Conservapedia:Differences with Wikipedia

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Conservapedia claims to differ from Wikipedia in 16 different ways. No one with an open mind would disagree that Conservapedia and Wikipedia are indeed different, but all 16 of these differences[1] are almost completely nonexistent and/or excruciatingly frivolous. What Andrew Schlafly is trying to do here is justify his personal blog as something important. Also, the things Conservapedia claims Wikipedia is guilty of are things that Conservapedia suffers from to a much greater degree.

Contents

[edit] Supposed differences

[edit] Free reuse

1. We allow broader reuse of our material than Wikipedia does. By entering information on Wikipedia you are actually losing rights to your own material to the extent anyone else edits it, as you cannot then copy your entry for use elsewhere without complying with Wikipedia's burdensome copyright restrictions..

Conservapedia, through this difference, claims to have a more "liberal" re-use policy for its material. However, reading the actual copyright statement, it is clear that the site reserves the rights to forbid reuse under certain, unspecified, circumstances - presumably these circumstances could be identified in an arbitrary or ad hoc manner. Wikipedia, by contrast, has a blanket policy that seeks to cover all circumstances and does not mention any undefined or discretionary restrictions - specifically the GFDL or, more recently, the Creative Commons Share-alike license.

[edit] Wikipedia copyright

The claim that Wikipedia contributors lose rights to their own material is blatantly false (indeed, Creative Commons is a license and does not hand over copyrights or intellectual property rights). It should be obvious that by posting material to Wikipedia, contributors don't magically acquire the rights to subsequent modifications by other editors, nor can they acquire the rights of preexisting material by editing it. The copyright of every original Wikipedia contribution remains with the author, who is free to copy his or her entry for use elsewhere without having to comply with any of Wikipedia's alleged "burdensome copyright restrictions". The only agreement made with an edit is that it is released under the Creative Commons and/or GFDL license, which states that the material can be shared or reused providing certain criteria (such as attribution) are met.

Wikipedia also does much more to allow the free reuse of the material, such as providing freely downloadable database dumps. Based on them, third parties can easily reuse the material; there are dozens of mirror sites already. By contrast, Conservapedia's copyright statement seemingly allows creation of mirrors (after all, you have been given permission to use the material), yet it gives vague threats to revoke rights from "unauthorized" mirrors.

Wikipedia also has the mission to create not only an open-content encyclopaedia, but also create and employ open-content images and media to help attain that goal, and use copyrighted images not released under an open-content license only under limited circumstances; for example, if a diagram is required for an article, a freely usable image will be created for that occasion, or if an article concerns a living person, a specifically freely usable photograph will be taken or obtained.

While Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia contributors have gone after license violators, that has been just that, tracking down license violations and working with them toward mutually acceptable goals; there has not been threats of suing people over fair-use commentary, as in Conservapedia. Wikipedia operates on the premise that everyone is allowed to use the material, and the goal is to get people to comply with the requirements set forth by the license (usually in form of adding all proper attributions and making the license clear to the reader), not squash inappropriate use on whim.

[edit] Burdensome copyright restrictions

The true irony of CP's claim is that it is their own editors who lose rights to their work. Their copyright page indicates that "By contributing information to Conservapedia, you irrevocably consent to the display, copying, reuse or editing of your information, edits and entries, with or without attribution," meaning everyone else in the world has as much right to the material as you do. Yet they accuse Wikipedia contributors of losing rights to their work.

By comparison to Wikipedia's reliance on licensing and proper implementation of Fair Use, Conservapedia contributors frequently use whatever images they can find regardless of the copyright status, and Conservapedia makes a blanket fair-use claim that all images are used under an educational context; with the informal definition of acceptable image use, and lax enforcement of the rules, this is unlikely to hold in court should they ever get sued over an image.

See also our commentary of Conservapedia's copyright policy.

[edit] Intellectual

2. We are an educational resource, including lectures and study guides, and we welcome students and adults seeking to learn. Wikipedia has no lectures or study guides and many of its entries and discussions are anti-intellectual in nature.

Conservapedia, when it comes right down to it, is one of the most anti-intellectual websites around. Conservapedia makes MySpace look like the Library of Alexandria. Intellect being "the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively, especially with regard to abstract matters" (Oxford English Dictionary), is utterly absent from the minds of most sysops. They simply "know" what is true and won't let anyone, or any facts, tell them otherwise. If intellectualism consists of the exchange of ideas for the betterment of the mind, then Conservapedia puts the kibosh on that as soon as anyone challenges their preciously held views in any way at all.

