User:Larry Sanger/More old comments

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More stuff people put on User:Larry Sanger:

Would you tell us how did you became editor-in-chief of Nupedia and instigator of Wikipedia?


Certainly! Jimbo Wales originally thought of the idea for Nupedia, he tells me, I believe in the fall of 1999. I was looking for a way to supplement the income I was making from teaching fiddle (a very pleasant, but non-lucrative occupation that left me even more time to pursue serious philosophy than does managing Nupedia). I suggested (by e-mail) to various people that they look at a website I was considering starting--a bit of background here--I had already had excellent success with the "objective" Y2K news summary Sanger's Review of Y2K News Reports (now, since I didn't renew ownership of the URL, yet another of these truly pathetic "camgirl" websites)--but I had handed over work on that website to an associate in spring 1999. Jimbo--an Internet acquaintance from years back, whom I had met offline a couple times, and who had followed the success of Sanger's Review--saw this website proposal (it was to be a review of cultural news) and, reflecting on the fact that he was looking for someone to manage his new encyclopedia project, asked me to start it up for him. So, I did, and the rest is (very recent) history.

As to Wikipedia, I was chatting (offline) with another Internet acquaintance of mine, a Ward's wiki regular, Ben Kovitz, over dinner last January 5, I think it was. Ben was telling me all about how wikis work. I had been thinking about ways to supplement Nupedia's work with something more wild-and-woolly, but also less bureaucratically cumbersome. (I had made several, I forget how many, proposals of such projects both on and off Nupedia mailing lists.) When Ben suggested the wiki concept, it occurred to me that such a format would be a wonderful and easy way to implement the wild-and-woolly encyclopedia idea.

You might or might not know that there has most recently been a new chapter in this story: the remarkable success of Wikipedia inspired me to suggest to Nupedia's advisory board that we change our (Nupedia's) editorial process to emulate a wiki's. I don't think Nupedia and Wikipedia will merge (except insofar as people transfer articles back and forth between the projects)--at least, not in the foreseeable future. But I do think that Nupedia's slow, bottleneck-ridden, but rigorous editing system can be improved by our adopting a wiki system in which the same rigor is combined with a wiki's freedom of development (if you will).

One way or another, I'm quite determined to see to it that Nupedia becomes the hugely popular and useful resource I know it can be. I am rather sure that Wikipedia will achieve great success as well.

So, there you have it.


Do you pick at my pages, especially, or are you an equal opportunity page-picker-ater? AnonymousCoward.


I pick at all pages equally, as you can see by looking at the RecentChanges log. And I shamelessly enjoy it, too! --LMS


Comment on "Wikipedia is a not a list of links, it's an encyclopedia. :-)": There is no way we can input as many facts (about a city such as Boston) into Wikipedia as there are on the city's official website. If Wikipedia is "a way to find information", then links to external websites should be an excellent means to this end. --User:LA2


I agree with you, but I meant exactly what I said. Wikipedia is not a list of links. I think it is a very, very bad habit to get into, to start just listing links in place of a real encyclopedia entry! --Larry


Have I done wrong by breaking the CIA factbook entries into /history /geog etc.? I visited a few of the pages that were up when I started and the ones with all the information on the same page seemed somewhat intimidating, so I thought it better to follow the example set in the later "A" entries of breaking it up. But you've recently mentioned about wikipedia expanding in breadth at the cost of depth, and I have to admit that some of the entries look less than impressive (for an example, pick "* Islands / People." Which is the better way to do it: all-in-one or broken up? And is complete consistency something to strive for in this area? --KQ


Actually, it was Jimbo who started that convention of breaking the factbook entries that way. I don't see anything wrong with it, myself. I think broken up is fine, or can be, particularly when you can expect very much more information under a given heading (which is usually). That's just my opinion... --Larry


Larry, I noticed that the spanish nupedia homepage has a link to wikipedia, could you arrange for a link to es.wikipedia.com to be added, with a note saying that it is a spanish language wikipedia? I ask you because I'm not sure we should I ask.


I don't have (well, I don't exert) direct control over this. The place to ask for this would be on Espanol-L. I think some of the translators, like other Nupedia people, look down their noses (totally unwarrantedly, in my opinion) at Wikipedia, so you might encounter resistance. But I'm all for trying! --User:LMS


Note for you, Larry. :-) --KQ


When you say "Note for you, Larry," are you thereby giving me the note to which "Note for you, Larry" refers (which is a very nice gesture, but puzzling), or do you mean to refer me to some other note (perhaps the latest note on KQ)? :-) --Larry


Apologies. I've been somewhat befuddled by the protocol of personal notes: when someone leaves one on your page, do you respond on your own page, keeping the context the comment was made in (and preventing the conversation from looking one-sided and maniacal), or on the other person's page, increasing the chance that the person will actually see the response? I thought to keep the context but also to let you know that I had responded, which was what I meant to (and failed to) convey. :-) So: I've responded to your 2nd-to-last comment to me, on the KQ page. --KQ.


