Is Wikipedia a Cult? Wikipedia strikes back

By Sam Vaknin, Ph.D.

In response to Dan Tynan's excellent article about Wikipedia (,2), Wikipedia struck back, in an article typically riddled with blatant lies and not so subtle distortions (see the text below).

Two examples:

1. The Wikipedia article about me was deleted only after I threatened to initiate a class action lawsuit against Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and Wikimedia. Immediately afterwards, I was removed as a user. To this very day, no one can add an article about "Sam Vaknin" to Wikipedia. Try it!

2. The Wikipedians - leveraging the Wikipedia's ubiquity and Google ranking - are the one's who started the libelous campaign against me, claiming that my Ph.D. is of the diploma-mill variety. The truth?

Joseph Reagle is a computer scientist. He has no qualifications whatsoever to judge what constitutes a cult and what doesn't. Compare his utter lack of experience ( and evident pro-Wikipedia bias ( to my 15 years of work on narcissistic cults (example: and my criticism of the Wikipedia (which takes into account earlier collaborative efforts throughout history: ). Plus, I have been involved with Wikipedia and its predecessor, Nupedia. I have first-hand, insider knowledge which Reagle lacks as he has to rely on propaganda dished out by Wales and his entourage in Wikimedia.

This is the error and libel-ridden response published by Wikipedia:

"Is Wikipedia a cult?

In a June 7 InfoWorld article named The High Priests of Wikipedia, Wikipedia was described as one of "Six more tech cults" (the other five being the Slashdot, Singularitarianism, Drupal, OS/2 and open source communities). The article identified the page Wikipedia:FAQ as the cult's "[h]oly scriptures" and Jimmy Wales as its "[p]atron saint". The author Dan Tynan wrote that "[f]or internecine intrigue and power struggles, the Wikipedia makes the Vatican look like a coffee clatch", with administrators as "the Wikipedian equivalent of the College of Cardinals". Tynan cited from an interview he had conducted with writer Sam Vaknin, published recently in Global Politician under the title The Wikipedia Cult (which was also recommended by Larry Sanger, whom Vaknin refers to as "the Wikipedia's real visionary"):

This is not an informal network: It is completely rigid with a hierarchy, titles, job descriptions, remits, and responsibilities.

Tynan introduced Vaknin as "author of Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited and other books about personality disorders." Snopes has noted that "Dr. Vaknin is careful to include a disclaimer on his web site stating that he is 'NOT a mental health professional' (his CV lists a doctorate in philosophy from the unaccredited Pacific Western University)".

In 2006, after an article about Vaknin had been deleted and User:Samvak had been blocked (for sockpuppet activities involving the article Narcissistic personality disorder and other topics related to Vaknin's work), Global Politician had published an earlier article by Vaknin that was critical of Wikipedia: The Six Sins of the Wikipedia (see also a rebuttal by Ta bu shi da yu). In 2007, Global Politician published Vaknin's article Wikipedia - Can Teenagers Write An Encyclopedia?. In a January 2010 article on the same website, titled Positioning the Encyclopedia Britannica (see Signpost coverage), Vaknin granted that although "the data are riddled with errors and do not amount to structured knowledge ... Wikipedia-like online efforts are more than adequate for the needs of the vast majority of users", advising Britannica to cooperate with Wikipedia and "to study and emulate" the model of Citizendium.

Tynan's recent article and interview quoted Vaknin as saying:

By 2003, the Wikipedia had acquired all the hallmarks of a cult: hierarchy, arcane rules, paranoid insularity, intolerance of dissent, and a cosmic grandiose mission.
Wikipedia researcher Joseph Reagle called the criticism of Wikipedia as a cult "hyperbolic", pointing out that the project did not meet several criteria from cult checklists. He classified Vaknin's criticism as

a wonderful example of the criticism of WP enthusiasm as a cult or religion, many earlier examples of which I describe in my dissertation.

In his 2008 NYU dissertation about Wikipedia,—to appear in book form later this year—Reagle had examined various kinds of Wikipedia criticism and placed them into a centuries old context of encyclopedia criticism, in a chapter called "encyclopedic anxiety"—also the title of a recent conference talk of his (Summary, slides, video; see also Signpost coverage)."

Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East as well as many other books and ebooks about topics in psychology, relationships, philosophy, economics, and international affairs. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, Global Politician, PopMatters, eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He was the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101. Visit Sam's Web site at You can download 30 of his free ebooks in