[This essay was rudely rejected by the gatekeepers at Signpost calling it 
irrelevant but not explaining why. Could someone please suggest where I might 
submit this for a fair hearing by the WMF community?]

Why the Wikimedia Foundation should openly articulate its political POV by 
establishing a new neutral wiki for world political knowledge (modeled on 
By Carmen Yarrusso

Carmen Yarrusso, a software engineer for 35 years, designed and modified 
computer operating systems (including Internet software). He has a BS in 
physics and studied game theory and formal logic during his years with the math 
department at Brookhaven National Lab. He lives in New Hampshire and often 
writes about uncomfortable truths.


Nobody can deny WMF has done a great service to humanity. Wikimedians and 
especially Wikipedians around the world deserve our utmost respect and 
gratitude for their outstanding efforts. But there's a political zeitgeist in 
the air that began with the Arab Spring that WMF can and should be part of.

The WMF should stop pretending it's politically neutral (NPOV). The declared 
philosophy of the movement (see Movement roles/charter) expresses a clear 
political POV. There's lots of implied politics in trying to "imagine a world 
in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge."

WMF was part of an amicus brief in the past. There's been chapter and community 
political activism, including the recent Italian Wikipedia shutdown. The recent 
Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) forced WMF to take a clear political stance. WMF 
even helped organize an Internet Censorship Day: http://americancensorship.org/ 
, urging people to lobby Congress and petition the US state department against 
SOPA. That's political POV!

But expressing POV on Internet censorship or expressing a commitment to free 
access to knowledge, transparency, openness, independence, quality, and privacy 
is fundamentally different than expressing POV in an encyclopedia article. The 
very essence of political knowledge is understanding and critically evaluating 
conflicting POV.

Considering the present state and direction of our world, which is largely 
controlled by politics, isn't it time for "the world's largest free knowledge 
resource" to openly acknowledge that free political knowledge is at least as 
important to humanity as free encyclopedic knowledge? Isn't reliable knowledge 
about what our respective governments are doing in our names at least as 
important to our well being as reliable knowledge about the Brooklyn Bridge or 
the French Revolution? Encyclopedic knowledge becomes rather moot if we destroy 
our planet earth.

Currently there's no comprehensive source of reliable political knowledge. 
Deceptive 30-second political ads on TV are certainly not a source of reliable 
political knowledge. Blathering TV pundits are not a source of reliable 
political knowledge. Even our mainstream media are not a source of reliable 
political knowledge. On the contrary, they often provide specious propaganda 
disguised as reliable political knowledge because their revenue is deeply 
dependent on special interest money. Though the Internet provides many sources 
of reliable political knowledge, it's spread out (hit or miss) and very 
difficult to assemble into a coherent body of knowledge on any given political 

Thanks to WMF and the power of the Internet, countless millions of people 
around the world have access to a free source of vast, reliable encyclopedic 
knowledge. But these same countless millions have no source of reliable 
political knowledge, the kind of knowledge they need to critically evaluate the 
policies and actions of their government representatives. Why not? You 
Wikipedians have the power to change the downward spiral of the planet and to 
radically change the course of history by providing a free source of reliable 
political knowledge.

By trying to maintain a staunch NPOV policy with no exceptions, the WMF has 
been throwing out the baby with the bath water. The WMF already has the 
infrastructure and the vast resources needed to provide the world with a free 
source of reliable political knowledge if it could get over this misplaced NPOV 
mindset and realize that political knowledge can be provided in a neutral 
manner where the WMF facilitates (necessarily POV) political knowledge without 
imposing its own political POV.

How a new neutral wiki for world political knowledge (modeled on Wikipedia) 
might work
This idea is described in more detail under Proposals for new projects (see 
WikiArguments: http://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/WikiArguments). Here are the 
basics of how a political knowledge "Wikipedia" would work as opposed to the 
present encyclopedic knowledge Wikipedia:

For articles in the encyclopedic Wikipedia, NPOV makes perfect sense. But for 
articles in a political Wikipedia, POV is the essence of an article. Also, the 
basic standards for articles in a political Wikipedia would be very different 
because of the POV nature of the articles.

For example, in the encyclopedic Wikipedia, there's one article called Brooklyn 
Bridge. It should not be arbitrary or subjective or contain original research, 
etc. Essentially anyone in the world could edit this article. But in a 
political Wikipedia, there would be four (POV) articles for each subject: one 
pro and one con POV article that only select government representatives could 
edit, and one pro and one con POV article that virtually anyone in the world 
could edit.

As a fictional example, let's suppose some members of Congress propose 
legislation to build a new Brooklyn Bridge. Under the subject: HR 999 Proposal 
to build a new Brooklyn Bridge, there would be one pro and one con argument 
edited only by members of Congress and one pro and one con argument edited by 
the general public.

What makes POV articles in a political Wikipedia fundamentally different from 
typical POV articles (e.g. op-eds) on the Internet or mainstream media is this: 
they would be created dynamically in the same manner as articles in Wikipedia, 
by an evolving consensus of interested people (with a complete history of 
revisions), which tends to produce a more reliable, higher quality article.

WMF's stated goals and its Strategic Plan practically beg for a political 
The introduction to WMF's annual report states: "All of the Foundation's 
technology initiatives can be boiled down to one goal - reducing the barriers 
to sharing knowledge."

The barriers to sharing political knowledge are orders of magnitude greater 
than the barriers to sharing practically any other type of knowledge. In fact 
governments around the world purposely make it very difficult for the people to 
even obtain reliable political knowledge, much less share it, because hiding 
such knowledge benefits the special interests that hold sway over these 
governments. A political Wikipedia would greatly reduce these barriers, make it 
easy to share political knowledge, and thereby expose political deception and 

>From WMF's Strategic Plan: "Access to information empowers people to make 
>rational decisions about their lives. We believe the ability to access 
>information freely and without restrictions is a basic human right."

Wouldn't reliable political information empower people to make rational 
decisions about their lives at least as much as reliable information about the 
Brooklyn Bridge or the French Revolution? Wouldn't clearly-written pro and con 
arguments presented by our government representatives to explain and justify 
their positions empower people to make rational decisions about their lives at 
least as much as clearly-written encyclopedia articles? Wouldn't information 
about what our government is doing behind our backs be at least as much of a 
"basic human right" as information about the Brooklyn Bridge or the French 

>From WMF's Strategic Plan: "We know that no one is free from bias. But we 
>believe that mass collaboration among a diverse set of contributors, combined 
>with consensus building around controversial topics, are powerful tools for 
>achieving our goals."

The very same powerful tools could be used by a political Wikipedia to produce 
reliable, high quality political knowledge just as Wikipedia tends to produce 
reliable, high quality encyclopedic knowledge. You Wikipedians have developed 
an extremely powerful political tool that could revolutionize world politics 
and government, but you're using it only for encyclopedic knowledge.

If you build it they will come
The sheer clout of WMF would practically force government representatives to 
participate. Honest representatives would welcome such a respected and 
prominent place to explain and justify their positions. Dishonest 
representatives would be motivated too because refusing to clearly explain and 
justify a position is obviously intellectually dishonest and they'd pay for it 
politically. As Thomas Paine said, "It is error only, and not truth, that 
shrinks from inquiry."

The time is ripe for Wikipedians to join the emerging worldwide freedom 
movement in a leadership role by promoting the full use and power of the 
Wikipedia concept to provide free political knowledge to the world. Time is not 
on our side.

For more details please see: WikiArguments: 
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