back to article Wikipedia to shut down Wednesday in SOPA protest

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the "encyclopedia anyone can edit" will go dark this Wednesday in protest of the Stop Online Piracy Act, aka SOPA, that's dividing Washington DC – not to mention pitting online content providers against ISPs, search-engine sites, civil libertarians, and others. Wales tweeted on …


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  1. Neil Greatorex

    The motives may be laudable

    But the average US politicians propensity to vote is directly proportional the the size of the lobbyists wedge, I fancy.

    1. FredScummer


      I don't agree with politicians (many of whom are democratically elected) on some subjects either. But their selective hearing capability won't be damaged by actions such as this. Hitting them in the cash department definitely will.

      Targetting ordinary Internet users, most of whom are very honest people, won't resolve this problem. The world community have to go after the paymasters who keep the politicians on the wrong side of the fence.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I disagree

        The idea that the voting public are somehow not involved in the corruption is just not so. The public are the ones who voted the politicians in and it is completely within their power to ignore the private-interest-funded glitz and vote for someone who will represent THEIR interests. They don't, ergo, it is their own stupid fault.

        BTW: It has elec-tro-lites!

        1. Vic

          > BTW: It has elec-tro-lites!

          *Excellent*. Haven't seen that in ages.

          Amazon has it for 4 quid :-)


          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Will adsense be switched on?

            I'm gonna buy and coin it in.

      2. Ben Tasker Silver badge


        You _really_ don't get the idea of a protest do you?

        They are not 'Targetting ordinary Internet users'. What the blackout will do is (in theory) make some more aware of SOPA and what it entails. The idea being to help trigger a public backlash against SOPA.

        Whether or not it'll work is up for debate, but protests aren't about 'targetting x' they are at most 'incovenience x so maybe they'll show some support having realised the potential implications of change a'.

        Whether or not you support the change being proposed (in any protest) is down to the individual, but don't make the mistake of thinking any protest/strike is targetted at you unless you're the one trying to change something.

        In this case, if enough people complain the Politicians may have to listen. If the majority of your constituency (do the yanks use that term) are against something, supporting it could cost your career come election time. Of course voter apathy needs to be considered as well

  2. JDX Gold badge

    Same old...

    What does SOPA have to do with wikipedia? Or is it just a case of powerful nerds turning off their toys to get attention?

    Try turning Facebook off if you actually want to get some traction.

    1. Neil Greatorex


      Only fools use that?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Neil Greatorex

        >Only fools use that?

        Unfortunately those fools are also allowed to vote. FB may be their only source of information and shutting it down for a day could be the only way to let them know of an external issue.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          FB may be their only source of information....

          We are all doomed as myself (the minority) have nothing to do with facebook and actively avoid it and anything it represents.

    2. Old Handle

      The connection is that SOPA could be a disaster for 2.0rrific sites like Wikipedia and yes, Facebook. So by taking their site offline for a day, they're basically they're saying "this is what could happen if the law passes".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Screw facebook.

        If Wikipedia does it voluntarily and Facebook doesn't, a conclusion can be drawn. Right now that's the only thin wedge there is. It's a wedge all the same...

    3. ddm

      I'd have thought SOPA has an awful lot to do with Wikipedia. As I understand it, if anyone posts something that infringes (or even looks like it infringes) copyright on a website, under SOPA the copyright holder can get access to the whole website shut down (at least within the USA), without any sort of due process. Now look how easy it is to post something on Wikipedia - anyone can do it. I'm sure it wouldn't be long before Wikipedia was shut down.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why just Wednesday?

    Forever would be just fine.

  4. Adam B

    Didn't like

    Wednesdays anyway

    1. Vic

      Re: Didn't like Wednesdays anyway

      It would have been far more suitable to have blacked out Monday.

      I don't like Mondays...


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Tell me why...

        1. Vic

          I don't like Mondays.


          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            I could never get the hang of Thursdays.

            1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

              You don't like Mondays

              because Someone's Looking At You(r posts)?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Brilliant. Clearly lost on most people that one....Especially Vic...

  5. Piloti

    And.... ?

    Will anybody really care if website made up of mostly inaccruate tosh is missing ?


