Talk:Examples of Bias in Wikipedia/Archive1

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"Wikipedia allows the use of B.C.E. instead of B.C. and C.E. instead of A.D. The dates are based on the birth of Jesus, so why pretend otherwise? Conservapedia gives the credit due to Christianity and exposes the CE deception."

Maybe, but the Internet is used by people of all cultures, who use different calenders. The year 2007 is different for "Christian" countries, Jews, Hindus, Muslims, the Chinese, Japanese, even Russians have a slightly different calender. Use of BCE is thus more inclusive of all cultures. Or do the editors of this website believe that only Americans, and only American Christains at that, be allowed to use the internet?--OmnusErudito 12:05, 17 March 2007 (EDT)

I think that we should call the page "Wikipedia."


Thanks for your suggestion, but I'm inclined to disagree. "Wackypedia" conveys an important and valid point that merely calling it "Wikipedia" would not. --Aschlafly 22:54, 21 December 2006 (EST)

Man oh man! We are really beating Wikipedia up! Will N.

  • Indeed. Dpbsmith 11:35, 6 January 2007 (EST)

Out of idle curiosity, is the important and valid point: "wikipedia is wacky"?


The point here is that if we want to be a credible website we should call things by their proper names. If you want to make the point that Wikipedia is waky or biased or whatever, do it in the body of the article. I think that if Wikipedia had an article on Conservapedia, but called it Conservastupidia, you would not like it, and would probably include it in your list of Wikipedia bias. --TimSvendsen 11:56, 6 January 2007 (EST)

I TOTALLY agree with Tim,

REPLYOK, Tim, you win. Go ahead and erase the "Wackypedia" references as you like.--Aschlafly 15:23, 6 January 2007 (EST)

Don't give in yet Mr. Schlafly :) I vote to definitely keep it Wackypedia. Who are we trying to appeal to here? The biased editors on Wikipedia? No, the Conservative editors elsewhere. We believe Wikipedia is wacky. Why try to sound nice? Also, why did we move all the examples of Wikipeda bias to another page? That is our view of Wikipedia. When people visit our Wikipedia page, we want them to see this. Don't put it someplace else that someone may not see it. Tim, who cares if Wikipedia puts an article up as Conservastupidia? Even if they wanted too they technically could not because of their no "personal attacks" policy. PhilipB 01:18, 8 January 2007 (EST)

Reply: If we call it "Wackypedia we hurt our own credibility. If we have a valid poit to make, we can make it without resorting to "personal attacks." (For lack of a better term) It is just acting immature to use namecalling instead of logic or truth to make our point. --TimSvendsen 10:56, 8 January 2007 (EST)

Counter: The "Wackeypedia" site is listed #2 in a Google search for "Conservapedia". But now that Wackeypedia has been omitted, many users who click on that link will be disappointed. This new piece of information may justify restoring the link. How about this: I'll redirect the link to "Wikipedia bias." Check this change out.--Aschlafly 16:58, 9 January 2007 (EST)

Gossip and vulgarity

The article states "Gossip and vulgarity are pervasive on Wikipedia."

I just tried an experiment. I clicked Wikipedia's "random article" link twenty times. I did not encounter any pages that I would describe as containing either gossip or vulgarity. I would be curious if others would try the same experiment and report their results. If you find one and are comfortable identifying which page contains the "gossip or vulgarity" do so, but of course do not if you think that the degree of vulgarity violates Conservapedia's standards.

Wikipedia's biographies, particularly of living people in the public eye, are more likely to contain unflattering material than some other sources. For example, the article on NPR news correspondent Nina Totenberg, mentions a plagiarism incident. Such biographies are usually subject to editing by many editors, and material of this sort doesn't usually stay very long unless a source is cited; in this case, a Wall Street Journal article. Dpbsmith 17:29, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Reply For starters, Wikipedia has no policy against gossip. That isn't just a matter of "editing by many editors." Gossip is not educational, and is often anti-intellectual. Look at 100 entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica and you're unlikely to see any gossip. Look at ten substantive entries in Wikipedia (other than the silly music/Hollywood/political stuff) and you're likely to see many instances of gossip. Also, I've noticed vulgar entries in Wikipedia that would never be found in a real encyclopedia, but it would violate the policy of Conservapedia to post examples here and they are not worth looking for.
Let's take your Nina Totenberg example. Here are the first five sentences:
Sentence one: Totenberg attended Boston University, and is the daughter of violinist Roman Totenberg, who is professor emeritus at Boston University and also teaches at the Longy School of Music.
Comment: why this detail about her father??? That's gossipy. The entry is about Totenberg, not her father.
Sentence two: Totenberg is the widow of the late former Sen. Floyd Haskell (D-Colo), whom she married in 1979.
Comment: That fact does not define Totenberg, and should not be the second sentence. Again, this is leading with gossip.
Sentences three and four: She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming.
Comment: This is really silly gossip at this point.
Sentence five: Totenberg began her career with the National Observer, from which she was fired for plagiarism in 1972.
Comment: That was over 30 years ago, and it exaggerates an incident concerning a couple of paragraphs. This is gossip.
One of the reasons people like Wikipedia is because it is so gossipy, without yet having the stigma of the National Enquirer. The same people would blush at the suggestion of reading the National Enquirer, which has higher standards than Wikipedia.
Disclosure: Totenberg interviewed me once on NPR. --Aschlafly 20:39, 7 January 2007 (EST)
Six degrees of separation: Nina Totenberg was a high school classmate of mine. (I knew her about well enough to say hi to her in the hallway).
The policy relating to gossip is the "verifiability policy." Gossip may be included in Wikipedia if (and only if) it has been previously published by a reliable source. Dpbsmith 21:03, 7 January 2007 (EST)

That's interesting concerning your connection to Nina Totenberg!
Gossip may well be verifiability. I don't think it is unreliability of information that makes it gossip. The National Enquirer is reviewed each week prior to publication by high-powered attorneys, but it is still rightly scorned. So why isn't Wikipedia treated in the same light? It should be.
The Totenberg entry says, "She married H. David Reines, a trauma physician, in 2000. On their honeymoon, he treated her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming." Since medical records are considered highly confidential, I'm skeptical that claim is verifiable. I clicked the "reference" for it on Wikipedia and it is a "Site Error." There are many such "references" on Wikipedia. --Aschlafly 21:24, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Comment: Is the Totenberg entry the best example of wikipedia's gossip and vulgarity? The example above is only borderline gossip-ish. The other examples of "gossip" you gave are relevant biography information. I can see why you find "gossip" prevelant throughout wikipedia.

--Ben 22:49, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Reply: It is enough to observe that Wikipedia has no policy against gossip, other than a general (and relatively new but unenforced) policy against unverified claims. Gossip is welcomed by Wikipedia and, as with the National Enquirer, helps boost popularity with the general public.
it was a hoax that created a backlash against Wikipedia. But perhaps the real problem was how Wikipedia welcomes gossip.--Aschlafly 23:14, 7 January 2007 (EST)

Another Comment: I suppose it is worth pointing out that gossip can be true and verifiable. Such a policy does harbor some worthless (though not necessarily bad) information.

--BenjaminS 09:58, 8 January 2007 (EST)

Another Point of View You can debate whether or not Wikipedia has a gossip problem all you like. However, that is not an example of Bias, just proof of alot of useless but not biased information. --TimSvendsen 10:14, 8 January 2007 (EST)

I agree. I think the "gossip" critique has more merit to it than the "bias" critique. I'd put it something like this:
Wikipedia's openness and lack of central authority is particularly problematical in the case of biographies of living people. Many people enjoy attacking public figures whose ideology they disagree with by inserting unflattering, scandalous, or spiteful statements into an article about them. As the Seigenthaler incident shows, such statements may go uncorrected for a long time. But even when Wikipedia works in the way its advocates say it is supposed to work, the result is only that the unflattering information is presented neutrally and is an accurate representation of material that has been published by a reliable source. There is no overarching, enforced policy like the New York Times' "all the news that's fit to print."
Thus, in the case of the Nina Totenberg article, it is possible to achieve a fairly stable consensus that an early incident of copied material should carefully attribute it to the columnist that reported it, accurately summarize what the columnist said, say where the columnist said it, not editorialize by calling it "plagiarism," and should include Nina Totenberg's own statement about the incident. What is not possible in Wikipedia is to declare that the incident is irrelevant, remove it from the article, and get the removal to stick. Dpbsmith 16:56, 8 January 2007 (EST)

Examples Of Bias???

