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A wiki is a website intended to be edited by its readers. Tim Berners-Lee considers wikis the realisation of his original peer-to-peer vision for the World Wide Web. They were invented in 1995 by programmer Ward Cunningham; the first wiki was the Portland Pattern Repository, a site to document computer programming design patterns. He derived the word "wiki" from the Hawaiian word wiki wiki, meaning "fast".
 Notable wikis
There are thousands of wikis in existence, varying hugely in quality and scale. These are a few of the most well-known examples.
The 800-pound gorilla of wikis, Wikipedia consists of over four million articles. (And that's just the English version. There are another 19 million in various other languages.) It is specifically an encyclopedia dedicated to amassing all the knowledge of the human race in one place. Its goals are not only to get this information together, but also to make it freely available. As a result, it makes extensive use of Creative Commons licensing to allow its content to be distributed. It is serious and quite dry in tone, but at least it's mostly accurate.
Scholarpedia is a peer-reviewed open-access encyclopedia written and maintained by scholarly experts from around the world. Scholarpedia is inspired by Wikipedia and aims to complement it by providing in-depth scholarly treatments of academic topics. Their specific peer-review process is found here and articles accepted are published in the Scholarpedia journal.
Citizendium was the original challenger to the crown of Wikipedia. Its main difference was that its editing policy was less open, requiring all users to register under their real name and allowing only "experts" to approve articles. While a decent enough idea, the academics were eventually repelled, allowing cranks to hijack prominent articles and pseudoscience topics to be covered in a less than critical light. Launched at the start of 2007 with considerable mainstream publicity and claims that it would grow to rival Wikipedia's size, it grew during its first year and then gradually fizzled out. Although still limping along it has far fewer contributors than the wiki you are reading now, RationalWiki.
Uncyclopedia, "the content-free encyclopedia", is a parody of Wikipedia. Inevitably, for a collaborative work of comedy, the quality and humour varies markedly, from some patches of excellent satire to lame nonsense propped up with tired internet memes. Live on Wikia, http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com. Some got sick of the ads, content warning and lack of site stats and they forked; now at http://uncyclopedia.co , with the same name. Some stayed behind. Both are active.
Uncyclopedia has an article about us, http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/RationalWiki, which appears to satirise a RationalWiki page, with vandalized edits from Conservapedians in Uncyclopedia's usual fashion.
 Encyclopædia Dramatica
Despite being full of flashing porn ads, the site's owner claimed it failed to make much money, and it was unilaterally taken down without warning in April 2011 and replaced with Oh Internet, a worksafe version of the same idea. ED itself was resurrected by hacker Ryan Cleary soon after.
SourceWatch documents corporate and industry front groups and their FUD campaigns. It tends to concentrate on environmental issues like global warming denialism, however it covers a wide range of issues related to government and corporate PR.
 TV Tropes
TV Tropes catalogues and celebrates the many conventions, idioms, motifs, clichés, memes and writing tools used in television, film, literature and other fiction. Entries for each "trope" link to many others, and come with an extensive list of examples, since there is no notability barrier. It has a very strong love of almost everything, but especially Joss Whedon (the wiki grew out of a fansite for Buffy the Vampire Slayer), anime and the word "egregious". It is almost impossible to visit the website for less than
three six hours, a fact of which they themselves are quite boastful. They also have quite a few nice things to say about us.
WikiLeaks leaks things - embarrassing or incriminating documents and correspondence which governments or corporations do not wish to be published. Although it uses MediaWiki as its content management system and so looks a bit like Wikipedia, it is not really a wiki and is not publicly editable. All content is compiled by professional journalists, though anybody can submit evidence they want leaked.
This is what Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales actually does for a living. Originally called WikiCities, it hosts over a hundred thousand wikis, almost all of which are for obsessive fans of a particular work of fiction or game. There is almost nothing that doesn't get a wiki. (Tropers call this The Wiki Rule.) Some are quite popular, while some have only two or three obsessive basement-dwelling editors.
All Wikia wikis are under free content licenses, Wikia wikis are not deleted if the community gets up and leaves. Several of them were abandoned when Wikia introduced a bloody awful new skin in October 2010 and their users created new wikis elsewhere, but the ad-filled, outdated and vandalized Wikia-hosted versions remain higher ranked on Google.
 Crank wikis
Conservapedia, a very small project aiming to emulate Wikipedia from a socially conservative, American, and fundamentalist Christian point of view, involves several editors and administrators who had previously faced opposition to inserting their heavily biased point of view into Wikipedia articles. Some appear under aliases, apparently in order to distance themselves from their prior involvement with Wikipedia or possibly to fit in more with a common Conservapedia username scheme. As a whole, the site appears to have an unhealthy fascination with Wikipedia and its supposed faults. It is significant to note that many of what Conservapedia administrators consider faults in Wikipedia are often repeated, to a greater degree, on their own site. Just like Encyclopædia Dramatica, many of the editors are trolls. Unlike the trolls in ED, they are unwelcome, but it's hard to tell them apart from the real editors.
