: This is an archived post from, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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It’s utterly ridiculous what the “italian editors” are doing.
Wikimedia has to be neutral and wikipedia cannot be used to protests.
The volunteers in Italy (or vandals – to be more exact) decides nobody can access and read articles because wikipedia has to be free… Free?
And the content? I was doing a translation of a article to portuguese and… now i can’t because some users decide to “protest”. Create a blog, protest in twitter, facebook whatever, but not abuse of wikipedia to try to impose a point of view. Obviously not neutral.
Disgussing (and very brainless).

This is a very interesting vision, mission, strategy, pillar, policy, guideline of the WMF: involvement in political activism in a EU member state. More appalling, however, is the blatant propaganda loaded with exaggerated and plain false statements. “The ability for all users of the Internet to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.” does not stand when there are thousands of banned, blocked, locked and monitored Internet users (this user included) and the Italians are no exception. “Wikipedia is not a democracy” and neither is the WMF a private charity. As for free speech opportunities, they have been clearly explained: “Your… Read more »

Not to mention that Virgilio A. P. Machado Says: “Your comment is awaiting moderation.”
October 4th, 2011 at 19:49
Thank you for giving me one more chance “to engage in democratic, free speech opportunities.”
Virgilio A. P. Machado (User:Vapmachado)

[…] 48 hours – a correction to anything that anyone deemed personally damaging.I urge you to read the statement by the WMF.   Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply.You must be logged in to post a […]

Standing by readers is one thing. Standing by while a site is manipulated to act as a political platform and its primary purpose subverted is another. A site notice or a targeted central notice would have been more than adequate to convey the message supported by the community. However, this is too much. It seems that, with the consensus of those who edit and are aware of the inner workings of the Wikipedia community, you can make any statement you like on a Wikimedia wiki with no consequences. But the readers are the ones who suffer. Do the ends justify… Read more »

Why is it so scandalous for people to be able to defend themselves against views they do not agree with?

I am from Italy, and I can explain exactly what this Bill is all about. Let’s say somebody writes something I don’t like on a website, any website. Well, in that case, if this bill is approved, I can make the admins of that website remove that statement within 48 hours. Law would impose that to them; and not only they would need to remove that thing, but they would have to replace it with whatever the “offended” person suggest, giving it the same visibility, graphics and importance as the old statement. All this in 48 hours, by law. So… Read more »

Is it just me or the Italian Wikipedia community is overimplicating? Since I think that this law doesn’t mean and absolutely can’t enforce zero-defaming in Italian language and any kind of Italian media. If otherwise it does, Wikipedia with the threatened integrity of mostly articles on “People” wouldn’t be the biggest victim. Other communities would be more likely to spearhead a campaign to retract the law, so there’s no need for Wikipedia to fret. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Thank you Pietro Baroni for a sensible and reasonable statement. The law in question could destroy not only wikipedia in Italy, but any site and all news media where anyone says anything that anyone else disagrees with. The proposed Italian law attempts to fix a problem with a cure far worse than the disease. Just imagine the chaos that would likely ensue — websites could be thrashed back and forth at the whim of individuals with no moderating influence. Taken from another view point, the Italian law, if passed, would likely make Italy a laughingstock of the modern internet world.

It is not the opinion of the itwp editors, and it is not the political agenda of anyone. They do not protest killing polar bears or economical sorcery. It is about _Wikipedia_, and I guess it has been really clearly written why and how. You do not seem to comprehend that while the current “blanking” appears temporary the bill may cause italian wikipedia to be ceased, and blank forever. Italian editors would be forbidden to edit it or face fines or imprisonment due not complying their national law. It doesn’t help that the servers are in the US since you… Read more »

One of the remaining (after the fork) active members of English Wikinews has resigned on the grounds the foundation has forsaken its own principle of neutrality in supporting political activism by a sister project. His statement is at

It might suit better, Pietro, to explain it using an example. For using an quite extreme example, but still it shows the problem: if one of the most well-known Italian actrices won’t like anymore, that “her” article says she was born in Rome an 20 September 1934, but Sophia Loren would much more like to be born an 16 July 1936 in Rimini this law enables her to write a notice to any sysop on the Italian Wikipedia and demand to remove the former and inset the latter wether it is true or not. If the sysop won’t comply he… Read more »