Many of the entries in this article are examples of bias but some of them are just reasons why Wikipedia is not a very good website. Nos 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16 and 18 are not examples of bias.

Beating Out Wackypedia

Hey me and Andrew were discussing, if we want to beat out the amount of entries that Wackypedia has, we have to really pick it up and start putting alot of post up. We need approx. 274 for 10 years and we just get to 1,000,100. Thats if they dont put up anymore post. We need to get out to others cause we cant do this by ourselves. If we are going to do this all by ourselves, each of us has to do at least 5 entries a day, that is everyone in the class. Just wanted to alert the community. We need to grow. Thats all folks! Will N.

Will, thanks for the encouragement. More postings are helpful, most of all to the person who is posting the information. He learns and won't forget that material for a long time. That said, the vast majority of postings on Wikipedia is silly trivial or worse, lacking in any real value. I bet 90% of Wikipedia could be removed without hardly anyone even noticing or caring. --Aschlafly 16:50, 19 January 2007 (EST)

Well, you already have more articles than the Scots Wikipedia, anyway. Dpbsmith 19:58, 19 January 2007 (EST)
Another thought:
Do you expect the growth of a project like Wikipedia or Conservapedia to occur at a constant rate? ("274 articles per day for 10 years?") Or do you expect it to be an example of a geometric progression?
If Conservapedia has 3,000 articles and grows at 70 articles per day, that means that it grows by 2.3% every day. I don't think it will really keep doing this, but let's suppose it did. My calculations show that 1.02331, that is 1.023 multiplied by itself thirty-one times, is 2.02. That means that the number of articles would double every month.
If the number of articles in Conservapedia were to double every month, how long would it take to reach a million? Dpbsmith 06:55, 20 January 2007 (EST)
  • I think that our focus should be not on the number of pages, but on the quality of the pages. The number of possible useful, high quality pages is finite. We do not need to have a million pages if half of them are going to be controversial or useless. It is much better to have less pages and maintain our high quality standards. SharonS 07:53, 20 January 2007 (EST)

I agree with you Sharon, but disagree at the same time. We can make higher quality pages (which I have already seen us do), but lets make alot of them. Cant hurt us. It will only make us better. More pages, and higher quality. Thats what we should do. We have alot of pages (considering how long we have been around), but they are of a high quality. We need to keep doing this. On google if u punch in Online Encyclipideia, ours is not in the first 5 pages. We need to get more publicity. This is done by: 1. More terms and higher quality; 2. Sharing it with others. Thats all we can do for now. If there is anything else, add on to the list. Will N.

As a way of placing more information on Conservapedia and encouraging more posting by others, I've just added links to Conservapedia by other websites and posted my American History Lecture One.--Aschlafly 20:29, 20 January 2007 (EST)

...but Conservapedia does!

The article currently says:

21. Wikipedia's article about the late Senator John Tower includes this choice bit of gossip: "Senator Tower married Lila Burt Cummings in 1977. John and Lila Tower were divorced in 1987, and she died thereafter. As the embittered Lila lay near death from cancer, she refused to accept flowers sent to her by John Tower, according to Tower's former assistant Ken Towery." No real encyclopedia would print such silly gossip.

I have to point out that as I write this, there are currently two online self-described "encyclopedias" containing this item: Wikipedia and Conservapedia. I'm not sure how you can best deal with this particular Catch-22.

I took the liberty of rewording item 21 so that it does not directly retell the story. Dpbsmith 14:08, 26 January 2007 (EST)

P. S. There are two questions to be asked about this item: a) is it appropriate for an encyclopedia, and b) is it accurate? Looking only at the second question, I see that Wikipedia gives no source for the item, and a few quick searches on the Web and in Google Books don't immediately turn one up. I've marked the item in Wikipedia as needing a source, identified the editor who inserted the item, and left a note on his Talk page saying "I don't hold much admiration for Senator Tower, but an item like this really needs a good source citation." If a source citation isn't provided I'll remove the item, and if nobody finds a source, my removal of the item will probably stick. Dpbsmith 09:59, 26 January 2007 (EST)

P. P. S. The New York Times obituary for John Tower spells her name "Lilla," not "Lila," as the Wikipedia article did until a few minutes ago when I fixed it. The Times obituary does not mention the flower-rejection story, but does judge it appropriate to devote two of the article's twenty-one paragraphs to the topic "Bitter divorce in 1987," which is not irrelevant to his career since it says his wife's allegations "probably cost him the Pentagon post...." Dpbsmith 10:23, 26 January 2007 (EST)

P. P. P. S. As it happens I was able to find a source for the story myself, a newspaper article by Towery himself, so I added the source to Wikipedia's article. I expanded the quotation, because Towery's point was to illustrate Tower's civility toward his ex-wife. I added a note on the Wikipedia talk page saying I wasn't sure the incident needed to be in the article and asking for comment. Dpbsmith 14:08, 26 January 2007 (EST)

Move this page?

This page is no longer purley devoted to examples of Wikipedia's bias; I propose that we move it to "Reasons not to use Wikipedia". This title more accurately describes the page content.

Any thoughts on why we may want to keep the title as it is?

--BenjaminS 12:08, 26 January 2007 (EST)

Ben Franklin

How old was Ben Franklin when he was still a deist? To dismiss his conviction as "youthful" sounds like you are questioning the his maturiy-- implying that he was to naiive know any better and that he quickly turned from deism as soon as he gained experience. Unless this is strictly true I would requests removal of the adjective.

--BenjaminS 09:56, 29 January 2007 (EST)

I don't see how it matters how "youthful" Franklin was when he accepted and then abandoned deism, though I welcome someone else researching this.

Reply: Exactly my point! While doesn't matter how "youthful" he was (he may have not been youthfull at all), it does leave a false impression.

--BenjaminS 15:58, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington

I reverted back the edits that deleted the detailed description of how Conservapedia was censored by Wikipedia. Illustrating the mindset of the editors in control of Wikipedia is informative and interesting. --Aschlafly 15:11, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Reply: Unfortunately this example does not illustrate the mindset of Wikipedia editors. It shows that conservapedia is shallow-- citing the strange username of an editor as evidence of their bias; is there an inherent liberal bias in the use of a pen-name? Arguments such as this are diluting the good arguments against wikipedia and killing conservapedia's credibility.

--BenjaminS 15:58, 29 January 2007 (EST)

  • Isn't "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington" a literary reference? P. G. Wodehouse? Saki? Dpbsmith 16:32, 29 January 2007 (EST) Not quite, it's J. K. Rowling... he's in the Harry Potter novels. Dpbsmith 16:34, 29 January 2007 (EST)
    • Exactly. I was just coming on to say that. We have our own here at Conservapedia. We have a user called "Gothmog". --TimSvendsen 16:53, 29 January 2007 (EST)
REPLY But "Gothmog" does not exercise super-user privileges here and censor entire entries.--Aschlafly 17:06, 29 January 2007 (EST)
Reply The name of a user does not matter. Just because one of Wikipedia's editors happens to be a fan of the Harry Potter Book Series does not mean that he has some kind of bias. I think that you are just upset that the article on Conservapedia got deleted. (the merits of its deletion are debatable) The name of the editor is meaningless. --TimSvendsen 17:34, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Keep the thing up... it's perfectly acceptable. Who cares if people think we're shallow? PhilipB 17:52, 29 January 2007 (EST)

The point is that the name of an editor does not in any way' show that there is bias in wikipedia. --TimSvendsen 17:57, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Comment The main reason why this should be deleted is that it waters down the good arguments against wikipedia; this page has be come tedious and boring. Out of curiosity, why are the names "Gothmog" and "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington" inappropriate for editors' use?

