The left’s capture of Wikipedia and its transformation into a progressive propaganda organ has had profound political consequences. Founded on the premise of “NPOV,” or neutral point of view, the free online encyclopedia now downplays and often omits entirely points unfavorable to the left, while pushing left-wing tropes. Its co-founder, Larry Sanger, is angry at the betrayal of its original promise.
Carrie Sheffield writes at Just the News:
Last May, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger wrote an op-ed on his personal website titled “Wikipedia is Badly Biased” claiming that Wikipedia’s neutrality policy — known as “NPOV,” or neutral point of view — “is dead.”
Now, when schoolchildren visit the Wikipedia website to look up answers to questions about the meaning of socialism, “they’re going to find an explanation that completely ignores any conservative, libertarian, or critical treatment of the subject,” Sanger told “Just the News AM” television program. “And that’s really problematic. That’s not education. That’s propaganda.”
Sanger referred to a Fox News report last week by Maxim Lott, which noted, “The two main pages for ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ span a massive 28,000 words, and yet they contain no discussion of the genocides committed by socialist and communist regimes, in which tens of millions of people were murdered and starved.”
That’s poisonous, even if, as the article points out, some of the damaging information comes out in other sub-articles not found on the main page, where most children go to learn about a subject. Sanger traces the fall of Wikipedia to the point today, where “Wikipedia started getting rid of citations from conservative sources, ‘even conservative sources that were cited in order to explain the conservative point of view.'”
Sanger is not just complaining; he is doing something about it:
Sanger told Just the News that his new, forthcoming project, called “Encyclosphere,” is a decentralized network of the world’s encyclopedias, what he called “an old-fashioned, leaderless, ownerless network, like the blogosphere.”
Sanger said just as there are no administrators in the blogosphere, “in the same way, I want to create a protocol that very loosely ties all the encyclopedias online together.”
In a video posted to Twitter, Sanger announced the Encyclosphere, calling it “a free, giant, global knowledge commons without any central control.”
The encyclosphere is going to be great. Still getting the website and upcoming seminar ready. pic.twitter.com/hXSB01ArFS
— Larry Sanger (@lsanger) December 23, 2020
Maxim Lott of Fox News reached out to Wikipedia for comment:
Asked for comment, a Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson sent a statement noting that “Wikipedia is a living, breathing project, and is always evolving just as our shared understanding of a topic does.” The response also noted that the foundation does not directly control content on Wikipedia, which is written by volunteer editors. The statement did not address any specific criticisms of the content.
According to Just the News, Sanger has tapped into a widely shared concern:
Sanger said his Encyclosphere would be able to avoid an anti-free speech tilt “because freedom is built into the architecture, just as it is built into DNS (the web’s basic domain name system) and, again, into the blogosphere. Different competing apps can restrict access to an extent, and governments can restrict access, but the network will never restrict access.”
Sanger said his team has already done an encyclopedia meta-search project, started codifying standards, and talked to various encyclopedias. But for now, his first step is to start with “a free, long-term, graduate-level seminar” he said will be announced soon.
Sanger said he “casually asked on Twitter, and a gazillionaire offered us money” for Encyclosphere. “Going forward, though, we’ll be asking for donations in connection with the seminar,” he said.
“Frankly, we’ve already had tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of volunteer work done by some high-powered volunteers, and I’m sure that will continue,” Sanger said. “This is a long-term difficult project, and we want to do it right.”
To be sure, Wikipedia has a big first mover advantage. It is where most people in the Western world go first. But so did MySpace as a social media platform. The taint of bias, provable bias as in its treatment of socialism, can dissolve that advantage over time, in particular if the alternate being produced is user-friendly and recognized as lacking in bias, or more complete — in other words, including all points of view.
That last point — not being biased in the opposite direction, but rather being inclusive — is critical to fully displacing Wikipedia and punishing it for its betrayal of its founding principles. Fuzzy Slippers at Legal Insurrection comments:
I don’t think we want an ideologically “segregated” internet in which the left and right are forging their own bubble world paths, but that does seem to be the result of the left attempting to force its narrative on us all by attempting to silence voices that don’t sing the leftist tune of the day.
Projects like Sanger’s attempt to bridge that divide by not treating center-right and libertarian thought as “misinformation.”
Been horsing around all my life