Wikipedia:What it thinks it is

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This article describes:

  • How to track self claims, self-references, and self-links in Wikipedia articles
  • Guidelines on adding self-claims, etc, to Wikipedia articles
  • Links to some attempts to compile lists of self-claims, etc

There are wider philosophical question of whether Wikipedia can think, and whether the Wikipedia community can be said to comprise a group mind. They are quietly swept under the carpet here... mind the bump.

Self-references on Wikipedia[edit]

It is easy to track what wikipedia contributors think wikipedia is using this Google Search. You can track what the wider world thinks wikipedia is using Googlism. Using Wikipedia itself, one can view the Wikipedia article to see what the writers of that article think it is. One can also see all the articles that link to the Wikipedia article.

The official Wikipedia policy on what wikipedia is and is not can be found at Wikipedia:About and Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not. If this policy is inaccurate, then the policy could be changed, or Wikipedia could be changed - this can be discussed at the appropriate talk page.

Guidelines on adding self-references[edit]

Wikipedia:Mention of Wikipedia in articles contains some guidelines for those considering adding self-references to Wikipedia articles, or correcting or deleting those that already exist in an article.

We have to exercise care when adding references to Wikipedia to Wikipedia articles, as they effect Wikipedia:itself and our aim of becoming an encyclopedia. The same applies to mentions of the Wiki process, mentions of Wikipedians, or mentions of events on Wikipedia. There are various concerns:

  1. Is the reference pro-Wikipedia? It may not be neutral, and Wikipedians may have a systemic bias.
  2. Is the reference anti-Wikipedia? If you have a grudge against Wikipedia, that's fine, but better taken elsewhere - to your personal website, for example.
  3. Is the reference the result of Wikipedia-obsession? Say, by a Wikipedia:Wikipediholic? Excessive mentions of Wikipedia may give an over-inflated mention of Wikipedia's importance - again, not neutral.

These are basically not problems in the Wikipedia, user, and talk namespaces, though of course Wikipedia is not a soapbox, even there.

Examples of Wikipedia self-claims[edit]

Wikipedia might be a World Brain prototype as well as a WikiWiki process relying on consensus. For some, it is a Homepage where users fall victims of computer addiction and become Wikipediholics. It could be seen as being a collection of A body of debates about itself, a whole set of Wikipedia:Brilliant prose, but also as a continuous flame war and always a bit of vandalism at any given time (due to Plagiarism which we should discourage, or copyrights issues). There is always a dark side in any success, and Wikipedia might be a real cluster fuck. But some people believe that's probably what explains why the Statistics show Wikipedia is just getting Bigger and bigger!

Incredibly, Wikipedia is censored in China ! Some think this is rather curious, since is not only an encyclopedia, or a Cyberspace for librarians, or a idiom dictionary, or Lists on just about everything, but also an incredible Encyclopedic Network in many languages, a melting pot of very diverse authors. Many discussions go on on Mailing lists or in the Embassies or naturally on Meta-Wikipedia where many decisions are taken.

How can I help Wikipedia think about itself?[edit]

Please update our collaboratively compiled list of Wikipedia self-references on meta-Wikipedia at What wikipedia thinks it is (edit this page).

You can see the French take on this subject in the other languages link above. Other languages may have similar pages.

See also:



May 2003