Wikipedia and The Urantia Book

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Brad Garner

By Brad Garner, Urantia Foundation, Arizona, United States

Today I edited a Wikipedia article about Barton Springs—a set of springs whose main one feeds a popular swimming pool in Texas. My edit was probably not controversial; I simply updated some outdated numeric facts. My edit had no conflict of interest, and I think I made it in good faith. However, a senior editor could question or even revert (undo) my edit. Or someone else in the world might make even more edits to my edit. This is just how Wikipedia goes. Even though I care about this article (I’ve watched it for nearly 20 years), I don’t own it. No one owns it. See my edit at

Wikipedia’s watchful senior editors disapprove of editors with conflicts of interest, edits that fail to cite reliable sources, or edits made in “bad faith.” Edits seen as inappropriate are usually reverted within minutes. As readers of The Urantia Book, we should consider our editorial relationship with Wikipedia articles related to The Urantia Book. Well-meant but ill-advised edits could unintentionally and adversely affect the credibility of The Urantia Book for tens of millions of people. Articles might be locked against further edits, or even flagged for deletion.

Here are some recent examples of well-intentioned but unfortunate attempts at making edits to the Wikipedia article on The Urantia Book that didn’t last long:

• A self-published book was added to the bibliography section. This was reverted 7 minutes later, being seen as free advertising. Wikipedia is not an advertising space.

• The word “human” was added so the article read “. . . its lack of a known human author.” This was reverted 41 minutes later, probably because it was seen as strange and unnecessary.

• A musical band rumored to have been influenced by The Urantia Book was added, citing a podcast as the reliable source. This edit was reverted 19 minutes later by a senior editor, who wrote it was “utterly ridiculous” to consider this podcast as a reliable source.

• Someone added an entirely new paragraph about possible authorship. This paragraph was reverted just 2 minutes later. Seven minutes later, they added the paragraph back, but this was reverted again just 12 minutes later by the same senior editor, warning that reliable sources must be cited.

The Urantia Book ought to be represented fairly on Wikipedia, but this should be achieved through patience and respect of Wikipedia culture. Urantia Foundation has a Wikipedia editing policy that trustees and staff shall not edit any Wikipedia articles related to The Urantia Book, as this would be seen as a conflict of interest on Wikipedia (imagine an IBM employee editing the Wikipedia article about IBM). However, they may engage in conversation on article “talk pages,” provided they disclose their conflict of interest. This policy strikes a balance: it respects avoiding conflicts of interest, while still allowing trustees and staff to interact with the Wikipedia community.

There may be something in this policy worth reflecting on for anyone reading this article. Would Wikipedia see you as having a conflict of interest in matters related to The Urantia Book? The single best way to improve The Urantia Book’s representation on Wikipedia is for our activities to get favorable coverage in reliable secondary sources which can then be cited on Wikipedia in text written by editors who have no conflict of interest.

By the way, if you’ve never edited Wikipedia, I encourage you to try it out. Find a typo or awkward wording somewhere and improve it. It’s a rewarding experience. Last time I checked, the article on potato chips had some things that could be improved. Unless you work for Frito-Lay, I doubt you have a conflict of interest.

Foundation Info

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