    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Naughtyhorse

    Obama has thrown in his lot with Silicon Valley paymasters.....

    asshat throws his toys out of his pram on account of him not being the paymaster anymore...

    film at 11

  7. Lamont Cranston

    Will be a good day

    to get some work done, then.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    How the hell are any of Thursday's newspapers going to get content if professional, qualified, experienced Journalists can't paste copy from Wikipedia?!

    Still, at least if Andrew Lloyd Webber drops dead, we won't get any obituaries listing writing Sugababes records amongst his accolades...

    1. SteveK

      "How the hell are any of Thursday's newspapers going to get content if professional, qualified, experienced Journalists can't paste copy from Wikipedia?!"

      Back to the answerphones again then I guess...

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    I am only one individual with a tiny Internet presence, but on Wednesday my website will consist of a single page with a message about SOPA and PIPA

    You can't complain about being ignored if you're not prepared to make any effort at all. This doesn't just affect a handful of sites, it is likely to have a knock-on effect to every website that has any links at all to any other URL.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Will Godfrey

      Same here.

      I'll be blacking out my various blogs and other online presences on Wednesday. Unfortunately the stuff I publish is so shite, I worry that its disappearance from the intarwebs may come as such a relief to folks, it will actually increase support for SOPA.

    2. Steven Roper
      Thumb Up

      I'm with you

      On Wednesday, my 3 personal sites will also be displaying only an anti-SOPA message. I've also convinced my company management to turn our main website black and place an anti-SOPA banner across the top of the page for 24 hours (the CEO wouldn't allow us to disable the site completely, but this at least is the next best thing!)

  10. admiraljkb

    The one time that I would expect BiPartisanship

    It would be this. SOPA doesn't accomplish what they are trying for. Near as I can tell, they just need to prosecute existing laws (or enhance existing law), not make whole new ones.

    1. Local Group

      The one time that I would expect BiPartisanship

      Bipartisanship is so last century

      1. admiraljkb

        The one time that I would expect BiPartisanship

        >Bipartisanship is so last century

        *sigh* yeah, that's true... The second a politician mentions the word (or cooperation), means they're about to do the opposite. Since this is mostly "benefits"* Hollywood types (who hate Republicans), it does beg the question why Republicans supported it other than Murdoch who is a bit of a looney? (see current UK cases and purchase of Myspace)

        * NOTE: benefits in quotes above, since I don't think SOPA as written benefited anyone.

        1. Local Group

          Bipartisanship can only exist

          when lobbyists create a vacuum of payola. Which isn't very often.

  11. Paul RND*1000

    Let's not forget to mention...

    Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R) Virginia 6th District who introduced SOPA.

    As for Wikipedia, the warning should always be present with the wording "STUDENT WARNING! Refer to more than one source when researching your homework. Wikipedia may not be accurate or unbiased."

    1. Chad H.


      Referencing it will likely get you an F on principle.

  12. Wombling_Free

    Might I suggest...

    MPIAA ARE CUNTS, SO IS SOPA - Motion Picture Industry Ass of America And Related Entities Controlling Unlawful New Technology Scenarios, Swiftly Obliterating Internet Sinners Stopping Online Piracy Act.

    It doesn't count as sweary if it's an acronym, right?

    1. Vic

      > It doesn't count as sweary if it's an acronym, right?

      Doesn't matter either way.

      MPAA *are* cunts.


      1. LaeMing

        Very offensive

        My reproductive canal does not appreciate the association, thank you very much!

    2. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

      Following the silly fad of giving bills acronymic monikers

      Can I offer:-

      Bill Of Legislature Linking Online Crime with Killing Sales, or BOLLOCKS for short.

  13. Thomas 4


    Preventing Real Online Threats as opposed to fake ones?

  14. Mikel

    Better that we lose Wikipedia for one day

    It is better that we lose Wikipedia for one day, than to lose it forever for failing to speak up.

  15. Nanki Poo

    correct me if I'm wrong, but . . .

    "Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property"

    So you could read that as "Preventing Real Online Threats to . . . Theft of Intellectual Property" . . . surely that should be pro-piracy...?

    1. Local Group

      So you could read that as "Preventing Real Online Threats to etc.

      Most graduates of Titipu City College read it exactly like that.

  16. Paul 129
    Black Helicopters

    Sites that include anti DRM

    Hmmm, I wonder how this would play with MS's secure boot concept. Ducks in a row? The bonus is, it keeps google up to its neck in strife.

    Where's my tinfoil hat.

