Wikipedia Co-Founder Creates Competing Site

Dennis Faas's picture

One of the men responsible for the creation of is now trying to turn the tables against the website he helped bring to fruition.

Larry Sanger promises that his new venture,, "aims to improve on [the Wikipedia] model by adding 'gentle expert oversight' and requiring contributors to use their real names." (Source:

"If there's going to be a free encyclopedia, I'd like there to be a better free encyclopedia," Sanger said. "It has bothered me that I helped to get a project started, Wikipedia, that people are misusing in this way, and yet the project itself has little chance of radically improving."

The way Wikipedia works is that anyone can anonymously edit any entry on the site. Stephen Ewen, an adult-education teacher in Jupiter, Florida, agrees with Sanger that people abuse and misuse the freedom Wikipedia's set-up provides.

"When you put everybody in a system that is flat, where everybody can say yes or no, without any sense of authority, what you get is tribalism," Ewen declared. "What has gone into the article creation is very often the result of this dysfunctional system. It presents itself with this aura of authority, whereas what goes on behind the scenes is anything but."

Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales dismisses the criticism: "I am unaware of any problems with the quality of discourse on the site. I don't know of any higher-quality discourse anywhere." (Source:

Indeed, Sanger's real-name requirement for may just be a band-aid at best. After all, there's no way to prove over the Internet that someone's registered name matches what's on his birth certificate.

But this goes beyond a simple difference in philosophy.

Wales is flat-out denying that Sanger co-founded Wikipedia. "Please do not uncritically repeat Sanger's absurd claim to be the co-founder of Wikipedia," he stated. "I know of no one who was there at the company at the beginning who would think it anything other than laughable." (Source:

Sanger, of course, is crying foul. On his personal website, he stated: "With my increasing distance from the [Wikipedia] project ... some of those associated with the project have found it convenient to downplay and even deny my crucial, formative involvement." (Source:

What a family feud!

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