User:Econterms/Responses by en.wp users to proposal for banner on net neutrality issue

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Lightning talk presentation to WikiConference North America 2018

Net neutrality issue

  • It is hard to summarize briefly.
  • Standard position in favor (informally): Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should not be allowed to block or slow traffic in order to compete with it, or to extract fees from the provider, or because of political views it expresses. They are still allowed "reasonable network management" and so to prioritize traffic by datatype, or for safety against malware, or to satisfy legal requirements.
  • WMF policy blog post in favor of net neutrality
  • WMF invited user groups and chapters to support it too.
  • Wiki DC statement in favor

Proposal for banner

  • Banner would advocate support for specific vote for net neutrality in U.S. Senate -- a specific, not theoretical, proposal
  • The proposal and discussion at en.wp's Village pump (proposals) (Archive)
  • Idea was of a banner analogous to the end-of-year requests for donation, shown on screen above an article, in the United States only
  • Responses were mixed, and some were vigorous. I estimate 53 in favor and 52 opposed
  • !votes aren't votes but searches for consensus and education; but we can roughly count them
  • ==> there was no consensus to post the banner


  • Village pump (proposals) did seem to be the right place. Our text was good. (Thank you User:Gamaliel and many others.)
  • We did not discuss in advance that related proposals had been made frequently.
  • The responses were worth reading.
  • Public good: Rules should support nonprofits and public good.
  • We want an ecology that lets another Wikipedia arise. The other big websites speak on their own behalf -- we can too, and we are the unique nonprofit so we should.
  • Tended not to express opposition to net neutrality proposal itself
  • oppose involvement in politics Violates NPOV or appearance of NPOV; wp should be and appear neutral; avoid conflict-of-interest; avoid partisanship
  • object to expanded role of government -- private sector internet freedom is good ; more government control of the Internet would be bad
  • proposal is disruptive or should not have priority. It's like advertising. Repeated discussion of this topic is disruptive. The topic is divisive; not important enough to Wikipedia; other venues are better for advocacy than this one; advocacy brings unwanted attention; banner looks too much like a donation
  • a banner would be ineffective -- passing the Senate wouldn't even accomplish the goal of restoring net neutrality; effect of proposal or its rejection were not clear; promises and fears were not persuasive; not clear whether there's a problem, what it is, and whether this would address it; oppose on the grounds that we do not know enough to decide with a strong consensus
  • Vague -- banner not specific enough; or, proponents are unprepared -- what are we asking for? what is the net neutrality proposal? Oppose on grounds that more homework was needed -- en.wp's net neutrality articles, nav box, or other materials were not good enough ; please read this and this and this and address those critiques of net neutrality
  • partners (organizations or politicians) do not follow Wikimedia principles -- e.g. copyright-free content, agreeing with us on other matters; they should be wiki editors or in some way participating so there is two-way communication/participation/engagement with them; information about partner orgs should be available in the Wikimedia system, but partner organizations were not clearly notable, and might be fringe organizations; their knowledge about net neutrality should be reflected in our articles on net neutrality, if our interests were in fact aligned; they should upload images or other information about their events ; wp does not have set standard for which orgs or occasions are appropriate for wp to endorse another organization's work, or don't mention the other organization
  • Wikipedia process -- e.g., that proposal should generally be given 30 days before decision, whereas this one was rushed
  • It seems that editors affiliated with a user group or chapter were more likely to favor the banner, a collective action
  • Maybe just because they knew about it earlier or knew people involved in the effort.
  • But possibly: the people who don't join a user group also don't want to sign on to other collective actions.
  • I saw no hostility to chapters or foundation expressed in the discussion about the banners


  • Advocates could prepare the relevant articles more thoroughly in advance
  • Ask our partners to participate on-wiki
  • Review previous advocacy on the subject, and refer to it
  • Prepare for the basic argument that wp should not be "involved in politics" and that the action is not mainly partisan
  • Start early enough to allow 30 days for discussion

Sources on net neutrality and en.wp discussion about it