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Wikipedia: Broken, Biased, and Corrupt

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Left-wing activists have hijacked The Heartland Institute’s profile at Wikipedia, removing objective descriptions of our programs and publications and replacing them with lies, errors, and outright libelous claims.

Our efforts to correct the site have been rejected by the editors of the self-described “free encyclopedia.” For instance, supporters of Heartland will be surprised to learn that we “worked with the tobacco company Philip Morris to question or deny the health risks of secondhand smoke and to lobby against smoking bans,” that we “support climate change denial,” or that our decision to spin off our work on finance and insurance into the R Street Institute is characterized as the “resignation of almost the entire Heartland Washington D.C. office, taking the Institute’s biggest project (on insurance) with it.”

These are simply lies. The editors of Wikipedia refuse to remove these libelous claims — and allow them to proliferate — because they damage our reputation and effectiveness in the most important public policy debates facing the nation. But you can help fight to restore the objective truth! If you have a Wikipedia account, join the fight. If you don’t have an account at Wikipedia, click on “create account” in the upper right corner and get to work ... carefully.

When you make a change, be incremental — getting Wikipedia entries to stick is a long game — and keep an eye on your changes. If it is “changed back,” go to the “talk” section and convince the editors that your edits are fair, objective, independent, and properly sourced.

A detailed critique of our Wikipedia profile has been posted on PolicyBot. But first consider these basic facts:

1. The Heartland Institute is an independent nonprofit research and education organization that addresses a wide range of topics, including school reform, budget and tax issues, health care reform, environmental protection, and constitutional reform. This profile ignores about 90% of what we do.

2. Heartland is highly regarded by its peers. We are endorsed by scores of think tank leaders as well as elected officials and civic and business leaders. Like hundreds of other “think tanks” with profiles on Wikipedia, we take a conservative-libertarian perspective on issues. Nearly all the sources in our current profile are left-wing activists who object to our philosophy. How is that fair?

3. We enforce policies that limit the role donors may play in the selection of research topics, peer review, and publication plans of the organization. Heartland does not conduct contract research. These policies ensure that no Heartland researcher or spokesperson is subject to undue pressure from a donor.

4. The left hates our views on global warming, and tobacco control, but our positions are well-documented, endorsed by leading scholars, and widely shared by other think tanks and advocacy groups. Why has Wikipedia allowed left-wing activists to fill our profile with their hate speech on these topics?

5. We have replied, repeatedly, to all of the false claims and accusations that appear in the profile. None of our replies and efforts to set the record straight is reported in the Wikipedia profile.

Read this PDF of a line-by-line critique of Heartland's Wikipedia site as it stood on February 12, 2016. If you choose to go to our profile and try to make changes, those facts may be useful in your effort. Jim Lakely, Heartland’s communication director, has the URLs of many third-party sources you can cite to document changes you suggest. He can be reached at 312/377-4000 or Or just Google to find independent confirmation yourself. Heartland’s work has been reported fairly in thousands of published articles and websites. Remember that Wikipedia doesn’t want to cite anything on Heartland’s own website.

The Heartland Institute is a “special case” at Wikipedia, unlike many of our peers in the think tank world. Make it your “special case” in return, and strike a blow for objective truth at Wikipedia.

Wikimedia Foundation Profile: Wikimedia Foundation

The California-based Wikimedia Foundation is the funding and control center that operates the highly influential but controversial Wikipedia online encyclopedia, which for years has ranked among the top 10 most-visited websites in the world. Hundreds of millions of dollars from far-left foundation grants and individuals over the past decade — as well as a bias among senior editors — have led Wikipedia to routinely favor liberal views and smear opponents.

The foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization controlled by a board of directors, paid officers, and a staff of nearly 200 that manage Wikipedia’s administrators. The officers are responsible for directing general content policies and managing all 80,000 volunteer contributors, editors, as well as millions of one-time or occasional contributors. Wikipedia itself has no separatelegal status and is thus not incorporated nor recognized by the IRS. The Foundation provides the servers and electricity, dedicated design work and research, as well as the legal and technical support needed to operate Wikimedia’s eight global Wiki projects.

Wikipedia advertises itself as “the world’s largest collaborative free knowledge project” and among “the world’s most popular web properties,” but critics condemn the site for its notorious edit warsand political bias that scrub all criticism of the left and smear the right. For instance, Wikimedia has added its anti-technology, anti-corporation, and anti-free enterprise philosophy to the profiles of many individuals and organizations, particularly on contentious issues such as climate change.

