Essay:The Conservapedia RationalWiki War

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RationalWiki and Conservapedia wage a perpetual war. Many RationalWikians have been blocked at Conservapedia. Some were blocked for vandalism. Conservapedia is so much disliked that people who usually edit wikis responsibly sometimes vandalise Conservapedia. (On Conservapedia, 'vandalism' seems to include 'adding verified, cited facts that disagree with Fundamentalist Conservative dogma'. This makes 'vandalism' much easier than it should be. Many novice editors 'vandalize' the site without even realizing it, until they're blocked for it. Then blocks cause resentment.) Other RationalWikians have been blocked arbitrarily. All blocks create tension and anger.

Why RationalWiki dislikes Conservapedia[edit]

  • The sysops and admins arbitarily deciding whether or not to enforce the Conservapedia Commandments (see this and Commandment number 5, together with the fact 'Learn Together' is a sysop for one example).
    • Administrators decide arbitrarily what is a blockable offense. Users get blocked without having done anything they knew is wrong. [1]
  • Removing cited facts and calling it 'liberal bias' simply because these facts do not conform to the preconceived notions of the leaders of the site.[2].
  • The management driving away experts from the site by, for example, demanding that they email a sysop proof of their qualifications before they continue to post on the site, after that sysop reverted edits on mathematics because they didn't understand them.[3]
  • "Belabouring a point" is a blockable offense. It is unclear what this means but it is likely to discourage experts who can discuss a point in detail. [4]
  • The selective enforcement of Conservapedia's "90/10 Rule", which, despite being "a guideline", is a popular way for the sysops to squelch debate on talk pages via blocking and threats of same. Users are not always warned in advance that 90% of their edits must be in articles. Users who did not know that they were breaking any rule can be arbitrarily blocked.
  • On Conservapedia, 'vandalism' seems to include 'adding verified, cited facts that disagree with Fundamentalist dogma' makes 'vandalism' much easier than it should be. Many novice editors 'vandalize' the site without even realizing it, until they're blocked for it.
  • Administrators decide arbitrarily what is a blockable offense. Users get blocked without having done anything they knew is wrong. [5]>
  • Some pages, such as "Theory of Evolution" and "Homosexuality" being permanently locked and monopolized by one obsessed sysop.
  • Amusingly, despite the fact that many Conservapedia sysops read it regularly, and even refer to it obliquely on talk pages and in comments, mentioning RationalWiki by name is taboo on Conservapedia. Doing so directly gets mere mortal posters banned.
  • Near-total lack of oversight or any sort of appeals process for users who think a sysop is abusing their authority. Many sysops don't even have email enabled, making it impossible for someone they ban to even find out why.
  • Extremely poor scholarship. Many 'articles' are one or two short paragraphs at most, except those relating to how awful liberals, homosexuals, atheists, or evolutionists are, which can run for many hundreds of lines.
  • Totally unrealistic criticism of Barack Obama who has the overwhelming support of the American voters. Even other Conservatives feel things can go too far. [6] The user who complained has been blocked for it. [7][8] [9] [10] There is no free speech on Conservapedia.
  • Some confusion between "Encyclopedia" and "Blog", as the sysops make many long, hilariously opinionated articles on various Conservative talking-points, such as how Liberals are incapable of real friendship. This is an old version of the page Liberals and friendship which may be changed. Note the writers claim that the liberals, Speaker Tip O'Neil and Senator Ted Kennedy were friends with Ronald Regan as were other liberals. This contradicts the main contention of the article. Liberals do not invariably refuse to be friends with conservatives. The more sensible conservapedians recognise this. [11] The complaining user was subsequently blocked. [12]. He unblocked himself but has not edited since [13] (22nd Nov '08)
  • At least one sysop keeps deleting perfectly factual mathematics articles because he doesn't understand the concepts involved.
    • The site's founder, Andrew Schlafly, apparently believes that "Imaginary Numbers" are part of a Liberal Plot.

Conservapedia forbids any mention anywhere of the phrase "RationalWiki", and has a so-called "spam filter" that automatically blocks any attempt to enter the phrase in that form. People who evade that by entering things like "Rational<!-- -->Wiki" are immediately blocked. In recent months (2008) the sysops have allowed oblique references to "that other place" or "RW", but all such references must be vitriolic. Any expression of sympathy with, or tolerance of, "that other place" leads to an immediate ban. As of late summer 2008, some sysops appear to be using the phrase "mouth-breather" as a euphemism for RW people. The origin and meaning of this is not known, though it suggests that Andy breaths exclusively through his anus.

RationalWiki appears to have been started by disaffected refugees from Conservapedia, and explicit vandalism of Conservapedia by RationalWiki people was probably a common activity at that time. Conservapedia accuses RationalWiki of being responsible for most of their vandalism, though the heavy ongoing influx of new users suggests that that is not the case. In any case, the anonymity of the internet makes it impossible to tell.

Conservapedia usually bans anyone known to have an account at RationalWiki, though there seem to be occasional exceptions for long-standing Conservapedia editors. One user, Ames Grauert, was permitted to come back after a long ban, and took Andrew Schlafly up on the latter's challenge to have a debate with any liberal. However, the planning discussion did not go well ([14], [15], [16]) as the sysops repeatedly blocked Ames during discussions. As of August 2008, the debate does not appear destined to occur.

Why Conservapedia dislikes RationalWiki[edit]

They're Liberals, and therefore evil. [citation needed]


Because of its extreme views on evolution, politics, society, history, education, religion, sexuality, and science in general, and its very narrow orthodoxy on these subjects, Conservapedia is the subject of massive ridicule throughout the internet. This, coupled with its open wiki organization, creates serious difficulties for their administrators. There is an enormous traffic in editors arguing with sysops and changing articles to be less extreme. This leads to massive censorship, reversion (even comments on talk pages are often censored and reverted) and account blocking.

New accounts are created as frequently as they are permanently blocked. One can't know for sure, but it is plausible to assume that many new account creations are simply responses to blocking. Such an account is generally considered a "sockpuppet", and is a minor irritation on sites such as Wikipedia. On Conservapedia they are a major problem for the administrators. They are strictly forbidden, of course, but, because of the wide availability of internet proxies, they can't be stopped. The Conservapedia administrators frequently block IP addresses, sometimes in huge (> 100,000) blocks, in a futile attempt to stop edits that are hostile to their philosophy.

Another aspect of this difficulty that editing permission, except for "trusted" users, is turned off at night, so that it is only allowed when the site is being continuously monitored by an administrator ready to take immediate action.

Conservapedia also has a very high traffic in arguments and conflict on talk pages, relative to edits to article pages. A typical listing of 500 "recent changes", taken at 18:31 EDT, 16 July 2008, and covering about two days, shows the following:

  • Nontrivial article/essay edits: 140 (28%)
  • Trivial article/essay edits: 120 (24%)
(<= 20 characters, or fussing with templates, redirects, wikilinks, "terms" items, protection changes)
  • Edit warring (reversion) on article/essay pages: 22 (4%)
  • Edits to essay/article talk pages: 59 (12%)
  • Edits to user pages: 15 (3%)
  • Edits to user talk pages: 84 (17%)
  • User creation events: 34 (7%)
  • User blocks, less than 5 years: 2 (0%)
  • User blocks, 5 years or more: 24 (5%)

A few Conservapedia sysops have accounts at RationalWiki, where they are treated with great hostility but not blocked.