Wikipedia will go offline on Wednesday in opposition to the Stop Online Piracy Act, a bill that would allow the U.S. government to cut off funding sources to foreign websites accused of piracy by rights holders.
Wikipedia’s actions will of course have consequences, as internet users around the world realize how helpless they are without the free, user-generated online encyclopedia. Fortunately, workarounds and alternatives are available, so you can still soak up the world’s knowledge while Wikipedia is down.
(MORE: Check out Techland’s SOPA coverage)
Wednesday’s Wikipedia blackout begins worldwide at midnight Eastern time and will last for 24 hours. Here are three ways to survive the down time:
Option 1: Download Wikipedia for Offline Use
The Pirate Bay (which, appropriately, would be a likely target of anti-piracy legislation such as SOPA), is tracking an unofficial torrent file with all Wikipedia articles in English. The file also includes a copy of WikiTaxi, an offline reader for these articles. Make sure you have BitTorrent installed, then click the link that reads “Get This Torrent” on The Pirate Bay’s website. Once you have all the files, follow these instructions:
1. Do NOT unzip the .bz2 file!
2. Instead, unzip the Wikitaxi program.
3. Run WikiTaxi_Importer.exe and select the .bz2 file. Click import and wait for a couple hours.
4. Run WikiTaxi.exe and open the newly created database file. (the .taxi file, not the .bz2 file)
5. Enjoy Wikipedia without the Internet.
On Android phones, WikiDroyd lets you download an offline version of Wikipedia for free. On the iPhone, the $5 Wiki Offline has similar functionality. However, both of these apps require you to download the encyclopedia after installing the app, and it’s not clear whether Wikipedia will make its files available on Wednesday, so plan ahead. (UPDATE: Wikipedia is still accessible on mobile devices today, so no need to use these apps.)
Option 2: Use an Online Mirror
Downloading Wikipedia takes a long time, so for quick access, consider an online mirror of Wikipedia instead. The Free Dictionary’s encyclopedia offers the exact same content as Wikipedia (but with ads). When searching within the site, make sure to click the “Wikipedia encyclopedia” tab to get to Wikipedia’s content.
Option 3: Use a Wikipedia Alternative
ComputerSolving.com has a list of Wikipedia alternatives to get you through the day, including Encyclopedia.com and Citizendium, which requires authors to verify their credentials before posting. Sadly, none of these sites will make you stare deeply into Jimmy Wales’ eyes during donation season.
(UPDATE: A couple more good tips from the comments: You can actually stop Wikipedia from redirecting you by pressing Esc or your browser’s stop/reload button as soon as the page loads. Or, from a search engine, you can load the cached version of the page. Thanks, folks!)
(MORE: SOPA Won’t Stop Online Piracy, Would Censor Everyone Else)
Disclosure: Time Inc. parent company Time Warner supports SOPA legislation.