Internet

Blockages

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Academic Criticism (学术批评网) is a useful website founded in 2001 by Yang Yusheng (杨玉圣), a historian and critic.

The website aggregates commentary by and about academics: newspaper op-eds, book reviews, forewords to anthologies, and other similar material. It's a way to find a wide variety of opinion in one convenient place.

Yang is also known as an "academic janitor" who takes out the trash of scholarly dishonesty and academic malpractice, including the plagiarism cases that crop up so frequently nowadays.

Did he make some enemies? Academic Criticism used to be located at acriticism.com, but late last month, it was the target of a DDOS attack that left the website paralyzed, forcing it to move to criticism.cn.

Sayre's Law says that academic politics are so vicious because the stakes are so low, but in many of these cases, the stakes are quite high indeed. A recent letter posted to the site demanded the resignation of Lu Jierong, a professor at Liaoning University who was listed as coauthor of a student's paper that later turned out to be plagiarized. And although faculty and administration frequently resist taking action against plagiarizing professors, occasionally one will be dismissed in disgrace.

Earlier this year a blogger in China was stabbed by someone who took offense at the charges one post leveled against a friend of his. Who's to say an aggrieved academic wouldn't hire a botnet to take down an unfriendly website?


Related only by the topic of website inaccessibility, Danwei's server in Texas has been generally unreachable from mainland China since around 4pm Friday afternoon. A targeted block? An unfortunate side effect of recent upgrades made to improve the efficiency of filtering unwholesome material? A giant mass hallucination?

It's impossible to tell at this point. So spend the weekend outside and we'll see if we can't get things turned around by Monday.

Update (2009.07.04): Well, a new IP address has made the server reachable again, but the connection invariably gets reset. Not the best possible situation to be in, I'm afraid.

Links and Sources
There are currently 17 Comments for Blockages.

Comments on Blockages

First, you mean "because the stakes are so low", not "the states are so low".
[I suppose I do. Thanks. --JM]

Second, I deplore the blockage of these sites, but on the other hand I never understand why sites that mostly contain op-eds or op-ed style essays are called academic websites (I'm not just referring to this particular website you mentioned, but there are many other similarly named websites). Chinese "academics" are really low---they can only write op-eds, rather than real academic papers, but they are never reluctant to call themselves academics.

Joel Martinsen,
一开始没注意看,是在下面有一段声明.我了解情况了.谢谢.我绝对不信谣,不传谣,做一个遵纪守法的好网民.

Well, if there's going to be a roll call, I'll raise my hand from Nanjing. Noticed Friday evening, although no problems when using one of the many fine Net Nanny evaders available from an intertube near you.

my website domain and IP were blocked also a few days ago
changed domain name and IP, but not a good solution to Danwei I'm afraid.

Simply download and install vidalia. Run vidalia and configure your browser to use socks 4 proxy 127.0.0.1 port 9050. No more blockage.

'this is not funny'

i agree, whoever watch this blog for better censor work better be ware:

google 自\*/由\*/门
find workable downloads
here i am

these 3 steps is workin

[Obfuscated name of proxy. -JM]

Would it be a worthwhile patch if you were to register the reverse version, ie www.iewnad.org , as a mirror site?

If there's an issue it could be one with the use of a common Chinese word, ie an "intellectual property" problem rather than a content one.

Danwei is also blocked, isnt'it? I just returned from Philippines... and ooops! I need a stroll in the forest to get to Danwei, the highway authority has closed the exit...

What exactly is being block? If it's the domain then :( but if it's just IP could mean censors are blocking something else hosted on the server...

True, I found my own site (hosted on a popular hosting server in Europe) unfathomably blocked from time to time. And it's a completely private site with less than 10 users!

"Yang is also known as an 'academic janitor' who takes out the trash of scholarly dishonesty and academic malpractice, including the plagiarism cases that crop up so frequently nowadays."

