Mailbag: Is Wikipedia related to WikiLeaks in any way? No.

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The global Wikimedia community volunteers their time every day to expand free knowledge. Photo of Wikimania 2016 by Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 4.0.
The global Wikimedia community volunteers their time every day to expand free knowledge. Photo of Wikimania 2016 by Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 4.0.

As of November 2017, the information in this post is still accurate.

Q: Is Wikipedia related to WikiLeaks in any way?
A: No. The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia have no affiliation with WikiLeaks. Although both use the term “wiki” in their name, they have always been completely separate and unaffiliated.
The word “wiki” refers to a website built using collaborative editing software. Hundreds of organizations and projects with no affiliation with Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation also use the term, including wikiHow and WikiEducator.
Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation’s history predates, and is independent from, WikiLeaks. Wikipedia was founded in January 2001 by Jimmy Wales, while WikiLeaks was founded in October 2006 by Julian Assange. Wikipedia is developed by thousands of volunteers from around the world with support from the United States based nonprofit organization Wikimedia Foundation.
WikiLeaks has been involved in some large stories related to politics recently, and there has been some resulting confusion due to the similarities in our names. A member of Congress confused Wikipedia and WikiLeaks in a televised interview, prompting many news stories about the mistake. A news anchor also mixed them up. But never fear. You can save yourself any possible embarrassment by remembering a simple fact: We are not related.
As a 501(c)(3), the Wikimedia Foundation does not support or oppose political candidates.
Q: What are you doing to make sure Wikipedia stays neutral?
A: The Wikimedia Foundation does not create or curate the contents of Wikipedia or the other educational sites we manage; instead, this work is done by a vast community of volunteers. The crowdsourced work of tens of thousands of editors helps to check and balance Wikipedia. Content is not created, reviewed or controlled by a central authority, but rather by anyone from the public who is interested in joining in to spread knowledge. Those tens of thousands of editors make updates of all kinds—including checks and balances on subjectivity—continuously (Wikipedia is edited, on average, 200–300 times a minute). This community of editors holds neutrality as one of its main ideals.
All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without editorial bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic. From the English Wikipedia’s policy on NPOV (current as of November 2017):

NPOV is a fundamental principle of Wikipedia and of other Wikimedia projects. It is also one of Wikipedia’s three core content policies; the other two are “Verifiability” and “No original research“. These policies jointly determine the type and quality of material that is acceptable in Wikipedia articles, and, because they work in harmony, they should not be interpreted in isolation from one another. Editors are strongly encouraged to familiarize themselves with all three.

This policy is non-negotiable, and the principles upon which it is based cannot be superseded by other policies or guidelines, nor by editor consensus.”
You can find more information on neutral point of view policies and processes on the English Wikipedia.
Q: If you don’t create the content, what do you do?
A: It’s a great question, and one we are always happy to answer. We build and operate technology to make sure Wikipedia is available to everyone, everywhere, across devices, and in nearly 300 languages. For instance, our engineers built a content translation tool that has helped editors add thousands of articles to Wikipedia websites  in other languages. We engineer privacy for our readers and editors so they can safely and securely explore Wikipedia. We create programs and initiatives to make Wikipedia freely available to more people in more parts of the world. We build new tools for the community of editors so they can continue to improve and grow Wikipedia. Roughly a quarter of our budget goes to supporting the community that make the site possible, including through grantmaking programs that enable volunteers and enrich the information on the sites.
More frequently asked questions about the Wikimedia Foundation are answered on our website. For questions about fundraising, please contact Send press questions about Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation to

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My contrarian position is that it’s actually good that they have wiki in their name. For those not aware, WikiLeaks picked up the “wiki” moniker as a pretty direct branding move, more or less, back when it was just starting out and this Wikipedia thing was the hot new thing on the block. Wales hates it and has had to tell people again and again that we have nothing to do with them. But, insofar as it forces people to distinguish between “wikis” of things, and, therefore, to better understand what a “wiki” is at all, I’m for it. When… Read more »

Thanks for the helpful post. Worthwhile to acknowledge the excellent research done in several 2010 stories in the Signpost (before my time there), primarily by former editor-in-chief Tilman Bayer:
The coverage, which also cited work by Wikipedian Bill Beutler, explored the reasons Assange chose to use the term “wiki” (which did, indeed, appear to result from an explicit desire to piggyback on Wikipedia’s success). It also featured quotes from wiki inventor Ward Cunningham and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger.

Thanks for this. In the Netherlands we hear this all the time, and sadly, the results of a 2011 survey we held also showed that of those in the Netherlands familiar with Wikipedia, many felt it was a commercial website and a Dutch invention (!), so I hope you do a blog about large Wikipedias and how they were financed server-wise and spun-off from the English Wikipedia. There are lots of criticisms about the Dutch Wikipedia being “US-centric” and I often wonder whether those critics are aware that Wikipedia was invented in the US and existed for several years before… Read more »

The public has generally been known for not really understanding Wikipedia’s internal structures; a lot of people I know still think Wikipedia employs an editorial staff. Many others know that you can edit Wikipedia but don’t think there’s anything beyond that little editing window, never bothering to really question how such a delicate structure lasts despite their beliefs that anyone can simply edit and mess up the page.


This is an important question to answer, especially when asking for donations . . . I would absolutely not give a dime to any organization connected in any way to Wikileaks or Julian Assange!!! So I’m glad to know that there is no connection.