How to access Wikipedia during Wednesday’s SOPA blackout

January 18, 2012
Category: Uncategorized

Despite jokes about Wikipedia’s SOPA blackout being tough on high school students, the site is an important reference for journalists working on deadline. USC Annenberg journalism professor Andrew Lih offered a couple of blackout workarounds during a BlogTalkRadio show hosted by the Columbia journalism school:

Use Google’s cached version of the page you’re looking for. Search for the term in Google, and rather than clicking on the link to the Wikipedia entry, roll your cursor over it. Two arrows will appear to the right; when you click on them, you’ll see an image of the Wikipedia page you need. Click the “Cached” link above the image, and you can access the version of the page that Google saved when it last visited. (It’s possible the page has changed since the last time Google visited, but you already know the importance of verifying information.)

Use the mobile version of Wikipedia. You can do this by visiting the site on your smartphone or tablet. (Mobile apps work, too.) You can also use the mobile site on a desktop computer by using the URL “en.m.wikipedia.org,” or by inserting the m at that place in any Wikipedia URL. (If you’re using a desktop computer, any link will redirect to the blackout page, so you’ll have to insert the m for each URL.)

Use a bookmarklet to remove the blackout overlay. Wikipedia’s blackout works by placing a layer over the content of each page, but you can drag a bookmarklet to your browser’s bookmarks bar to remove that overlay. (Thanks to Stewart Smith for coding this and pointing it out.)

New Scientist explains some of these options and a few more. There are other online encyclopedias, too. Ironically, the online Encyclopedia Britannica doesn’t have an entry for SOPA.

Or if you’re particularly adventurous, you can use this as an opportunity to test your language skills.

Lih and the Cato Institute’s Julian Sanchez also urged journalists reporting on the blackout not to oversimplify things. “Avoid lazy journalism,” Sanchez said. “The sexy, easy way to frame a kind of comp tech issue will be as the sort of horse race, Hollywood v. Silicon Valley. That just cheats your readers. … It’s not even accurate.”

That’s tough for some to avoid. Politico reported Wednesday: “It’s the ultimate escalation in the bloody battle between Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Washington over illegal content online.”

Related: Wikipedia substitutes trend on Twitter | What the SOPA blackout really looks like | What journalists need to know about SOPA (Poynter)

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