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Wikipedia, "The Encyclopedia Any Teenager Can Vandalize", is an Internet project which aims to create a comprehensive encyclopedia by allowing any user to create and edit its articles. The project was created in 2001 as a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, an organization created by Jimmy Wales, who also co-founded Wikipedia itself.
Wikipedia boasts approximately 25 million articles in 285 languages. Despite criticisms over accuracy and content, most famously from the people who produce the well-established Encyclopædia Britannica, Wikipedia is frequently used as a basic reference and a starting point for deeper research.
Wikipedia attempts to maintain a neutral point of view, and although there is admitted difficulty in attaining this goal, efforts are constantly made to try to filter out and resist pervasive bias.
The Wikipedia project has inspired a great many other, smaller wikis such as Homestar Runner Wiki and Citizendium, using the same wiki software designed by the Wikimedia Foundation. Although many are encyclopedic in nature, some, such as Flu Wiki and RationalWiki, are used for information sharing for a specific purpose. Some wikis such as Uncyclopedia and Encyclopedia Dramatica are parodies of the wiki phenomenon, while Wikia is a monument to obsessive fandom of all kinds.
In practice, normal people find it quite useful. Sensible ones even realise it's mostly written by ordinary people and has almost no formal quality control, and they know better than to believe something because it is well-formatted and extensively footnoted. It's also quite useful for procrastinators, as it gives them an excuse not to learn about things they should be checking out, and instead jumping from link to link learning useless stuff they'll ever only once use in a conversation only to end up being ignored.
Wikipedia boasts approximately 20 million articles in 282 languages, of which 280 are not American and therefore incomprehensible and irrelevant. The Simple English variant is spoken in Alabama. The remaining one is full of spelling mistakes, most notably lots of "u"s where they don't belong and misspelling of words ending in -ize. Wikipedia has been compared, once positively, to the well-established Encyclopædia Britannica. Despite this praise, it's often frowned upon to use it as a reference in any serious work, but it does make a nice starting point for those who can't be bothered to go past the first result on Google. It's also a great place to learn that George Washington took a shit on a stick and then told everyone to have unprotected sex.[citation NOT needed]
It also occasionally edits itself, possibly indicating that it has become self-aware. This being the case, it is rigorously monitored by conspiracy theorists due to a "Supposed link to Project Blue Beam".
 The management
English Wikipedia has about 1500 administrators, of which about six to seven hundred are active. Administrators perform certain tasks that can't be entrusted to just anyone, such as deleting articles. They are also empowered to enforce behavioral guidelines. A common misconception is that administrators help ensure content quality. The reality is that Wikipedia policy expressly forbids administrators from judging content (except blatant vandalism), and using administrative authority to influence content is grounds for having one's administrator status revoked.
Particularly contentious disputes, including disputes that involve administrators, are handled by a committee of arbitrators. As with administrators, the arbitrators focus solely on behavioral issues and scrupulously avoid any role in shaping content or ensuring its accuracy. During a disagreement any arbitrator that is called upon is likely to have little to no working knowledge of the circumstances of the dispute. While this is fine for reasons of neutrality, it hardly puts the arbitrator in a position to appraise the links and evidence at hand.
Unfortunately, no rules can cure stupid — though with assiduous application they can make it worse. Oh well.
 Critics of Wikipedia
Critics of Wikipedia often cite the fact that anyone can edit it as the reason that it is unreliable. It is certainly true that Wikipedia's open editing policy sometimes causes problems, known as "vandalism" or "wandalism". This is the main criticism brought up in popular media, where actual knowledge of how the wiki operates is seldom in evidence. While it's true that anyone can add misinformation, it's also true that anyone can remove it. The MediaWiki software even has a handy button to do this, and numerous bots and editors patrol recent edits to make sure none are obviously malicious — the average unwanted edit usually lasts about one minute on Wikipedia. Coupled with the fact that any article likely to receive attention from vandals is protected or semi-protected from anonymous editing the wiki isn't in much danger of being overridden by obvious vandalism. More subtle vandalism, errors, and distortions (intentional or otherwise) are another matter entirely.
In reality, one of the major drawbacks of Wikipedia is its excessive bureaucracy that is evident when you get deeply involved in writing for it or patrolling its edits. Its pages on policy and style are numerous, and probably larger than the whole of RationalWiki (that's including talk and non-mainspace entries). The implementation of its rules in letter rather than spirit by its senior members is also an issue.
 Bias in Wikipedia
Wikipedia attempts to maintain a neutral point of view, and although there is admitted difficulty in attaining this goal, policies are in place to try to filter out and resist pervasive bias. Unfortunately almost no one agrees on what "neutrality" actually means.
When used by conservatives, the phrase "bias in Wikipedia" is insider jargon for Wikipedia's aspirations to objectivity, citable fact and reality, rather than subjectivity, irrationality, and extreme points of view in the
creation evolution of their encyclopedic articles. Naturally, they consider everything else (especially things that are neutral) to have a liberal bias. When one considers that anything not far-right is by its very nature, to the "left" of that Conservative stance, their logic is impeccable.
