It’s Tricky for Wikis and Online Encyclopedias in China

There’s stiff competition for Wikipedia in China with domestic Hudong and Baidu Baike currently outranking the formerly blocked website. Lara Farrar from CNN reports on the Great Firewall, censorship, and the difference in thought on what an online encyclopedia’s got to do in the Chinese online sphere.

On ranking and reputation systems:

Hudong.com utilizes a range of social networking functions to attract Chinese internet users, including chat forums, fan groups, short messaging services and bulletin boards. Nearly 100 million Chinese netizens regularly visit online bulletin boards, according to research from China Internet Network Information Center.

The website rewards members through a ranking system where users are upgraded to a higher status on the site based on the points they earn. Members also can win prizes, like laptops and iPods, for high participation on the site. Baike has a similar model.

uses a reputation system to promote its members based on their participation on the website and the quality of the content they contribute. Promotion is subject to peer approval, and the site’s volunteer administrators are elected by the community.

On censorship:

Since Hudong’s and Baidu Baike’s business operations are based in China, the companies have little choice but to comply with government policy or face the same fate as Wikipedia.

“If there is something that the government doesn’t want, we don’t talk about it,” said Pan. “We just follow the law.”

Which is why in the long run many Chinese Wikipedians say their website will win.

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