User:Lionelt/Countering liberal bias

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Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales talking about NPOV

This essay will assist editors in identifying liberal bias in Wikipedia pages and provide strategies for countering liberal bias. Wikipedia has been frequently criticized as having a liberal bias. Even Jimbo Wales has speculated that the Wikipedia community is left-leaning. All pages on Wikipedia must conform to the Neutral point of view policy (NPOV). While editors should be bold in addressing NPOV issues, they must observe the Bold-revert-discuss cycle.

Criticism of Wikipedia's liberal bias[edit]

A criticism of Wikipedia is that a politically liberal bias is predominant. Liberal bias can be described as systemic bias. According to Jimmy Wales: "The Wikipedia community is very diverse, from liberal to conservative to libertarian and beyond. If averages mattered, and due to the nature of the wiki software (no voting) they almost certainly don’t, I would say that the Wikipedia community is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population on average, because we are global and the international community of English speakers is slightly more liberal than the U.S. population. There are no data or surveys to back that."[1] Andrew Schlafly created Conservapedia because of his perception that Wikipedia contained a liberal bias.[2] Conservapedia's editors have compiled a list of alleged examples of liberal bias in Wikipedia.[3] In 2007, an article in The Christian Post criticised Wikipedia's coverage of Intelligent design, saying that it was biased and hypocritical.[4] Lawrence Solomon of the National Review considered the Wikipedia articles on subjects like global warming, intelligent design, and Roe v. Wade all to be slanted in favor of liberal views.[5] In a September 2010 issue of the conservative weekly Human Events, Rowan Scarborough presented a critique of Wikipedia's coverage of American politicians prominent in the approaching midterm elections as evidence of systemic liberal bias.[6] Scarborough compares the biographical articles of liberal and conservative opponents in Senate races in the Alaska Republican primary and the Delaware and Nevada general election, emphasizing the quantity of negative coverage of tea party-endorsed candidates. He also cites some criticism by Lawrence Solomon and quotes in full the lead section of Wikipedia's article on its rival Conservapedia as evidence of an underlying bias.

Neutral point of view[edit]

NPOV policy

Building a neutral encyclopedia is of the utmost importance. Bias in articles negatively affects the reputation of the project. The NPOV policy was instituted to ensure that content is written from a neutral point of view:[7]

All Wikipedia articles and other encyclopedic content must be written from a neutral point of view. NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia... This policy is nonnegotiable and all editors and articles must follow it.

Minority viewpoints

When viewpoints expressed by opponents and critics of liberal ideology are in the minority, they must still be given appropriate weight. From the "Due and undue weight" section (WP:UNDUE):

Neutrality requires that each article or other page in the mainspace fairly represents all significant viewpoints that have been published by reliable sources, in proportion to the prominence of each viewpoint. Giving due weight and avoiding giving undue weight means that articles should not give minority views as much of, or as detailed, a description as more widely held views.

Opposing views

When a liberal point of view is challenged or contradicted by a reliable source, that opposition must be reflected in the article. From the "Balance" section (WP:BALANCE):

when reputable sources contradict one another and are relatively equal in prominence, describe both approaches and work for balance. This involves describing the opposing views clearly, drawing on secondary or tertiary sources...

Editor bias

Every editor comes to Wikipedia with their own biases. The NPOV tutorial says "Everybody has a point of view. Though 99% of the world may see something exactly the way you do, your view is still just one of many possible views that might be reasonably held."[8] And in the "Neutral point of view/FAQ" we find: "There's no such thing as objectivity. Everybody with any philosophical sophistication knows that."[9]

Criticism sections[edit]

Criticism sections generally are to be avoided. The "Article structure" section (WP:STRUCTURE) of the NPOV policy states: "Try to achieve a more neutral text by folding debates into the narrative, rather than isolating them into sections."

How to counter liberal bias[edit]

The BOLD-revert-discuss cycle

The NOV Policy recommends using the "best and most reputable authoritative sources available" in order to "prevent NPOV disagreements". According to "Search engine test", Google may suffer from bias.[10] Consequently the editor striving for neutraility should not rely solely on Google. Alternative references and search engines such as the Western Center for Journalism search engine can be found at "WikiProject Conservatism/References". The References page is also invaluable for adding reliable sources to express minority viewpoints and add opposing views. If you find liberal bias in an article that needs to be corrected the NPOV Tutorial recommends that you "Be bold in editing pages that are biased."[8] The recommended method for achieving neutral text is to rewrite it. The NPOV FAQ says, "Especially contentious text can be removed to the talk page if necessary, but only as a last resort, and never just deleted."[9]. If your changes are reverted, per the BOLD-revert-discuss cycle you should avoid edit warring and start a discussion on the article talk page in order to form a consensus. In order to attract more attention to the issue or request an expert opinion you can post a neutrally worded message at WikiProject Conservatism.[11] Occasionally editors at the talk page fail to reach a consensus. Good faith content disputes can be referred to the Dispute resolution noticeboard. Where editors engage in disruptive editing, or stonewalling on the talk page, dispute resolution may be viable option.

Common issues[edit]

Liberal bias (hat, coats) obscurring a coatrack
Issue Remedy
stating opinion as fact add inline-text attribution
criticism section fold debate into narrative
quote from participant in heated debate replace with summary written in an impartial tone
fundamentalist, controversial, anti-gay remove contentious labels unless supported by reliable sources (WP:LABEL)
many state, most believe rewrite or use {{weasel}} (WP:WEASEL)
so-called, alleged use called (WP:ALLEGED)
claimed, asserted replace with said, stated, described (WP:CLAIM)
tangentially related bias trim off excessive biased content while adding more balanced content (WP:COAT)
scare quotes remove (WP:BADEMPHASIS)
other bias rewrite; if especially contentious move to talk (WP:NPOVFAQ)
Issue Remedy
negative allegation--single source remove immediately (WP:WELLKNOWN)
material irrelevant to notability of non public person remove immediately (WP:NPF)
harmful statement about a small group--poor source remove immediately (WP:BLPGROUP)


See also[edit]



  1. ^ Mark Glaser (2006-04-21). "Wales Discusses Political Bias on Wikipedia". PBS Mediashift. Retrieved 2007-08-21. 
  2. ^ Johnson, Bobbie (2007-03-01). "Conservapedia—the US religious right's answer to Wikipedia". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2010-03-27. 
  3. ^ Turner, Adam (2007-03-05). "Conservapedia aims to set Wikipedia right". IT Wire. Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  4. ^ Doug Huntington (2007-05-09). "'Design' Proponents Accuse Wikipedia of Bias, Hypocrisy". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2007-08-09. 
  5. ^ Solomon, Lawrence (2008-07-08). "Wikipropaganda On Global Warming". National Review. Retrieved 2008-07-20. 
  6. ^ Scarborough, Rowan (2010-09-27). Wikipedia "Whacks the Right" Check |url= value (help). Human Events. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^
  11. ^ ...often requires a more involved process to get the opinions of other editors. It's a good idea to raise objections on a talk page or at a relevant WikiProject

External links[edit]