Wikitruth is a website that critiques and lampoons Pseudopedia. It runs on the MediaWiki software but is not editable by the public; it has a limited GFDL content of about 137 articles, composed by about a dozen contributorsweblink, but appears to attract a disproportionate amount of traffic.
The site posits that there are fundamental problems with Wikipedia's structure, focusing in part on actions and statements from prominent Wikimedia Foundation members like Jimmy Wales; the concept of vandalism; claimed censorship; and aspects of the culture of Wikipedia. It is also a self-described "scandal sheet" that castigates certain Wikipedia administrators and Wikimedia Foundation members for perceived character flaws.
Although the tone tends to be caustic and obscene, the underlying intent, according to the site, is to improve Wikipedia: "Make no mistake, we wouldn't be bitching this much about Wikipedia and Wikipedian failings if we didn't, at the core, love the whole concept. ... We really do think the basic idea is great; it's the implementation we have issues with." "Wikipedia is actually really cool, you Fucks"
The slogan Tell the Wikitruth has led to some general use of the term wikitruth in a more general anti-Wikipedia or anti-status-quo sense.
Ownership and EditorsWikitruth states that it is run by a group of disenchanted Wikipedia editors, including several administrators, who have spent hundreds of hours editing Wikipedia pages. Wikipedia head Jimmy Wales called the site "a hoax", and its creators "almost certainly trolls who have been banned by Wikipedia". (1) Wikitruth's editors responded that Wikipedia administrators did indeed contribute to Wikitruth.(2)
The domain name for the site is registered with Domains by Proxy, Inc, a DNS registrar which masks the personal information of website owners.(3)
PublicityThe first major media reference to Wikitruth was an article in The Guardian by Andrew Orlowski, the San Francisco bureau chief for The Register and writer of several articles critical of Wikipedia. The Guardian article states, among other things, that Wikipedia is "one example of a glut of hazy information."(4)
The Slashdot EffectWikitruth gained wider notice when Slashdot ran a news item called "Censored Wikipedia Articles Appear On Protest Site", which referenced the Guardian piece. The item specifically mentioned the deletion or significant modification of the Wikipedia articles on Brian Peppers, Justin Berry, and Paul Barresi by Jimbo Wales or other higher-ups. (5) Due in part to being mentioned in a front-page news item on Slashdot, the site was slashdotted.(6) Later, it was mentioned on Metafilter, Digg, and various other news sites as well. (7)
The Register ArticleThe next day, Orlowski published another article, this time in The Register, titled "Wales and Sanger on Wikipedia". This article echoed several criticisms about Wikipedia from "Skip," whom Orlowski described as a Wikipedia administrator who is a part of Wikitruth. Some of the criticisms leveled by "Skip" in the article include comments about Wikipedia's lack of a CAPTCHA for securing registration or editing and preference for inclusion of certain kinds of articles such as Pok�mon. (8)
Wikitruth's CriticismThe website levels several criticisms against Wikipedia. One group of these centers around Jimmy Wales and WP:OFFICE, a meta page on Wikipedia set up to deal with certain legal and other issues. Wikitruth uses certain deletions carried out by Wales and the policy (actions from which it characterizes as "Office Does It, Shut Up"(9)) to argue that Wikipedia is censoring some of its articles. There is also a page describing Wales on the website, containing several claims including that Wales rules by fiat by enticing other "Wikipedians" to perform actions he wants, such as the insertion of certain website links into articles.(10)
Another group of criticisms centers around specific Wikipedia processes. For example, Wikitruth criticizes Wikipedia's recent changes patrol, a group of Wikipedia editors who inspect recent changes in Wikipedia articles, calling them "a Junior Woodchuck Club" that prevents legitimate edits to Wikipedia articles.(11) Wikitruth also states that it is easy for Wikipedia editors to "game the system" by outwardly following Wikipedia protocol.(12)
Criticism of WikitruthBecause the identity of the person or people behind Wikitruth is unknown, criticism of Wikitruth varies considerably. Wikitruth themselves have acknowledged some degree of criticism on their own site. This includes:
- Lack of contributors and non-notability
- Not being collaborative and hence not a real wiki
- A lot of the censored articles now being uncensored
- Wikipedia has enough self-criticism already, and any external criticism is unnecessary
- What Wikitruth is doing is illegal
In addition to this, speculations about who Wikitruth are has led to additional criticisms, which include:
- is not censorship, and Wikitruth is not documenting actual censorship on Wikipedia. WP:OFFICE is an attempt by Wikipedia to abide by the law, which is a good thing.
- The general criticisms are designed as a parody, and are very inaccurate.
- The general criticisms are copied from other more established critic forums such as The Wikipedia Review
- Many of the "censored" articles, such as that on Brian Peppers were deleted in order to protect them from unwarranted abuse, which is a good thing.
- Wikitruth may be high ranking administrators at Wikipedia, and the aim of the site may be to try to usurp power from the Wikimedia board and take over Wikipedia.
- Wikitruth does not acknowledge more legitimate and well-established critic forums, and works to destroy all legitimate criticism of Wikipedia.
- Wikitruth in many cases are hypocritical. They have stated that they are banned users, yet also state that most people who were banned from Wikipedia deserved it.
As the purpose of Wikitruth is to criticize Wikipedia, there is a general institutional reaction of ill-will from WP towards WT. This takes the preferred form of trying to ignore, combined with snide asides, but may degenerate into more serious threats on occasion. The same interaction can generally be seen between all institutions in conflict ("us vs. them"), particularly between the very dominant and powerful and the harrying "ankle-biters".
- NEWS,weblink Wikipedia Protest Site 'A Hoax' - Founder, 2006-04-17, 2006-04-17, Techweb News, Antone Gonsalves,
- WEB, Jimbo Calls Us A Hoax, Wikitruth, 2006-04-17,weblink
- Whois info search
- NEWS,weblink A thirst for knowledge, The Guardian, Andrew Orlowski, 2006-04-13, 2006-04-17,
- NEWS,weblink Censored Wikipedia Articles Appear On Protest Site, Gregory Rider, Slashdot, 2006-04-17, 2006-04-17,
- WEB, Hammered, Wikitruth, 2006-04-17,weblink
- NEWS,weblink Wikitruth, wikidare, wikikiss..., PeterMcDermott, Metafilter, 2006-04-17, 2006-04-17,
- NEWS,weblink Wales and Sanger on Wikipedia, Andrew Orlowski, The Register, 2006-04-18, 2008-04-18,
- WEB, WP:OFFICE, Wikitruth, 2006-04-17,weblink
- WEB, Jimbo Wales, Wikitruth, 2006-04-17,weblink
- WEB, RC patrollers, Wikitruth, 2006-04-18,weblink
- WEB, Gaming the system, Wikitruth, 2006-04-18,weblink
Some content adapted from the Wikinfo article "Wikitruth" under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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