--BenjaminS 18:04, 29 January 2007 (EST)

REPLY: Censorship by an anonymous person is bad enough. But it is even worse when the censorship is by someone displaying a silly description of himself. It's not just his name that is silly, it is also how he describes himself. Another editor on Wikipedia displayed his praise of Chairman Mao on his website. Let's be candid about juvenile and liberal the Wikipedia editors are. They are nothing like real encyclopedia editors, or even the general public. --Aschlafly 18:13, 29 January 2007 (EST)
Reply He does not describe himself. And choosing a name from a novel is not necessarily juvenile and definitly not liberal. Also, it doesn't really matter what someone puts on their user page. I assume that admins are chosen based on their contributions to the website, and that is fair whatever their user name is --TimSvendsen 18:25, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Alot of the sections on this page are not really examples of bias. maybe the page should be split int 2 pages, one for examples of bias, and one for other reasons not to use Wikipedia. --TimSvendsen 18:28, 29 January 2007 (EST)

REPLY The reader can be the judge of bias. Personally, and I'm sure many would agree with me, I feel that someone who names himself after a character in a children's book (a book to which many Christians object, by the way), and also calls himself "Nearly Headless Nick", is not likely to be an informed, fair judge of someone else's work. Of course you're free to disagree with my conclusion, but censoring this information so that others would be unable to draw their own conclusions is unjustified. --Aschlafly 19:25, 29 January 2007 (EST)

  • Well said Mr Schlafly... PhilipB 19:38, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Reply Nearly Headless Nick is the same character in the books as Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington. someone who names themself after a character in a book, is not more or less likely to be an "informed, fair judge of someone else's work" then anyone else. It is a logical fallacy to assume that an editor is bad just because you do not like their name. They do not give out admin priveledges at wikipedia arbitrarily, they are based on (correct me if I am wrong) the contributions of the user who wants to be an admin. It is not "censoring" to remove information from a list to which it does not belong. The user names of wikipedia editors is not usefull information, and does not need to be on Conservapedia. --TimSvendsen 19:42, 29 January 2007 (EST)

REPLYTim, you seem to be saying that the pseudonyms of users is NEVER useful information. But how about the name "poison pen" that invaded our site until I blocked it? How about the name "Antichrist"? Surely many names are indicative of the views of the users. What someone calls himself may tell us a great deal. Choosing a silly name from a Harry Potter novel increases the likelihood that the editor has views more like other Harry Potter readers than, for example, daily Bible readers. The Harry Potter name also suggests that the editor may be less than 16 years old. This is far from conclusive, but the probabilities do shift based on this information. Give the facts and let the reader draw his own interpretations. --Aschlafly 22:58, 29 January 2007 (EST)

Reply I just wanted to say that I am under 16, and a Harry Potter reader and YOU approved for me to be an admin!! This seems to be a bit of a double standard. (By the way I'm also a daily Bible reader.) I think that a better way to find wikipedia bais is to look at the things that "Nearly headless Nick" has edited and then decide if he is biased.--Chris 12:56, 4 February 2007 (EST)

Indeed. Fortunately, MediaWIki makes this easy to do; here is a link to his last hundred edits to the article namespace. By far the bulk of them appear to be reversions of added content. I'm going to look at a few that seem to be relevant to issue of of political and religious bias.
  • In the Ronald Reagan article, he removed the words "Brian Higgins has a little [infantile euphemism for body part]"[1]
  • In the article on Epiphany (Christian), he reverted someone who had changed the name of the holiday from "Epiphany" to "Burger feast"[2]
  • In an article on Father Jack Hacket (who, it turns out, is a fictional TV character) he removed a statement that "At one stage, he was a sea captain."[3]
  • In an article on the Qur'an, he removed an interpolated vernacular phrase asserting someone's sexual orientation and expressing contempt for same.[4]
  • In an article on the United States Bill of Rights, he reverted someone who had changed the statement that the Bill of Rights is kept in the U. S. National Archives so that it read Pakistan National Archives.
I'll let others examine and judge some of his other edits. Dpbsmith 14:37, 4 February 2007 (EST)

REPLY Obviously a name like "antichrist" would be usefull information. It would say that the user was against christianity. I am saying that in this case the username is not very usefull, and clearly not an example of bias. What do you think are the views of harry potter readers? do you have any reason to believe that readers of Harry Potter generaly share the same views? What makes you think that this user isn't a daily Bible reader? Are you saying that most readers of Harry Potter are under the age of 16? Are you saying that people under 16 are not capable of being editors. Anyone who wants to know the facts about Wikipedia editors can look on Wikipedia itself. This is an unsubstantiated attack on an editor because of his username. If Wikipedia started attacking Conservapedia in a similar manner you would be up in arms about it. You would post it on the list of examples of Wikipedia Bias. --TimSvendsen 23:38, 29 January 2007 (EST)

FURTHER REPLY Many Harry Potter fans are under 12 years old. And if an adult editor is naming himself after a silly Harry Potter figure, then that is also worth knowing. If an editor deleting pages on Wikipedia called himself "Winnie the Pooh" or the "Easter Bunny" then that would raise some concerns. Does Wikipedia have an age limit on editors? Does Wikipedia have a requirement that editors be informed, or be objective, or even take their responsibilities seriously? It is startling that an editor having power to delete entire entries in Wikipedia names himself after a silly Harry Potter figure. By the way, I do doubt that editor has an informed understanding of the Bible, and I also doubt he even cares. --Aschlafly 02:39, 30 January 2007 (EST)

Reply What on earth does the fact that many harry potter fans are under 12 have to do with this debate? The editor is clearly not under 12. (or even under 16 as you said before.) Yes, Wikipedia does have standards for admins, (you keep calling him an editor. Isn't anyone who makes an edit an editor?) they have objectivity standards, and if you read the discussion that Dpbsmith posted further down the page you can see how they choose their admins. --TimSvendsen 19:54, 30 January 2007 (EST)
REBUTTAL I read Dpbsmith's link below with interest. The administrator was picked by majority vote <1> over some compelling dissenting views. <2> This Wikipedia process does nothing to ensure objectivity or to restrain tyranny of the majority. <3> Apparently he's a foreign law student who names himself after a silly Harry Potter figure. <4> If he were a juror in a real case, then many would request that he be recused immediately for lack of seriousness and responsibility. <5> Yet he apparently has the authority to delete hundreds or thousands of entries. <6> I think he may be amused by censoring hours of someone else's useful work. <7> I'm not amused.--Aschlafly 20:14, 30 January 2007 (EST)
Reply I have so many rebuttals that I had to seperatly number them with corresponding marks in your argument to keep it organized. here they are<1>Actually it is not done by majority vote, but is a "discussion" after which one of the people in charge of choosing admins (I think that they are called Beuracrats) decides the issue. <2> Actually there were 4 people who were against, and 4 neutural, and none of their arguments were very compelling. <3> It is not popular vote, (see above) so it isn't "tyranny of the majority," and he was chosen based on his previous work on Wikipedia. If that is not unbiased, could you please give an example of how to choose admins in an unbiased manner. <4> Have you read the Harry Potter books? If not, then how do you know htat the character is silly? <5> An admin's job is not comparable to a juror's , so your argument does not work. Also an editor has to show responsibilty before even being consedered as an admin. <6> If he was deleting "hundreds or thousands of entries" that should not have been deleted, then his admin prevelidges would have been taken away. <7> This is a reckless personal attack with no basis in fact, and should not even be consedered in this debate. --TimSvendsen 21:14, 30 January 2007 (EST)

Relpy Upon what do you base this claim? Does the name "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington" indicate ignorance of the bible? I must confess my disappointment in your judgment of this editor based on nothing but his user name.

Earlier in this debate you said: "Censorship by an anonymous person is bad enough. But it is even worse when the censorship is by someone displaying a silly description of himself." I must point out that deleting the article on conservapedia was not censorship or anything like censorship. The conservapedia article did not meet wikipedia's standards and was deleted through a very fair procedure.

