Putin-Approved Ruwiki Goes Live, Surpassing Russian Wikipedia in Articles

Ruwiki, Russia’s alternative to Wikipedia, launched with more articles than the Russian Wikipedia. Beta testing began in mid-2023, showing popular topics like deaths in 2023, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and Russia’s Ukraine operation. Russia, despite fines, hasn’t blocked Wikipedia, but President Putin approved alternatives in 2022.

Kremlin-backed
Credit: Fanpage.it

Kremlin-backed “Ruwiki” Launches: Alternative to Russian Wikipedia, it Aims for Russian Control of Information

Moscow, January 15, 2024 – Ruwiki, a new Russian online encyclopedia, officially launched today after a limited beta testing period. While promoted as a potential alternative to Wikipedia, the project’s ties to the Russian government and its editorial policies raise concerns about censorship and neutrality.

Forked from Wikipedia, But with a Twist

Ruwiki began life as a fork of the Russian Wikipedia, inheriting its vast library of over 1.9 million articles. However, key differences emerge upon closer inspection. Articles deemed politically sensitive, particularly those related to the Ukraine conflict, have been removed. Additionally, Ruwiki’s editorial process operates differently. Currently, content edits are limited and vetted by expert panels, rather than the open, collaborative approach of Wikipedia.

A State-Sanctioned Alternative?

While the Russian government officially denies plans to block Wikipedia, Ruwiki’s launch comes amidst a wider crackdown on online dissent and independent media. President Putin’s endorsement of alternative platforms in 2022 further fuels speculation about Ruwiki’s role in shaping public discourse.

Early Data: Popularity and Engagement

Despite concerns, Ruwiki saw promising engagement during its beta phase. Kommersant reports an average user spending over six minutes on the site, exploring an average of five pages per session. This suggests potential user interest, even with the limitations in place.

Uncertainty and the Future

The long-term success of Ruwiki remains unclear. Its dependence on state-controlled content and limited editing freedom could alienate users seeking unbiased information. Conversely, Ruwiki may find an audience among those who prefer a curated, government-aligned online encyclopedia.

Key Questions Remain

  • Will Ruwiki maintain its commitment to neutrality and factual accuracy?
  • Will independent editors be allowed to contribute in the future?
  • How will Ruwiki’s relationship with the Russian government evolve?

The launch of Ruwiki marks a significant development in the evolving landscape of online information in Russia. While its connection to existing platforms and potential government influence raise concerns, it also demonstrates the continued demand for reliable knowledge resources accessible to Russian citizens. Whether Ruwiki emerges as a genuine alternative or simply strengthens the government’s control over information remains to be seen. The platform’s future trajectory will depend on its ability to navigate these complex dynamics and fulfill its stated mission of providing accurate and objective knowledge to its users.

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