Wikipedia is defined as a free online encyclopedia that provides open, collaboratively written content to its users.
Even though the original idea was different, Wikipedia has become a website that stores information on almost all topics known.
Wikipedia has had its share of issues, but is still an invaluable resource to many people. This is strongly supported by the enormous number of internet users who visit Wikipedia in any given minute.
It remains a great resource to get an overview of different topics as well as to find more in-depth resources.
Freedom to Access Wikipedia
In many countries, freedom of access to information is given and guaranteed. Most citizens in these countries can easily access the internet and visit Wikipedia with ease.
This convenience has generally made many people take this for granted. In the US for example, there are even Twitter accounts to track government employees editing Wikipedia while still at work.
The fact of the matter is, in other parts of the world, like Turkey, using Wikipedia is difficult and may even be dangerous.
In fact, word has it that in Syria, digital activist and Wikipedia editor Khartabil was executed by the Syrian government.
This security issue and other reasons I will mention later in the article has prompted experts like Alec Muffett to start the journey that will make using Wikipedia safer.
Alec came up with an experimental dark web Wikipedia service that generally makes the usage of Wikipedia private. This service is accessible through the Tor browser.
Tor and Wikipedia
The Tor browser is free and ensures the anonymity of its users’ internet use to a great extent. In a nutshell, here’s a breakdown of how it works.
Tor extinguishes the identity of the user by moving his traffic across different Tor nodes. Further, it encrypts that traffic so that it is exceptionally difficult to trace back to the original user.
Because of this, someone who tries to track the user will see traffic coming from nodes on the network as opposed to the user’s device.
This ensures one’s anonymity of surfing the surface web to some extent.
This anonymity is, however, less secure than it would be if the site were accessible on the dark web as a hidden service.
This is because Wikipedia would not necessarily direct its website traffic through an exit node, which is known to be a serious vulnerability in Tor’s security.
A proposal regarding the same was put forward Cristian Consonni, former Wikimedia Italy board member.
In his proposal, he suggested that Tor users should have the ability to edit Wikipedia articles, something which is currently not allowed unless under exceptional circumstances.
This proposal was well-received and even backed by other editors. However, many users have a problem with the editing part of the proposal.
As it stands, the most problematic Wiki editors are blocked from Wikipedia using their IP addresses.
This, however, wouldn’t be possible through the Tor browser because these problematic editors would obtain new IP addresses quickly.
Having a native version of Wikipedia on the dark web would make it accessible in countries where it’s censored.
Some countries like China have chosen to block their citizens’ ability to visit a significant portion of Wikipedia.
In other parts of the world, the website in its entirety is restricted. Having Wikipedia on the dark web would make it difficult for governments to restrict its citizens from accessing this valuable website.
The dark web community would also significantly gain from this. When people hear the phrase “dark web,” what hits their minds is a website where criminal activities such as selling drugs and weapons take place.
Having Wikipedia on the dark web will improve this reputation. Consonni noted in his proposal that offering Wikipedia as an onion site would promote awareness of Tor being a technology to protect user privacy.
Both the dark web and Wikipedia are useful to their users. In fact, to a great extent, they serve almost the same purpose to their users.
Having both of them in one would be convenient. An article written by researchers from Drexel University following their research provided an in-depth look at the relationship between Tor and Wikipedia, and included pertinent information for privacy advocates and the Wikipedia community moving forward.
Wikipedia lists many controversial issues such as rape, drug trafficking, and terrorism. This is usually done by editors who are always under threat.
Because of the fact that these editors are not allowed to hide their IP addresses, it is possible to locate or even piece together their identities by merely looking at the articles they have edited.
This weak link puts the editors’ lives on danger, and Wikipedia editors feel vulnerable to having their identities exposed.
In a research study, it was discovered that many editors had stopped contributing or participating in open collaborations.
Some respondents of the aforementioned research raised concerns about what it could do to their respective reputations if employers or peers knew what content they were contributing.
For this reason, we need these editors’ identities protected, and this can be achieved if we have Wikipedia on the dark web.
If editors are not protected, intimidation, harassment and violence will drive them out. Besides, Wikipedia won’t attract the diversity of contributors that help in producing the sum of all human knowledge.
It’s Not Hard to Have Wikipedia on the Dark Web
Building a darknet version of Wikipedia or any site is not that difficult. Easy-to-use tools already exist to help streamline this noble idea as Wikipedia users continue to debate the idea.
Let’s all contribute in our small ways to make this idea a reality and let the Wikipedia editors and users feel safe. We still need our free online encyclopedia!
Latest posts by Troy (see all)
- Why It’s a Good Idea to Have Wikipedia in the Dark Web - June 27, 2018
- Spanish Cyberthreat Intelligence Firm Rolls out New Darknet Search Tool - June 11, 2018
- Former Security Guard Arrested for Ordering Drugs from the Dark Web - May 31, 2018