User:Bicycle Wheel/RationalWikiWiki A
Annual Hat Clusterfuck
The Annual Hat Clusterfuck is the yearly tradition of arguing over the Christmas themed RationalWiki logo. Following the slight re-brand in November 2009 that gave RationalWiki a logo that wasn't copyrighted by someone else, a version featuring snow and a Santa hat was added in December.
Naturally, this leads to a massive argument every year about whether it should be used at all and when it should be taken down. Some like to keep it up for a full festive period going the traditional 12 days after Christmas, others prefer it to disappear as soon as midnight chimes on December 25th and the shops break out the Easter eggs. More extreme opinions involve RW not using it at all as Christmas has - shock horror - religious connotations, but these people are boring and are usually ignored.
In December 2011, much to everyone's surprise, the argument was relatively muted.
Anti-Conservapedia is a catchall term for anything on RationalWiki that was created in opposition to Conservapedia. It is the predominant movement on RationalWiki, with most of RW's integral members having founded or joined the site in opposition to Conservapedia (thus setting a direction for RationalWiki that will last for some time). In terms of utility, users expend more work on Conservapedia-centric efforts than any other single aspect of the site. The movement exists opposite the post-Conservapedia movement.
When discussing the site, anti-Conservapedia refers to any articles in the CPspace, as well as any articles created in the spirit of opposing Conservapedia. The CPspace exists not only to document Conservapedia antics (from the Lenski affair to stalking the senior sysops) but also hosts a number of articles mirroring CP's content and refuting it. The sexual anatomy articles (i.e. Cunt, Penis, Clitoris, etc) in particular were created specifically because Conservapedia systematically deleted articles with such names. Indeed, the entire existence of the sexuality category and the fact that many of the articles have a high degree of content could be said to stem from this.
When discussing people, anti-Conservapedia refers to the users who joined RationalWiki because of Conservapedia — members of the anti-Conservapedia group share the common experience of Conservapedia, which combines with other factors to create a sort of bond (easily observable on WIGO). This includes some of the founding members of RationalWiki and many users who later crossed over or fled from Conservapedia.
Comments are sometimes made about an apparent anti-religion bias on RationalWiki.
This article attempts to describe and analyze the situation and ask if such a bias is likely – it makes no effort to say what the situation “should” be.
When discussing anti-religion bias on RationalWiki, one needs to consider two elements: the Editing Policies, and the user base of the website.
The editing policy is most clearly laid out in the RW article, "What is a RationalWiki article". An initial point to note is the instruction that:
- "RationalWiki is not neutral point of view." "As a site we have a point of view, and that point of view is that the scientific method and the information gained from its application is better than almost anything else humanity has come up with."
Subsequently editors are told:
- to feel free to slant the content towards the goals of the site.
- that it is not necessary to supply references for all entries.
- that RationalWiki is original research.
- to draw (additional) conclusions not clearly stated in a source.
Given that the Scientific Method is wholly naturalistic and explicitly excludes supernatural or religious explanations, this POV will presumably eliminate any religious explanations for phenomenon. There is no obligation to present alternative points of view opposed to, or apart from, the scientific method – indeed they would seem to be explicitly excluded.
The subsequent points allow – even encourage - people to write more-or-less what they want as long as it is consistent with point one.
All of this means that RW authors, as a group, are likely to create 1. articles with a naturalistic slant and 2. articles which will which reflect the dominant beliefs and opinions of the group; and that opinions contrary to the general group consensus may get short shrift. It might conceivably be possible for the wiki to somehow present theistic or agnostic ideas within the above guidelines – but this would depend on the user base. Nevertheless, with such guidelines the articles on the site will be dominated by the opinions of the majority of the authors (or by the opinions of the most prolific authors) as long as their articles are consistent with (or at least not inconsistent with) the Scientific method.
Taking a look at the active users data and comparing that data to who stands where on the question of religion, one can see that there is, indeed a bias towards being anti-religious or, at least, non-religious. For example, one sees that Bob M, Nebuchadnezzar, and P-Foster are included among the top editors on the site, and all three are well known anti-theists.