  17. jai

    I hope El Reg will also be going dark (at least to site requests coming from across the pond) on Wednesday? Wouldn't like to think an intelligent bunch of chaps and lasses as yourselves are pro-SOPA are you?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I hope not

      but its going to be a dull day for me with no El-reg / wiki/ world+dog websites to browse...

    2. alain williams Silver badge

      El Reg darkening

      ''I hope El Reg will also be going dark''

      The idea is to bring the issue to the attention of the great majority who have not heard what is happening or who have vaguely heard but not bothered to find out what SOPA is. El Reg readers are very likely to know what the fuss is all about - so there is little point is darkening El Reg.

      However a large banner, in sympathy, would not go amiss.

    3. Eddie Edwards

      Are you going to take an unpaid day off work, or are you pro-SOPA too?

    4. Drewc Gold badge

      Pro Sopa?

      No we are not pro SOPA or a supporter of legislation that imposes block lists in such a crude, illiberal manner.

      But no we did not go dark. This protest is self-indulgent - and late - in my view. SOPA was effectively killed at the weekend, for starters.

      Andrew O. sums up our position here.

  18. Def Silver badge

    Why just the English version? I would have thought blocking all languages for requests deemed to be originating from inside the USA should be blocked.

    Also, will the English version be blocked for people who speak English and who don't live in the USA?

    1. dogged

      The English version is at The American version is at .com. Nobody would miss that one.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge versus .com

        That's funny. The version I read is at .org. Have I been spoofed?

        But yeah, blocking access only to people in the USA would have been proportionate *and* served to demonstrate to the US that even if they screw up their own competitiveness, the rest of the world does not necessarily have to follow.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Will Godfrey, madra

    Thinking you're some kind of modern-day activistd by jumping on a bandwagon, very meh.

    It seems rather silly that non-Americans are protesting... since when does the US base their policy on foreign civilians' opinions?

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      Hello Mr(s) AC.

      I apologise for being silly. I'll ask your permission next time.

      P.S. Your mind-reading capabilities are just about zero.

  20. JDX Gold badge

    re:SOPA could be a disaster for 2.0rrific sites like Wikipedia

    Why, specifically? What does wikipedia do that would be classified as piracy?

    Also - since when is wikipedia a web 2.0 site? NOT doing everything by AJAX is one of its better features.

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      Because all it takes is someone working for a record company to forget to take their ritalin one day, and they will fire off an email saying that someone posted the track listing of the CD of one of their artists, and that's copyright 'theft'.

      Hey presto, Wikipedia goes down while people try to work out wtf happened, and get an order from a judge to say that it was fair use, and get it put back up... Just in time for someone else to say that a screen-shot from the TRON film in an article about the film is also copyright 'theft', and it all starts again........

  21. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    It's a good for a representative to despise and misinform the public.

    Hopefully this goes so totally under that a few of the Capitol Roaches will metaphorically dance from high branches, otherwise our EUROTARDS will fall over themselves trying to emulate this and play Chihuaha to Big Obama and the rest of the one-party system.

    After all, they are already about to nuke the eureconomy [what remains of it anyway] by barring Iranian oil. What for? To have their bellies fondled in a game of pure US-internal one-upmanship.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only more Americans....

    ....actually voted.

    A lazy democracy is no democracy at all.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: If only more Americans voted.

      Actually, I think you'll find that the vast majority of people (everywhere) would prefer if fewer Americans voted. They simply disagree about which ones.

  23. Mako

    I wonder how the blackout will be achieved?

    By which I mean, are they doing it by disabling/altering their DNS record(s)? Or are they putting something in place that redirects all page requests to a single banner page? Or something else entirely?

    1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

      I'd expect a simple mod_rewrite to redirect all requests to a single page. Ideally a page that explains why the site is unavailable and why SOPA is bad.

    2. Tim Starling

      Just some JavaScript to cover up the page content with something else, and possibly a tweak to the site CSS to avoid flicker. It'll be possible to work around it. Also, the mobile site will still work.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If Wikipedia goes black on Wednesday

    Then there won't be any science or biographic articles in any UK papers on Thursday, leaving more space for mobile phone ads.

  25. Lord Zedd
    Thumb Down

    Any website that participates

    I will never support any website that participates in this childish and moronic "blackout". No more donations to Wikipedia!

  26. pcsupport

    Who cares?

