While thousands rally in Egyptian cities today to raise their voices to force President Mubarak from power, the people’s massive protests are continuously logged on Wikipedia. Hundreds of authors document history. Their collaborative work is impressive.
According to the Wiki-Watch statistics, the article reporting on the massive protests against the autocratic Mubarak regime has been edited 1,611 times by 316 authors within the last week. The article’s facts are based on 232 references and 306 links, mostly from international media such as Al-Jazeera, Reuters, BBC, and AP. The article has not been reverted a single time, nor has it been write protected.
The Wikipedian’s discussions associated to the article are open and controversial. They reflect the perception of editors from across the world who are obviously fascinated by the ongoing and emerging Egyptian protests. “This is not a mere protest. Rename it”, is the headline of one thread claiming a change of the article’s name. One author states: “It’s time to call it a revolution” – “dramatic changes” in Egypt would, in any case, remain. Others intensively review international media, follow the Wikipedia’s neutral point of view principle, and thus prefer terms such as “uprising”, “riot” and “unrest” in order to avoid bias. The discussion page also comprises breaking news, it sets up “to do”-lists for authors and contains information for activists, while the article itself provides a comprehensive factual overview of the current situation.
This, in fact, is the live coverage of an encyclopaedia.