I think the hiding action of Italian Wikipedia should be undone and the man that decided that italian Wikipedia should be hidden be blocked for vandalism. I know, this law is ridiculous, but people shold be able to read Wikipedia Normally. Thye should only put that message on Main Page

I’m from Italy too, and I agree with Pietro; I’ll not digress into why exactly this bill is being passed (whoever wants more informations on this is free to check our major politicians’ judicial backgrounds); but its effects would be terrible not only on Wikipedia, but on the Internet as a whole, not to mention other, more “traditional” media. The bill states that if a person, any person, thinks something published by any media is lesive of his/her dignity, he/she can ask the publisher to remove it and replace it with a statement *from the offended person*, and this will… Read more »

Questa volta stiamo facendo veramente una figurina di vacca con il resto del mondo segnalandoci come i piu’ sciocchi ed i piu’ reazionari. Vogliamo rilanciare il paese continuando con queste bravate bigotte e retrograde? Altro che intercettazioni ed escort, qui non ci sono fantasmi nell’armadio, ma c’e solo inettitudine di una casta politica di infimo livello!

It’s simply the some stupid italian way to make bills. They don’t understand the net and cause of this are only able to care about their problems with law for bitches or for their shady busines.

Pietro, I am italian too. But Wikipedia has to do with information and culture, not with politics. It has to remain free, neutral and AVAILABLE. The editors cannot use the site to express a political point of view, there are other means to do that. I agree they should resign and restore the site as soon as possible.

[…] […]

The Italian Wikipedia community has the right to defend their own work against a law that could prevent them from furtherly contribute to Wikimedia projects. They just want to defend the Italian Wikipedia and its basic principle of neutrality and that’s nothing scandalous or ridiculous.
Btw., I actually wonder what happens if after such a law-enforced change on a website another person comes and says “but I want that other content back there because I don’t like this one”? Law-enforced edit war?

@Martinez: The text published on the Italian Wikipedia is neutral. It is not againsts some particular party or faction. And it is non a proper protest. It is an objective text explaining that law and how that law will shut down any neutral and editable website in Italy. The law imposes to any website to remove any text considered difamatory by the offended subject, without the intervention or the opinion of a judge and _the publishing of a new text, written by the injuried subject_. This is against the neutrality of Wikipedia. If I’m allergic to milk, and I feel… Read more »

@Josh: Simple, let’s suppose that I will be sued and condemned for a crime. “Andrea has been condemned for this crime” This is a true verifiable undeniable statement, nothing malicious, just a verified proposition (as Chomsky would put it). With the old Law I can sue someone if they publish something personal or untrue or malicious, but not for the plain truth. With the new law I can sue and have the phrase removed, just because I personally don’t won’t that anyone should write anything about me on the web (wikipedia included). Not only that: I should claim that the… Read more »

Full support to Jay Walsh’s statement.
I believe that this decision by the Italian Wikipedia community was 100% right. This is elementary self-defence against a bill that would make life impossible for the Project, limiting its possibilities of survival to our subduing to political and legal pressures.
All Wikipedia officers and active community members have the duty to take the most effective measures to protect the existence and integrity of Wikipedia. The effect this strike action is having in Italy is huge and this proves that the decision was absolutely correct.

An Italian Wikipedia contributor

Just to be clear. Every active user of wikipedia in Italy can be persecuted by law “ddl intercettazioni” if somebody finds it annoying and there will not be any impartial authority to judge the content of denounce. This is just ridicolous and not democratic. NO CONSPIRACY. We need help in Italy to bring the democracy back.

The whole of Wikipedia (along with many other websites) is premised on a political idea – that freedom of expression, freedom of speech, and honest reporting of facts are rights hard fought for and of benefit to humanity. These ideas are common but not universal, yet editors across the world work every day towards them in virtually all countries. Our whole existence as a series of websites is a statement of massive support for the views expressed by these rights, as opposed to the view that free speech is dangerous, heresy, or anything else. International law means that you cannot… Read more »