--BenjaminS 17:50, 30 January 2007 (EST)

Aschlafly, I think your description of the role played by "Sir Nicholas de Mimsy-Porpington," in the process by which the article on Conservapedia was deleted from Wikipedia, is factually inaccurate... or at least makes it easy for a reader to draw a factually inaccurate inference. I'll leave it up to you whether you feel like taking on the challenge of rewording it in a way that I will acknowledge is accurate, while still making the points you want to make. (E.g. I would call it accurate to say that Wikipedia gave admin privileges to an anonymous user with a silly screen name). Dpbsmith 11:00, 30 January 2007 (EST)
P. S. Some may be curious to read the discussion that took place prior to his being given administrative privileges at Wikipedia. Dpbsmith 18:00, 30 January 2007 (EST)
REPLY Thanks again for the insightful link, Dpbsmith! That did open my eyes about the selection of administrators at Wikipedia. Basically, it's majority vote, and there was some strong dissent in giving this individual administrative privileges. I suspect that some of his supporters liked the politics of this law student, and that's how bias rises to control (sometimes called tyranny by the majority). I'm not the only one to be taken aback by his choice of username.--Aschlafly 20:14, 30 January 2007 (EST)

Wikipedia does/doesn't distort Benjamin Franklin's position on deism?

The article gives as an example of bias,

Wikipedia distorts the youthful acceptance of deism by Benjamin Franklin by never acknowledging that he later abandoned it.

However, Wikipedia's article on Franklin says:

A few years later, Franklin repudiated his 1725 pamphlet as an embarrassing "erratum"

It also cites a source to the effect that

Franklin became uncomfortable with an unenhanced version of deism and comes up with his own conception of the Creator.

It cites other sources:

According to David Morgan, Franklin was a proponent of all religions. He prayed to "Powerful Goodness" and referred to God as the "INFINITE." John Adams noted that Franklin was a mirror in which people saw their own religion: "The Catholics thought him almost a Catholic. The Church of England claimed him as one of them. The Presbyterians thought him half a Presbyterian, and the Friends believed him a wet Quaker." Whatever else Benjamin Franklin was, concludes Morgan, "he was a true champion of generic religion."

Checking the history, there have been some back-and-forth in this section; a paragraph on how Franklin proposed "Rebellion to Tyrants is Obedience to God" as a motto for a Great Seal was removed, then restored, but the notes above seems to have been stable for a while. Dpbsmith 11:13, 30 January 2007 (EST)

REPLY Wikipedia lists Franklin as a deist in a separate entry.--Aschlafly 20:15, 30 January 2007 (EST)

A variety of comments

Question for you conservatives - how is the use of CE/BCE "anti-christian"? Different cultures and religions have different dating systems, and CE/BCE is a neutral system. In case you were unaware, AD stands for Anno Domini, meaning "In the Year of Our Lord", the Lord referring to the Christian lord, Jesus Christ. This is a decidedly pro-christian system, and using CE instead indicates a neutral stance, not an anti-christian stance. There are conservatives in the world (and US) who are not Christian, believe it or not. If you insist on using AD, perhaps you should call this encyclopedia "christipedia". ---Liberator 21:29, 21 February 2007 (EST)

Having looked at the examples here, some of them seem to be valid and I have taken steps to correct them. In particular, I have removed some of the more gossipy comments in Wikipedia entries and thank this project for pointing them out. I have also corrected the century for the indentured servitude. I would therefore tentatively suggest updating those sections on this page to note that they were corrected after being pointed out here. The lack of an article on elementary proof is disturbing and I am currently writing a draft. One of the claims here however is flat out wrong- Wikipedia does not prefer CE to AD but has a compromise system where Christian articles generally use the AD/BC system, articles on other religions generally use CE/BCE, articles on other topics use whichever one the article creator had. In some particularly controversial cases, we have used CE/AD or similar comments. Also many of the issues brought up here would have taken a few seconds to correct or deal with. Thus, bringing them up here as examples of "bias" is inaccurate and misleading. I have not had time to look over all the claims here but will do so when I have time. JoshuaZ 17:00, 4 February 2007 (EST)

I have the Nina Totenberg article on my watchlist, and I actually did notice your edit and think it was interesting in light of the discussion here about Wikipedia being gossip-oriented. The interesting thing will be to see whether your removal "sticks." (JoshuaZ removed a source item about Nina Totenberg's husband, a physician, treating her for severe injuries after she was hit by a boat propeller while swimming). I'm completely neutral about this sort of trivia. I'd never put it in, but I wouldn't personally take it out, particularly not since it has a good source citation. I'm more active when it comes to items that are a) factually true, b) embarrassing to the subject of the article, and c) appear to me to be motivated by a wish to attack the subject. Dpbsmith 17:11, 4 February 2007 (EST)
My opinion in regard to things like the Totenberg issue is mixed and is close to your attitude although I am slightly more willing to remove things. Stuff like that often just makes it more difficult for people to locate actually useful information an makes people less inclined to expand articles with details that really should be there. JoshuaZ 17:16, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Zenger matter is also now corrected. JoshuaZ 18:48, 4 February 2007 (EST)
REPLY Are you crediting Conservapedia with these corrections when you make them? To be fair, you should.
Wikipedia's bias includes its failure to credit Christianity, Americans, conservatives, etc. The BCE/CE is one glaring example of this bias, but there are many others listed here. If a date is used based on the birth of Jesus, then that attribution should be given regardless of one's view of Jesus. That's a matter of proper attribution, and it's anti-Christian bias to try to erase a factual attribution.
It's not true that most of the enumerated examples of Wikipedia bias can be easily corrected. Most of the examples remain uncorrected, and if you tried to correct them your edits on Wikipedia would likely be erased.--Aschlafly 21:17, 4 February 2007 (EST)
I haven't been "crediting" Conservapedia when making these corrections for the following reasons a) my general habit when I see on a non-Wikipedia site a note about a mistake is to correct it and leave a note at the site in question (as I left above). Even when dealing with such corrections on Wikipedia one very often makes the correction and then thanks the individual on the talk page who brought the matter up. c) if I did go through the effort to "credit" those who found the mistakes, it would make far more sense to go through the history of this article and credit whatever conservapedia editor found the mistake in question as such-and-such on conservapedia. If however, you insist that it is somehow more "fair" for me to make a general comment about where it came from, I may do so.
I do think the use of a list here of Wikipedia errors deserves attribution. Wouldn't that be fair? Your other examples are not comparable to your repeated use of the list here. You are most welcome to use anything here, but why the reluctance to give credit? This is particularly warranted after Wikipedia insisted on deleting the entry about Conservapedia. After that, Wikipedia is going to benefit from what it censored, and not even give credit? I don't think so.
Again, I don't see any censorship occuring but if you insist I will note when I make corrections or changes that were brought up here. As I explained above, my normal practice is not to do so. To expand upon my explanation above (especially the cause for the general habit mentioned in part a) above, I make about 2 to 5 corrections to Wikipedia a day based on concers brought up by people either through emails, IMs, messages I see on other websites or other venues. To note where each one comes from would make it much easier for people to internetstalk me and stalk me IRL- events which I would rather not occur. Therefore,I generally fix the problems and thank the people who brought up a matter in whatever venue they brought it up. Again, if you insist that I credit such fixes to Consevarpedia when they have been brought up here, it is likely that I will do so. JoshuaZ 22:14, 4 February 2007 (EST)
2-5 errors per day is a great deal of errors. That's worth knowing and publicizing itself. An ordinary encyclopedia would not contain so many errors. But I digress.

Comment: An "ordinary" encyclopedia is nor user-controled; 2-5 errors per day is a good thing for a wiki the sise of wikipedia! If we ever get nearly that big we also will have many errors to correct.

