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No results found for Why ban Wikipedia?.

Imagine a world without 
free knowledge. 


Wikimedia Foundation

User Research Methods (Focus)

User Interaction Design

Product Roadmapping


Heuristic Evaluation 

Empirical Investigation 

Wireframe Sketches

Interactive Prototype

Product Video (Demo)

Technical Specs 



Defining the Why?

Internet censorship in today's networked world  is absurd, but true. 

Censorship has been faced and contested throughout history, and while some instances can provide positive benefits to society and have majority acceptance (such as censoring child pornography). I believe that the internet censorship faced today in countries such as China, Turkey or Russia is detrimental.


Internet censorship as a form of enforcing totalitarian regimes and ideologies are structured in such a way to keep citizens uneducated, and in turn are infringing on their basic human rights.

Censoring content has been performed
around the world through

domain name server tampering

denial-of-service attacks

proxy serverse

legal censor

digital surveillance

Quicker overview; Watch the product vision instead!

OKAY! So 'Censorship' is bad - we get it!

But what are we trying to solve here?

Wikipedia has a user base of almost 32.8 million people and is ranked as the 5th most visited website ever. Ironically, almost 38% of the internet users don’t have access to wikipedia entirely because it is either censored or screened by the government.

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[It's hard to stop censoring of all information at once. However, it is critical that we find ways to make open source free platforms like Wikipedia available to all. And make information accessible and inclusive.]

So yes, I am trying to make Wikipedia more reachable.

Countries around the world have varied access to their respective Wikipedia sites over the years. The reason for such censorship and blockades has been justified by national security and harm to the country’s fundamental rights. However, governments have censored specific sites to protect their rational views and maintain a control over their citizens.


How did Wikipedia respond?

“Our position is that the block is an error. Wikipedia is not propaganda, it is basic information" - Jimmy Wales (CEO Wikipedia)

Wikipedia has supported its users in censored countries primarily by upgrading the website protocol from HTTP to HTTPS, therefore not allowing governments to track which specific page people are visiting, instead only showing that one has visited the domain and nothing else; making it more secure for users to access information without being monitored. The switch to HTTPS, while better in some ways, has ultimately led to the complete blocking of Wikipedia, and therefore, counter to their mission statement.


The main cause of this censorship is the ability of governments to intercept and track web traffic, so with our design solution I intend to create an accessible version of Wikipedia that is able to circumvent these methods.

While the change to an HTTPS protocol helped in some ways, it has introduced the problem of governments simply blocking the entirety of Wikipedia since they are no longer able to target specific pages. The best way I see to increase the accessibility of Wikipedia in heavily censored countries is to configure an alternate version of the website which could be accessed through the Tor web browser. If made accessible through this decentralized browser there would be no way for a government to track or block the web service short of disconnecting the internet entirely.

Ideating the How?

Tor browser

The Onion Routing Project (Tor) was developed in the mid-1990s by the United States Research Laboratory with the purpose of protecting US intelligence communications online, but today Tor is a free service that anybody can use to enable anonymous online communications. The system works by wrapping data in layers of encryption, hence onion, and sending it through several different routing nodes which remove a layer of encryption at each point until reaching the final destination, where the actual data is viewed by the target service. While the system is not full proof, it does a good job of hiding the source IP address from those who wish to track internet usage, such as governments. There are two types of website you can access through Tor; there are clear-net websites such as which you can access through browsers like Chrome or Safari, and there are darknet websites such as facebookcorewwwi.onion which can only be accessed through the Tor browser. While using the Tor browser you can access either version of Facebook, with both having the same content, but the difference being the onion domain has gone through a process called “onionfication.” When you send data to a clear-net website it will eventually pass through an exit node, where the final layer of encryption is stripped away and the information is now viewable, and this final step is the biggest vulnerability of using Tor. All of the nodes on the Tor network are volunteer based meaning anybody can create their own exit node. Any large government organization could do this, including countries such as China, and monitor Tor traffic at the final stages in an attempt to find identifying information on citizens and their internet communications. The only way to completely negate this risk is through the onionfication of a website, which will allow data sent through the Tor network to be avoid exit nodes.


Engineering Pathway: The easiest way for Wikipedia to implement this service would be to create a new instance of the website on their servers through the Tor web configurer, pulling information from their database to the new site like many third-party services do. This would allow Wikipedia to create a new instance of the site that has a different UI (as explained in the next section) and comply with Tor standards. The final step would be to register for a SSL security certificate and sign the website so that the HTTPS standard is implemented, and users can be confident they are browsing an official Wikipedia service.

Design Pathway: Before I redesign Wikipedia, I need to analyze the problems and restrictions in current Wikipedia interaction. My target users are common people who are living in countries where access to Wikipedia is blocked and they want to use Wikipedia to gain knowledge. Let’s try to analyze the Wikipedia English webpage;

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Re-Design - Prototyping 


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There are two important aspects we must account for in the development of a hidden Tor service, slow load times and anonymity, both of which we are able to address through simple UX design changes. 

First, due to the nature of the Tor network there will be substantially increased page load times, so many elements of the new design will be done in an effort to keep Wikipedia light. Second, the Tor network is entirely based around anonymity and Wikipedia would not be able to track any edits through it, so for the sake of load times and cleanliness our new design will strip away all editing links and functions as they will not be used. We believe these design changes are necessary to create a positive user experience as the current design would result in a slow and broken experience. Figures below showcase what a redesigned Wikipedia could look like on both the homepage and an article.



While the provided design solution is a step in the right direction, we understand that it is not foolproof in its efforts.

First, an important limitation to note is the ability of potential users to access and install Tor, then access the hidden Wikipedia service instead of the standard website. In many countries with internet censorship the access to Tor is also blocked, meaning that a user would have to first implement a VPN or find a download mirror. Also, that user would need to know the exact onion address to ensure they are on the secure site. Secondly, the proper installation of Tor is required to fully mask a user’s traffic. By default, when browsing on Tor the internet traffic has a unique signature that a government is able to see as “Tor web traffic” as opposed to standard web traffic, and some have been known to persecute users of Tor web browsers or limiting their internet access. When setting up the Tor browser the user must select an option called “pluggable transports” that masks the Tor traffic as standard web traffic, typically making it look like a user is on Amazon or another popular service. Lastly, there is always the possibility of a government completely cutting the internet connection to any region they wish, or limiting access to specific locations where users are physically monitored. In a situation such as this, our solution would do little to help users.

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