The wikisphere is made up of all wikis and their interconnections.
Wikis and wiki farms
The following is a small selection of the wikis in the wikisphere:
|Wiki||Owner||Point of view||Date founded||URL|
|Conservapedia||Andy Schlafly||Conservative||21 November 2006||http://www.conservapedia.com/|
|Liberapedia||WillH||Leftist||16 May 2008||http://liberapedia.wikia.com/|
|Libertapedia||Nathan Larson||Libertarian||28 February 2004||http://libertapedia.org/|
|Metapedia||Anders Lagerström||European racialist||28 April 2007||http://en.metapedia.org/|
|Mises Wiki||Ludwig von Mises Institute||Austrian school||3 July 2008||http://wiki.mises.org/|
|RationalWiki||RationalWiki Foundation||Snarky||22 May 2007||http://rationalwiki.org/|
|Wikipedia||Wikimedia Foundation||Neutral||15 January 2001||http://en.wikipedia.org/|
Points of view
Several wikis and wiki farms ostensibly promote a "neutral point of view" in their encyclopedias. The Wikimedia Foundation operates Wikipedia, the largest wiki in the world, and many smaller wikis (e.g. Wiktionary, Wikiquote, etc.) Citizendium was launched by Larry Sanger in an attempt to compete with Wikipedia. Wikinfo, operated by Fred Bauder, supplements Wikipedia. It adheres to a "sympathetic point of view" except with regard to "manifestly evil concepts, people, or events". Many wikis openly adhere to a particular philosophical or religious point of view. Examples include Conservapedia, Liberapedia, Libertapedia, Metapedia, and Mises Wiki.
Sometimes wikis are launched as a reaction to their points of views not being allowed free expression on other wikis. For example, many conservative, Young Earth Creationist editors who didn't get along with the leaders of Conservapedia went to Ameriwiki, while many other (mostly non-Christian) editors banned from Conservapedia went to RationalWiki. Some sites, such as BoyWiki/NewgonWiki and Metapedia, cater to very specific editor populations that are typically persona non grata, and whose views are typically suppressed, virtually everywhere else in the wikisphere.
RationalWiki is a site whose stated purpose consists of analyzing and refuting pseudoscience and the anti-science movement; documenting the full range of crank ideas; explorations of authoritarianism and fundamentalism; and analysis and criticism of how these subjects are handled in the media. RationalWiki invites users to engage in "constructive dialog." In practice, "users, by bickering, shouting, unilateral actions, complaints about unilateral actions, and ad hoc voting eventually reach a mass consensus" in a mobocratic process.
Joke wikis include Uncyclopedia and Encyclopedia Dramatica. Wikis can serve a number of different purposes other than hosting encyclopedias; for example, wiki software can be used as a content management system for a blog. Such blogs are called "blikis."
For-profit and nonprofit
The only major for-profit wiki farm in the wikisphere is Wikia, run by Jimbo Wales. Wikia uses a forked version of MediaWiki that is not known to be in production use anywhere else.
Corporate or public relations wikis can sometimes be considered "for profit," in that they help the company either organize its activities (e.g. by assisting inter-employee communication) or provide information to the public. There are wikis owned by sole proprietors, but typically these operate at a loss. Usually the focus is more on mission than on profits.
Wikis, like any other website, are owned by some person or entity with a legal right to access to the server and therefore the ability to take control of the wiki. Some owners, such as Wikimedia Foundation, take a relatively hands-off approach, allowing their communities to operate as they see fit after the initial structure and culture has been established. Sanger's Law, so-named because of a comment made by Larry Sanger circa 2005, states that online communities' cultures generally are established quickly and then become very resistant to change, because they are self-selecting. Those users who are attracted to the existing culture join (and may even be given sysop powers) and help reinforce that culture. Those users who are repelled by the culture leave (or are banned) and no longer directly influence the site. This is especially true on sites such as Wikipedia whose policies and leaders are chosen by the community rather than by a corporate or nonprofit CEO and his staff.
Mass hysterias sometimes sweep across wikis. On RationalWiki, this is referred to as "headless chicken mode." Much as in off-wiki governments, existing laws can be difficult to get off the books, but an impassioned debate leading to reform may be spurred by some incident that catches people's attention and prompts an emotional response. On Wikipedia, Biographies of Living Persons and anonymous editing reforms were prompted by the Wikipedia biography controversy (also known as the Seigenthaler incident). An image purge was prompted by the reporting of child pornography images on Wikimedia Commons.
- Sanger, Larry (2005). "The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir". http://features.slashdot.org/story/05/04/18/164213/the-early-history-of-nupedia-and-wikipedia-a-memoir. "[P]rovisional 'hands off' management policy had the effect of creating a difficult-to-change tradition . . . I suspect that the cultures of online communities generally are established pretty quickly and then very resistant to change, because they are self-selecting; that was certainly the case with Wikipedia, anyway."
- WikiIndex — A wiki about wikis.