German Wikipedia Back Online After Controversial Shutdown

Date: 
18 November 2008
Teaser: 

After it had been unavailable in Germany for more than two days, the Wikipedia's German portal is finally back online. The local German version of the Wikipedia had become unavailable after a member of the German parliament, Lutz Heilmann, pressed charges against the German Wikipedia because of defamatory statements in his biography on the site. Heilmann argued that the article was "false and slanderous." A German judge then ordered the closure of the German portal for the Wikipedia, wikipedia.de.

By Frederic Lardinois

After it had been unavailable in Germany for more than two days, the Wikipedia's German portal is finally back online. The local German version of the Wikipedia had become unavailable after a member of the German parliament, Lutz Heilmann, pressed charges against the German Wikipedia because of defamatory statements in his biography on the site. Heilmann argued that the article was "false and slanderous." A German judge then ordered the closure of the German portal for the Wikipedia, wikipedia.de.

The Wikipedia entry about Heilmann, who is no stranger to controversy, accused the politician of sending threatening text messages to his ex-partner and stated that Heilmann was about to lose his diplomatic immunity. There have indeed been rumors that Heilmann is under investigation by the German parliament because of these reports, though other statements in the article about the questionable status of his college degree and his involvement in an online pornography venture are rather questionable.

'Unintentional'

After assessing the damage he had done, Heilmann, according to a post on his own site, has now decided not to press any further charges against the non-profit organization behind the German Wikipedia project, though he might still press charges against the authors of the controversial statements in his Wikipedia entry. In this statement, Heilmann argues that he never intended for the whole site to be shut down because of this, but that he wasn't able to stop the German bureaucracy from taking its course during the weekend because of a legal error in his request to have the ban overturned.
Streisand Effect

Of course, the whole affair spectacularly backfired on Heilmann and turned out to be a boon for the German Wikipedia, which collected donations worth over 32,000 Euros during the weekend. The controversial article about Heilman was read over half a million times since last Friday.

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