Encyclopedia Runiversalis (/ruːnɪˈvɜːsəlɪs/, Russian: Руниверсалис), shortened as Runi (Russian: Руни), is a universal online encyclopedia in Russian, launched on June 9, 2022. Project website is located in the domain руни.рф and is based on wiki engine. Project servers are located in Russia.
The encyclopedia is created by the work of volunteers who received the writer flag by request to a sysop. Runiversalis publishes encyclopedic articles on a variety of topics, and hosts significant texts that have entered the public domain. The number of articles is 1.9 million (as of May 2023). The content of Runiversalis is published under the free license CC BY-SA, requiring certain conditions to be met.
The project was founded by writers and sysops of the Russian Wikipedia who thus expressed their disagreement with anti-Russian and left-liberal politics promoted by the American-based Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia.
Being opened to the general public, Runiversalis has positioned itself as a "common sense encyclopedia", and the project that "respects traditional values", which is reflected in the principles by which articles are created and edited. The stylized "Vitruvian man" is used as a logo in the encyclopedia as one of the unifying universal symbols.
The name Runiversalis was created as the result of merging the words "Russian" and "universalis" (Latin for "universal"). The shortened name of the project is Runi (Russian: Руни), it formed the basis of the cyrillic domain on which the encyclopedia is located: https://руни.рф.
The English pronunciation is /ruːnɪˈvɜːsəlɪs/, according to various references.
First stage of the project
The prerequisite for the creation of the Runiversalis encyclopedia was the conflict in the Russian Wikipedia, where since 2014 anti-Russian sentiments gradually began to prevail, which eventually led to the distortion of articles towards the anti-Russian ideology, the persecution of pro-Russian editors, and the imposition of technical restrictions (blocking) on them. Since February 2022 (with the start of the Russian special military operation in Ukraine ), openly Russophobic articles have appeared on Wikipedia, and the use of Russian sources in articles about the SMO has been banned. Since these trends were administratively supported by the Wikimedia Foundation, which owns Wikipedia, a group of Russian-language Wikipedia participants decided to stop wasting energy on the development of the American-based site and founded their own project, the Runiversalis Encyclopedia, on June 9, 2022.
From the very beginning the project has existed thanks to the personal contribution and volunteer work of its founders. In the first months, the project developed at a slow pace, only a dozen editors worked, and the basic principles of the encyclopedia were worked out. The site was raised on the MediaWiki engine and hosted on a simple hosting.
On August 23, 2022, Anton Gorelkin, a deputy of the State Duma of Russia, drew attention to the Runiversalis website. He announced the project on his Telegram channel, which caused a surge of media interest in Runiversalis as "the Russian analogue of Wikipedia." Publications in various publications caused an influx of visitors, as well as activity, "similar to a DDOS attack." A few hours after the wave began, the site "went down". These events prompted a number of media outlets to erroneously claim that "the Russian equivalent of Wikipedia" stopped working "a few hours after opening" (when in reality the project had been running for two and a half months).
Support from EdgeCenter
To keep up with the increased level of notoriety, the project needed new technical capabilities, including protection against hacking. At the end of August 2022, the Russian IT company EdgeCenter came to the aid of Runiversalis on its own initiative, and provided the project with server capacities and protection against cyber attacks.
On September 10, 2022, the site with new facilities returned to service after a two-week closure. From the very first days after the re-opening of the site, regular cyber attacks began to take place, including the most serious - application layer attacks. All attacks were successfully repelled thanks to the protection provided by EdgeCenter.
The autumn attacks on the site by critics and hackers were supplemented by aggressive statements from official representatives of the Wikimedia Foundation and the Arbitration Committee of the Russian Wikipedia, which declared Runiversalis a "threat" to Russian Wikipedia, although representatives of the new encyclopedia did not take any hostile actions. The Runiversalis project was actually outlawed in the Russian Wikipedia, users were deprived of their rights for the mere suspicion of participating in the new project.
Copying and cleaning of the Wikipedia articles
The spirit of the Russian Wikipedia, which was originally there, we took it for ourselves.
One of the principles of Runiversalis, stated by the founders of the project, was the readiness to actively use the materials and achievements of the Russian Wikipedia, in which the founders, along with other Wikipedians, worked for so many years: "the creators of Runiversalis consider the content of Russian Wikipedia to be the property of the entire Runet, and not the property of a private American foundation (Wikimedia Foundation)."
In accordance with this principle, in September 2022, an automated bot transfer of articles from Wikipedia to Runiversalis began, followed by rewriting of the transferred articles and cleaning them from Russophobia, LGBT propaganda. The articles were subjected to the editing required to bring them in line with the legislation of the Russian Federation. For example, articles about objects in Russian Crimea were cleaned out from the references to their "disputed" legal status (according to Russian Wikipedia, they belong to both Russia and Ukraine), and articles about transgender people were rewritten in accordance with the biological sex of personalities (i.e. if a man began to consider himself a woman, then in his biography he is indicated as a man, regardless of the change of "gender identity").
As a clear example of the differences between the approaches of Runiversalis and the Russian Wikipedia, observers cite the article "Provocation in Bucha" (in Russian Wikipedia it is called "Massacre in Bucha"):
"In comparison with Wikipedia, the article in Runiversalis favorably differs in a systematic approach to the issue, a holistic view of the incident in Bucha. The article, on the one hand, does not conceal either the accusations against Russia or the facts of the accidental death of civilians, but, on the other hand, shows the propaganda essence of the incident — how and by whom the victims were used for certain purposes."
