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2011-10-06

Italian Wikipedians go on strike to protest national law, motivate change

Italian Wikipedians, Over the past 2 years, the Italian legislature has been steadily moving towards passing a law nicknamed "the blog-slayer", which would require publishers online and offline to broadcast a correction if someone they reported about demanded it -- regardless of the accuracy of the original information. They would have to publish the correction within 48 hours, in a similar place and as visibly as the original information was published.

Considering the fines for non-compliance, this would cause many people to stop blogging about anything possibly controversial. It would have even more drastic effects on collaborative sites such as Wikipedia.

After discussing how to protest this situation, Italian Wikipedians decided to "go on strike".  They updated the javascript of it.wikipedia.org two days ago to redirect all visitors to a letter explaining the problems with the pending law, and how this could destroy the Italian project. They kept this message up for 48 hours, the same timeframe that would be mandated by the law.  It was covered widely in the international press.

This protest drew over 270,000 likes on Facebook in those 2 days, one of the most rapid protests in modern Italian history.   And the legislature responded - with a number of amendments proposed (but not passed) within a day that would exempt blogs and shared websites from the law.

The intensive discussion about how to handle a critical situation, and the outpouring of support from across Italy and around the world, were a perfect example of viral wikilove. The Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia Serbia, and a number of other community groups all published letters of support for the community action.

We will find out later today what the final outcome is, when the legislative session decides on what language it will pass. The community is currently planning to restore normal read access to the site around 1800 UTC.

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