Though this action of some Italian speakers (and not “The Italian language”) shall be for only a few hours or days, it’s a bad action. The entire Italian language Wikipedia is taken as a hostage by a group of users, and the threats of the proposed bill (still in discussion for two years and a few months…) do not give any right to anyone to act as a kind of “terrorist”. I noticed, last night, different views by renowned people in the “Wikimedia world” and some were interesting. Especially Ms Gardner’s sentences, on Foundation-l: 1°) “It seems obvious though that… Read more »

I’m Italian too, and I can confirm what Pietro and Massimo said above, I want to highlight the fact that if the bill will be approved for will become impossible to write anithing about any person who is alive or any group wich includes a person who is alive. I think with this ‘strike’ simply fights for its right to exist

I think those who live outside Italy are (blisfully) unaware of the impending censorship situation, and so are finding it hard to appreciate the “strike”. It’s also a reflection of the political / free press / censorship situation as a whole, which really is becoming quite serious.

Hi everyone, just to make it clear, I do not feel that what is doing can ever qualify as political activism. The content of the bill provides technical problems to every individual, organization or company that want to publish any kind of information on the web. As censorship prevents the sharing of information, culture and discussion on the web, it is impossible to make wikipedia work. This is not a bill, but an act of repression that turns Italy into a proper dictatorship, and every individual or group that are deprived of their constitutional freedom are entitled to protest… Read more »

Hi all, I’m from Italy too and agree both with Massimo and Pietro. I just want to suggest to other users, from other counries, who see the wikipedia “shutdown” as a political protest, a similar landscape: imagine to have the prime minister of your country involved in mafia, payoff, corruption, being one of the richest and powerful and influential soubjects in european economy, in politic, in media communications having not only control over the statal TV stations (being his party the govern itself) but owning, through his familiars, all the other most important tv stations of your country, and beign… Read more »

Another Italian here. I am pretty shocked by the negative comments previously posted, but I think that probably is because it is quite hard to understand the mediatic situation in Italy. Actually, we are experiencing a censorship in all the aspects of the public information. It is ways above the political parties, and much more severe. The gonna-be-approved bill will destroy the probably last “free” channel of information. That should be a really bad thing in another country, but in Italy it will become a real disaster. Some days ago (and I think it is related with what is happening… Read more »

I give all my support to Italian Wikipedia editors in this action. If you think there is something else that can be done just explain it. I am sure that many people will join to help.

I’m from Italy as well. I stand by the decisions of the Italian Wikipedia volunteers. The point is not using Wikipedia as means of political pressure or not. It’s about the very existence of Wikipedia as it is now. Wikipedia has already, by constitution, a way to regulate and dismiss inaccurate content. The point of this Bill is not to eliminate inaccurate or wrong content, but the content some people find offensive for themselves, even if the affirmation is true and well documented. One of the principles of Wikipedia is the Neutral Point of View: with this Bill it will… Read more »

@Ramirez: do you have an idea of what is happening here?

A note: the Italian wikipedia is not special in any way, except for the fact that most of its editors are from Italy. The law would apply to text inserted by any Italian editor on any Wikipedia, or even to text inserted by a foreign editor residing on Italian soil. This is nothing new; Italians cannot legally upload fair-use content to the English wikipedia, for example. This means that in theory the law could be applied to any website, including non-Italian versions of Wikipedia, if the offended person could prove that the offending text was inserted by an Italian editor,… Read more »

@Josh: this is not about defending yourself. It is about forbidding Wikipedians from ever removing your own view of the facts, without having to provide any proof that you are stating the truth.

Ironically, ALREADY with the current laws, Wikimedia Italia and its president Frieda, are already involved (since 2009) in a serious and absurd legal process, for alleged defamation! The “victim” is an editor of a newspaper and a right-wing politician ,gh. Cfr. :
PS: sorry for bad english

Sono un utente italiano di Wikipedia – che ha anche contribuito a creare alcune pagine – e condivido il commento di Martinez, secondo cui Wikipedia non dovrebbe essere strumentalizzata. Parlando con alcuni utenti più esperti di Wikipedia sul canale IRC, ai quali ho rivolto alcune critiche – in particolare quella di aver bloccato Wikipedia senza darne preventivo annuncio (dal momento che paragonano con spavalderia il blocco ad uno sciopero, ma la legge prescrive che per uno sciopero sia dato adeguato preavviso, specie per un servizio di utilità pubblia) – mi sono reso conto che c’è molta disorganizzazione, e che il… Read more »

