Wiki blackout VS Exeter Students

ALEXANDER PATERSON finds out what impact the protest had on students.

America blackout search engine SOPA wikipedia

Wikipedia went dark a couple of weeks ago leaving many students confused and fearful for their looming BART deadlines. Some, however, sparked up ingenious workarounds and twittered each other to safety.

Should you have been one of the many students probing for Wikipedia “facts” on January 18th, you would have been greeted with an ominously doom laden and oversized “W” alongside text reading, ‘Imagine a World Without Free Knowledge’.

Though this bleak blackout was a definite improvement on Wikipedia’s previous theme – desperate pleas for donations accompanied by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ awkwardly leering mug – some students feared the 2012 predictions had come to pass.

The end of Wikipedia as we know it. Luckily help was at hand for panicking essayists, and news of sneaky tactics ranging from Blackberry WI-FI access, to ESC’ing at the last second, spread through social networking sites like wildfire.

Third year Graham Stride described the protest as ‘dreadful… if they wanted to ‘blackout’ Wikipedia they shouldn’t have made it so easy to get around’.

But why otherwise should we care about an obscure American bill? For some undergrads, SOPA might be the closest they’ve come to soap but the reality is less likely to get net users moist.

SOPA was dreamed up by Congressman Lamar Smith, ostensibly to ‘combat piracy’. What the bill really threatened was to control all USA hosted websites. That’s most of them – bad news even for us Brits!

Can students expect any more wiki-shocks? Thankfully, no.

SOPA was shot down by congress and though nobody will know for sure if the bill is gone for good until late 2012, all looks good on the global western front, and students can get back to ignoring advice and abusing Wikipedia. God bless America.