[edit] Lectures and study guides

Conservapedia does have some "lectures" and "study guides" (these form part of Andrew Schlafly's homeschooling project), but they are considered by those who know the subjects to be of poor quality and, of course, heavily biased. There is some irony to the presence of these items, as Conservapedia often makes the claim that "unlike Wikipedia" it has more properties of a "real" encyclopedia (like articles that are a single sentence fragment, one could suppose); no "real" encyclopedias have "study guides" or "lectures", as this is not what encyclopedias are for. Actual study guides and lectures exist instead.

Conservapedia completely fails to explain what exactly is more intellectual about making one big jumbled mess of encyclopedia, dictionary, lectures, study guides, etc., rather than neatly organized individual projects started by the Wikimedia Foundation. These include Wikipedia (the encyclopedia), Wiktionary (a dictionary), Wikibooks (various textbooks), Wikiversity (learning materials and activities), and several others.

[edit] Non-commercial

3. We are a genuine volunteer effort unaffiliated with any money-making scheme. Wikipedia, while relying on volunteers, uses its traffic to attract million-dollar investments in money-making projects, such as building a search engine. Conservapedia

This is perhaps one of the most ignorant statements of all time, and this is saying a lot considering the site we are talking about. Wikipedia is a nonprofit organization that does not even allow ads on its website.

[edit] The search engine

The claim about the search engine is blatantly false. In the press, the Wikimedia Foundation is frequently confused with the for-profit company Wikia, due to shared key personnel and overlapping user community, and a similar name - Wiki being the catch-all term that has developed to describe collaborative online authoring in the past decade.[2] The Wikimedia Foundation never developed a search engine and probably never will (the servers used to run Google are considerably more draining than the servers used to host Wikipedia, despite its immense size). The project alluded to here, the now-defunct Wikia Search, was hosted and funded by Wikia. And even so, Wikia Search was an open-source, open-content project, unlikely to have generated much in the way of direct profit.

[edit] Homeschooling fees

Furthermore, Andrew Schlafly uses Conservapedia to actively promote his homeschool classes. The fee is $250 a semester, for one class per week (apparently for about 14 weeks). He therefore makes between $6,000 and $12,000 from this commercial venture, which is directly associated with Conservapedia.

Conservapedia does not explain how Wikipedia allegedly brings in "millions of dollars" without having any ads. Conservapedia also does not explain how Wikipedia managed to be classified as a 501(c)(3) tax exemptable charitable organization by US tax authorities.

[edit] Concise

4. We encourage conciseness here, like a true encyclopedia. Wikipedia implicitly encourages (through its use of stubs) long-winded, verbose entries, making it difficult to recognize the essential facts.[3]

Having "concise" articles is one of the "differences with Wikipedia" that Conservapedia claims, in an attempt to justify its pathetic existence.

The reason why traditional (i.e. print) encyclopedias are concise is precisely because they are printed. Print encyclopedias, even with concise articles, take up a lot of shelf space. Wikipedia explicitly does not aim to be a print encyclopedia; hence there should be no upper bound for article (or article set) size. Likewise, there is a difference between a desk encyclopedia, which generally has very brief articles, as it must fit into one or two volumes, and a full encyclopedia set, which may have over 20 volumes. Conservapedia seems to think only the former is a true encyclopedia, and it is clear that this is the model it aspires to...most of the time.

[edit] Very short article

Conservapedia, here, claims its articles are intentionally short, and offers no justification other than that shortness makes Conservapedia "like a true encyclopedia" - which we describe above as purely for practical reasons, rather than anything else. The mode length for a Conservapedia article is around 5 sentences. In a few rare and ridiculous cases, an article has no content at all — someone just created it and added a stub template. The claim about stubs being used to make entries verbose makes no sense as well. Stubs are rarely used on any articles longer than a couple of paragraphs. Apparently that's what Conservapedians consider verbose — a couple of paragraphs. That would explain its articles' general lack of length.

[edit] Very long article

When Conservapedia's articles are long, they are very long. For example, its cut-and-paste, unformatted, unexplained, poorly titled entries on largely insignificant ships, taken from the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, are anything but concise. Conservapedia also has its share of monomaniacs who create truly gigantic articles that put Wikipedia's very verbose articles to shame; for example, Conservapedia's article on Alger Hiss has many times more references than Wikipedia's corresponding article.

