Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
March 2nd, 2007



Up-front values: At least Conservapedia makes no attempt at hiding its colors. (Based on Wikipedia logo under fair use for non-profit commentary.)

A new free, online, collaboratively-written encyclopedia – sound familiar? – claims that Democrats have “a true agenda of cowering to terrorism [and] treasonous anti-Americanism”. At least it did last Sunday.

Conservapedia describes itself as an answer to the “increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American” Wikipedia. You’ll notice that its front page features a red, white, and blue color scheme. Guided by six commandments – “I give you ten – six, six commandments!” – the project takes hard-line stances on pressing issues like the use of BC and AD (as opposed to BCE and CE) and American English (as opposed to the Commonwealth varieties). Wikipedia has more of a “status quo” guideline, suggesting the use of whatever is already being used or whatever makes sense for the topic.

The project’s description of Democrats is somewhat less provocative now, framing cowardice and anti-Americanism as claims by “right-wing critics”. Wikipedia would advise against the use of such “weasel words” unless “accompanied by a citation that supports the claim”. Well, at least there are citations. Conservapedia backs up its claim of “cowering to terrorism” with a link to an Associated Press article about opposition to the TSA’s passenger databases:

For four years, the government has used a computerized system to give a risk assessment to nearly everyone entering or leaving the country by land, sea or air. Homeland Security intends to keep the files for 40 years.

Leahy is also outraged that people on the list have no way of knowing they’re on it, can’t see the information, and can’t challenge it. Leahy said there need to be privacy safeguards in place.

Its claim of “treasonous anti-Americanism” cites a CNN transcript about the party’s opposition to tax cuts. Nowhere in either of these articles are cowardice or treason mentioned, much less alleged; these articles are used merely as “examples”. At least they recognize the legitimacy of CNN.

My hope is that Conservapedia will remain nothing more than a novelty. There’s no problem with creating a fork of Wikipedia, but you can’t eliminate bias by promoting the opposite bias. That just gets you two equally biased, equally wrong, and equally disgusted camps. Calling themselves an “encyclopedia you can trust”, the project’s creators believe they’re doing students a favor, by educating them. But if a part of that service consists of convincing a student that China’s One-Child Policy is fundamentally Communist support of abortion, what they’re doing is a travesty.

Thanks to Neil Turner, who got the scoop from The Guardian.


  1. Minh, I think its pretty obvious that you are increasingly anti-Christian and anti-American. No wonder you spend so much time on wikipedia.