--BenjaminS 12:31, 5 February 2007 (EST)

The errors corrected on Wikipedia based on the Conservapedia entry deserve credit for several reasons. First, it is many errors from a single source. Second, the source is one that Wikipedia previously refused to recognize. So, yes, I do insist that Conservapedia receive credit in your use of it to correct specifically identified errors on Wikipedia. --Aschlafly 23:36, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Regarding the 2-5 claim being a "great deal", I would disagree: many of the errors in question are issues of spelling and grammar. Second, as I attempted to explain to you earlier there isn't an issue of Wikipedia recognizing Conservapedia or not, even if Conservapedia found 10^8 errors, that wouldn't make it meet Wikipedia inclusion policies. Third, many of the issues brought up here are not errors of fact but rather errors of ommision, possible NPOV issues, criticisms of how Wikipedia is organized, or ad hominem attacks on Wikipedia usernames. Only about 5 of these seem to be possibly genuine errors of fact. That hardly seems like "many errors." In any event, when I look at the other ones on this list, I will attribute an corrections to Conservapedia in my edit summaries per your request. JoshuaZ 23:44, 4 February 2007 (EST)
Now, as to your comments about AD/CE issues, I'd rather not get into a protracted discussion: the CE system is used by many academics and modern sources. In so far as that, Wikipedia isn't attempting to erase Jesus or anything like that. Its a simple matter of their being a lot of disagreement over what system to use and to avert further controversy without making any claims about which system is better or worse it has had a makeshift compromise. Not surprisingly, some atheists, agnostics, Jews and Muslims have objected to the US of the AD system anywhere on Wikipedia and think this smacks of a pro-Christian bias. I would tentatively suggest that the presence of objections on both ends demonstrates that it isn't biased with this matter but is simply attempting to compromise on a difficult issue. To quote Calvin (the comic strip character, not the theologian) "A good compromise leaves everybody mad." Now, aside from this matter, I'm personally inclined to agree to some extent with you. It is particularly strange in regard to the Jews who prefer CE/BCE since many of the same concerns still exist. That is, they are still using a system which revolves around what according to many Jewish authorities (such as Maimonides) is idolatry. It would thus make sense for them to use some other calendrical system such as the Jewish calendar or the Islamic calendar (which would not present such an issue because the muslims don't have a trinity and don't claim that a human was divine). JoshuaZ 21:34, 4 February 2007 (EST)
The dates are based on the approximate birth of Jesus. Proper attribution is a matter of integrity, not a statement of faith. Insisting on denying credit reflects bias and nothing more. --Aschlafly 21:45, 4 February 2007 (EST)

"Latent hostility?"

I don't really expect to change any minds, but I don't think that Wikipedia's giving Nero's[5] dates in the format "December 15, 37 – June 9, 68" expresses a "latent hostility" toward Christianity. If you check earlier Roman emperors, you'll see that Augustus' dates are given as "September 23, 63 BC–August 19, AD 14" and Julius Caesar's as "July 13, 100 BC – March 15, 44 BC"

Notice that these article do use Conservapedia's favored AD/BC, not CE/BCE.

I think Wikipedia is simply following the recommendations in its Manual of Style, which say "Normally you should use plain numbers for years in the Anno Domini/Common Era, but when events span the start of the Anno Domini/Common Era, use AD or CE for the date at the end of the range (note that AD precedes the date and CE follows it."

That this is not particularly anti-Christian is suggested by the fact that the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in 1911 and tending to reflect an Anglican point of view, gives Nero's dates as "(37-68)".

(On the other hand... the Columbia Encyclopedia, gives his dates as "A.D. 37–A.D. 68."[6]... while the current Britannica says "born Dec. 15, AD 37, Antium, Latium died June 9, 68, Rome" and gives his reign as "AD 54–68".)

I'd add that even conservatives do not, as far as I know, customarily use "AD" in ordinary parlance where the era is obvious from context (dating checks, for example). Dpbsmith 16:16, 5 February 2007 (EST)

REPLY The Encyclopedia Britannica uses BC/AD. I just checked my print edition from the 1990s, and it has AD for Nero's dates. Your citation to the online Britannica is merely "based on" the 1911 edition, rather than quoting it verbatim. The omission of "A.D." is striking, and may suggest a similar hostility. They copied from Britannica but dropped the AD, apparently
Image of Nero article from 1911 Britannica
Oh, well... uh... er... you see... as it happens—believe it or not, and I know it's hard to believe!—I personally own a print copy of the 11th edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Sorry, shoulda warned you... And it matches the online version. I acknowledge that I didn't check until after you brought up that point, though. Dpbsmith 21:50, 5 February 2007 (EST)
REPLY WOW!!!! That's amazing, Dpsmith!!!! What a stunning disproof of my argument!!!! A bit odd that Wikipedia makes the exact same mistake, don't you think? Could you check the Britannica convention for others living around that time to see if Nero's lack of A.D. was a mistake? (my 1990s Britannica uses A.D. for those dates, suggesting that the Britannica editors viewed this as a mistake and later fixed it).--Aschlafly 22:14, 5 February 2007 (EST)
Yeah, thanks, you made my day. Remember the scene in a Woody Allen movie, "Annie Hall" I think, in which he is arguing with someone about what Marshall McLuhan meant? (Marshall McLuhan was a cryptic Canadian guru whose book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man had everybody trying to understand what he was saying about "hot media" and "cool media.") And Allen says, "Well, I have Marshall McLuhan right here"—IRC Allen pulls him out from behind a large freestanding lobby card—and McLuhan proceeds to say that Allen was right. I think this about as close as I'll ever come to having that kind of moment.
The 1911 Britannica was some kind of high point in encyclopedia-making. From 1911 throught the 1960s, new editions of the Britannica were, in fact, based on the previous editions, and even contained some articles unchanged from it. Whenever they came out with the "Britannica 3" (29-volume Propedia/Micropedia/Macropedia) I believe that was a complete rewrite from top to bottom, so there's no continuity.
The 1911 Britannica does appear to be at least inconsistent. No time now for a thorough check. One article opens "Gaius Caesar (A.D. 12-41)," another opens "Galba, Servius Sulpicius, Roman emperor (June A.D. 68 to January 69)." Dpbsmith 05:57, 6 February 2007 (EST)
You're right that we don't use "A.D." on checks, or sometimes where it is obvious. But it is not obvious in the case of Nero's birthdate, which was within 50 years of the birth of Jesus. The omission of A.D. there is glaring.
Reply By your logic Mr. Schlafly, Wikipedia is hostile to Anti-Christianity because the article on Nero Omits "CE" from the Date. I would say that the lack of an AD or CE acknowledges the fact that there is debate on the subject, and avoids taking a side. --TimSvendsen 22:48, 5 February 2007 (EST)
People will omit things to be politically correct. "Happy Holidays," anyone? This is the same phenomenon in Wikipedia. When in doubt (about A.D. v. C.E., leave it out!
I agree that not all of Wikipedia's articles use BCE/CE, but I think most do and the trend is to use BCE/CE. Our resident Wikipedia enthusiast defends the practice, for example. Wikipedia editors are hostile to Christianity in other ways, so this practice is not surprising.--Aschlafly 21:32, 5 February 2007 (EST)

Some of Conservapedia's articles do not appear to use AD for four-digit years, e.g.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945)
Rudolf Clausius (1822–1888)
Richard Nixon (1913–1994)

Does this indicate a latent hostility toward Christianity?

It seems to me that A.D. is used primarily on gravestones, on very formal official documents, and in contexts where years A.D. and years B.C. are mixed. Dpbsmith 18:37, 5 February 2007 (EST)

One last observation and then I'll bow out, or at least try to, on this topic. I found an online resource, The Christian Writer’s Manual of Style, the Zondervan Corporation... Zondervan being a well-known Christian publishing house. It is a downloadable pdf. I see several references to eras. All of them are devoted solely to the recommendation that they should be in full caps without periods:

"For instance, we no longer recommend small caps for such abbreviations as AD, BC, CE, BCE, a.m., and p.m."

...periods should not be used for

historical eras: AD, BC, BCE, AH, BP
"Abbreviations designating historical eras, formerly set in small caps with periods, are now most commonly set in full caps without periods: AD, BC, BCE,BH."

