Wikipedia blackout on January 18. Here's what you can do
The English-language Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org) will be blacked out for 24 hours across the globe from 05:00 AM UTC (10:30 AM IST) on January 18 in opposition to the proposed US legislation - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
Several other leading websites, including Boing Boing and Reditt, will also go dark in protest against SOPA and PIPA.
Wikipedia and other proponents of a free Internet believe that if the legislation is passed it "will harm the free and open Internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States."
So Wednesday morning when the contents of the English Wikipedia is unavailable, don't panic. Your favourite reference (read copy-paste) source is not lost. It is only protesting against something that, amongst other things, can take back your right to copy.
First, if you want to protest in unison with the Wikipedians read this and spread the word.
If you are a blogger and want to black out your website in solidarity, there are a few Wordpress plugins (that is, if your blog is powered by Wordpress) that will help you do so with ease. Search for SOPA on the Wordpress plugins page.
If you are blogging on Google's Blogger platform and there are no plugins to plug in, there are a few gadgets available that will help you put a "Stop SOPA" ribbon on your blog.
For tweetizens there are a number of options to choose from for your Twitter display picture.
Many users on Twitter, including the Anonymous hacker group, will have a Twitter blackout on January 18 and will pause their tweets for a day. You may also choose to do the same.
Facebookers, worry not. You will not be left out. You can join one of the many anti-SOPA and PIPA events on Facebook and/or dedicate the cover on your shining new Facebook Timeline to register your protest. Search for "sopa facebook cover" on Google/Bing/Yahoo for relevant Facebook Timeline cover images.
If this is not enough, you can find more at Twitter #StrikeTools hashtag.
On the other hand, if you cannot do without a daily dose of Wikipedia search (for professional or personal reasons) and will be all at sea on Wednesday, there is help at hand.
If you, like most people, reach an Wikipedia article via Google search, instead of clicking on the link to the webpage click on the cached link to see the Google cache of the page.
The link to the Google cache for the page appears when you hover over the link to the page in the Google search engine results page and then click on the arrow icon that appears on the right (See image below).
Microsoft's Bing search engine also has similar cached pages.
Alternately, you can find the contents of the English Wikipedia replicated at encyclopedia.thefreedictionary.com Also a search on Reference.com or Answers.com will throw up results with content sourced from Wikipedia.
In case you are wondering what the fuss is all about, here are some resources:
An infographic by Ivan Tolmachev
Watch a video on how PROTECT IP/SOPA Act breaks the Internet
More about Soumyadip ChoudhurySoumyadip Choudhury aka Somu aka Chaiwallah is an internet addict. His wife and family suspect that he is secretly married to his laptop. The electric shock that he got while trying to fix a neighbour's TV set as a kid, perhaps ignited his interest in everything tech. A do-it-yourself guy, he doesn't believe in hiring electricians, plumbers or carpenters. But often ends paying the professionals more to fix his botched jobs. Somu secretly wishes he knew how to code and also grumbles a lot. He also Tweets a bit as @soumyadip.
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