As Conservapedia sysop TK kindly reported on the comments area of my last blog entry, Conservapedia’s outage was due to a simple disk crash. TK has taken me to task for hanging out with the wiki vandals on RationalWiki after they picked up on my blog entry. I have to admit that he has a point. Although politically Conservapedia and I are poles apart, I don’t condone deliberate attempts to harm wikis, whether for entertainment purposes or otherwise. So I’ve stopped writing on RationalWiki. I do still contribute to the thread I started on the Guardian talk boards in November, however, “Conservapedia Classic Quotes”, wherein I suck from the teat of mirth at Conservapedia’s expense.
TK also says he’s boggled at how many people see conspiracies and whatnot, and “react so mad-dog” where Conservapedia’s founder, Andy Schlafly, is concerned. I take that one squarely on the chin. I really was beginning to suspect that Andy had panicked and taken the site down, when there were much simpler and more plausible explanations to hand.
I’ve been relentlessly scathing about Conservapedia’s awful content, but one thing the site does seem to have achieved is high search engine rankings for some of its more outrageous articles. Despite a quite low rank on Alexa, around a quarter of rushlimbaugh.com’s page view and reach, Conservapedia manages to make the top ten google hits for atheism, and is currently in the top five for homosexuality. That’s no mean achievement. I’m no expert on search engine strategies so I’m at a loss to explain how they have achieved this, because a Google search on links to the homosexuality article turns up mostly internal Conservapedia links and assorted dross. Perhaps–and this is a wild guess, you understand–it’s because they often link to that article internally from the main page, and there are many external links to the main page, albeit many of them from sites like this that deride or criticize Conservapedia. However it’s been done, though, it’s quite something.
I signed on to Conservapedia a few weeks ago to participate in a debate about the way in which Conservapedia organizes, how this differs from Wikipedia, and how I think Conservapedia could benefit by adopting some of the more successful strategies of Wikipedia. You can read about it here. Overall I think they were pretty polite and well mannered. I know Conservapedia sysop Ed Poor and he knows me, from Wikipedia which I joined in late 2004 when Ed was still a prominent member of the relatively tightly knit Wikipedia community of those early days. We’ve gone our separate ways but we can still communicate quite well because Wikipedia and Conservapedia have just enough common culture.
That in the age of polarized politics a godless homosexualist liberal like me and a Conservative Unificationist like Ed Poor can still communicate reasonably well is a good thing. I think Andrew listened kindly, too, though he did use his site-owner’s prerogative to berate me for Wikipedia’s faults.