3:00pm

Wed January 18, 2012
NPR Story

Are There Workarounds For Wikipedia's Blackout?

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Well it may be difficult to access Wikipedia today, but it's not impossible. Here with some Wikipedia workarounds is Brian Cooley, the editor at CNET. Welcome back, Brian.

BRIAN COOLEY: Thank you, Robert.

SIEGEL: And first, I want you tell us some different ways to get around the Wikipedia blackout today.

COOLEY: Well, one of the easiest ways is to go search for the Wikipedia page you want on Google and look for the result on Google that says Wikipedia and then the subject you're looking for. It's usually one of the first few results. And then, if you mouse over that or just put your cursor over it, you're going to find a little double-arrow box opens just to the right of the search result. And then just to the right of that, you're going to see a little mini version of the Wikipedia page you're trying to get to.

Right above that is a little text link that says cached copy, or cached, and you go to that, and that's one that Google has. So you're not actually going to Wikipedia, but you're finding a fairly fresh copy of that same page from Wikipedia that Google has squirreled away on their servers because that's just kind of how Google runs. They cache things so they can more easily serve them to you. Now, if you're concerned that that page is stale, which it might be, that cached copy on Google is going to have a freshness date at the top, if you will, that will say when they captured it, when Google captured that copy of it. And so you can see if it's a day old, a few days old, a few hours old and make a judgment that way.

SIEGEL: Now, that's a much more elegant work-around than mine, which was to go to a foreign language site of Wikipedia, preferably a language I understand, but I tried Danish just for fun, which I don't understand. I searched for Mitt Romney in the Danish Wikipedia, then copied the answer into Google Translate from Danish to English, and there, you know, minus some odd bits of grammar, there it is.

COOLEY: Yes. It could make for either a Mad Lib or kind of a laborious end around, if you will, but that is another way to do it. It's important to point out that the Wikipedia version that is down has been the English version, not the others, because this is very much about getting in front of the U.S. Internet audience and getting them to realize what's happening in their legislature that could affect our relationship with Internet media around the world.

SIEGEL: Other sites have also shown solidarity and shut down their sites today. Have they had more luck fully blocking their content than Wikipedia has?

COOLEY: Yeah. Wikipedia's kind of a tough one to block because of this Google caching, because of the different language versions that you point out. It's a very broadly distributed site. Also down today are Reddit, which is a popular webpage recommendation service. You'll often see their buttons on webpages so you can let folks know: I read this and I recommend it.

Also the Cheezburger network, which does the I Can Has Cheezburger cat photos. So everything from the rather robust, like Wikipedia, down to the silly, but notice that all of these have one thing in common: They're all highly trafficked. But Wikipedia's been the one that I think is getting the most attention because people are hungry for a workaround. I mean, you can just imagine millions of students out there today having to actually find another place to get their research.

SIEGEL: Well, Brian Cooley, thanks a lot for talking with us about it today.

COOLEY: Thanks, Robert. Appreciate it.

SIEGEL: Brian Cooley, editor-at-large for the tech news site CNET. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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