Clearly this statement also implies that Encyclopædia Britannica, and in particular the Macropædia with "roughly 700 articles, ranging in length from 2-310 pages" (source: Wikipedia) is not a "true encyclopedia" either.

See also: Ed Poor.

[edit] No gossip

5. We do not allow gossip, just as a real encyclopedia avoids it.

Andrew Schlafly never really defines what "gossip" is, and gives very little evidence of it actually occurring on Wikipedia. It seems to, in this context, have something to do with the personal lives of professional people (i.e., gossip magazines or tabloids). But it does not stop the majority of the Conservapedia article on Woody Allen article from being about his marriage to Soon-yi (or from him being in the category "child molesters" for several days). Presumably, the Charles Stewart Parnell article (if there should ever be one) would not have any reference to Kitty O'Shea, as it would be "gossip" - the fact that Conservapedia has no article on Parnell (and that it's unlikely to ever have one given that he wasn't American, lived in another century, and can't be easily dismissed as "another librul") one could suppose, is therefore a blessing.

[edit] Use of the "rule"

Conservapedia uses the "no gossip" guideline ("we don't allow gossip here") almost exclusively to avoid making conservative people look bad. For liberals, or even conservatives that just don't tick all of Schlafly's many boxes for Conservatism, this guideline is completely ignored. In the article on Bill Clinton, there are paragraphs of in depth information regarding his affair with Monica Lewinski - in contrast the article on Rush Limbaugh, only two sentences are used for describing his "addiction to painkillers".

If "gossip" is interpreted as idle speculation about something without supporting evidence (on a Wiki-like encyclopedia, this can be taken as any assertion that does not have an accompanying reference tag), then examples of this on Conservapedia are legion, for example, the suggestion that Barack Obama's selection for the Harvard Law Review might be the result of a racial quota. Also, the claim that Obama is Muslim is textbook gossip, but they devote an entire section to it.[3] And ironically, the Conservapedia "masterpiece" Hollywood values appears heavily reliant on the type of gossip that Conservapedia claims that true encyclopedias exclude, specifically, even the term itself seems to have been largely coined and exclusively used on the website only, whereas encyclopedias should only include information developed by others. Consider also the absurd entry on Atheism and Obesity.

Celebrity criminals, stoners, and heavy drinkers... haven't you heard that all from the liberal media already?[4]

[edit] Gossip on Wikipedia

Schlafly loves to call Wikipedia "The National Enquirer of the Internet". He thinks this epithet is so clever that he repeats it whenever he gets the chance. It also gives him a chance to display his complete ignorance of logic; whenever someone denies WP has gossip, he mysteriously takes it as a denial that the Enquirer does - he also seems unaware that the Internet already has a National Enquirer.

Andy did once manage to name one Wikipedia article that contained gossip, but refused to point out what part of the article actually contained the elements of gossip he so objected to. The article was Bertrand Russell. This, however, actually illustrates his point about conciseness much better than his point about gossip. One must assume that the passages he has issues with deal with Russell's depression and attempted suicide during his youth. Ironically, those are the most well-sourced statements in the article, coming right out of his biography (and no, the biography was not published by the National Enquirer). This is also rather hypocritical in that Conservapedia's own article on Russell basically calls him a dirty old man.

[edit] Boris Yeltsin

The VT shootings are the subject of rabid gossip on the front page for a good five days, but Boris Yeltsin gets a pithy "Rest in Peace"? C'mon, we can do better than that. [4]

I got a laugh out of this - thanks for the humor!--Aschlafly 16:43, 24 April 2007 (EDT) [5]
Can that be taken as confirmation that gossip occurs here? Auld Nick 16:36, 25 April 2007 (EDT) [6]

[edit] Requires authoritative support

6. We do not allow opinions of journalists to be repeated here as though they are facts. Instead, we require authoritative support. Wikipedia presents as facts numerous assertions that are based merely on journalists' (biased) opinion.[7]

Yet again we get an example of pure cretinism - there is also absolutely no evidence that Wikipedia does such a thing other than in its current event articles, and even when it does cite journalists' interpretations (namely in articles on films and books which describe their reception and reviews) it explicitly states who said it and references it; as a matter of fact, Wikipedia states in its Manual of Style that statements should be attributed. Even then, Wikipedia's neutrality policy ensures that a counterpoint view is placed almost next to it, and again, sourced.