While being frustrated in their attempts to insert a respect for real world scientific facts at Conservapedia, the founders and most of the original editors of RationalWiki "met" each other.
 A Storehouse of Knowledge
Just as Citizendium was a personal competitor to Wikipedia, A Storehouse of Knowledge was set up as a personal competitor to Conservapedia, promoting a "biblical worldview". Founded by (now ex-) Conservapedia user Philip J. Rayment in March 2009. It's like everyone wants their own pet wiki project. When will it end!?!?
CreationWiki is, as the name would seem to suggest, a creationist wiki. Editing is by approved members only, and non-creationists, if they are permitted access at all, are barred from contributing to articles. The number of active editors is, unsurprisingly, very small.
Metapedia describes itself as "an electronic encyclopedia about culture, art, science, philosophy and politics", but could be more accurately described as an echo chamber for neo-Nazis to rant in. It covers somewhat controversial subjects, such as why homosexuality is a mental illness, how race is certainly a real thing, how science proves that people with dark skin are a bunch of damn dirty apes, and how Adolf Hitler was an under-appreciated visionary. It also seems to be all but dead. How sad.
RationalWiki is a
large and well respected very small project that was originally established to address and refute the likes of CreationWiki and Conservapedia from a rationalist point of view. As well as a wiki in an encyclopedic sense (with over 6000 content articles), it also doubles as a discussion forum. Although still primarily attracting traffic due to its commentary on Conservapedia, RationalWiki does have a few articles that appear in the top of Google's search rankings, thanks to its almost complete lack of notability requirements to write articles about any form of crank idea — the equivalent criterion at RW is "missionality."
A meta wiki about RationalWiki, which spawned other metawikis RationalWikiWiki was closed to the public on November 14, 2012 but you can still keep track of its once furious editing pace at RationalWikiWikiWiki. A few of its pages and talk pages were copied to here and can be found in Category:RationalWikiWiki.
 Comparison chart
|Wikipedia||All humankind||All nerdkind||All humankind||All humankind (with internet access)|
|Conservapedia||Home-schooling conservatives||About 5 guys and parodists||Home-schooled pupils||Parodists|
|Citizendium||Academics||Ten guys and some fringe pseudoscientists||All humankind||The authors|
|TV Tropes||Amateur literary analysts||Fanfic enthusiasts and self-professed otaku||All nerdkind||The authors|
|Encyclopaedia Dramatica||Trolls||Trolls||Trolls||Internet nerdkind|
|Uncyclopedia||Funny people||Unfunny people||Funny people||Unfunny people|
|Liberapedia||Parodists||Proxima Centauri||Parodists||Proxima Centauri|
|Wikia||Community-minded people who like writing wikis||Drooling monomaniacal fanboys||Community-minded people who like writing wikis||Drooling monomaniacal fanboys|
|A Storehouse of Knowledge||Philip J. Rayment||Philip J. Rayment||all Christiankind||Not even the RationalWikians|
|CreationWiki||Vetted creationists||Almost no-one||All Christiankind||No-one|
|Wiki4CAM||Alternative medicine practitioners||No-one||Alternative medicine users||No-one|
|Metapedia||Nazis||Very few Nazis, possibly some parodists||Nazis||Anti-Nazis|
|RationalWiki||Rationalists||Drunk rationalists, goat fetishists||Fledgling rationalists||Cynics|
|SourceWatch||Concerned citizens||Amateur journalists, moonbats, alties, PETA nuts||Citizens in Western democracies||Moonbats|
 Wiki software
There are lots of wiki engines out there, but most public wikis of any note use MediaWiki. (The only one listed above that doesn't is TV Tropes, which uses a version of PMWiki that has been altered and stretched over time.) This is why almost every wiki out there looks more-or-less like Wikipedia.
Some prominent open source software sites (e.g. Ubuntu, Debian, X.org) favour MoinMoin, for some reason. (In the case of X.org, because it's written in Python rather than PHP.)
 See also
- Category:Wikis: Wikis we have articles about.
- RationalWiki:Websites and RationalWiki:Webshites: Other relevant sites, including some wikis.
- Wikinode: Our list of relevant wikis.
- WikiIndex.org: A larger list of irrelevant wikis.
- ↑ http://c2.com/cgi/wiki - still going, eighteen years later!
- ↑ http://stats.wikimedia.org/EN/TablesArticlesTotal.htm
- ↑ Munroe, R. "Tab explosion." XKCD 609.
- ↑ http://community.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Sarah_Manley/100,000_wikis_on_Wikia
- ↑ Except Uncyclopedia, which was CC by-nc-sa before it joined Wikia and so kept that license.
- ↑ Roger Schlafly
- ↑ Ed Poor
- ↑ Conservative/kdbuffalo
- ↑ RobS/Nobs/Nobs01
- ↑ Examples of Bias in Wikipedia
- ↑ How Conservapedia Differs from Wikipedia
- ↑ See, RationalWikiWiki and RationalWikiWikiWiki and maybe even ...
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