The need to "nationalize" and correct Wikipedia articles and limit the work of Wikipedia in Russia has been repeatedly spoken by the head of the Runiversalis project, Pavel Frolov, who has been speaking in the media since February 3, 2023, when he took part in a press conference at Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today) dedicated to "Wikipedia's informational aggression against Russia". Prior to this conference, there was no information in the public sphere about the leaders of the Runiversalis project.
Statistics of the Runiversalis encyclopedia
As of May 2023, the Runiversalis Encyclopedia had 1.9 million articles, including both encyclopedia articles and texts in the public domain.
The growth of the number of articles in Runiversalis:
- August 23, 2022 - 9,000 articles,
- September 11, 2022 - 100,000 articles,
- October 23, 2022 - 500,000 articles,
- November 26, 2022 — 1,000,000 articles ("Traditional values in Russia" became the millionth article),
- February 3, 2023 - 1,500,000 articles.
Basic principles and plans
In the manifesto of the founders of Runiversalis, the main principles and development plans of the new encyclopedia were outlined as those:
- Runiversalis is a universal encyclopedia in Russian with collaborative online editing,
- Runiversalis articles are distributed under a free license for the sake of free access to knowledge for all people,
- Thematically combined articles of high quality will be grouped and published as books (thematic volumes of the encyclopedia),
- The project plans to ensure the distribution of the encyclopedia in various formats, including for offline use,
- The project is territorially based in Russia and subject to Russian legislation,
- The encyclopedia is created with respect for traditional values, from the position of which the articles that affect non-traditional, innovative, and marginal trends in the life of human society are written."
The opening of the Runiversalis encyclopedia was noted in Russian and foreign publications.
In August 2022, deputy Anton Gorelkin noted that the appearance of "our own universal encyclopedia", which does not depend on the policy of the American foundation, was a long-awaited event. Many Russian publications called Runiversalis a "Russian analogue of Wikipedia".
In September 2022, one of the laboratories at the Atlantic Council devoted a lot of material to the Runiversalis encyclopedia. According to the authors, the project is a "pro-Kremlin Wikipedia alternative." Basing on the materials of this article, the Euronews TV channel asked a question: what is Runiversalis - "propaganda or common sense encyclopedia?"
Some sources provide false information about Runiversalis: for example, it is claimed that billions of budget money were spent on this project. Journalists, however, confuse Runiversalis with the project of the electronic version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia, for which almost two billion rubles were actually allocated a few years before the appearance of Runiversalis. But in reality:
"The Runiversalis project did not grow out of any government budget estimate, but out of civic initiative and the need to have a source of information that would not be within the framework of the American information policy that Wikipedia is in the grip of"
- Lavrov, 2022.
- Википедия в России и в БРИКС. Проблемы и решения (часть 2). russiancouncil.ru. Russian International Affairs Council (April 13, 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023.
- Cyber Media, 2022.
- TASS, August 24, 2022.
- BFM.ru, August 24, 2022.
- Гнатюк, 11 февраля 2023.
- Пост от 19 января 2023 года // Телеграм-канал Руниверсалис
- press conference at Rossiya Segodnya, February 3, 2023.
- Конаныхин, 9 марта 2023.
- Пост от 23 августа // Телеграм-канал депутата А. Горелкина
- Российский аналог "Википедии" будет соблюдать законы страны, заявил депутат // РИА Новости, 23 августа 2022
- В России запустили отечественный аналог "Википедии" // Российская газета, 23 августа 2022
- В России создали аналог «Википедии» // Лента.ру, 23 августа 2022
- Российский аналог «Википедии» перестал работать из-за нагрузки // НТВ, 24 августа 2022
- Buziashvili E., Carvin A. Pro-Kremlin Wikipedia alternative off to a rough start // Digital Forensic Research Lab, что при Атлантическом cовете, 1 сентября 2022
- Euronews, 15 сентября 2022.
- Post from January 11, 2023 // Runiversalis Telegram channel
- Сайт "Руниверсалис" временно недоступен из-за резкого скачка трафика. TASS (August 24, 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023.
- Сайт «Руниверсалиса», аналога «Википедии», недоступен из-за высокой нагрузки. BFM.ru (August 24, 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023.
- Russia's answer to Wikipedia: Propaganda or common sense encyclopedia?. Euronews (15 September 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023. (видео, перепечатка статьи на Yahoo)
- Как EdgeЦентр сделал доступным сайт онлайн-энциклопедии Руниверсалис. Cyber Media (18 ноября 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023.
- Лавров М. БРИКС и Википедия. Часть 3. Руниверсалис. Блог «Панорама БРИКС» на сайте Российского совета по международным делам (23 ноября 2022). Дата обращения: 10 апреля 2023.
- Гнатюк Р. Павел Фролов о том, как "Руниверсалис" рушит монополии на информационной поляне Рунета. Украина.ру (11.02.2023). Дата обращения: 12 февраля 2023.
- Торин А. Википедия как оружие информационной войны. Международная жизнь (08.02.2023). Дата обращения: 8 февраля 2023.
- "Википедия" как инструмент информационной агрессии против России. Пресс-конференция (круглый стол) в МИА «Россия сегодня» с участием депутата Государственной думы России А. Горелкина, политолога Б. Безпалько, председателя комиссии по развитию "Электронного правительства" Института развития Интернета А. Геллера, руководителя проекта «Руниверсалис» П. Фролова.. pressmia.ru (03.02.2023). Дата обращения: 8 февраля 2023.
- Руниверсалис: своя энциклопедия лучше чужой Википедии.. В гостях у Российского радиоуниверситета руководитель проекта "Руниверсалис" Павел Сергеевич Фролов. Ведущий — Дмитрий Александрович Конаныхин. smotrim.ru. Радио России (9-3-2023). Дата обращения: 9 марта 2023.