[Wikipedia-l] Re: Sanger's memoirs

Jimmy Wales jwales at wikia.com
Wed Apr 20 06:09:07 UTC 2005

Andrew Lih wrote:
> As for, "Who was co-founder of Wikipedia?" I'll wait until Jimbo responds.

Opinions about this may differ.  It's to some degree a matter of
terminology, and I don't particularly care about it one way or the
other.  I have no desire to see an ongoing storyline of a feud, it's not
helpful to anyone.

Larry wrote: "To be clear, the idea of an open source, collaborative
encyclopedia, open to contribution by ordinary people, was entirely
Jimmy's, not mine..." and that's exactly right, though of course I use
the term "free" rather than "open".

Larry wrote: "Jimmy then started a specialized policy page he called
'Neutral Point of View'" and goes on to explain that he feels that the
term became popular because it was used "by Wikipedians wanting to seem
hip" -- failing, I think, to recognize the special innovation that NPOV
is (as a social concept of co-operation which avoids some philosophical
dilemmas posed by such concepts as 'biased'), instead assuming that this
is just a cute phrase of hipsters.

Larry might be right or wrong about his disapproval of NPOV of course.
But he agrees that the idea for the freely licensed collaborative
encyclopedia open to contributions by ordinary people was mine, and that
NPOV was my idea, and that the investment was mine.  That's enough for
me.  Other people can decide what makes a founder.

I hired Larry to assist with my vision, and he did so competently.  We
argued constantly during the era of Nupedia, with me pressing for more
openness, and he pressing for more academic standards -- and I let him
win those arguments because _knowing what we knew then_, he was drawing
the correct conclusions.  Knowing what we know now, of course, his
design for Nupedia was a failure.  But that's easy to criticize in
retrospect -- Larry deserves credit for it despite the failure because
we did _not_ know what we know now.

I think people are unfortunately eager to see a war where there isn't
one -- at least not from my side.  Larry deserves credit for his work,
and no less.


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