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Wikipedia Co-Founder Says Website Has Become An ‘Opponent of Vigorous Democracy’

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: July 16, 2021
Wikipedia is allegedly blocking conservative voices on its portal by listing certain online media portals as “unreliable sources.”
Wikipedia is allegedly blocking conservative voices on its portal by listing certain online media portals as “unreliable sources.” (Image: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images)

Ever since Donald Trump occupied the White House in 2016, there has been a coordinated effort to limit conservative opinions and voices on Wikipedia by its editors, claims a July 10 report by Breitbart. 

The report has been authored by a former Wikipedia editor who wrote it under an alias due to “previous witch-hunts led by mainstream Wikipedians against their critics.” 

The online encyclopedia initially banned the inclusion of conservative voices only when it came to factual claims, allowing for citing opinions. However, even this was gradually changed due to the efforts of a Wikipedia admin named Guy Chapman. 

He had been persistently pushing for restricting conservative views on Wikipedia by removing citations to a number of sources that the website classifies as banned. Conservative portals such as The Daily Mail, Gateway Pundit, Newsmax, The Blaze, New York Post, and Breitbart News are included in this “banned list.”

According to the Breitbart article, the whole movement of curtailing conservative views from the online encyclopedia portal was implemented through a process called “deprecation.” It lists sources believed to be “highly questionable.” Editors are discouraged from citing such sources. 

The first victim of “depreciation” was The Daily Mail. In 2017, the media outlet was banned from being cited in Wikipedia entries. 

“Based on the requests for comments section, volunteer editors on English Wikipedia have come to a consensus that the Daily Mail is generally unreliable and its use as a reference is to be generally prohibited, especially when other more reliable sources exist,” Wikipedia said in a statement

Initially, Wikipedia allowed certain exemptions to the deprecated sources; they could be cited as sources for opinions written by writers on such sites. The use of such outlets for making factual claims was banned. 

In January 2020, Guy Chapman modified Wikipedia’s policy page on “reliable sources” to add a section on deprecation. Wikipedia eventually eliminated even these exemptions. 

He stated that validating these exemptions was “rarely appropriate outside articles on the source itself” and that “commentary on a deprecated source’s opinion should be drawn from independent secondary sources.” Doing otherwise would result in risking undue weight being given to a “fringe view.” 

In an article on his website, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger stated that Wikipedia is “more one-sided than ever.” He was referring to the entries on Black Lives Matter, former President Donald Trump’s impeachments, and the 2020 election, among other controversial topics.

Sanger went on to say that several mainstream sources of conservative, libertarian, or contrarian opinion had been banned from Wikipedia. He named portals such as the Quillette, The Federalist, and The Daily Caller among the ones that had been banned. 

Barring a few exceptions, Wikipedia only permits “globalist, progressive mainstream sources—and sources friendly to globalist progressivism,” Sanger stated. He accused Wikipedians of wanting to set the boundaries of a debate as well as wanting to “tell you how to think” about it. 

Sanger concluded the article by saying, “It is not too far to say that Wikipedia, like many other deeply biased institutions of our brave new digital world, has made itself into a kind of thought police that has de facto shackled conservative viewpoints with which they disagree.” He added, “Democracy cannot thrive under such conditions: I maintain that Wikipedia has become an opponent of vigorous democracy.”