Essay:Dalek on RationalWiki
I write this not to fire a fire shot, or to provoke a situation. I write it as a sincere appeal to every member of the RationalWiki Community. I hope that you will all read it; I hope that you will all consider it, and I hope there's no reason for HCM.
We all know, full well, that there is a big split on RationalWiki. There're people who're only here for Conservapedia: to comment on it, to watch it, to document it. There're people who have no interest, whatsoever, in Conservapedia. Then, I think there's a majority who are interested in both the mainspace of RationalWiki and in Conservapedia.
But the relative interests levels of the community isn't the only matter at hand here. There're other things which must be considered, especially by those who live, sleep and breathe Conservapedia. RationalWiki has become quite exceptional, and doesn't show signs of stopping. It has gone, over the years, from a site about Conservapedia, to a decent encyclopedia. It will, one day, be a true Skeptic's Encyclopedia. I understand that at this point, many will be thinking, why does our interest in Conservapedia hold the site back?
So I guess I feel I should answer that as well as I can, rather than just seeming annoyed about Conservapedia's role in the site. So I offer this:
1. The Impression of the Site: RationalWiki is known, around the internet, as a 'response to Conservapedia,' at best and a 'Vandal site' at worst. Properly removing the focus from Conservapedia is the only way of changing this. Through people linking to RationalWiki to explain things, citing it, and through us improving the quality - we will slowly build up our reputation. But the site's association with vandalism of another wiki will always be a disadvantage (and I do not mean to imply that people are actively vandalising Conservapedia).
2. The Matter of the 403s: The above point has been true for a long time, and could very well have remained true for a long time. But it is the matter of the 403s which makes now the time for action. Currently, it seems that most of the non-US world and a fair part of the US are unable to view Conservapedia, let alone edit it. This project is, by its very nature, international: Pseudoscience knows no borders. Yet, I feel that we alienate a lot of potential users by having such a prominent feature of the site: WIGO CP, prominently displayed on the Main Page, and yet people can't even follow the links or see what it is about.
3. Conservapedia is done: I know people still gain enjoyment from Conservapedia. But the sad truth is that it doesn't need a response. It's no longer growing. It's a barely active site, with perhaps a handful of actual fundamentalist Christians and a fair few parodists. Nothing Andy Schlafly could say or Ken could write could shock anymore: They've gone past any limits of ridiculousness that could've been expected. We're giving HUGELY undue prominence to a site which, apart from silly essays and occasional projects, is basically just a warped news site now.
So I plea to you:
If you don't feel Conservapedia has a role in the site anymore, say so. Stand up and be counted. We don't have to censor, we don't have to remove. We just keep it more behind the scenes, not linked to on the Main Page or WIGO Nav.
If you do still feel that Conservapedia has a role in the site and you enjoy watching it, then ask yourself if that is, in anyway, undermined by giving it far less prominence. Given the slowing of Conservapedia and the massive range of 403 blocks, very few new members are going to stumble across RationalWiki and join you in mocking Conservapedia. The people who talk on WIGO CP are almost entirely people who've been around for years. I ask you to consider that your talk page, your Conservapedia articles and your enjoyment are not harmed by a significant shift in prominence, but that the site can be improved. I ask you to let the site move on. Because I believe many of us feel that as long as we link, so heavily, so prominently, to a site which most of the world cannot view, then we're never going to become what we desire.