E398: Wikipedia’s forgotten founder Larry Sanger

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about this episode

No one needs an introduction to Wikipedia. It’s the 6th-most visited site worldwide, and 7th in the U.S. But when it comes to the company’s origin, the first name on your lips is probably not Larry Sanger. Larry was hired by Jimmy Wales to edit his online encyclopedia, then called Nupedia in 2000. Sanger developed the site’s ethos, started building the community — and crucially — adopted a little-known editing system that allowed for numerous contributors. Though rarely, if ever, recognized by Wales, it was Sanger who put the ‘wiki’ in Wikipedia. He coined the name, too. Today on the show, the little-known history of one of the most important innovations of our lifetimes. Jason sits down with Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger. Plus, how if the site had stayed for-profit, Wales would have been richer than Larry Page.

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Highlights:

3:50: There’s a lot of debate over who created Wikipedia.
4:45 How did the pivot from Nupedia to Wikipedia occur? Because Nupedia was a for-profit venture.
7:45 So you Larry Sanger, put the Wiki in the pedia.
8:06 Jimmy Wales erased your name many times as the person who helped create Wikipedia. How does that feel to make one of the ten biggest innovations in the world, and the guy who you helped do it, tried to erase your name?
11:53 Has he ever apologized to you? Have you seen him since then?
14:08 Why do you think Wikipedia has become so successful?
22:16 When did Wikipedia decide to become a nonprofit and why? Could it exist as a for-profit?
25:33 That would be known as the biggest mistake in entrepreneurial history. Jimmy Wales if he had made it an open platform with ads, I estimate Jimmy Wales would have a bigger personal worth than Larry Page.
31:00 What is wrong with news today that led you to want to start your next crowd sourcing company, Infobitt?
31:45 Some people might argue Reddit does that. What do they do right?
34:41 Let’s talk about of citizen journalism. So much of news gathering during Boston bombings was done by people on the scene who are not journalists. People did their own speculation, sometimes it was very far off, sometimes it was CIA-level, police, FBI-accurate. What’s the role of citizen journalism in journalism?
39:15 Will somebody rise up and figure it out?
41:30 Crowdfunding seems to be hitting journalism. Do you think that’s a possible solution?
42:10 Infobitt coming this fall. http://infobitt.com
42:40 What would it take for you and Jimmy to be on cool terms? If he gave you credit would it mean a lot to you?
42:57 Everybody who’s a fan of the show, tweet to Jimmy Wales: Please give @lsanger his credit as cofounder of @Wikipedia. Love, (your name). http://clicktotweet.com/N3W62

more episodes

  • Tarek Demiati

    At first sigh Infobitt reminded me about Guy Kawasaky’s http://alltop.com/ but it seems that Larry Sanger want to take it one step further by adding value to the original content …

  • TerrenceYang

    Good insight – did you get that from just the landing page?

  • Tarek Demiati

    Yep, Landing Page + What I’ve read through the lines during Larry interview, but I might be wrong, I’m just a poor French farmboy with broken English ;-)

  • TerrenceYang

    The self-effacing ones are always the smartest. :)