[edit] Except the right journalists

Schlafly and most of the dozen or so admins who run the site have been known to use journalists' statements as fact when they feel like it - in fact, this "rule" is perhaps the most commonly broken one at Conservapedia. Of course, only the opinions of conservative journalists (who by definition do not practice Deceit) are used, so it's okay.

Conservapedia has been increasingly relying on random, often anonymous bloggers as sources for articles and news stories, commonly World Net Daily (at least until Joseph Farah's harsh criticism of the Conservative Bible Project). That these people do not even reach the level of "journalist" in their writings, one must suppose, is a loophole.

[edit] Sourcing Conservapedia articles

"Citation needed" tags are routinely removed when they challenge administrators' unsupported ideological assertions. Often instead of applying the well known {{fact}} tag, sysops and senior editors prefer to remove the comment outright, usually with "liberal vandalism" given as a reason.

Many articles on Conservapedia are sourced entirely using creationist sources; a quick check for the 'Evolution' article shows about 75% come from known creationist sources, mostly Answers in Genesis and Creation on the Web. Sources for Wikipedia's equivalent article are almost exclusively textbooks and scientific papers (by a wide range of sources) and no mention of Talk Origins at all.

[edit] No obscenity

7. We do not allow obscenity, while Wikipedia has many entries unsuitable for children. Wikipedia has pornographic images, without meaningful warning.[8]

Modern conservatism and pornography has a long history, Conservapedia is no exception. Its distrust and distaste for naked bodies, bodily functions and facts of reproduction run deep. As a resource for homeschooled children, it would be wrong to complain about Conservapedia's policy on adult content, and thus its stance towards it is one of the more respectable and sensible views. That said, however, this is set under "differences with Wikipedia" and we can certainly poke holes in that...

[edit] Wikipedia and naughty pics

Wikipedia, is, of course, not a children's encyclopedia and never will be - for this, there is a cut-down version of the site's content entitled Wikipedia Selection for schools (and Wikibooks has a project called 'Wikijunior'). The main site itself does have "adult" themed articles, but then what self-respecting information repository wouldn't feature such things?

Wikipedia does, however, have specific optional instructions for people who want potentially offensive images gone. And even then, it uses "pornographic" images on articles directly relevant to the image; for example the articles on Masturbation and BDSM contain numerous pictures illustrating the subject matter, often in great detail. I.e., you'd have to go looking for them in the first place, and if you're typing "fisting" into the search, you're quite likely to know what you're going to get. But if you define "porn" as something that arouses someone, this can only mean that Conservapedians have very low expectations for their own smut.

[edit] Hypocrisy

Karajou posts foul navy language

Like when anyone tries to regulate or moralize, hypocrisy is inevitable. Saying "pornography" in Conservapedia is evil. Saying "Pornography is evil!", on the other hand, is perfectly acceptable, because it's in line with the ideology of the site - no matter if the kids start to wonder what this "pornography" thing even is, anyway. Saying "We do not allow obscenity, while Wikipedia has many entries unsuitable for children. Wikipedia has pornographic images, without meaningful warning" is even more wholesome and child-friendly, because it exposes the obvious Liberal Values of Wikipedia. This is only in line with other ways Conservapedia expresses itself, it will feature page upon page about how an abortion will give you breast cancer, but will not dare reveal how you actually get pregnant in the first place, and it espouses the evils of homosexuality while barely touching upon the subject of what it actually involves.

One need only look at CP's entry for Silent Scream to see how "family-friendly" Conservapedia claims to be. Casual users should be warned, the links from the Conservapedia site are not family-friendly (as the first page on one of the links clearly states). If a "family friendly" encyclopedia linking to something that it specifically calls not family friendly isn't hypocrisy, then nothing is.

One can also examine their entire compendium of knowledge on all aspects of human reproduction. As the fourth difference - "conciseness" - showed, this is somewhat concise on the crucial details. On the other hand, to balance things out, the wholly wholesome Summa Homosexualita proudly stands as the bastion of verbosity and butch quoteminin'.

In one of his "weakly toons" Karajou used the word 'quim'[5]. When requested that the word be removed Andy Schlafly attempted to defend it by saying the answer to your demand for liberal censorship is this: "no"[6].

