The Truth According to Wikipedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Truth According to Wikipedia
The Truth According to Wikipedia.jpg
Directed by IJsbrand van Veelen
Produced by VPRO Backlight
Starring Jimmy Wales
Larry Sanger
Andrew Keen
Phoebe Ayers
Tim O'Reilly
Ndesanjo Macha
Robert McHenry
Music by Chris Everts
Frank van der Sterre
Cinematography Niels van't Hoff
Pim Hawinkels
Richard Kille
Edited by Stefan Kamp
Jos de Putter
Doke Romeijn
Release dates
  • 2008 (2008)
Running time
48 minutes
Country Netherlands
Language English

The Truth According to Wikipedia (also referred to as Wiki's Waarheid and Wiki's Truth) is a Dutch documentary film about Wikipedia directed by IJsbrand van Veelen. The documentary examines the reliability of Wikipedia, and the dichotomy between usage of experts versus amateur editors. The film includes commentary from Wikipedia co-founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, The Cult of the Amateur author Andrew Keen, O'Reilly Media chief executive officer Tim O'Reilly, and former editor-in-chief of Encyclopædia Britannica Robert McHenry. Keen argues that experts should serve as guardians of information during the Web 2.0 phenomenon; this point of view is supported by analysis from Sanger.

The documentary premiered at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam in April 2008, and was broadcast by VPRO television in the Netherlands. It was subsequently made available through American Public Television. The Truth According to Wikipedia received a generally positive reception, with favorable commentary in a review from Film Quarterly,[1] and in an analysis published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.[2]


Commentary from Larry Sanger supports an analysis made by Andrew Keen in the documentary.

Director IJsbrand van Veelen examines questions about Wikipedia, including whether it will harm traditional encyclopaedias, including Encyclopædia Britannica and the reliability of Wikipedia. Veelen also addresses the idea that information wants to be free.[3][4] Individuals who are interviewed and appear as commentators in the film include Wikipedia co-founders Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger; the author of The Cult of the Amateur, Andrew Keen; author of How Wikipedia Works and Wikipedia editor, Phoebe Ayers; Swahili Wikipedia contributor Ndesanjo Macha; O'Reilly Media chief executive officer Tim O'Reilly; We Think author Charles Leadbeater; and previous editor-in-chief over Encyclopædia Britannica, Robert McHenry.[3][4][5]

Discussion topics include how the contributions of both unqualified and expert users affect Wikipedia, and more broadly, the Web 2.0 phenomenon.[3][4][5] Andrew Keen is featured prominently in the film, and puts forth a thesis that veracity of information should be determined by experts who should function as guardians for such material.[3][5] Keen's argument is supported in the film by commentary from Larry Sanger, who left Wikipedia over a conflict with Jimmy Wales regarding Sanger's desire for experts to be given additional influence on the project.[6]


The Truth According to Wikipedia was directed by IJsbrand van Veelen.[7] Van Veelen had previously directed Google Behind the Screen.[4] Interviews were conducted by Marijntje Denters, Martijn Kieft and IJsbrand van Veelen.[7] Marijntje Denters and William de Bruijn researched and gathered information for the film.[7] Judith van den Berg served as film producer, and film editors included Jos de Putter and Doke Romeijn.[7] The film utilized 60 seconds of footage from a video made by Chris Pirillo, who later objected that such usage was done without obtaining his permission or crediting him with the content.[8] The documentary film was released in 2008.[9] The controversy over the censorship of Wikipedia in China was ongoing during the time of the film's release.[10] The film premiered globally at the Next Web conference in Amsterdam on 4 April 2008.[11][12] It was broadcast by VPRO on 7 April 2008.[9] The organization American Public Television (APT) began to make the film available in Summer 2008, and was contracted to show the documentary as an APT program, from February 2009 through January 2011.[13]


"a sharp and wide-ranging overview of wiki-pistemology"

 —Film Quarterly[1]

