Press Releases/Wikimedia RU considers free access to reliable knowledge critical for peace and harmony

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Wikimedia RU considers free access to reliable knowledge critical for peace and harmony

Monument of Peace and Tolerance, established in Cyprus with the participation of the Russian Federation

On 1 March 2022, at 20:15, Roskomnadzor sent a notification that the Russian Prosecutor General's Office has claims to the Russian Wikipedia article “Russian Invasion to Ukraine (2022)”. According to the notification, on 27 February, at the time of the examination of the article, it contained “false reports of acts of terrorism or other unreliable socially significant information disseminated under the guise of reliable reports ... information about numerous casualties among the military personnel of the Russian Federation, as well as the civilian population of Ukraine, including the number of children, about the need to withdraw funds from accounts in banks of the Russian Federation in connection with the sanctions imposed by foreign states,” in connection with which measures should be taken to limit access to Wikipedia on the territory of the Russian Federation.

We believe that it is fundamentally impossible to determine the degree of relevance of the claims presented in this form, and the blocking, which will greatly damage the access of Russian citizens to knowledge and prevent the preservation, development, and dissemination of knowledge and culture of the peoples of Russia, will lead to a result opposite to that to which, as follows from the notice, the Prosecutor General's Office seeks. We consider it necessary to give clarifications on the principles of functioning of wiki projects. Wikipedia is a living encyclopedia. Articles in it are constantly added, specified, corrected, and updated. So, an article about the current situation in Ukraine is being written by a huge number of people at the same time, based on many independent sources. Every minute, day and night, numerous corrections and additions are made to it (on average, more than 800 corrections per day). Since this article has already changed dramatically since 27 February, and the claims are very vague, it is impossible to understand how relevant they are.

Several hundred people make changes to the article. More people are following these changes. All these people have very different views on what is happening, and they are all very careful to ensure that someone does not insert false information or misleading wording into the article that meets the opposite point of view. As a result, all dubious, unverified, contradictory statements are promptly removed from the article. Similarly, emotional assessments, incorrect or ambiguous phrases are removed from the article. Only those statements that meet the strict requirements for reliability and neutrality of presentation remain. This process becomes more effective the more people with different positions work on the article.

Russians make up almost three-quarters of the authors of the Russian Wikipedia. If Wikipedia is blocked in Russia[1], then they will be cut off from the content control process described above for Wikipedia articles, and therefore the credibility and neutrality of the articles will suffer greatly. In addition, this will drastically slow down the work on the Russian Wikipedia, reduce the speed of its filling with new information. But Wikipedia is not just one of the many information sites. This is an encyclopedia, information from which will be used by mankind for many decades. It is needed and important not only as a site where people read articles but also as a source for training artificial intelligence systems. Therefore, the constantly updated Wikipedia is a critical tool in the preservation and dissemination of knowledge. And the constant development of the Russian Wikipedia is especially important for Russia. Without this, it is difficult to count on the fact that the knowledge and culture of the peoples of Russia will be part not only of the past but also of the future.

We are sure that a peaceful and happy future is impossible without access to reliable and neutral knowledge. When the conflicting parties stop trying to understand the position of the opponent, wars happen. Understanding requires knowledge, not belief. An encyclopedia is a place where knowledge is collected. Maintaining access to free knowledge is a contribution to stopping bloodshed and suffering in conflict-affected regions and moving towards a more peaceful future.

We urge not to sacrifice this knowledge to military-political conflicts.

  1. Wikipedia is designed in such a way that it is impossible to block any one article in it. Blocking one Wikipedia article will automatically block sections of the project in all languages.