In addition, senior sysop Ed Poor has created several questionable entries on Conservapedia. These include a wikilinked reference to "rimming" in the family friendly "Gay Bowel Syndrome"[7] article, as well as creating an article on "Sex with animals."[8]

[edit] Non-neutral

8. We do not attempt to be neutral to all points of view. We are neutral to the facts. If a group is a terrorist group, then we use the label "terrorist" but Wikipedia will use the "neutral" term "militant".

Wikipedia's neutrality policy doesn't mean Wikipedia isn't "neutral to the facts". The policy could be stated, in another words, that "facts speak for themselves"; if the fact is mentioned in a credible source, then it can be included in the articles, and it has nothing to do with how the fact makes the subject look like; a criminal is a criminal, if a public record can demonstrate that the person in question was convicted. The core of Wikipedia's own neutrality policy is impartiality and representing all verifiable and remarkable viewpoints; Conservapedia's claim has more to do with Wikipedia's insistence of neutral language, which is another matter altogether.

Wikipedia's neutrality policy is based on it being an international, collaborative effort. Potentially, someone in a tribe in Afghanistan has just as much right to edit it as a citizen of New York - and the former might not appreciate being labeled a "terrorist" when they had nothing to do with a terrorist attack of any sort. However, in the eyes of the US-centric administrators of Conservapedia, such views—that foreigners may actually be entitled to some sort of opinion—are heretical.

[edit] Blatant lie

Their statement of being neutral to facts is a lie, as evidenced by the removal of links refuting their statement that abortion causes breast cancer early on in the history of the website. Later this is evidenced by Schlafly's flat-out refusal to allow qualified persons to work on their article on the theory of relativity.

Finally, as Wikipedia is, unlike Conservapedia, neutral to facts, it is inherently neutral to all points of view, unless that point of view is derived without, and often in spite of, facts *cough* intelligent design *cough*. However, even in these cases, Wikipedia is still neutral in the sense that it gives ID a good airing and allows the arguments to be put forward; all that it states that may not be considered "neutral" is actually a fact, namely the overwhelming scientific consensus is that evolution by natural selection is the best current theory. In short, Wikipedia itself says nothing: it just reports what others say, and gives them the prominence they deserve.

[edit] No censorship

9. We do not allow liberal censorship of conservative facts. Wikipedia editors who are far more liberal than the American public frequently censor factual information. Conservapedia does not censor any facts that comport with the basic rules.[9]

This is perhaps the most hypocritical of all Conservapedia's claimed differences with Wikipedia. Conservapedia claims it censors no facts (subject to definition of the word "fact;" Conservapedians' definition of it seems to be very close to the postmodernists'[citation NOT needed]) but take, for example, their news reports and article about breast cancer being linked with abortion. Reasonable members of Conservapedia attempted to link to resources published by very well respected scientists showing that the claim was false. These links were removed on sight by the sysops.

Senior sysop Conservative has achieved an impressive degree of infamy for the speed and zeal with which he censors any edits he thinks might threaten his beloved Creationism or Homosexuality and is currently the sole editor of many pet articles on the subjects.

Liberal censorship of "conservative facts" may not be tolerated on Conservapedia, but conservative censorship of "liberal facts" is not only allowed, but practiced very enthusiastically. The "basic rules" are whatever the sysops feel like they are at any given time. They adhere to them quite well.

[edit] Allows original works

10. We allow original, properly labeled works, while Wikipedia does not. This promotes a more intellectual atmosphere on Conservapedia. On Wikipedia, observations based on personal experience and interviews have been dismissed as "original research". Here, we do not restrict research for articles in that manner.

"Original Research" means something that someone has done on their own and "debuted" on the encyclopedia. It doesn't matter if any actual research was made, or even if it is particularly original, it just means that the idea, factoid or statement doesn't appear elsewhere, hence can't be verified. This difference is primarily to allow sysops and users to put in whatever they like into articles without credible sources. "Articles" such as Hollywood Values are the best examples of "original research" conducted by Conservapedia, as specifically its owner, Andrew Schlafly.

[edit] Original research on Wikipedia

Wikipedia has "no original research" for very good reasons. It must source its statements, and they must be notable, so someone can't just come along and say "I made this up, down at the pub one afternoon", it has to have been said elsewhere, and even then, it has to be mentioned somewhere else too. This also ties in with the actual point of Wikipedia and encyclopedias in general; they are collections of facts and knowledge, not places where people can exhibit their own ideas for nothing.

Two Wikimedia Foundation projects do allow original works, however, Wikinews and Wikiversity are both user generated sites with an aim of producing some original material.