Wikimedia Foundation boasts of its transparency, yet its own profile page on Wikipedia is an empty redirect page pointing to a long Frequently Asked Questions list that reads like a blatant yet evasive self-promotional screed and does not provide the solid, detailed who-what-when-where reportorial information of other Wikipedia foundation entries such as those of the Ford Foundationor the Pew Charitable Trusts.  The Wikimedia Foundation has had three executive directors in the two years from 2014 to 2016, Sue Gardner (resigned 1 May, 2014), Lila Tretikov (resigned 25 February, 2016)  and  Katherine Maher from June, 2016). The Foundation remained in turmoil, which rendered its elaborate Wikimedia Foundation 2015/16 Annual Plan unreliable.

Read the rest of this LeftExposed profile by Heartland's Ron Arnold here.

Heartland Commentary on Wikipedia Corruption

Wikipedia Is Post-Truth, Not a ‘Savior’, Joseph Bast (Oct 18, 2016)

Wikipedia and the Climate Non-debate, Ron Arnold (April 8, 2016)

What’s Wrong with Wikipedia?, Joseph Bast (Feb 19, 2016)

Uncovered: Wikipedia's Leftist Ties and its Censorship of the Facts, Justin Haskins (May 12, 2015)

Wikipedia Bans Real Climate Propagandist, James Taylor (Oct 19, 2010)

Wikipedia's Zealots, Lawrence Solomon (Apr 12, 2008)

Global Warming Alarmists Sabotage Wikipedia Entries, Dennis Avery (Nov 1, 2008)

Wikipedia corruption logo

Outside Commentary on Wikipedia Corruption

Infogalactic Launches as Alternative to Biased Wikipedia, Lucas Nolan, Breitbart (Oct 10, 2016)

Anonymous Wikipedia editors explain why they don't want you to know who they are, Drexel University, (Oct 12, 2016)

Wikipedia Is Shockingly Biased: 5 Lessons From An Admin, Mark Hill, Cracked (Jul 11, 2016)

A Compendium of Wikipedia Criticism, Wikipediocracy (Aug 16, 2015)

Experiment concludes: Most misinformation inserted into Wikipedia may persist, Gregory Kohs, Wikipediocracy (Apr 13, 2015)

Fighting Wikipedia Corruption & Censorship

Corruption and bribes in Wikipedia, Doctor Ethics, (Dec 29, 2014)

I Get Paid To Edit Wikipedia For Leading Companies, Mike Wood, Business Insider (Jan 9, 2013)

Revenge, ego and the corruption of Wikipedia, Andrew Leonard, Salon (May 17, 2013)

College Hosts ‘Feminist, Anti-Racist Wikipedia Edit-a-thon’, Nicole Swinford, The College Fix (Dec 3, 2012)

How the Left Conquered Wikipedia, Part 1, David Swindle, FrontPageMag (Aug 22, 2011)

How the Left Conquered Wikipedia, Part 1, David Swindle, FrontPageMag (Aug 31, 2011)

Climate ‘Propagandist’ Banned by Wikipedia, Edward John Craig, National Review (Oct 15, 2010)

Wikipedia Meets Its Own Climategate, Tom Bethel, American Spectator (Dec. 30, 2009)

Wikibullies at work. The National Post exposes broad trust issues over Wikipedia climate information, Anthony Watts, Watts Up With That (Dec 19, 2009)

Wikipropaganda, Lawrence Solomon, National Review (Jul 8, 2008)

Nature, Wikipedia and “The High Summer of Junk Science,” John A, Climate Audit (Mar 23, 2006)

Nature mag cooked Wikipedia study, Andrew Orlowski, The Register (Mar 23, 2006)

Wikipedia biasAcademic Papers on Wikipedia Corruption

Crowdsourcing not all sourced by the crowd: An observation on the behavior of Wikipedia participants, Jung Lee and DongBack Seo, Elsevier (Sep-Oct 2016)

Disinformation on the Web: Impact, Characteristics, and Detection of Wikipedia Hoaxes, Srijan Kumar , Robert West and Jure Leskovec, Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on World Wide Web (Apr 2016)

Getting a “quick fix”: First-year college students’ use of Wikipedia, John C. Garrison, First Monday (Oct 2015)

“The sum of all human knowledge”: A systematic review of scholarly research on the content of Wikipedia, Mostafa Mesgari, Chitu Okoli, Mohamad Mehdi, Finn Årup Nielsen, and Arto Lanamäki, Wiley (Dec 2014)

Cultural bias in Wikipedia content on famous persons, Ewa S. Callahan, Susan C. Herring, Wiley (Jul 2011)

Motivations of contributors to Wikipedia, Stacey Kuznetsov, Computer Society, (Jun 2006)

Useful Sites for More Research

Conservapedia (Examples of bias at Wikipedia)


Discover the Networks

Join The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is “the world’s most prominent think tank promoting skepticism about man-made climate change” [The Economist, May 26, 2012]. Heartland is a 32-year-old national think tank based in Chicago. We address a wide range of topics (not just global warming) from a free-market perspective. Our work is supported by more than 5,000 donors. Interested in becoming a contributor? Visit the homepage of our Website or go to our donor page.