- Well, Joel, you are too kind. Yang is a more complex character than that. He has been responsible for very few original discoveries of dishonesty and malpractices, while earning a reputation for appropriating others' academic "vigilantism". He's not above back-stabbing and some borderline plagiarism of his own, when it comes to "co-opting", without permission, other blogs' entries for his own website, changing title and author's name to prevent discovery. Example: a post on XYS by 一心 called 《可笑人也,聂资鲁教授!》was quickly turned into a《学术批评》post called 《反学术打假的好戏——评聂资鲁教授〈杨玉圣的所谓学术批评文章及我的答辩文章〉》,by "奕欣". So much for Mr. Yang's respect for copyrights.

The best intro to Mr. Yang's character comes in the form of a blog entry by himself, severing all ties with his former teacher: link
I am not interested in all those petty rights and wrongs, and I am no fan of Prof. Chen. But I think a picture of Mr. Yang would quite nicely emerge from his ruthless ridicules and insults of Chen's various shortcomings, from a bad stammer ("决心做一个与陈教授不一样(至少是不口吃结巴)的新人"; "暂且不论还传染上了口吃结巴等恶习"; "结结巴巴的口语能力") to low bureaucratic rank ("但连个教研室主任的官儿也没有当过,一付怀才不遇的样子。现在在退休前夕,总算有这么一个安慰性的位子,官不大,权也有限。不过,哪怕是正科级,也总算聊胜于无"), that have nothing to do with the topic of academic corruption in question.

The impression that I walk away with is a vulgarian of poor taste and doubtful integrity.

The reason why I may seem to have dwelled on Mr. Yang's personal failings is simply to advance this point: Chinese academia has been so corrupt for so long that nobody, even those self-proclaimed "janitors", is to be fully trusted. It's important to know who your allies are and how dependable they are.

It's diffu=icult not to despair, really; but let's try not to.

It seems as if a certain personality is required to be an anti-fraud activist. XYS's Fang Zhouzi indulges in ruthless ridicule and insult from time to time, if I'm not mistaken, and other "people's champions" are similarly loud, brash, and even disingenuous at times. But I'd say that their approach is needed in situations where academic malfeasance would otherwise be swept quietly under the carpet. Their shouted accusations lead to more measured discussions involving less prominent figures, and then things get accomplished.

In response to real academic's comment, I'd say again that it's a question of visibility. The op-eds get the largest response, and even longer pieces that make waves are more popular than rigorous scholarship. But there's plenty of "real academic papers" that are published in more out of the way places. Who reads academic journals, anywhere in the world? There have been some recent attempts at bringing "review of books"-style criticism to mainland China, to mixed success. But I wouldn't go so far as to say that Chinese academics can only write op-eds.

@Joel:

It's an interesting point that you raised, re rambunctious characters seeming to champion one worthy cause or another. But I am not sure if the comparison of Fang Zhouzi and Yang Yusheng is appropriate. Fang's integrity is such that, although he perhaps has more enemies than any other celebrity in China, I have yet to read ONE criticism that could seriously put it to question. Better yet, he is blessed with a surgical-grade sharp intellect and a powerful reason, which make Fang's THE voice in the wilderness against academic corruption long before the stance became fashionable.

If you compare the quality of Fang's attacks on others and that of the far more numerous attacks of others on Fang, the difference is obvious. A case in point is Fang's criticism of Mr. Yang and the latter's counter-attacks. Fang is the original whistle-blower of 70-80% of the academic, pharmaceutical, and psuedo-science scandals in this country. Others usually just add their voices when the political situation seems safe.

I sometimes deplore Fang's selection of words or even choice of fight, but I feel the same way about Lu Xun, which doesn't prevent me from greatly admiring both. Just as with Lu Xun, one can say this about Fang: those who side with him are not necessarily noble, but those against him are often base. To compare Fang and Yang is like putting Lu Xun and Guo Muoruo in the same category.

A related webpage that lists some of the more notorious incidents that involve Chinese "scholars": link

I didn't see Professor Ji's "pubic lice" remark before. At least he tried to be creative.

A quick fix: use Firefox, and download this little gem: go2 proxy. It worked like a charm!

I miss you, Danwei! Get well soon!

Thanks to other comrades for all the handy new ways to "stroll in the forest"... I've been using H0tsp0t SH13LD (in letters) and it's perfectly usable - it's free, but as a bonus it does constantly offer you "sexy singles in your town."

Don't know about you guys, but I'm in Shanghai and haven't been able to see danwei.org in the past week.

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