By Mike Melanson / December 9, 2010 9:53 AM
Ever since whistle-blowing site Wikileaks began its latest round of document releases, it has found opposition and support in various places. It has hopped around from server to server, had its bank account closed, watched as PayPal, Visa and Mastercard all shut down donations to the site, and even had an anonymous group of hackers retaliate in Wikileak’s name. One thing that keeps Wikileaks going, however, is the simple fact that it has hundreds of mirror sites in different languages and locales.
One such listing of these sites hosted on name-in-kind service Wikipedia has been deleted by the collaborative encyclopedia’s editors. Should we cry “Foul!” or is the deletion just more business as usual for the site?
If you take a look at the discussion page for the deletion of the “List of WikiLeaks mirrors” page, you can see some of the views for and against its deletion. While proponents argue that the list of links should be kept until Wikileaks finds more stable hosting, or that it offers a value outside of just listing links, most opponents cite clear Wikipedia policy stating that “Wikipedia is not a mirror or repository of links.” In the end, and despite all of the lofty debate, the article’s removal looks like a simple matter of policy.
We got in touch with Wikipedia’s parent organization, Wikimedia, to find out what was really going on. Moka Pantages, a spokesperson for Wikimedia, told us it was “business as usual.”
This article was started two days ago and deleted yesterday. This is business as usual for our community of volunteer editors. Deleting link lists are common. When there is no encyclopedic value, an article is deleted. In this case, the article was simply a list of links, so our community deleted it quickly. A recent article deleted for the same reason was “List of Active Drive in Theaters” People editing Wikipedia have nothing against drive-in theaters, of course, it’s just that lists like these don’t belong on Wikipedia.
For a bit of an interesting behind-the-scenes look at how this was done, you can look at the discussion page yourself. In the deletion of the article, editors cited a number of clauses, including a particularly interesting one – the “Snowball clause”. It states that “If an issue does not have a snowball’s chance in hell of being accepted by a certain process, there’s no need to run it through the entire process.”
Of course, if you were using the Wikipedia article to keep track of how to find your favorite classified document releasing, Whac-A-Mole website, you can also visit its own list of mirror sites. If that doesn’t work, simply search for “Wikileaks mirrors” and you’ll run across more than enough lists. This is, of course, the distributed wonder that is the Internet – take down one thing and a million more pop up in other locations.