[edit] Is it necessarily bad?

So the question becomes: is there any harm caused by not allowing original works to be integrated into the encyclopedia? Traditional encyclopedias haven't allowed original unsourced material, as they are specifically collections of established knowledge, not places to debut new knowledge. Difference five - "no gossip" - notes that "real encyclopedias" don't allow gossip, and this rule notes that original works must be properly labeled as such. For this, such articles are typically separated into the pseudo-namespace Essay:.

Conservapedia does allow some original works to go unlabeled though. Andy's list of neologisms is always a hoot.

[edit] RationalWiki

Okay, so RationalWiki does sort of have this as well. But RationalWiki is not an encyclopedia, its mainspace articles are more than just encyclopedia entries (although they're sometimes a lot less too) and contain a mix of opinion, original work, scientific consensus and fact and popular science writing. However, unlike Conservapedia, RW editors can use the fact tag or demand that users back up their ideas more thoroughly - and any self-respecting editor will do this when challenged.

[edit] Respects users' control over their own talk pages

11. We respect users' control over their own talk pages as much as possible. Wikipedia treats users' own talk pages like government or public property, and it becomes a place for Wikipedia editors to bully users.

This claimed difference obviously stems from misunderstanding of what the Wikipedia talk pages are supposed to be. In MediaWiki software, the user talk pages are an informally specified, yet technologically assisted, way to leave publicly readable messages to users. Every time the user's User_talk page is edited, they get a "You have new messages" notification. Hence, user talk pages are "special" kind of pages whose use is governed by commonly agreed etiquette: Other users should not bug the users by messing with the page (and hence making them receive unneeded notifications), and the users shouldn't mess with the talk pages to make sure that everyone already knows they've been properly notified of various issues (e.g. if the user uploads a broken image, people will need to write only one comment to the user; subsequent people who notice the issue will come to the talk page and see that someone has already left the user a message concerning the image).

Wikipedia allows people to post whatever they want on the user page itself, provided it is not disruptive enough and preferably helps Wikipedia; other people are not expected to edit another user's user pages unless the user explicitly grants a permission to do so. User talk pages are meant for communication. Bullying is an entirely separate issue.

[edit] Use on Conservapedia

Conservapedia, in turn, claims that on their wiki a user's talk page is his or her own castle. This allowed sysops to effectively end any discussion and ban a user for either proving them wrong or disagreeing with them. Some sysops even went to the extent of protecting their talk pages to prevent discussion and would often remove comments to change history. This often ends with the funny, but not-so-funny, situation whereby a senior editor will revert and block a user, and leave a comment asking them to complain on their talk page; only for that user to find it locked up.

[edit] No distracting templates

12. We do not encourage the insertion of distracting "stub templates" in entries. Wikipedia has numerous distracting templates on entries.

One can imagine that the reason that the "no distracting templates" difference exists is because senior Conservapedia users don't quite know how to use the template system. As Wikipedia is full of liberal bias and the Wikimedia Foundation is the work of the devil, they obviously can't read the syntax help page to solve their problems. As a result, most Conservapedia articles are rather bland and boring looking.

Does anyone ever get this far?

One notable exception to this is the Main Page which is graced by a clunky "Conservatism" nav-box added by the aesthetically-challenged JPatt[9]. This has the unfortunate result of adding a 'Conservatism' category to the foot of the page. The 'Templates' category which adorns the Main Page is provided by Template:Mainpageright because most of the senior sysops who edit it do not know how to use <includeonly></includeonly> and <noinclude></noinclude> tags.

[edit] Wikipedia templates

One of the reasons templates exist is to create a uniform look of articles that is easy to replicate across many articles at once. This ranges from summary panels for biographies to the categorized stub templates. Wikipedia uses many templates to specifically draw people's attention to the problems in an article - this is part of the best way to actually use Wikipedia; read the article, take note of the templates that flag up the issues (correct them if you feel like you have time) and check the discussion page for disputes on facts. Stub templates exist to draw attention to the fact that the articles aren't yet sufficiently informative and that there may be a lot more information. Indeed, as Wikipedia is a collection of knowledge, there is no sense in implying that two sentences is all there is to a subject when there could be plenty more information out there. Templates can be removed after the article is fixed - the problem isn't that there are stub templates; the problem is that the articles are stubs.

Stub templates are something of an odd example to use since if anything they are wikipedia's least distracting templates being rather minimal and sitting right at the end of the article.

