[Wikipedia-l] Re: Wikipedia-l Digest, Vol 21, Issue 53

Giuseppe DAngelo pippudoz at yahoo.it
Wed Apr 20 20:16:46 UTC 2005

Message: 10
Date: Wed, 20 Apr 2005 12:16:46 -0400
Subject: RE: [Wikipedia-l] Re: Sanger's memoirs
Message-ID: <000001c545c4$5fc48b70$830ffea9 at ls>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"

Jimmy wrote:
> I'll just restate my point, which is that the first person to 
> propose that we move to a wiki system to resolve the problems 
> of Nupedia was Jeremy Rosenfeld.

What does "propose" mean, then? I suppose you mean he mentioned such an
idea to you. Well, so what? That didn't lead to the creation of Wikipedia,
did it? You're implying that it did. But it didn't.

I mention *all sorts* of ideas to other people, and other people have
mentioned zillions of ideas to me. This doesn't make any such person,
somehow, "the first person to propose" the idea, in the sense of being
creditable with formulating the project that actually came into being.

And why, again, Jimmy, did you take four years to mention this, if it's
worth mentioning at all? Why did you never tell me, or Wikipedians, before?
Why is it worth mentioning just now?

> I just think this is an 
> interesting bit of historical trivia which in no way detracts 
> from your _causal_ role in the founding of Wikipedia.

But to say that Jeremy Rosenfeld was "the first person to propose" a wiki
encyclopedia is precisely to imply, isn't it, that he played the seminal
causal role in founding Wikipedia--which is just false. It isn't just
"another perspective."

> (And of course you never opposed _neutrality_, my point was 
> that you never were happy with NPOV _as a technical term to 
> describe a social concept of co-operation_. You said so 
> yourself the other day, and I think that's great.)

The social concept of co-operation was always my idea of the purpose of the
neutrality policy, as well. That was quite explicit in Nupedia's policy
statement, drafted by me, as well as the longer statement of Wikipedia's
policy on the NPOV page, which I drafted.

I disagree with the exact formulation of the words, "the neutral point of
view." I personally advocated everything else about the policy, more
strenuously than anyone else did; and if I had not done so, Wikipedia might
not now be committed to its neutrality policy.

> I apologize most sincerely if my saying so has upset you; it 
> was not my intention.

You don't need to apologize, condescendingly, for upsetting me, Jimmy;
obviously, that's just a further insult, as it puts attention on the fact
that I am upset. Sure I am. Kind of you to observe that. If I were to
say, "Jimmy really had nothing to do with Wikipedia. When I asked him to,
he compliantly set up a wiki, and I proceeded to do virtually everything to
get the project started and set it up to become a success; he was on the
sidelines most of the time; and, of course, he paid me"--you would be upset,
too, I suspect. But I do not say this, out of respect.

I am upset, and also disappointed and severely disillusioned. But if for
anything, you need to apologize for implying something false, which, if
passed around much, would create entirely the wrong impression among your
many admirers in the Wikimedia community: "The original idea for a wiki for
Wikipedia was not proposed by Larry, but by Jeremy Rosenfeld." That's an
apology that I would find valuable.

I see that someone has already made use of your declaration to say something
completely wrong on my Wikipedia user page:


I expect that your perfectly innocent comment will now be repeated, with
perfect innocence, to journalists. Then this and other such historical
revisionism on your part will help ensure that I will in the future be
portrayed as (1) not the person who came up with the idea of Wikipedia, (2)
merely and singlehandedly responsible for the "miserable failure" that was
Nupedia, and who was fired because it was a failure, (3) on Wikipedia,
merely an employee taking orders and not really responsible for any of the
policy of the project, (4) opposed to an open project altogether, and (5)
opposed to neutrality. That, at least, is how it seems some of my
detractors want me to be portrayed, even though my memoir shows every part
of it to be outrageously false.

And after this, instead of treating me as a person with a legitimate,
well-founded complaint, I imagine that you will respond by implying that I
am "upset," and that you "apologize that I am upset." That's mighty big of
you, Jimmy.

The memoir's location again:

I was just wondering, coming in cold and knowing bugger all about anything, but wouldn't there exist documentation, like internal memos, minutes, or whatever the company/firm/sweatshop used in its day to day business dealings and communications.  Or was this some casual chit chat standing around the water cooler with everyone saying: great idea! Drop everything and get to it.  Or did it occur during a 5 minute smoko break - or maybe walking back together with your cups of latte from the local stucko bucko thingo, etc.  Or maybe you were all having lunch at Antonio's and you had a mouthful of focaccia and no one heard you...


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