The Truth According to Wikipedia received a positive review in the journal Film Quarterly, where author Ben Walters‌ called the film, "a sharp and wide-ranging overview of wiki-pistemology made by the liberal Dutch broadcaster VPRO".[1] In an analysis Teaching Seven Revolutions: A Tool Kit for Educating Globally Competent Citizens published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, the documentary was given a rating of "Good".[2] The documentary was given positive reception from Eric Schonfeld of TechCrunch, who commented, "The film is masterfully made and shows many points of view".[3] Schonfeld was critical of the documentary for its emphasis on Andrew Keen throughout the film, and noted, "it ends up being more than anything else a vehicle for Keen to put forth his diatribes against Wikipedia. You definitely get the sense that he wins the argument in the movie."[3] Of Keen's argument, Schonfeld observed, "he misses the point that the relatively small handful of people who do most of the writing and editing on Wikipedia may very well be experts in their topic areas, or become experts by writing and researching Wikipedia articles."[3]

Commenting on the film himself, Keen called it "a really incisive new documentary".[14] Media futurist, blogger, and writer Gerd Leonhard recommended the film and called it "a great video to watch".[15] Nicholas Carlson of Gawker Media framed the documentary as a conflict between "Experts vs. amateurs", and distilled the essence of the film down to a 90-second version.[16] Designer and commentator in the fields of online learning and new media Stephen Downes characterized the documentary as an "Interesting video about Wikipedia and Web 2.0."[17] Downes was critical of the film for using a documentary-style format in order to present its message, "The thing about this form – the video documentary – is that there is no really way (or requirement) to substantiate perspectives with argumentation and evidence."[17] Ernst-Jan Pfauth of The Next Web observed, "Van Veelen managed to get some interesting and authoritative people for his camera."[4] Pfauth posted questions raised by the film's analysis, "Are equality and truth really reconcilable ideals? And most importantly, has the Internet brought us wisdom and truth, or is it high time for a cultural counterrevolution?"[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Walters, Ben (Fall 2008). "Grey Areas". Film Quarterly (California: Caliber, journals of the University of California Press) 62 (1): 78–79. doi:10.1525/fq.2008.62.1.78. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  2. ^ a b Falk, Dennis; Susan Moss; Martin Shapiro (2009). "Chapter 5: Teaching Resources" (PDF). Teaching Seven Revolutions: A Tool Kit for Educating Globally Competent Citizens (Center for Strategic and International Studies). Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Schonfeld, Eric (8 April 2008). "The Truth According to Wikipedia". TechCrunch ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Pfauth, Ernst-Jan (1 April 2008). "TheNextWeb2008 Update: the truth according to Wikipedia". The Next Web ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  5. ^ a b c Sterkenburg, Tessa (6 April 2008). "The People versus The Expert". The Next Web ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  6. ^ Olsthoorn, Peter (9 April 2008). "Web 2.0 criticaster geroosterd in Amsterdam". Emerce (in Dutch) (Netherlands: Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  7. ^ a b c d "The Truth According to Wikipedia". Tegenlicht ( 9 February 2009. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  8. ^ "vpro ript video zonder bronvermelding in wiki's waarheid". (in Dutch (with English translation)) (Netherlands: 15 April 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "Wiki's Waarheid". Tegenlicht ( 2008. Retrieved 11 November 2010. 
  10. ^ Derksen, Marco (9 April 2008). "VPRO's Tegenlicht op zoek naar Wiki's waarheid". Marketingfacts (in Dutch) (Netherlands: Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  11. ^ van der Zande, Erwin (25 March 2008). "Wereldpremière 'Wiki's Waarheid' op The Next Web". (in Dutch) (Netherlands: Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Schonfeld, Eric (4 April 2008). "Live From the Next Web (2008): Day 2". TechCrunch ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  13. ^ "Truth According to Wikipedia, The". APT Programs (Boston, Massachusetts: American Public Television). Summer 2008. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Keen, Andrew (22 April 2008). "O'Reilly 3.0?". The Great Seduction. Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Leonhard, Gerd (8 April 2008). "Watch this Video: The Truth According To Wikipedia". MediaFuturist ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Carlson, Nicholas (11 April 2008). "Experts vs. amateurs – the 90-second version". Valleywag (Gawker Media). Retrieved 15 November 2010. 
  17. ^ a b Downes, Stephen (10 April 2008). "The Truth According To Wikipedia". Stephen's Web ( Retrieved 15 November 2010. 

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]