The second day of WikiConference India 2011 saw invited guest speaker and TV journalist Arnab Goswami lambast the notion of neutrality, one of the fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates, before an audience consistently largely of contributors to the online encyclopedia.
“Neutrality to a lay person is having no opinion,” stated Goswami, adding that neutrality today should be “honest and aggressive, not fake and contrived.”
However, Wikipedians were not impressed. Achal Prabhala, member of the advisory board, Wikimedia Foundation, said. “People from all political and cultural perspectives are attracted to Wikipedia. Neutrality is not to disguise the truth or sanitise facts. It is to document all perspectives as they unfold. It is left to the person reading the page to come to an independent and reasoned conclusion.”
Wikipedian Dr Krishna Kumar took a harsher stance, saying, “Wikipedia is essentially about providing a platform where personal agendas are not raised. Unfortunately, that is what has happened today.”
While the Q&A continued on a polite note, every mention of neutrality for the rest of the day gave rise to amused references to the impassioned speech.