    Really, would Wikipedia be missed? Probably not.

    I'm willing to bet you that if Wikipedia was run as a proper business then Mr Whats-his-name would think twice about supporting the anti-SOPA stuff.

    Now, if the BBC turned itself off for a day - now that I would notice and miss.

  27. defiler


    Where will I get my Father Ted episode guides now? :(

    1. BristolBachelor Gold badge

      The TV database?

      Oh, but there is a background image of the cottage taken from the series. God, if this SOPA get's through, that's another site taken down...

  28. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    A conversation coming Thursday

    Student: "I could not o my homework because Wikipedia was down"

    Teacher: "They announced that early enough, you could have started earlier."

    Student: "What? You expected us to finish our work BEFORE the last minute?"

    Adults can have such unrealistic ideas about kids ;-)

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody students.

    Get a job.

  30. JDX Gold badge

    Catch up El Reg

    Vote cancelled... stuff continuing.

  31. JDX Gold badge


    Complaining that a _genuine_ pirate site gets taken down is hardly going to stengthen the anti-SOPA case.

    1. CaptainHook

      Genuine Pirate Site?

      What are you talking about?

      The only site BristolBachelor has listed which I can see in this thread is which clearly isn't a pirate site, it doesn't seem to be offer any downloads or even links to online videos or external downloads.

      It's purely a listing of characters and events from TV Shows, if that site falls foul of fair use then talking about a TV show over the water cooler at the office the next day does as well.

      Have I missed something, I feel I have not got a joke or something because there is no way anyone is that brainwashed?

      1. JDX Gold badge


        Sorry I mis-read.

        It seems like the anti-SOPA crowd are getting a bit paranoid if they think sites which promote TV shows will be pulled down. After all, sites which SELL the product do just this.

        Also... crazy to suggest Wikipedia will be pulled down instantly because a record company makes a fuss... rules might _allow_ this but the law allows all kinds of crazy things which don't happen. Too much tinfoil being sold in my view.

        1. Mephistro

          "... rules might _allow_ this but the law allows all kinds of crazy things which don't happen"

          They also allow lots of crazy things that DO happen. The fact is that SOPA gives some companies a way to instantaneously censor any website not of their liking. If you believe this capacity won't be abused, you may also be interested in this little bridge I've for sale...

        2. Ben Tasker Silver badge


          "the law allows all kinds of crazy things which don't happen"

          You mean like the extradition of someone for copyright infringement?

          IMHO it's far better to ensure that laws aren't too broad. As much as we might hear "Oh that bit will never get used", experience shows that if a law/treaty grants the power to do something, it will get (mis)used at some point.

          The argument of course is that if that'll never be used, why bother writing the power into the law in the first place?

          Whilst I'd like to hope that someone would have the sense to go "Oh Wikipedia? hmmm wouldn't be proportional to have the plug pulled", I've not got that much faith. Bear in mind the issue a little while back where substantial swathes of the UK were barred from editing Wikipedia as a result of part of the domain being added to the IWF blacklist. Not quite the same admittedly, but it does show just how easily common sense can be ignored

        3. Tom 13

          No, while the freetards focus on DNS issues,

          the real and obvious problem with this law, one so glaring it should never have made it past the rough drafting stage when the elected representatives clerks were putting it together at the local watering hole let alone after the initial committee review, is that it allows anyone to issue a claim that covered material has been posted to a site and the ISP MUST shut it down. There is no recourse for site owner. That's a pre-emption that even an "I wanna be a pre-law student one of these days" person would find flies in the face of the First Amendment and multiple SCOTUS rulings.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No DNS... already...

        The site I use to find pirated films and music, does not appear on a DNS server.

        Some of the links are to files that are scp'd (and thus encrypted while in transit). SOPA and PIPA are being implemented by computer illiterates.

        If SOPA gets passed it will just make it more confusing for the `illiteratti' to find whats really going on anyway !

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still, at least I haven't got to look at those begging banners on that day...

  33. EddieD


    One of the profs here came up with the comment "wikipedia is not as inaccurate as the people who say it is inaccurate are".

    Kudos to Jimmy and his team, it may be a portion of self interest, but it is going to alert a large number of folk who wouldn't hear of it - I don't think I've heard anything about SOPA in the British media, except on the Today program, which isn't exactly the massest of media - if nothing else, it will inspire comment.

