What Wikipedia claims to be

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Noto Emoji Pie 1f4c4.svg This is an essay. It expresses the opinions and ideas of some Wikimedians but may not have wide support. This is not policy on Meta, but it may be a policy or guideline on other Wikimedia projects. Feel free to update this page as needed, or use the discussion page to propose major changes.

If you were redirected here from Wikipedia this link can be useful: en:Wikipedia:What it thinks it is - go to redirect page itself.

Article cluster:
What Wikipedia is, What wikipedia thinks it is, Meta:Mention of wiki in articles, What Wikipedia claims to be, Meta:Mention of Wikipedia in articles

Each language tracks this for itself. Feel free to edit what's below, from the perspective of ANY language, citing claims about Wikipedia in any version.


Wikipedia is designed as an encyclopedia. But what it claims to be is a much broader list of things, some social, some technological, and some strange. Each language sees it somewhat differently.

No one language version has the monopoly on claims of what Wikipedia is. Wikipedia's editors have no right to claim that it is not any thing that it's own articles claim it to be - if there was legitimacy to denying such a claim, then they presumably would have to edit the article making the claim to remove or qualify it. Failing that, they have no right to complain about it here. The following comprehensive list of claims made about Wikipedia in standing articles is intended to guide the evolution of the project, and so must be kept accurate:

Claims about what Wikipedia is, and what functions it serves, or concepts it exemplifies, include at least the following:

See also: en:Wikipedia:What it claims it is, Meta:Mention of wiki in articles, Meta:Mention of Wikipedia in articles


fr:Wikipédia:Tout ce qu'est Wikipédia

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 Meta:About and Meta: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]

Meta: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 Meta: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 Meta: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