Friday, February 23, 2007

Conservapedia

Some readers have asked me what I think about Conservapedia, www.conservapedia.com (their server is currently overloaded, sorry, see mirror of the main page). Well, for quite some time, I wasn't sure whether the project - a self-described conservative, Christian, pro-American counterpart of Wikipedia - was serious or just a hoax.

Now I think that it is serious. The number of articles in it, including some relatively meaningful ones, is simply much higher than what I would expect from a hoax. On the other hand, the total volume of Conservapedia is much smaller than the volume of Wikipedia. I think that it is obvious that Conservapedia will remain a less extensive, less complete, and nominally more biased server than Wikipedia. It is not clear to me whether the authors realize that their project is almost guaranteed to remain a parody of Wikipedia.

Don't get me wrong. Wikipedia is biased in many different ways. For example, the number of left-wing editors is much larger than the number of right-wing editors, among other examples of asymmetry. But I don't think it is so biased that the bias would justify to build a new online encyclopedia from the scratch.

If there are examples in which Wikipedia promotes a biased point of view, an intelligent reader can usually tell. I haven't faced any serious problems whenever I was trying to extract some essential information from Wikipedia pages even if the pages were slightly biased. You can just ignore the spin and emotions. They're not what an intelligent reader looks for anyway. It's the nontrivial facts that matter. Every person with IQ above 100 can twist them if she needs it. Moreover, I think that the amount of spin is tolerable.




As far as entertainment is concerned, I would still prefer Uncyclopedia.org. For example, you may start with String theory or Al Gore.

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