The Wikipedia Muhammad Cartoons Debate: A War of Ideas is a 2-volume reference work [now a 3-volume reference work] that shows how Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org), the world's largest encyclopedia on the Internet, reached the decision to permanently display and distribute copies of 12 satirical drawings of Muhammad first published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
The main articles, or edited encyclopedia entries, are shown first (and for this publication the cartoons themselves have been deleted). Then, included here are the full current Wikipedia archives of the discussions about how these articles were written and edited. Much of this transcript addresses the issue of actually displaying the cartoons within the primary article. Finally, the official Wikipedia guidelines for editor discussions are reprinted here.
I submit that this transcript is valuable in revealing exactly how a war of ideas is waged. Wikipedia uses an online collaboration technology that allows its articles to be freely edited by any Wikipedia user. As the primary article about the Muhammad cartoons evolved, there also arose behind the scenes a fierce debate over whether or not the cartoons themselves should be included and how they should be displayed.
The transcript of the debate captures not only the ideas expressed by the many contributors and readers, but also the tenor of the debate, the pleas, the acts of vandalism, the argumentative styles, strategies, tactics and gambits. In other words, the transcript reveals how some contributors won the debate, how the others lost, and how each side treated the other.
This transcript reveals the mechanics of the clash of civilizations.
Please note that every Wikipedia article is a "living document" that may be further edited in the future. This publication is a "snapshot" of only today's Wikipedia archive, and is subject to revision at any time, particularly as the Muhammad cartoons controversy unfolds worldwide.
Iraq Museum International
February 10, 2006
Note: Volume 3 added February 15, 2006