RationalWiki (RW) is a community working together to explore and provide information about a range of topics centered around science, skepticism, and critical thinking. RW currently has 6,455 mainspace articles. RW is owned by the RationalMedia Foundation (RMF), an incorporated 501(c)(3) nonprofit. The RMF operates the infrastructure that keeps RW running and holds its associated trademarks and copyrights, but it does not govern the community or any content the community produces.
Our purpose here at RationalWiki includes:
- Analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement.
- Documenting the full range of crank ideas.
- Explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism.
- Analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media.
RationalWiki 2.0 was created as an open editing wiki on May 22, 2007. Lulz ensued.
Notability and repute
RW is a fairly small site. Its traffic reached about 32,000 unique visitors per day in November 2012, and is continuing to grow.
RW's objective isn't to collect hits or increase the article tally, but to disseminate accurate information whilst debunking pseudoscience and other forays into anti-intellectualism. Remember, the truth is not a popularity contest.
What is a RationalWiki article?
While RW uses software originally developed for a well-known online encyclopedia, it is important to realize that RW is not trying to be an encyclopedia. While many of RW's articles may look like encyclopedia entries, RW goes much further – it encourages original research and opinion formation.
- The community has embraced the concept of wikis by creating an information source out of the collaborative editing of thousands of people.
- By encouraging original research and essays, RW has also incorporated many aspects of the blogging community.
- Discussion among members is facilitated on many levels such as debate articles, specific discussions on talk pages, and just coming together to talk about whatever is on our minds at the Saloon Bar. This focus on discussion captures the essence of Internet forums.
- RW has a serious mission, but its users here because it's fun, and stick around only while it's still fun.
Who runs this place? Ultimately, nobody. It's a wiki.
Decisions are made by the will of whoever shows up and does stuff. Mobocracy and do-ocracy rule the day. Most users who've been around a while and aren't utterly incompetent are sysops. The most effective place to be outraged is on the talk page of the article you are outraged about. People may well engage with you in a relevant fashion.
A few users are moderators, elected by the community. They don't like work, so will do anything other than be your go-to parent.
In one extreme case the board have acted to ban someone for libel of a level that could have attracted lawsuits to the RMF itself. They don't like work either, so don't expect this to happen again any time soon.
RW has numerous critics, roughly divided in two (overlapping) groups: those that take issue with the content and those who take issue with the style. Both tend to quickly degenerate into "so why do they call it RationalWiki, then?" This may be based on a slight confusion between rationalisation and rationalism – as no one ever thinks they're being irrational, they're likely to accuse anyone who disagrees with them as irrational. In principle, this point extends to RW itself, which declares everyone who doesn't follow its POV irrational – making the choice of title somewhat unfortunate and ironic.
The content critics are typically the fans of people or subjects that RW doesn't speak favorably of. Supporters of noted politician Ron Paul certainly aren't fans, angry that someone, somewhere dares not declare Ron Paul to be the Second Coming. Ayn Rand fans do much the same. Other criticism of content is often directed at shorter and less complete articles. RW's rating system goes part way to rectifying the issue of lower quality articles but is implemented in a completely
ad hoc wikilike fashion.
RW's style is frequently criticized, with some objecting to the odd sense of humor and getting upset that people aren't taking their idea of rationalism seriously. LessWrong bloggers and commentators in particular find it annoyingly irrational (with prior probability ). LessWrong's founder, Eliezer Yudkowsky, once defended RW as a potential recruiting ground for hardcore rationalists but mostly as "clueless." Issues with style include the running debate over whether RW's self-touted viewpoint, "SPOV," means "Scientific Point of View (plus snark)" or "Snarky Point of View (plus science)."
While the overwhelming majority of RW's editors are English-speaking, RW also has articles in other languages, namely:
- Russian: More than 980 articles (for example, Научный креационизм);
- Spanish: 4 articles (for example, Cabra);
- French: 39 articles (for example, Science).
- Portuguese: 3 articles.
- Our main help page
- RationalWiki:Community Standards
- RationalWiki:What is a RationalWiki article?
- RationalWiki:How I found RationalWiki
- Main Page on RationalWiki (hey, wait!)
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