SOPA blackout post-mortem.

Ah, the luxury of seeing the media storm coming. That said, I was expecting it Wednesday and the phones started ringing the moment the warning banner went up on Tuesday. The UK press volunteers managed most of what we were asked for, though we had a shortage of faces for television — cheers to Steve Virgin, Jon Davies, Roger Bamkin, Martin Poulter, Mike Peel and of course Jimbo.

I spent two days doing radio. The analogy I bludgeoned into the ground (nicked from Cory Doctorow): “Banks notice that bank robbers use cars for getaways. Their solution: we have to ban cars. You say that’s ridiculous and damaging and won’t work anyway. They say ‘YOU JUST LIKE BANK ROBBERS!’” I’m told I suitably scared people on Radio 4 PM (38:50 on) with the consequences for UK business, though I could have done better. (Must not engage with the lying RIAA bullshit. Must not engage with the lying RIAA bullshit. Just repeat the soundbites. Must not engage with the lying RIAA bullshit.)

(If you’re an experienced UK Wikipedian, think you could acquit yourself reasonably well in real-time questioning and have no problem with being a very minor public figure, please make yourself known on the wikimediauk-l mailing list and/or local meetups and you may get lined up for next time stuff explodes, the press want a random Wikipedian, etc. And feel free to casually talk to your local media about Wikipedia as the occasion arises.)

I’m amazed that several hundred Wikipedians largely agreed on anything at all. The Wikipedia community will fiddle around the edges of an issue forever and then not do anything. If you say to a bunch of Wikipedians “the sky is blue”, they’ll come back with a hundred pages of referenced counterexamples. The key skill to being a Wikipedia editor appears to be generalised cross-domain bikeshedding.

I hope we don’t do this, or anything like it, again any time soon. Our power requires not being used very often at all. But then: if Wikipedia says you suck … you really, really suck.

3 Responses to “SOPA blackout post-mortem.”

  1. Jon Davies says:

    Phew! With a small team we did virtually the WHOLE of the UK media plus Russian and New Zealand and probably a few other places as well.

  2. David Gerard says:

    Yeah, like America ;-) I’ve had lots of good comments about the NPR piece too.

  3. steve Virgin says:

    252 days later I see this namecheck. Was intrigued to see the origin of the car crash analogy. I used it but think I saw Jimmy using it first.

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