I read this Press Release over Wikipedia sabotage by DotConnectAfrica few days ago and felt that this must be one of the most dramatic gTLDs in the current history of gTLDs.
My truth dig on this gTLD tells me the struggles of DotConnectAfrica with the AU Task Force, allegations of sabotage of endorsement, conflict of Interest, illegality in award process, you name it, which is again now resonating with allegations of Conflict of Interest against some ICANN Board members who DCA thinks may be deeply conflicted over .Africa. What takes it home here is, when it is the only contested gTLD that was reported as a typo error during the ICANN reveal day, which may have been the start of this Wiki War. It would appear however that another dimension to this Wiki war could be attributed to deliberate efforts and attempts being made by DCA’s opponents to try and reduce the value and earlier contributions of whatever was previously attributed to DCA Trust on the issue of .Africa on Wikipedia.
Africa has one of the most sought after domains , and it ranks among the top fifty new top level domains, going by the pre-registration tallies reported by United Domains that are updated by the number of most recent pre-registrations. This has been featured on the their site and accredited to the organization that raised the profile of the .africa TLD to the global audience in its six year awareness campaign – That organization name is DotConnectAfrica.
I presume many people are anticipating this domain and are ready to grab it as soon as it’s delegated which by estimation may come late 2013 or early 2014, including me and my family.
The most intriguing fact however is not the beauty of the domain but the war that has been seen between the applicants DotConnectAfrica and the African Union represented by Uniforum SA trading as. Africa Registry. In a quick look through the Website of DotconnectAfrica and the online discussions, it seems that DotConnectAfrica has always been proactively challenging transparency and ethics in the entire process. It has had many media coverages on this front including the one I read, titled: “Internet war: Scramble for .africa domain as January deadline looms by The East African”. This was a news item when the African Union(AU) lost the battle on .Africa in Dakar against DotConnectAfrica. The AU via the African Ministerial Meeting it sponsored at Dakar had requested from ICANN to reserve the names (.africa , .afrique and .afriqya) for themselves, so that the AU may enjoy a special legislative protections over these names. Ms. Sophia Bekele, founder of DCA opposed this in an open campaign at the Dakar public forum and also in a written letter to ICANN CEO and Board arguing forcefully why it should not be done. (See ICANN’s response to African Union on Reserved Names).
What was the cause of the Wiki War?
The latest war however has been directed at Wikipedia pages entailing .africa. Wikipedia is a free, collaboratively edited, and multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 23 million articles, over 4 million in the English Wikipedia alone, have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 active contributors. The recent issue comes from the alleged cannibalization of the three Wikepedia pages including, the DotConnectAfrica page, the. africa page and the page of its founder and leader Ms. Sophia Bekele page, which has been untouched for the past five years. According to the DCA, the page vandalism began in August of 2012 after the reported ICANN issues of <. dotafrica>, people started to change the applied for gTLD from a <. africa> to a <. dotafrica> on the DCA Wikipedia page and the whole war seem to have started there tricking down to the other pages..
The pages have faced what many pages, in contentious or seemingly political issues have faced and Wikipedia cannot give a protection guarantee. A above press release by DCA on 3 October 2012 sites that:
“Crucial information pertaining to the work of DCA Trust, and Ms. Sophia Bekele were willfully deleted from the published pages, even though the items of information that were removed have been unmodified and generally available on these pages for the past five (5) years”.
Meaning that DCA asserts that editor that is affiliated to the competing group have willfully done damage to properly cited pages.
I have gone to look at the talk pages of these particular pages and from the history , many deletions have occurred, in fact entire sections that have been approved between various editors in the past have been deleted. The question remains that if the information has been existent on the pages for a while, why then the mass deletions at the crucial time when the applicants are undergoing serious evaluation by ICANN? Unfortunately, any new editor who engages in the process, simply depends on information sources from the internet depository, therefore, it’s unlikely that the issue will be resolved soon.
The main contention is the feeling of sabotage on the part of DotConnectAfrica who claim that the articles were well written, sourced with credible content and proper references as well. For those who have tried a hand on Wiki editing they know it is not a joke to come up with a near perfect document that won’t fall short of Wikipedia editors.
We await to see how far the contention will now open a new trail of issues with who was accountable for such alleged sabotage. What it remains is for willing and volunteer editors who know the proper and true sources of the pages in dispute amongst other pages, would come to help in editing the pages, while DCA is working on the accountability issues with the authorities it sited on its press release.