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Wikipedia's Co-Founder (Video)  (View post)

Mathias Schindler [PersonRank 10]

Saturday, November 25, 2006
16 years ago5,472 views

If Citizendium turns out to be success, Wikipedia directly gains from it. Wikipedia text is licensed under the GNU FDL. Citizendium took Wikipedia text under that license. Derivative works from Wikipedia in Citizendium are also licensed under the GFDL. So Wikipedia still has the right to take the (hopefully improved) content back.

And of course, if CZ's environmental settings are able to trigger better, faster, whatever content, we will consider to adopt this.

At WOS3, I had a nice chat with Larry about his new project. I also asked him about his former project which was then in yet-to-be-announced state. IMHO, EoE does not qualify as a success yet and I wish that Larry had been more honest about this.

Roger Browne [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Unlike Jimmy, Larry never really "got" the essence of why Wikipedia works as well as it does.

In this video, he understates the failure of Nupedia. In over three years, only 24 articles were ever approved. There are only a small number of PhDs who have time to donate to a project such as Nupedia.

Larry Sanger rejected my own application to work on Nupedia, because I don't have a PhD. However, I was planning to write about a few small areas in which I have specialist knowledge – and I know my limitations and won't go beyond them. It doesn't need a PhD for that. Multiply that by a hundred thousand other potential authors who don't have PhDs and you are losing a lot of talent.

Give Larry a chance to have a position like "Senior Editor for Policy and Governance" (as he does at Encyclopedia of Earth) and he's in his element. Allow him to require everyone to be forced to use an "expert taxonomy" and he'll be satisfied. There's nothing wrong with that of course – but it won't lead to a prospering encyclopedia produced by a thriving community.

It's the "cathedral versus the bazaar" all over again. If you want user-generated-content, the cathedral model doesn't work very well. It didn't work for Nupedia, it hasn't really worked for Encylcopedia of Earth, and it won't work for Citizendium.

There's one difference with Citizendium. It's starting with Wikipedia content! So for a while it will look like there is a lot of substance behind it. But, over time, it will inevitably lag behind Wikipedia. The process behind Citizendium just introduces too much friction.

Wikipedia is written by a bunch of people, many of whom are idiots. But, on the average, each contribution is more likely to slightly increase the overall quality of Wikipedia than to decrease that quality. Multiply that tiny improvement by billions of edits and Wikipedia is the emergent result. Citizendium, by being elitist, just doesn't have enough talent to tap. The web doesn't work that way.

PS: After Larry refused my offer to work on Nupedia, I naturally jumped at the chance to join Wikipedia. The oldest surviving edit on Wikipedia is in fact by me:

But you know what? I didn't end up contributing a huge amount to Wikipedia. A few choice morsels here and there, and minor edits when I notice an obvious spelling error or factual error. Why didn't I do more? Simply that there were so many more talented people than me who had way more time to spend on the project than I did.

RC [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

The above poster hit the nail. There's enough of self-effacing technical journals in the world. This project will always be compared with the wikipedia, which does its job remarkably well. There's nothing about wikipedia that is a monopoly in the traditional sense of the world.

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Wholeheartedly agreed to what you said Roger. I'm a fan of the phrase "perfect is the enemy of the good", and I'm reminded of it in the mob-Wikipedia vs elite-Wikipedia debate. And I also agree with Mathias – modifications that do seem to work well on Citizendium can now be copied back to Wikipedia.

[Updated the post with Roger's comment]

Cram [PersonRank 1]

16 years ago #

Is Sanger truly a "co-founder" of Wikipedia? I think Wales would like to disagree. He's been saying that Sanger only worked for him and that the idea for a wikipedia was all his. As was the implementation.

Mathias Schindler [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

Cram: There has been a lengthly and ongoing discussion about the proper term to describe Larry's involvement in Wikipedia. I personally call him "former Wikipedia editor-in-chief", which might be a correct but not complete description.

Brian M. [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

If you want to contribute to an encyclopedia that requires you to have a Ph.D, please send your resume to:

Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Britannica Centre
331 North La Salle Street
Chicago, IL 60610

Elias Kai [PersonRank 10]

16 years ago #

That's a good one Brian...

Wikipedia is here to stay until you make use of text to images or audio and other formats.

mc [PersonRank 3]

16 years ago #

As the first commentator mentioned, the GFDL will have the same effect that the GPL has in free software.

Once someone sets up an automated system to see the differences between any article on the two sites, then good stuff can be very easily imported back to Wikipedia. There really isn't any downside, Wikipedia gets the best of both worlds, but Citizenpedia doesn't as they can only take updated stuff from Wikipedia when one of there 'Experts"' checks it out.

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