  34. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    Which midnight?

    *AT* midnight on Wednesday? There's no such thing as *AT* midnight, there's /from/ midnight and /until/ midnight. You have to read more of the article and translate the UK time to work out that what it should say is midnight Wednesday *morning* as opposed to midnight Wednesday *evening*.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge


      It's fairly well established that midnight is 24:00:00. In other words, midnight on Dec 31st is the same time as 0:00 on 1st Jan. But because of the potential ambiguity many legal documents like to use 23:59 or 0:01 just to be sure.

    2. robin48gx

      read the manual on crontab

      then you will be able to understand about doing something at a certain time/date with a computer.

  35. Sordid Details

    God forbid

    People might actually try using real books for day...

    1. Tom 13

      Or Kindles


  36. eGrove Systems

    Its pamper to hold many in SOPA case.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wednesday 18th January 2012

    The most productive day of 2012.

  38. web_bod

    Who's up for a Pub Quiz?

    If we time it right we can hit a few and clean-up Mwhahahahahaha!

  39. Purlieu

    It is their website

    Wikipedia is their website and they can do with it what they want.

    Switch it off, on, whatever. It's not like it was taxpayer funded or anything.

    The web community does not *own* Wikipedia. Get used to it.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: The web community does not *own* Wikipedia.

      Erm, I'd have thought that wikipedia was one of the highest profile cases where the site depends for its very existence on the goodwill of *a* web community, and technical ownership is no use if the content dries up. Then again, as far as I'm aware, Jimbo realises this and did consult fairly widely amongst those who contribute.

  40. Purlieu


    but they do not own it (which was why I put the asterisks round the word "own") doh ....

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Go Wikipedia!!

    If they could shut down and do us all a favour and not start up again afterwards, that'd be lovely.

    Only problem is then what to do with all the bored wiki-paedo's...

    /anon cos obviously they'd write a slanderous article about me when it comes back up.

  42. Tom 13

    Wiki is going dark because of SOPA?

    You know that's almost enough to make me want it to pass.

    Almost. But it's still so bad I have to be against it. Of course, it really is silly that Wiki is choosing to do this after the announcement from Eric Cantor that even if SOPA makes it out of the Senate, it is dead in the House.

    1. Will Godfrey Silver badge

      It's not dead till you see it lying in the gutter with a stake through it's heart.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


        has'nt stopped the SCO vs everyone else patent war......

        its still! dragging on even though SCO has been declared a corpse once or twice

  43. Chaos Defines Order

    they can shut down a whole day of the week?

    Since when does Wikipedia have the power to remove a day from the calendar?

    Quit with the "Americanisation" of your headlines. As written, the headline of this article means something completely different to what is intended.

    For those of you who don't realise the mistake, Wikipedia is not shutting down Wednesday, it is shutting down ON Wednesday. The former means that Wednesday will not exist because of Wikipedia, the latter means Wikipedia will be offline tomorrow.

  44. ElReg!comments!Pierre


    2 questions:

    Who's paid (presumably top taxdollars) to come up with these silly backronyms?

    How the föck could they believe that "PROTECT-IP Act" would gather more support than the more natural "PROTECT-IPA"?

  45. BryanM


    I guess that means the newspaper hacks will have to do some real work and find some reliable information for a change. Ronnie Hazlehurst at least will be happy?

  46. Mikel

    Wikipedia is officially blacked out now

    Has been for about 25 minutes. The web server for one of my senators is down already. Tomorrow should be fun.

    1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Must be something wrong with my browser...

      ...because on Wednesday I was able to view Wikipedia pages without problems. There was some sort of notice about the SOPA blackout, but I didn't have any trouble getting to normal content.

      And yes, this was the US English-language site (currently resolving to through my name server). I double-checked, because I expected it to be blacked out.

      I did start from an already-open content page and searched from there, rather than going to the Wikipedia main page. Maybe they only blacked out the main page? But that seems unlikely, since many readers get to Wikipedia pages through Google searches, and Google just changed their search-page image for the day.

      That said, the various SOAP/PIPA protest site blackouts appear to have been surprisingly effective at raising attention, and may have helped pressure various co-sponsors to drop the bills.

  47. Purlieu

    Just for the record

    The lead article in the English version today is about Nick Drake and the picture of the day is Vitruvian man. You can see it if you 'refresh then click 'stop' straight away.

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