I don't see any indication that AD and BC are to be preferred. Dpbsmith 18:50, 5 February 2007 (EST)

For What it's Worth I added AD to the dates of Nero on Wikipedia a couple nights ago, and as of right now it has not been removed. --TimSvendsen 11:30, 7 February 2007 (EST)

I won't be surprised if it sticks, but I won't be surprised if someone reverts it "per MOS" (manual of style). I'm not a Manual of Style maven and don't followed it closely, other than to check it when I have a question, but I suspect that if you want this to stick you'd need to make a proposal, and get consensus, that "AD or CE should be used with two-digit years" or something like that.
There was some kind of great flaming AD/BC vs CE/BCE war about a year ago, but it's quite possible that at the moment nobody think it's very important... or that articles on Roman emperors aren't part of the arena on which it was fought.
Small changes, good, bad, or indifferent can escape notice for a long time. Wikipedia's article on the Statue of Liberty mentioned that one Frederick R. Law made a parachute jump from the statue in 1912. A few months ago someone changed the name to "Caressea M. Lentino." I put the item in originally (based on a New York Times story), I have the Statue of Liberty article on my watchlist, but neither I nor anyone else noticed the change. Dpbsmith 12:13, 7 February 2007 (EST)
    • For what it's worth, as of February 12th there have been six more edits to the article by five different editors, none of whom has touched Tim Svendsen's change. Possible interpretations include:
      • The change wasn't noticed.
      • It was noticed, and thought to be reasonable.
      • It was noticed, and shrugged off... because none of these editors have enough "latent hostility" toward the use of AD and BC to fuss about it. Dpbsmith 11:22, 12 February 2007 (EST)


While it is true that many of wikipedia's entries are of no educational value, we can hardly expect them to count which ones do and which ones don't; this is not an example of bias and I would like to remove it if no objections are raised.

--BenjaminS 19:11, 5 February 2007 (EST)

I don't like the idea of calling it "bias," but it seems to me that it's a fair observation that a good portion of Wikipedia's content would not be found in traditional encyclopedias... and that the article count might be inflated if you're a) are interested in traditional scholarly content, and b) are comparing it to the Britannica's article count.
A lot of it Wikipedia's content, however, could be found in specialized books that have the word "encyclopedia" in their title. Searching Amazon on the word "encyclopedia" I find The New Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding, The New Sotheby's Wine Encyclopedia, DC Comics Encyclopedia, An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Clematis, The Sports Encyclopedia: Baseball 2007, Armlock Encyclopedia: 85 Armlocks for Jujitsu, Judo, Sambo & Mixed Martial Arts, The Billboard Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock: Expanded and Updated Edition, The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Revised and Updated for the 21st Century), DK Encyclopedia of Rock Stars, etc. etc. etc. Dpbsmith 20:44, 5 February 2007 (EST)

Propose move to "Examples of Defects in Wikipedia"

...or Examples of Problems with Wikipedia

...or Examples of Issues with Wikipedia

or something of the sort. The article would sit better with me if everything in it were not ascribed to "bias." In fact, many of the complaints are about inaccuracies, which have nothing to do with bias.

I don't think saying that Wikipedia has "a bias towards popular gossip rather than helpful or enlightening information" is a good use of the word bias, either. Wikipedia certainly does have a lot of, um, material which may seem frivolous (or unhelpful or unenlightening) and as a result its article count may be inflated, but I don't think this is what people generally mean by bias.

Some of the complaints are really directed at the way in which Wikipedia is governed and organized. Some are really complaints at the fact that Wikipedia, being the "encyclopedia that everyone can edit," relies for quality control on the mass decisions of people whose only credentials are that they feel like editing Wikipedia. This is not bias, either.

Oh, by the way... would you like to know something truly scary? There was a longstanding dispute in the Wikipedia article about the Ivy League. It concerned a statement that, at the time the league was formed, Rutgers was invited to join, but declined. When push comes to shove Wikipedia editors demand published sources, and the editor who insisted on inserting this said he had seen it in microfilmed copies of The Targum, the Rutgers student newspaper, but declined to give dates and page numbers. The statement was in the article for, I don't know, months; sometimes in, sometimes out, sometimes marked "citation needed," sometimes not.

One day, someone found a recent newspaper article in The New York Daily News:

"You don't have to define your college with your football team, but Rutgers long ago decided to give it a try. Back in 1954, when it was considered a 'public Ivy,' Rutgers might have joined the fledgling Ivy League and altered its destiny. But the school declined the offer - arguably the dumbest mistake in its history. Ever since then, Rutgers has scrambled to prove itself worthy of playing football with the big boys." — Bondy, Filip. "They Can Finally Say They Belong Here", New York Daily News, 2006-11-10, p. 92. Retrieved on 2006-12-13.

Well, that certainly looks like a published source, doesn't it? The issue seemed to be settled...

...until someone emailed the reporter to find out where he had gotten that fact.

It turned out he had gotten it from Wikipedia. (Presumably on a day when the article contained that statement).

This is not the only case of journalists using Wikipedia articles without mentioning Wikipedia as their source.

Is that scary, or what? Dpbsmith 09:33, 6 February 2007 (EST)

WOW!!! That is scary!!! Maybe if that reporter saw our website he would not have made that mistake!!! :-)
As to the title of "bias", most of the complaints are related to bias, so I think our title is description (and interesting to visitors). Even defenders of Wikipedia have reacted elsewhere to some of my observations with a statement like, "Boy, that sounds just like Wikipedia." There are (undesirable) characteristics of the Wikipedia entries that reflect the biased culture of its editors. Note how Wikipedia makes no effort to maintain balance among its editors, in contrast to a reputable publication. When I pointed this on Wikipedia's own entry about itself, Wikipedia editors then altered and censored my observation!--Aschlafly 10:38, 6 February 2007 (EST)

I propose splitting the page (Because many of the entries on it are not "Bias") by moving some of the entries to a page called Mistakes and other Problems in Wikipedia. I would suggest:

Moving Nos. 6, 7, 9, 10, 12, 13, 18, and 21,
Leaving Nos. 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 17, 22, and a cut back version of #15,
Deleting Nos. 3, 11, 14, 16, 19 and 20.

What does everyone else think. --TimSvendsen 11:57, 7 February 2007 (EST)

I whole heartedly agree!

--BenjaminS 14:58, 7 February 2007 (EST)

If I don't have anyone dissagreeing with me I am going to go ahead with this. --TimSvendsen 21:46, 12 February 2007 (EST)

National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act {{sofixit}}

({{sofixit}} is a template sometimes used on Wikipedia which expands to a suggestion that someone should fix a problem with an article themselves).

Aschlafly, If you are actually concerned about Wikipedia's article on the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, I think there is a very good chance that you could successfully edit the article for balance and that the changes would "stick." You can use this as a test of whether Wikipedia's "neutrality" policy is more than empty lip service.

As a start, I would suggest that you try adding a section under the subheading ==Criticism==, that you try to put yourself into the same frame of mind you were in when you wrote the current contents of the HPV vaccine article, and in the spirit of the verifiability policy, you cite sources to the hilt. Don't try to control the contents of the article.

Remember that what your goal is not to prove that (say) "In no other industry are the manufacturers of products able to avoid legal accountability and full liability for damages caused directly by their products," but to prove that there are published sources saying that critics have said that. That is, don't try to prove that the criticism is true, try to prove that the criticism is reasonably widely held and is a point of view that deserves representation.

As an extreme example, if you manage to make your case solely in the form of direct quotes from critics that have appeared in the mainstream press, I think it will be very hard for people to argue that they should not be in the article.

Perhaps you want to remould the entire article nearer to your heart's desire, but that probably won't work. Don't try to delete the material that's there, even if you think it's biased, and don't try to change it unless it really says something demonstrably counter to the facts... but add the opposing view.

If you feel that it's not your job to keep Wikipedia neutral, OK, but the only way problems on Wikipedia get fixed is for people to wade in and fix them.

