The day Wikipedia went away | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

While researching Dwayne Johnson on Wikipedia last Wednesday, I saw the banner announcing the twenty-four hour blackout of the English Wikipedia page to protest the Sopa (Stop Online Piracy Act), a bill being passed around in US Congress to help stop copyright infringement and piracy on the Internet.  Other media giants like Google and Facebook are against the bill, claiming that the activities related to this bill should it pass will result in slower Internet, a violation of free speech and right to privacy and will ultimately change the essence of the openness of the Web.

“Blackout?” I thought to myself, “Nah. Surely they didn’t mean taking down Wikipedia for twenty-four whole hours.  Maybe they just meant changing the background to black or something.”

And then the first hour arrived. And yes, the black background was there, but the rest of the pages were gone.  They would still show up in Google searches as the number one result, but clicking on it would just bring you back to the somber black protest page.

What. The. What?!!!  The blackout was for real, and I wasn’t the only one feeling the immediate withdrawal symptoms— within a few minutes, Twitter was abuzz with tweets supporting Wikipedia’s protest, while the rest were panicking over its hiatus.

Sure, because of the collaborative nature of each entry, Wikipedia isn’t recognized as a reference source, but for comprehensive information about anything and anyone, it does the trick—not bad for a completely free service.

I didn’t realize how much I had taken it for granted when I wanted to Wikipedia movie and book plots. Oh no, did Wikipedia seriously want me to sit through an entire movie and read a whole book to find out how it ends?  How was I going to find out about other stuff without Wikipedia?   How did Wikipedia become this ubiquitous in our lives without us realizing it? And more importantly, when will the 24 hours be over so I can start reading about the Wikipedia blackout entry on Wikipedia?

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