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Intellipedia/ODNI Logo

The Intellipedia consists of three wikis that run on JWICS, SIPRNET, and Intelink-U. They are used by individuals with appropriate clearances from the 16 agencies of the United States intelligence community and other national-security related organizations, including Unified Combatant Commands, and federal departments. None are open to the public.

As of February 2009, there were approximately 100,000 registered users at all security levels, but its actual usage varies. Early adopters are happy with it, but it has not fully integrated into all agencies using it. There are also legal issues that work done on a collaboration system does not necessarily meet formal recordkeeping requirements, so some work is duplicated. Also, some intelligence users tend to overclassify data, limiting collaboration. [1]

Intellipedia is a project of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI); DNI CIO Intelligence Community Enterprise Services (ICES) office headquartered in Fort Meade, Maryland. It includes information on the regions, people and issues of interest to those communities. Intellipedia uses MediaWiki, the same software used by the Citizendium.[2]ODNI officials say that the project will change the culture of the U.S. intelligence community, widely blamed for failing to "connect the dots" before the attacks of September 11, 2001.

As of October 2006, it contained over 28,000 pages edited by 3,600 users.[3]

Other versions are available on the U.S. Government Secret Internet Protocol network (SIPRNET) and the Sensitive but Unclassified Network (SBU). SBU users can access Intellipedia from remote terminals outside their workspaces via a VPN. The SIPRNet is intended to serve a similar purpose for U.S. diplomats and Department of Defense personnel who are the predominant users of this network; see Global Information Grid. Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) users share information on the unclassified network.


Intellipedia was created to share information on some of the most difficult subjects facing U.S. intelligence and bring cutting-edge technology into its ever-more-youthful workforce.[4] It also allows information to be assembled and reviewed by a wide variety of sources and agencies, to address concerns that pre-war intelligence that did not include robust dissenting opinions on Iraq's alleged weapons programs.[5] A number of projects are underway to explore the use of the Intellipedia for the creation of traditional Intelligence Community products. In summer 2006, Intellipedia was the main collaboration tool in constructing a National Intelligence Estimate on Nigeria.[3]

Richard Russell, Deputy Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Information Sharing Customer Outreach (ISCO) said it was created so "analysts in different agencies that work X or Y can go in and see what other people are doing on subject X or Y and actually add in their two cents worth ... or documents that they have." "What we’re after here is 'decision superiority,' not 'information superiority'," he said. "We have to get inside the decision cycle of the enemy. We have to be able to discover what they’re doing and respond to it effectively."[2]

Potential problems

Some are concerned that individual intelligence agencies will create their own wikis, draining ideas and input from the Intellipedia.[6] Sean Dennehy, a CIA official involved in integrating the system into the intelligence fabric, said disseminating material to the widest possible audience of analysts is key to avoiding mistakes. He said analysts from multiple agencies had used the network to post frequent updates on recent events, including the crash of a small plane into a New York City apartment building last month and North Korea's test of a missile in July.[7]

Some view it as a risk because it allows greater information to be viewed and shared[8], yet according to Michael Wertheimer, Negroponte's assistant deputy director for analysis, the risk is "worth it." The project was greeted initially with "a lot of resistance," said Wertheimer, because it runs counter to past practice that sought to limit the pooling of information.[9] He said there are risks in everything that everyone does, "the key is risk management, not risk avoidance." Some encouragement has been necessary to spur contributions from the traditional intelligence community.[10] However, he said the system appeals to the new generation of intelligence analysts because "this is how they like to work" and "it's a new way of thinking." [11][12]

Community practices

The wiki provides so much flexibility that several offices throughout the community are using it to maintain and transfer knowledge on daily operations and events. Anyone with access to read it has permission to create and edit articles after registering and acquiring an account with Intelink. Since Intellipedia is intended to be a platform for harmonizing the various points of view of the agencies and analysts of the Intelligence Community, Intellipedia does not enforce a neutral point of view policy.[13] Instead, viewpoints are attributed to the agencies, offices, and individuals participating, with the hope that a consensus view will emerge. Intellipedia also contains a great deal of non-encyclopedic content including meeting notes and items of internal, administrative interest.

Intellipedia editors award shovels to users to reward exemplary Wiki "gardening" and to encourage others in the community to contribute. A template with a picture of the shovel, specifically a trowel, was also created to place on user pages for Intellipedians to show their "gardening" status. The handle bears the imprint: "I dig Intellipedia! It's wiki wiki, Baby." The idea was inspired by the barnstar,[14] which is used on both Wikipedia and MeatballWiki for similar purposes.