It is not entirely surprising to learn some countries do not take kindly to platforms such as Wikipedia. This is especially true in regions where censorship is enforced quite heavily. Turkey has already blocked access to Wikipedia, and China has now announced their plans to create a Wikipedia rival as soon as next year.
Although many people rely on Wikipedia to find all sorts of information, not everything you can find there is 100% correct. That being said, anything found on Wikipedia can potentially pose a problem for oppressive governments, such as the one found in China. As a result of this potential problem, the local government has decided to create their own version of Wikipedia, which will only contain content curated and written by people approved by the government.
To be more specific, the goal is to launch an online version of China’s national encyclopedia in 2018. With over 20,000 people hired to complete the task at hand, it so evident this platform will be quite a big undertaking. The goal is to have at least 300,000 entries on the platform by the time it launches, each of which will be about 1,000 words in length.
What makes this Chinese platform different from Wikipedia is how it is created by carefully selected scholars from state-run universities. This means the new platform will not be openly editable to volunteers, which may hinder its chance of success. The Chinese government makes it clear they want to control all information found on this online platform, which indicates some of the facts may be presented in a more biased view.
In fact, the editor-in-chief of the project already refers to it as the “Great Wall of Culture”. Anything related to technology and information with the term “Great Wall” in it usually translates to “carefully curated and restricted”. It remains to be seen how the Encyclopedia of China will look once it is finished, although it is doubtful this platform will ever rival with Wikipedia in the traditional sense.
The Chinese government has a long history of trying to spoon-feed information to the public, but only tell their truth. This Wikipedia clone seems to be another iteration of the desire to “guide the public” in the coming decades. It is a commendable effort, mind you, but this particular approach raises a lot more question than answers at this stage.
It is worth mentioning the concept of an online version of the Encyclopedia of China was approved back in 2011. For some unknown reason, the actual writing of the content and development of the platform’s code only started recently. With the platform expected to be finished as early as 2018, this venture will require a lot of work over the coming months.
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