Try it, I think you'll like it. Dpbsmith 13:51, 6 February 2007 (EST)

Dpbsmith, thanks for your suggestion. But I have spent many hours editing Wikipedia and nearly every time my edits have been censored, deleted, diluted or otherwise changed in a biased manner. These include topics ranging from politics to science to Wikipedia itself. And I don't mean simply editing opinions. I'm including how specific and undisputed facts that I have posted have been removed. The bias in the existing vaccine article on Wikipedia suggests many of the same problems that I have previously encountered, and unsuccessfully attempted to fix, elsewhere. So I'm not sure editing Wikipedia is time well-spent, though I will consider trying again.
A simple poll of the political, religious, scientific and economic views of the Wikipedia administrators would illustrate the problem. But I don't expect any such poll to be published.--Aschlafly 14:03, 6 February 2007 (EST)
Well, if you've had bad experiences in the past, perhaps it's asking for frustration to ask you to try again...

Bias Among Wikipedia Admins

Re the deletion of the Conservapedia article, I've tried to tweak the description without blunting your criticism.
Wikipedia does have (numerous!) policies regarding deletion.
In most straightforward cases, of which the Conservapedia article was one, yes, it really amounts to a 2/3 vote for deletion by anonymous voters. It is formally "not a vote." The closing admin (who is whoever happens to be around and closing deletion articles that day) can exercise judgement. That usually only comes into play in situations where the admin judges there to have been voting irregularities, such as "sockpuppetry" (multiple voting by one person under several different user accounts) or "meatpuppetry" (when a person e.g. posts on a blog asking lots of people to come to Wikipedia, create new accounts, and vote). (It is usually thought to be suspicious when a new account's first edit is to a deletion discussion, for example). In such cases, or when the vote is actually close to 2/3, an admin will usually explain the decision.
In this case, I think the admin was performing an almost mechanical exercise in vote-counting and that virtually any other admin would have called it the same way. That's probably why the decision was so curt.
There is a "deletion review" process that is available when an admin appears to have acted arbitrarily. My personal opinion is that this particular deletion was so cut and dried that asking for deletion review would just result in further frustration, so I don't recommend trying.
Wikipedia is what it is, but it is not due to Sir Mimsy exercising his personal whim.
By the way, I think you greatly overestimate the degree to which admins influence content on Wikipedia. Dpbsmith 18:17, 6 February 2007 (EST)
Is there a Wikipedia policy that majority (or supermajority) vote can force the deletion of an entry? If so, then I'd like to publicize that.
In effect, yes.
If you were to say "articles can be deleted on the basis of a supermajority vote of a group of anonymous users," well, that's reasonably close. You can add that it's a group self-selected by their interest in voting on the article... and there are no membership criteria, no quorum calls, etc.
That doesn't mean it's easy to get an article deleted, though! In practice it's more complicated than that. For example, if you nominated, say, the article on Dinesh d'Souza for deletion, the likely result would be a flood of comments like "Speedy keep, bad-faith nomination" and "[[WP:POINT]]," shorthand for "Don't disrupt Wikipedia to illustrate a point." I don't think a group of cronies could get an article deleted just because they didn't like it. I do understand, of course, that that's exactly what you think happened with the Conservapedia article...
Scholars would be amused by such a policy.
Admins on Wikipedia can and do block users, freeze entries, delete pages, and prohibit entries on certain topics. I doubt it's possible to overestimate their influence. Let's see a poll of their views on politics, religion and economics. I bet their views are nothing like the American public's, or even that of Wikipedia users.--Aschlafly 19:45, 6 February 2007 (EST)
Regarding the deletion policy, see here. While I think a poll in that regard might be interesting, since the admins are drawn from and confirmed by the general Wikipedia community(see this for a description of how) , their viewpoints are likely close to the community attitudes. I wouldn't be surprised if there were significant deviation from the American public's attitudes since in general Wikipedia draws many users from outside the US (my guess would be that about 10-20% of admins on the English language Wikipedia are not native to the US) and admins are a generally well-educated group (and so are Wikipedians for that matter). JoshuaZ 20:37, 6 February 2007 (EST)
For what it's worth, I think the attitude of admins as a class is probably close to the general Wikipedia community. As for the Wikipedia community, Wikipedia has been called "the encyclopedia that Slashdot built." That means it has, or traditionally had, an overrepresentation of software engineers, particular those with affinities for the Open Source movement. Politically, I'd bet there's an overrepresentation, not of liberals, but of libertarians. I honestly don't know how you'd go about finding out, though.
There's some weak evidence that it's a young crowd[7], maybe a median age in the twenties. And I have the subjective impression that it's, how do I say this, a nerdy crowd. To which I belong, of course.
Are people aware that Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's "philosopher-king," is an adherent of Ayn Rand's philosophy, objectivism?[8] Dpbsmith 20:56, 6 February 2007 (EST)
A point though, many objectivists think that Jimbo isn't really objectivist. A few in fact explicitly object to Wikipedia as being inconsistent with objectivist principles. As to how one would measure the political viewpoints of admins- the most naive way would be to make a note on the admin noticeboard about a questionaire one wanted admins to fill out via email, put a copy of the questionaire in your userspace. One could take questions that have been used in past polls by Gallup and others and compare the percentages. (The most obvious problem with this is that which admins choose to respond may be non-representative but as a decent first approximation this should work). JoshuaZ 21:06, 6 February 2007 (EST)
REPLY Joshua's cited Wikipedia deletion policy is 2800 words long!!! In practice, it appears that admins have almost unlimited power on Wikipedia, and they do not even have to give reasons for their deletions, blocks, freezes, etc. No reason was given by the admin for deleting the entry on conservapedia, for example. That's typical, and it invites bias.
REPLY Actually the reason given for the deletion of the conservapedia entry was that it was not notable. which was technically correct based on Wikipedia's official notability policy for websites as follows
" Notability on Wikipedia for Web-specific content is based on the following criterion:
The content itself has been the subject of multiple non-trivial published works whose source is independent of the site itself.

This criterion includes published works in all forms, such as newspaper and magazine articles, books, television documentaries, and published reports by consumer watchdog organizations. except for the following: Media re-prints of press releases and advertising for the content or site. Trivial coverage, such as (1) newspaper articles that simply report the internet address, (2) newspaper articles that simply report the times at which such content is updated or made available, (3) a brief summary of the nature of the content or the publication of internet addresses and site or (4) content descriptions in internet directories or online stores. The above is the central criterion for inclusion. Below are some criteria that make it very likely that sufficient reliable information is available about particular Web content. Web content that satisfies at least one of the items below may merit its own Wikipedia article, as there is likely to be a good deal of verifiable information available and a good deal of public interest regarding it.

The website or content has won a well-known and independent award from either a publication or organization.

The content is distributed via a medium which is both well known and independent of the creators, either through an online newspaper or magazine, an online publisher, or an online broadcaster.[7] The article itself must provide proof that its subject meets one of these criteria via inlined links or a "Reference" or "External link" section. Even if an entire website meets the notability criteria, its components (forums, articles, sections) are not necessarily notable and deserving of their own separate article."