Errata corrige: pubblica* [5° rigo]

Just a moment ladies and genltemen. Wikipedia is about to tell the truth, and document everything it says. Furthermore, it MUST be polite and neutral. If the content of Italian wikipedia is truthfull, documented and polite there is no, really NO REASON for italian justice to take any action. If it does, this is CENSORSHIP! In this impossible case the whole wikipedia community will support italian counterparts of course without any hesitation. BUT, the protest and shut-down of Italian wikipedia BEFORE any formal procedure is a biased, anacceptalbe, super-duperPOV disgusting completely political action and a severe irreversible damage of Wikipedia’s… Read more »

I’m Italian and I agree with Massimo and Pietro.

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Hoch lebe der Belusconismus!

You gentlemen who are believing that the editors are using italian Wikipedia for a political protest: I’ll be honest with you. You don’t understand. You probably didn’t even bother to READ what the damn thing is about. You should be utterly ashamed of yourselves.
If this law is approved, Italian Wikipedia will have to close in any case. It’s not a matter of PoV, or leaning to one political side: It’s survival of the Italian Wikipedia project.

As a user of and contributor to Wikipedia in several languages, including Italian, I wonder why the Italian Wikipedia could not be relocated to Switzerland (possibly as “HelvetoPedia”), where Italian is one of the 4 official languages, possibly through a “mirror site”. Surely some Swiss university – I’m thinking of Lugano University, which is officially the “Università della Svizzera italiana – could help in this. There are also two microstates, the Vatican City and San Marino, where Italian is the official language. The Italian language is too important culturally to be tied exclusively to the vicissitudes of the Republic of… Read more »

As Italian, I completely agree that the bill would – in its current form – to bring chaos to the publication of material, but I absolutely disagree with this decision taken by some users, especially because it is denied the opportunity to reply or comment.
As Martinez said, other forms of protest could be more valid. This will reinforce the arguments of the detractors of Wikipedia.

There’s nothing ridiculous at all. The bill is going to force *every* content published IN Italy or BY italian people (this means virtually worldwide, FYI) to be removed just by a simple request *without passing any trial*. Stop. This means that the italian (language?) content of Wikipedia and furthermore every content of Wikipedia made by an italian person could be censored within 48hrs. In fact, there is no involvement by WMF in political activism. WMF’s (passive) involvement points to maintain free knowledge worldwide. Everyone knows China’s censorship-style. The introducement of censorship in EU requires a protest. How, why and when… Read more »

[…] Wikimedia Foundation, den ideella stiftelse som driver tekniken bakom Wikipedia, stödjer den italienska aktionen. Wikimedia Foundations presskontakt, Jay Walsh skriver: – The Wikimedia Foundation stands […]

for the guys that thinks stuff like “shut-down of Italian wikipedia BEFORE any formal procedure is a biased, anacceptalbe, super-duperPOV disgusting completely political action and a severe irreversible damage of Wikipedia’s basic principles” is BETTER that stop criticism and (re)start to read wikipedia!
It’s 14 MONTHS that inside the “ddl intercettazioni” is criticized and analyzed.. and are mentioned various proposal (included the “shutdown” ), with voting procedure.
See (2010-2011) and its links.
See oct 2011

First i would like to politely ask to whomever said we in Italy are using Wikipedia as a mean of polarized political pressure to apologize. You’re insulting our intelligence and our understanding of the whole wikipedia project. Second i want to remark that this bill is going to hit wikipedia in his very essence. This law will give to everyone (regardless of nationality) the power to impose a personal point of view on any wikipedia page written by italians, and/or residing in an italian server. And everyone could do that without engaging any trial or appealing to any court. Not… Read more »

@Simon Q Oh really??? ”Wikipedia’s point of view can NOT be neutral”?? Congratulation sir. The abolition of one of most basic principles is just disgusting. Wikipedia isn’t a state neither a meatworld community, and the only sure thing is that italian wikipedia will NEVER be deleted. If Italy decides to censor its internet content by removing the truth then simply it might be transfered somewhere else. Secondly, wikipedia ISN’T FREE KNOWLEDGE. It is was one of the best free knowledge projects. Ladies and gentlemen I’m from Greece and Greeks have lived the syndicalism by every aspect. The result? We have… Read more »