An analysis of all the users listed on the "Active users" statistics page further reveals this alleged anti-religious bias. About 75% of the top 50 editors on the "active users" page are atheistic or anti-theistic. A small, but vocal, minority that includes such people as ListenerX makes up about another 10%, while the remaining 15% includes user who do not have an overtly known stance on religion.
- The site has a stated POV which explicitly favors a scientific POV and excludes supernatural or religious explanations.
- The site’s policies encourage posters to include their opinions in articles.
- There are more explicitly atheistic authors than theistic authors.
- The atheistic authors, in addition to being more numerous, are more active than the theistic authors.
- Therefore one would expect to see a predominance of atheistic ideas on the site.
- Should the most prominent atheistic authors also be anti-religious then articles will be both atheistic and explicitly anti-religious.
Article Rating System
The Article Rating System is a way of grading RationalWiki articles according to their apparent quality. The quality of articles on RW does vary somewhat between the good, the bad, and the appalling so a system was needed to show people which articles were reliable; particularly as a lot of criticism of RW stems from the fact that articles can be woefully incomplete. Many articles have had hundreds of edits and plenty of "expert" attention (atheism, homeopathy etc.), whereas many others are leftover relics of the Article Creation Drive and haven't been touched since 2007. Articles are given "brainstars" of bronze, silver or gold, with gold being (at least for now) synonymous with "cover" status. 
In theory, this shows readers what articles have received a good fact checking and have passed degrees of quality control. In practice is works as thus:
Even worse than the below.
Article is a stub. It's existence isn't worth the bandwidth you downloaded it with.
A bronze article probably has a few references and is likely coherent. There are 475 mainspace articles in this category
Someone's pet favorite project. There are 44 mainspace articles in this category
At least an HCM level 4 was had in arguing whether the article deserved to be on the cover. So you can be sure that it's totally worth the effort. There are 24 mainspace articles in this category.
Assuming a point system(0,1,2,3 points) similar to the GPA system, the average RW article has a rating of: ~.1184.
For a few months there was a Copper class, which seemed to have arrived unasked for. It was not popular and was killed off by Ace McWicked in February 2012.
The criteria for each article level are actually poorly defined. The official reason is that editors can be flexible and use good judgement in promoting articles. The actual reason was that they were hastily written by Armondikov as an example of what the criteria could be with an intention of discussing what they should be. Unfortunately these were then copied almost verbatim into the project page when it was properly started and apart from one or two tweaks and groans have been largely untouched.
Various attempts have been made at revamping it. Somebody suggested a separate nominations page so that promotions could be done properly, rather than on a completely ad hoc or even unilateral basis. Ideas about using voting up and down articles (a similar feedback system has been implemented in parts of Wikipedia) but whether this would be even workable is questionable. Like most revamps, they went nowhere.
Opposition from Human
Human does not like the system, which he describes as "OCD." He was partially responsible for the removal of the copper rating, although Ace ended up doing the dirty work. He has engaged in revert wars, both removing the rated template from talk pages of articles and blanking the template itself. He has called for a community discussion to ditch the system, and claims that he has brought the matter up in the past but has received no response, but an attempt in late May of 2012 failed to get anywhere. Human then restrained himself and managed to not raise the matter for a good month following this.
- This does not mean that that their sole focus on RationalWiki is opposing Conservapedia. They may also put invest their time in post-Conservapedia efforts, or even be only marginally interested in Conservapedia these days.
- Well, not really, as David Gerard made a point of going through every article (A to Z) and made edits to pretty much every single one.
- despite this, several silver articles such as "Conservapedia" have cover status
- essay ratings?
- "the community does not exist as far as the creation of this template and its smearing all over talk pages everywhere."
- "god this is such garbage."
- "Where do I bring it to the "community"?"
- "I guess I have brought it up, and received no cogent answers. Just lazy people doing what lazy people do - make an easy way to make a statement, do it enough and no one can undo it."
- A short discussion
- The peace lasted until the 24 June