[edit] Conservapedian stubs

If an article has a stub template (on CP, they're officially called VSAs - Very Short Articles), there either is practically nothing there to be distracted from, or obviously critical information is still missing. Besides, Conservapedia has its own reserves of ridiculous templates.

To fix the distracting quality of the VSA box, a more subtle version had been created (called "Template:stub2"). However, CPWebmaster deleted that one, creating ugly and distracting red links to the missing template on 160+ pages. The situation was later solved by redirecting the deleted version to the box-version (since recreation of deleted templates is something you can be banned for). This led to MORE distracting templates (but at least the broken links were gone).

[edit] Loose regulations

13. We do not require contributing editors to have to explain themselves constantly and justify every single edit to prove that it conforms to an exacting set of rules which are designed to suppress original thought, new ideas and penetrating insights.[10]

In other words, they let people post their opinions as facts, well, specifically they let established editors and sysops post opinions as facts. The Wikipedia rules are designed to make their encyclopedia trustworthy and verifiable. If a user does have an "insight" they can discuss it on the article's discussion page to see if they can include it.

Conservapedia also seems to be very big on editing by deletion - rather than debating facts, or providing counterexamples, just reverting to an "uncontaminated" version is so much more convenient (i.e. intellectually lazy).

[edit] 90/10 and writing plans

In many cases, Conservapedia not only does not require editors to explain themselves, it frequently doesn't allow them to. The first hint of a less than totally conservative viewpoint on any issue can result in a permanent ban. Trying to explain oneself repeatedly (often necessary when a sysop doesn't like a change) can result in a ban under the, supposedly unofficial, 90/10 Rule.

Conservapedia sysops can also request writing plans from established users. In Wikipedia, there's absolutely no requirement for anyone to explain one's "plans" to sysops, or anyone else for that matter — requirement for plans would be widely seen as, er, bureaucratic un-wiki-like behaviour. Wikipedia doesn't assume people are "active editors" with a devotion to work on material in an organised fashion.

Considering the amount of malicious pestering some sysops generate towards new editors, even sincere ones, this difference could be considered to be entirely backwards; Conservapedia requires more explanation from users regarding their editing habits.

[edit] Does not drive away experts

14. We do not drive away experts by pretending that some random anonymous user who just signed up is as knowledgeable and authoritative as a scholar with decades of experience in teaching or research.

Wikipedia's response to this frequently heard allegation is basically that being an "expert" is of no consequence in actually building the articles; inclusion of facts in the articles is determined solely by the sources these facts appear in, not by the personal clout of the person writing the article. Even a highly distinguished expert's text is not immune to getting "[citation needed]" plastered all over it, if a sufficiently skeptical reader happens to stumble upon it[citation needed]. "Expertise" in a field should, however, easily translate to talent in researching, finding and evaluating appropriate sources in the field in question. Expertise has had influence in discussions of changes, but even that is seen as problematic, especially in light of the Essjay affair.

Conservapedia's policy is true in practice, as long as the expert does not try to refute any Young Earth Creationist views (although these have been locked up and blocked up since the creation of the site, so this is now more or less impossible) or any other "conservative" cause. In one instance, a medical doctor was discouraged from editing articles on abortion because he disputed Mr. Schlafly's claim of a strong link to breast cancer. In another case, User Mathoreilly's credentials were doubted and subsequently blocked permanently (and insulted) for "adding false information" after adding content Conservapedia sysop Ed Poor did not understand. Schlafly's actions and statements on the discussion pages relating to the theory of relativity have driven away several non-vandal contributors who were incredibly proficient and knowledgeable in physics and the theories on Einstein and others.

Any "expert" is whatever Andy says is an expert. Anyone who disagrees with Andy will be accused of deceit, and their expertise will be denied (why should anyone listen to a deceitful person? They are clearly lying about their credentials).

Long after this rule was published, Andy got the idea that the experts weren't so great after all, and he and his homeschoolers, being the best of the public, knew much more than any expert in any field. So relying on expert is actually overrated, as it turns out.

[edit] Only onsite offenses count

15. We do not ban users based on their comments elsewhere, such as on their own blog. Wikipedia will monitor users' blogs and ban them for their exercise of free speech on their own blogs.

This is just a blatant lie.