When used by left-wingers, the phrase "bias in Wikipedia" means the site is run by Libertarian drone armies and controlled by the CIA.
Various well-heeled organizations, including the CIA, Microsoft, Fox News, and Diebold, along with many presumably less well-heeled celebrities, have altered Wikipedia entries to suit their own agendas and make themselves look good. Promotional language is easy to spot once you're used to Wikipedia's dull gray house style, and Wikipedia regulars are very good at picking up on it.
- For a fuller list, see Category:Wikis
The Wikipedia project has inspired a great many other, smaller projects, such as Homestar Runner Wiki and Citizendium, using the same Mediawiki software designed by the Wikimedia Foundation. Although many are encyclopedic in nature (often set up to counteract some perceived bias or error on Wikipedia), some, such as Flu Wiki and the WIGO pages of RationalWiki, are used for information-sharing for a specific purpose.
Some wikis such as Uncyclopedia and Encyclopedia Dramatica are parodies of the wiki phenomenon. Others, such as WikiSynergy or Wiki4CAM, are general projects that aren't necessarily encyclopedic in nature but gather information and resources for people who are interested in certain things and find that Wikipedia is a bit too strict regarding notability and neutrality.
 My God, it's full of PORN!
“”A place where a cartoon episode about an anal probe provokes a firestorm, but a true story of murder and dismemberment is fine and dandy (as you know).
|— Comment on the oft repeated criticism of main page content|
As it is a global educational resource, and also caters for mature grown-ups, Wikipedia has a firm NO CENSORSHIP policy. This means that the detailed etymology of the word "fuck", pictures of men sucking their own penises and the close-up of a vulva (which made the front page on the German language Wikipedia in April 2010) are there for entirely educational reasons. As a result, be careful when hitting Special:Random at work.
In any case, it is clear that people go to Wikipedia primarily for its educational content, particularly Wikimedia Commons and its painstakingly categorised images.
The squeamish of the world are most often horrified and appalled by this and complain to the authorities. It is unfortunate that those most keen to complain about mature images held by the Wikimedia foundation are those who prefer "personal responsibility", yet don't seem to take the "personal responsibility" to install something like Net-Nanny, or set their preferences to restrict mature images. Right-wing wannabe media giant WorldNetDaily complained to the FBI concerning an image of the cover of Virgin Killer by the Scorpions. The Internet Watch Foundation in the UK filtered all of Wikipedia because of the same image, but backed down when they were pilloried in the media. Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia and founder of Citizendium, also lodged a complaint concerning "child pornography", over line art drawings of lolicon. Not even the Register commenters bought it, Mike Godwin left it at pointing out how completely wronger than wrong Dr Sanger was, and the general response was people noting how the "complaint" was basically a plug for Sanger's Citizendium and WatchKnow projects.
The FBI has so far given a consistent response to such complaints:
Wikimedia Commons has, however, quite enough pictures of penises. To the point of having a penis photo rejection template. After Jimbo went mad with an axe on Commons in May 2010, there's been a bit of a drive to raise the technical quality of the
porn educational images of the human body as well.
- ↑ 
- ↑ 
- ↑ Homestar Runner Wiki
- ↑ Citizendium
- ↑ Flu Wiki
- ↑ http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Main_Page
- ↑ Made you look.
- ↑ CNET —- 2005
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/127.0.0.1
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User_talk:127.0.0.1
- ↑ For example, see this academic paper on Wikipedia
- ↑ Wikipedia guide to arbitration.
- ↑ Every time xkcd mentions something obscure, the relevant wikipedia article which would explain the joke gets locked down pretty tight.
- ↑ Perhaps they should just delete and protect the article?
- ↑ See Who's Editing Wikipedia - Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign
- ↑ Wikipedia Scanner
- ↑ Cracked.com: "5 Celebrity Wikipedia Entries They Clearly Wrote Themselves."
- ↑ Homestar Runner Wiki
- ↑ Citizendium
- ↑ Flu Wiki
- ↑ Also known as "a bias towards reality"
- ↑ diff
- ↑ Reddit discussion, NOT SAFE FOR WORK screenshot.
- ↑ Because if you're using Wikipedia for porn, you're just plain Doing It Wrong.
- ↑ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Nudity
- ↑ http://stats.grok.se/commons.m/top
- ↑ Larry Sanger's complaint to Wikimedia Foundation
- ↑ Wikifounder reports Wikiparent to FBI over 'child porn', The Register
- ↑ Exchange between Sanger and Wikipedia attorney Mike Godwin The Cliff's Notes version is Godwin's statement "Since you have expressed a disinclination either to understand the law or to discuss it, I won't trouble you further about your profound misunderstandings."
- ↑ http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Template:Nopenis - dig that icon.
- ↑ http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/357799/jimmy-wales-wades-into-wikipedia-porn-debate
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