Wikipedia co-founder accuses site of left-wing bias
06/15/2020 // Franz Walker // Views

Even Wikipedia’s co-founder says that any semblance of neutrality that the site once had is dead. In a recent blog post, Larry Sanger noted that the website no longer has an effective neutrality policy.

In his blog, Sanger points to the fact that the neutrality policy has been largely rewritten on the basis that journalists and writers should avoid what it calls a “false balance.”

Wikipedia defines “false balance” as an issue where journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than evidence supports. The site claims that “false balance” comes from an attempt to “avoid bias,” however, Sanger says that in using it, the site is showing a clear left-wing bias.

He also says that the notion that “false balance” should be avoided directly contradicts the original neutrality policy. As such, the site now touts controversial points of view on topics such as religion, politics and science. (Related: Wikipedia increasingly being recognized as source of disinformation, propaganda.)

Biased coverage of contentious topics

Among the most egregious examples that Sanger cites are the differences in the Wikipedia pages for President Donald Trump and his predecessor, ex-President Barack Obama. Specifically, he notes that the article for the latter completely fails to mention many well-known scandals such as the Benghazi scandal, the AP phone records scandal or the IRS scandal, and says nothing of Solyndra or the Hillary Clinton email server scandal.

In comparison, he called the neutrality on Trump’s article “a joke.” Sanger counted 5,224 “none-too-flattering” words in the section on Trump’s presidency alone. He also noted that the “Public Profile,” “Investigations” and “Impeachment” sections for Trump were “unrelentingly” negative.


Sanger also noted that “false” and “falsely” were some of the most common words in the article. He stated that Wikipedia frequently asserts, in its own voice, that many of Trump’s statements are “false.” According to Sanger, regardless of whether they’re objectively correct, Wikipedia cannot claim that this counts as neutral treatment; neutrality in any sense worth the name requires that readers not be able to detect the political alignment of the writers and editors.

One other example of bias in Wikipedia that Sanger pointed out included abortion, where he singled out the site claiming that abortion is “one of the safest procedures in medicine,” despite evidence to the contrary.

Sanger also leveled criticism at the site’s handling of scientific issues. While Sanger acknowledged that what some would consider a “bias towards science” to be desirable, he noted that it is not always clear what constitutes a legitimate scientific view. He accused Wikipedia of taking for granted or “aggressively” asserting the views of the scientific establishment despite scientific minorities rejective or criticizing these views.

In the end, Sanger called on Wikipedia’s community to concede that they have abandoned neutrality. However, he said that this was unlikely to happen as Wikipedia editors “live in a fantasy world of their own making.”

Wikipedia’s community responds

After Sanger’s blog post caught the attention of Fox News, editors on Wikipedia posted about his remarks on a discussion page for the site’s other co-founder, Jimmy Wales, where users bring issues to his attention for his comment. Wales, however, has yet to respond to Sanger’s criticism.

Editors, however, made their own comments, attacking Fox News. One even suggested that Sanger’s criticism was simply him angling for a position on the network.

Sanger departed Wikipedia in its early years and has since been critical of the site’s path. He has since attempted to help with or establish various alternatives to the site such as Citizendium, Everipedia, as well as his latest project, Encyclosphere. However, such alternatives have struggled to challenge the dominance of Wikipedia, the “reliability” of which many media outlets increasingly tout.

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