The Sincerest Form of Flattery

The original

This is incredible. I just discovered a Web site that's such a perfect knock-off of another that I can't believe it's even legal. Alerted by yesterday's All Things Considered program on NPR, I was able to locate the copycat site and compare it to the original. It's a jaw-dropping similarity, to say the least.

I imagine most people have at least heard of Conservapedia, and in fact it's likely you've availed yourself of its pool of knowledge on more than one occasion. But unbelievable as it may seem, someone apparently decided to copy not only the intent of this valuable online resource, but its look and feel. The perpetrators are referring to their copycat site as Wikipedia, a somewhat disingenuous variation, in my opinion, of the original site's name.

With over 4,600 entries, it seems obvious that Conservapedia already covers the lion's share of human knowledge. The so-called Wikipedia, on the other hand, claims over 1,000,000 articles—in English, as if that matters—on their site. I think any rational person can immediately see what's going on there: if you can cover everything with less than 5,000 entries, anything beyond that is just filler. Apparently, these wickipedialites have quantity confused with quality. Sure, they're really similar, but that doesn't mean they're exactly the same.

Conservapedia works so well because it relies on a few simple rules of operation, such as "everything you post must be true and verifiable," and "do not post personal opinion on an encyclopedia entry." Similarly, sock puppets are blocked, which I'm assuming is not the case on Wikipedia. This ought to tell you something.

Something else you ought to be told is that you should never vandalize Conservapedia, because they use protected computers. The proof of this can be had by following the 18 USCS § 1030 link near the top of the main page, which states in part

. . . having knowingly accessed a computer without authorization or exceeding authorized access, and by means of such conduct having obtained information that has been determined by the United States Government pursuant to an Executive order or statute to require protection against unauthorized disclosure for reasons of national defense or foreign relations, or any restricted data, as defined in paragraph y.[(y)] of section 11 of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 [42 USCS § 2014(y)], with reason to believe that such information so obtained could be used to the injury of the United States, or to the advantage of any foreign nation willfully communicates, delivers, transmits, or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it . . .

or possibly even atomic computers but not the kind that tolerate vandalism and maybe even graffiti so watch out.


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