Calling it “Encyclosphere…”
Aco-founder of Wikipedia is launching a competing website as a free-speech-friendly alternative to what he views as the increasingly monolithic left-wing bias of his former organization.
Last May, Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger wrote an op-ed on his personal website titled “Wikipedia is Badly Biased” claiming that Wikipedia’s neutrality policy — known as “NPOV,” or neutral point of view — “is dead.”
Now, when schoolchildren visit the Wikipedia website to look up answers to questions about the meaning of socialism, “they’re going to find an explanation that completely ignores any conservative, libertarian, or critical treatment of the subject,” Sanger told “Just the News AM” television program. “And that’s really problematic. That’s not education. That’s propaganda.”
Sanger referred to a Fox News report last week by Maxim Lott, which noted, “The two main pages for ‘Socialism’ and ‘Communism’ span a massive 28,000 words, and yet they contain no discussion of the genocides committed by socialist and communist regimes, in which tens of millions of people were murdered and starved.”
Wikipedia’s socialism page claims, “The Soviet era saw some of the most significant technological achievements of the 20th century,” Lott reported, but it “ignores a man-made famine in which Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin commandeered the food from regions like Ukraine and Kazakhstan, leaving millions to starve to death even as the Soviet Union exported grain to foreign countries.”
The press office of Wikepdia’s non-profit parent, Wikimedia Foundation, did not respond to a request for comment from Just the News.
First launched in 2001, Wikipedia was initially “truly committed to neutrality,” said Sanger. For about the first five or 10 years, he recalled, “you could go to articles on the most controversial topics of the day and the culture war, and you would find all sides being fairly represented.”
But about 10 years ago, he said, “as liberals made, or leftists made, their march through the institutions, Wikipedia became one of those influential institutions … and [the left] basically took it over.”
By then, Sanger said, Wikipedia started getting rid of citations from conservative sources, “even conservative sources that were cited in order to explain the conservative point of view.”
Sanger told Just the News that his new, forthcoming project, called “Encyclosphere,” is a decentralized network of the world’s encyclopedias, what he called “an old-fashioned, leaderless, ownerless network, like the blogosphere.”
Sanger said just as there are no administrators in the blogosphere, “in the same way, I want to create a protocol that very loosely ties all the encyclopedias online together.”
In a video posted to Twitter, Sanger announced the Encyclosphere, calling it “a free, giant, global knowledge commons without any central control.”
Sanger said his Encyclosphere would be able to avoid an anti-free speech tilt “because freedom is built into the architecture, just as it is built into DNS (the web’s basic domain name system) and, again, into the blogosphere. Different competing apps can restrict access to an extent, and governments can restrict access, but the network will never restrict access.”
Sanger said his team has already done an encyclopedia meta-search project, started codifying standards, and talked to various encyclopedias. But for now, his first step is to start with “a free, long-term, graduate-level seminar” he said will be announced soon.
Sanger said he “casually asked on Twitter, and a gazillionaire offered us money” for Encyclosphere. “Going forward, though, we’ll be asking for donations in connection with the seminar,” he said.
“Frankly, we’ve already had tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of volunteer work done by some high-powered volunteers, and I’m sure that will continue,” Sanger said. “This is a long-term difficult project, and we want to do it right.”
Sanger faces an uphill battle to overtake Wikipedia, given that the Website giant is the 13th most popular website in the world, according to the Alexa web rankings. Sanger said the Encyclosphere would be run by a non-profit organization called the Knowledge Standards Foundation, which is currently raising funds.
Sanger said he had not been “cancelled” by his former colleagues, and that they had not tried to tamper significantly with his own Wikipedia entry, perhaps, he thinks, because “criticism of me would reflect badly on themselves.”
“[T]hey treat me at this point as just another person that was associated with a project long ago,” Sanger said.