So the deletion of the conservapedia entry on wikipedia was not an editor imposing his own personal bias. --TimSvendsen 23:12, 6 February 2007 (EST)
The above estimates about the views of the Wikipedia admins are way off. Unless an effort is made to limit bias, whoever seizes a majority will quickly rise to close to 100%. This occurs in many organizations, cultures, etc. The Constitution prevents this from happening in the United States. But nothing prevents it from happening on Wikipedia, where no effort is made to limit bias. The Wikipedia admins are almost unanimously secular, liberal, anti-American, anti-conservative, anti-Christian and anti-capitalistic. Jimmy Wales' personal views have no bearing on this.--Aschlafly 22:02, 6 February 2007 (EST)
What Tim has said is pretty accurate. I'd also suggest that people who have had more experience with Wikipedia admins (such as people who are Wikipedia admins (such as myself and Dpbsmith) might have a better idea of what the general political and other attitudes among admins are. As far as I can tell, using the standard two-axis political model, there are admins of every type and as a matter of self-identification I'm aware of admins who self-identify as about everything except fascist. (Although point of fact, I'm not aware of the political viewpoints of many of the other admins I work with because the vast majority of the time our political beliefs are not that relevant). To say that the Wikipedia admins are "almost unanimously" anything is difficult. To also reiterate Dpb's comment about libertarianism above, I would agree with him that there are a disproportionate number of libertarians and that is one of the few political philosophies which does become somewhat relevant to what happens (the more libertarian users start making a lot of noise whenever anyone tries to establish a new policy, guideline or other restriction). JoshuaZ 23:23, 6 February 2007 (EST)
Joshua, there usually is someone of "every type" in a large group and I do not dispute that. But "nearly" every admin on Wikipedia is, to take one example, a believer in evolution. To take another example, "nearly" no admin on Wikipedia is an advocate for prayer in public school. A poll should be taken of Wikipedia admins to determine their views. But release of that information would immediately discredit Wikipedia, because it would reveal that the views of the admins are nothing like that of the American public, or even Wikipedia users. George W. Bush won 51-48% in 2004. Among Wikipedia admins, I'd guess Bush would draw less than 20% of their vote. The Wikipedia admins as a whole are heavily biased.
Which is exactly what one would expect under Gresham's Law or any theory of politics. Unless there are restraints on majoritarian tendencies, minorities will suffer and leave.
The deletion of conservapedia was not the result of impartial application of rules, but rather the result of a biased call for deletion and mob rule in complying with that demand.--Aschlafly 23:33, 6 February 2007 (EST)
At this point you seem to be repeating yourself rather than responding to anyone Else's comments or observations. Both Dpbsmith and I have tried to explain that if any single viewpoint is overrepresented it would probably be libertarianism, but you've simply ignored that point. Similarly, multiple editors above have attempted to explain how the Wikipedia deletion policy functions and you've simply ignored them and repeated your claims that there is bias. Your example of evolution is also not useful for a variety of reasons: first, acceptance of evolution is not intrinsically a politcal matter (indeed, the claim that it it political annoys me to no end. Science is not political, but that's a separate topic). Second, many prominent conservatives are more than wiling to accept evolution such as John Derbyshire, Charles Krauthammer (and if not mistaken one Phyllis Schlafly). Third, in the English speaking world outside the US evolution is not an issue of debate and as I have already pointed out, roughly 10-20% of admins are not native to the United States. Fourth, I'm not in any event sure if the claim that nearly every admin accepts is true in any event. Fifth, given that the entry for evowiki was deleted on Wikipedia if all the admins were evil evilutionists its a bit odd to claim that they would have deleted their own wiki if they are as biased in their actions as you think they are. Next, as to the George Bush claim, I really have no idea what the numbers are like. I wouldn't be surprised if at this time Bush had only around 20% of Wikipedia admins supporting him but Bush is much less popular now than he was in 2004. I have no idea what things would have been like in 2004 and I have no idea where your speculation about what the numbers would be come from.
Continuing onwards, I have no idea what Gresham's Law has to do with this but I've never been very good at economics so maybe I'm missing something. The next claim is a statement by fiat with no evidence to back it up (but I'll be nice and honest and admit that a) it seems like most of the so-called "messianic Jews" have left, possibly for concerns connected to majoritarian issues (certainly, many of them would claim so. My impression is that there was more of an issue related to the "undue weight" clause of Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy as well as issues that many of their subjects were simply not discussed in independent sources) b) we have seen to a limited extent majoritarian problems on the small language wikipedias such as balkanization of the balkan language wikipedias). Your last statement seems to just be you repeating your initial claim. Repeating something many times does not make it true. If you want Conservapedia to have an article on Wikipedia the thing to do is to improve Conservapedia to the point where it gets discussed in multiple, independent, reliable sources. At that point Wikipedia will be more than happy to have an article about Conservapedia. JoshuaZ 00:44, 7 February 2007 (EST)
Joshua, we may simply end up disagreeing. But my point is a simple one: poll the Wikipedia admins, and I bet over 90% believe in evolution and less than 10% advocate prayer in public school. I bet less than 20% would have voted for George Bush in 2004. If you disagree with my estimates, then I'd love to see yours. If you agree with my estimates, then obviously the Wikipedia admins have views very different from the American public. That's what a bias is. Lacking any restraints on bias or accountability for decisions by admins, the bias is going to be reflected in editorial decisions. That's all. The deletion of Conservapedia, now having over 90,000 page views, while hundreds of thousands of silly Wikipedia entries remain undeleted, reflects in part that bias. If we continue to disagree about that, then that's OK. We can revisit this issue in a few months to see if either of us feels differently.--Aschlafly 01:07, 7 February 2007 (EST)
"Joshua, we may simply end up disagreeing." Sounds like a good resolution to me. We (I think Joshua and I are reasonably in accord) have made our points about as clearly as they can be made, Aschlafly has heard whatever he has heard, and the three-move rule in chess says that when same position has recurred three times in a row, the game is a draw....
Honesty compels me to opine that Aschlafly's guesses about Wikipedian opinions are probably not terribly far off. And I'd add that Articles for Deletion discussions are so poisonous that I think many outsiders who get articles deleted believe bias is involved, because everything about the discussion process promotes hostility. Dpbsmith 06:53, 7 February 2007 (EST)
I think that Wikipedia Admins are probably biased as a group, but I think that the list of "examples of Bias" contains alot of examples that are sketchy or just simply errors that have nothing to do with bias. I think that the deletion of the Wikipedia entry on Conservapedia was not an example of bias. We can wait until we get big enough to meet their notability requirements to have an entry. I disagree with Aschlafly that a large number of page views is a good indicator of notability. I also aree that this arguement is not likely to end up with any kind of agreement on this issue, so it is somewhat futile to be debating it. --TimSvendsen 11:22, 7 February 2007 (EST)

Eagle Forum is clearly notable, and Wikipedia has an article on it[9]. Although I assume Eagle Forum's politics to be closely aligned with Conservapedia's, it has never been proposed for deletion. I just added this sentence to it:

Eagle Forum operates two nascent projects: Eagle Forum University, which offers conservative-oriented online courses on topics such as American History 101, and Conservapedia, a wiki-based online encyclopedia with a conservative point of view.

Anyone care to predict whether my change will stick? (By the way, I added external links, then removed them myself. Leaving them in made it look too much like "linkspamming." Since Eagle Forum University is linked from the Eagle Forum website, and Conservapedia is linked from Eagle Forum University, I don't think they necessarily need their own links). Dpbsmith 08:52, 8 February 2007 (EST)

Dpbsmith, your entry should be removed immediately from Wikipedia. It's false. Eagle Forum does not operate Conservapedia. Should I add this to our list of Wikipedia falsehoods???--Aschlafly 23:15, 9 February 2007 (EST)

  • What language would you suggest? I'll fix it or remove it or whatever you like, if you don't choose to do it yourself. I'll remove the Conservapedia reference right now; I assume that Eagle Forum University is connected with Eagle Forum, from the similarity of name and the HTML link, although I wasn't able to find any formal statement on either website. Dpbsmith 06:51, 12 February 2007 (EST)
  • I've changed it to:
Eagle Forum is connected with Eagle Forum University, which offers conservative-oriented online courses on topics such as American History 101. Eagle Forum University courses make use of Conservapedia, a nascent wiki-based online encyclopedia with a conservative point of view.
If you can point me to, or give a definitive statement of the relationships between Eagle Forum, Eagle Forum University, and Conservapedia, I'll be glad to update accordingly... again, assuming you don't want to do it yourself. Dpbsmith 06:54, 12 February 2007 (EST)
Thanks, Dpbsmith. That's fine. Conservapedia has no formal connection with Eagle Forum or Eagle Forum University (other than cross-linking). The FAQ on Conservapedia has always explained its basis. Anyone is free to make use of Conservapedia and link to it, and we welcome that. Thanks again. --Aschlafly 10:37, 12 February 2007 (EST)
Apologies are due on my part. I shouldn't have used wording that involved assumptions, even plausible assumptions. Dpbsmith 11:16, 12 February 2007 (EST)