Wikipedia Statistics Suggest Strong Liberal Bias

This week I decided to examine Wikipedia co-Founder Jimmy Wales’ claims that Wikipedia editors are disproportionately liberal. If this claim could be statistically verified, it might lend credence to ongoing claims of Wikipedia bias. But more importantly, it would be valuable information for a community continuously striving towards Neutral Point of View.

Libertarians Over-represented, Conservatives Under-represented

My initial findings were that 42% of Wikipedians self-identify as Liberal, 42% as Libertarian, and 8% as Conservative.


This was based on a statistical sample of 901 Wikipedians who self-identified their political affiliation through Wikipedia Categories. I blogged my methodology at Does Wikipedia Have a Liberal Bias?

Taking a tiny (and statistically insignificant) sample of just those Wikipedians who self-identified by US Political group, we find a strongly liberal trend of 10 Republicans, 14 Libertarians, and 80 Democrats.

A More Exhaustive Review

My findings prompted discussion at the Wikipedia Village Pump, namely among users miffed that my statistics are America-centric. I was amazed by the staggering number of Libertarians on Wikipedia, but many countries outside the U.S. have no idea what a Libertarian is. As a matter of fact, most Americans have no idea what a Libertarian is!

In a perfect demonstration of why Wikipedia is fantastic, Wikipedia User:C Mon, a Political Science Methodology student from the Netherlands, stepped in to perform a more accurate version of my study…

C Mon’s Study

C Mon’s methodology is rigorous and impressive. He created a truly random sample of 200 active Wikipedians by selecting the 50th editor of 200 random articles. C Mon’s methods uncover a strong liberal majority on Wikipedia, which certainly makes sense given the political bent of the non-U.S. first world countries. With C Mon’s permission, I am republishing his findings verbatim from the Wikipedia Community Portal.

I’ve decided to take a more scientific approach. I took a random sample of 200 active wikipedians with user names and tested your hypotheses: I found three important things:

1. Wikipedians don’t like to tell: Only 13% (with a confidence interval of 7%) explicitly stated their political views, by use of text, userboxes or categories.
2. There is a lot of diversity in political views, but there is a clear leftwing bias. This can be seen in the table below.
3. It would unwise to compare statistics about wikipedia with the US. 42% of the user pages I examined stated from which country they were. Of them only 45% were from the United States. 16% were from the UK/Ireland, 6% from Australia/New Zealand, 5% from Canada, 8% were from Asia and 19% from the rest of Europe.

One major statistical warning: due to the small sample size (only 200 persons), I have a confidence interval of 7%. This means that my estimates might very well be wrong by a margin of 7%. All the data I got gives is an indicator of the size of these groups.

In conclusion: wikipedians won’t tell and if they tell, they are diverse, with a strong bias towards the left. C mon 21:34, 28 February 2007 (UTC)


UPDATE, 12:39 PM: It just dawned on me that this post’s title may imply we have statistics to demonstrate a liberal bias in the writing, as opposed to a political tendency in the userbase. Clearly, it is entirely possible that Wikipedians can be left-of-center, and still write without bias. I should have worded the title better.


12 Responses to Wikipedia Statistics Suggest Strong Liberal Bias

  1. […] research and statistics for the true Wikipedia afficianado, or well, nerd. I am no stranger to Wikipedia statistics myself. Check out Jakob’s take on the rate at which experienced Wikipedians leave […]

  2. Rioting_pacifist says:

    one problem is that from left to right for the UK US it goes something more like
    the reason americans say wikipedia is biased is simply because the rest of the world is liberal according to America

  3. alexanderthegreatest says:

    You’re also assuming that people who wear their political or ideological affiliation on their sleeve, are representative of most Wikipedian writers. Clearly, your data shows this isn’t the case.

  4. The style of writing is very familiar to me. Did you write guest posts for other blogs?

  5. enrosyknisy says:

    А мне блог понравился

  6. enrosyknisy says:

    Не подскажете, как ссылки в футере убрать, если он закодирован. С интересом читал ваш блог и тоже решил завести себе на подобную тему. Заранее спасибо.

  7. Fantastic Web site! I wondered if I could site some of your pages and use a couple of items for a school assignment. Please email me if that would be fine. Thanks

  8. Just what I needed, thanks a lot.

  9. […] Liberal bias has long been asserted on Wikipedia. Matthew Sheffield,writing for the Washington Post, accused Wikipedia of having "tilted leftward." Indeed the bias was pronounced enough to prompt the creation of the conservative wiki called Conservapedia with its article called "Examples of Bias in Wikipedia" […]

  10. […] Liberal bias has long been asserted on Wikipedia. Matthew Sheffield,writing for the Washington Post, accused Wikipedia of having “tilted leftward.” Indeed the bias was pronounced enough to prompt the creation of the conservative wiki called Conservapedia with its article called “Examples of Bias in Wikipedia” […]

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