[edit] Blocking for being on RW

There are two instances that completely disprove this claim; Richard, and during the days of RationalWiki 1.0. Many, many users were banned for comments they made on RationalWiki. TK freely admitted to offenders (and non-offenders) that they were being banned for comments on RationalWiki 1.0, even when said users did not know of RationalWiki. Also a liberal blog writer who was posing as a conservative admitted to being a liberal off site on his "Believe it or not" blog and he was permanently banned. In addition, IPs showing up on RationalWiki (ver. 2.0) have been blocked from Conservapedia, even if they haven't edited there.

Another case was Wisdom89, blocked on Conservapedia for opposing Ed Poor's application for Sysopship on Wikipedia. The block was swiftly executed by Karajouimg, who had this to say on the matter: "I noticed one of the people who happen to say NO to your promotion in Wikipedia is this clown: User:Wisdom89. [He] seems to think that you are unfit for sysop in Wikipedia. But it's okay for him to do editing in Conservapedia, or so he thinks."[10] In addition, when TK infiltrated RW 1.0, all editors there were quickly blocked from Conservapedia.

[edit] TK makes it official

Being a member of RationalWiki has officially become a blockable offence. On February 10 2009 TK added "Member of Vandal/Parodist site" to the block list,[11] assuming this includes sites outside of RationalWiki it is still blocking for offsite offences. TK tried to come up with a convoluted excuses that it was not ideological blocking[12], but it still violates this supposedly important difference. On August 8 2009 TK blocked a user for trolling on Conservapedia spin-off site A Storehouse of Knowedge (ASK),[13] claiming that the two sites are sharing the IP addresses of blocked users. ASK's owner and administrator Philip J. Rayment has denied this.[14]

Although technically not contradicting the difference, DanH has openly stated that contributions elsewhere will affect your ability to gain night editing rights.[15]

[edit] Professional names

16. We do not encourage anti-intellectual editor names that are attracted to Wikipedia. For example, the Wikipedia administrator who initially deleted the entry about Conservapedia uses the name "Nearly Headless Nick." The Hartford Courant observed that another editor posted under the name "The Ostrich." These names send an inappropriate anti-intellectual message for an encyclopedia.[11]

This is Conservapedia's attempt to sound a bit more grown up, or at least try to distance itself from the usual world of internet handles and nicknames, and is one of the most thoroughly enforced rules and a reason to block editors on sight. It borrows partially from Citizendium's policy of requiring real names and qualifications to be disclosed publicly. There are, however, three things wrong with this difference.

[edit] Hypocrisy

Firstly, Conservapedia is not entirely innocent of this supposed travesty itself. Here are some names of fairly established users (though admittedly none can compete with Nearly Headless Nick):

[edit] Why?

Second, who says such names are even bad? The users of Wikipedia won't ever see the log of contributors, and why do Conservapedians equate informality with anti-intellectuality? So long as the end product is fine, and users can communicate effectively (and sometimes anonymity and the personality of a username helps with this) the site has served its purpose.

[edit] Unusable names

Third and most importantly, policing users' names is harmful, not helpful, to the project. Since mid-2008, users not choosing a handle based on a plausible real name have often been blocked immediately (and usually IP banned), with the message 'Please recreate your account with your first name and last intial'. This reception is likely to put off sincere new users, especially those concerned about revealing their identity online. Meanwhile, vandals and parodists who are aware of the rule can sign up unmolested, at least until their actions give them away. Large numbers of malicious users have even begun to make a significant dent in the number of acceptable names that are actually available.

[edit] Footnotes

  1. http://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Conservapedia:Differences_with_Wikipedia&oldid=112174img
  2. Wikimedia press release
  3. Brian Murphy, Obama Represents Genuine Change For Weary Americans. The Lantern (Ohio State University): February 25, 2008. Murphy considered this statement to be "idiotic and despicable". Andy Schlafly argued, however, that Harvard Law School has used racial quotas in the past, in the talk space for the Obama "article".
  4. Examples include: TMZ, E! Entertainment Network, Access Hollywood, Perez Hilton, among many many other websites
  5. British slang for female genitals
  6. Discussion about offending cartoon (diff removed following deletion of talk page by Conservative)
  7. A screencap of the offending edit, which has since been over-sighted
  8. The creation page for Sex with animals
  9. http://www.conservapedia.com/index.php?title=Main_Page&diff=827651&oldid=827604img
  10. TZB: 550/821e55f1734d9b23.html
  11. IP block reason listimg
  12. TK's excuseimg
  13. [1]img
  14. [2]img
  15. Here.
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