Larry,

How rude of me. I've been poking around in the Wikipedia for a week now and neglected to introduce myself to you. I must have seemed like some sort of stalker. First I found an old home page of yours and added the image here on 5/25. Then I made a remark about your relationship to a cucumber on my page.

Now that I've come to my senses :-), let me first apologize for my erratic behavior. Next, I simply want to say that I am delighted to have found this project! I'm particularly pleased to find a site where a philosopher is making such a flourishing wiki contribution. Your article on truth has given me much to think about. I do agree wholeheartedly with your ending comment that we "don?t have to rest content with any sort of relativism that says that truth is just the same as belief."

><> Tim.


Tim, welcome! No need to apologize! Frankly, we've got a lot of pokers here. ;-) (Joke! Joke!) I take most attention of whatever kind as flattery. Yes, I love Wikipedia. I think it's great. I think it's going to succeed in a huge way. That particular comment about relativism--well, it doesn't belong in an encyclopedia (though I'm glad you agree with it). I'll be removing it when I get around to that entry. --User:LMS


Greetings, Larry. I've been freelinking your text again, and wondered if you've you noticed the question marks in the text. It looks as if you've pasted in from a Mac document (I have the same problem exporting files from Adobe PageMaker for the Mac and then using them on a Windows machine). I've been converting them to apostraphes when I notice them (pasting them into a word processor and then using find-and-replace for "?s ?l ?v" etc.) example here: Identity and change. --KQ


I have noticed those question marks. I think they were added in some time after I originally posted the text--I wrote on a Windows machine, I shamefacedly admit. But now wait a second...the original text, perhaps that was written on a Mac, yes, I'm pretty sure that was when I still had my Mac. But it has been transferred from file to file and format to format...hmm. No matter. Anyway, thanks very much! That's great, I owe you a beer! --User:LMS


Larry! Dammit! Here I have been complaining for the last couple of years about how dead the web is compared to those glorious years of 94-96 when there were people everywhere! It was *sooooooo* addictive. Now, the web is so glossy and shiny, all the people are gone. Or at least in hiding! But there are people here... and I am falling in love with the web again... I don't have time for this!


Ahhhh, yes, the glorious years of '94-'96. Who could ever forget the wonderful discussions on ASP-Disc (just for example)?

You can't resist the lure of Wikipedia, can you? You can't resist. Give in to your fate. Bwa-ha-ha-ha!!!

By the way, who are you? Do I know you? --User:LMS


You do not know me. I should stay anonymous at least for a while. There is this small matter of my unfinished PhD dissertation...


You asked "Why create an entry if all you know are the person's birth and death dates?", in the edit summary of Simon Flexner (not one I entered). Perhaps we could call it provocative editing--creating, or changing, a page to get it onto the RecentChanges list, hoping it will provoke someone to flesh it out. A similar (unintentional) example was my editing the Great Depression page--I only added some wiki links, but it's appearance on R/C got your attention, with some good changes and questions (grin). Oh, and someone else, while I was typing this, has already provided more info on Flexner.... --loh (2001-06-29)


Good point, Larry, but it still annoys me. Yes, it's great to leave things undone, but these wimpy entries do add up and in the short-term and medium-term, make Wikipedia look, well, superficial. That's what I don't like. --Larry

Yeah, I have to admit I was tweaking you a little (I've been awake too long); might be a good topic for a future Larry Sanger/Columns column: "What makes a good /seed/basic/minimal/ article?", or a follow-on to the "not a dictionary" column. I suppose a provocative edit is a more aggressive (or lazy?) form of Requested articles. I suppose I should get some sleep now. --loh


However, I don't see that the song is so important as to warrant so much as a mention on the God Save the Queen page. Now, I could be just wrong about that--a philistine about the Sex Pistols I definitely am. So, maybe you should replace the comment along with an explanation of why it's so important.

--User:LMS

Your wish is my command :) User:GWO, see The Sex Pistols


Larry, congradulations on 6000 entries. I have inflicted enough random entries for today.


Never enough. --User:LMS


Larry, perhaps you know, since Jimbo doesn't seem to be around. What had to be done to get Google to index us? I have a wiki where I've gotten rid of the ? in the URL, but I think the .cgi in http://foo.com/wiki.cgi/WhatEver might still be deterring Google.


Right, they got rid of the ?. If there was a ".cgi" in the script, obviously, they got rid of that, too. Other than that, they submitted a page or two to Google sometime early on, and that's it, as far as I know. Jimbo isn't gone, just very busy. --User:LMS


Larry, since you seem to be trying to play a moderating role particularly in the Abortion article I wanted to apologize for the abrasive nature of my first comments due to frustration with the Wikipedia process. In my desire to see this project succeed I overreacted, but you did a very good job of attempting to moderate and balance things. Perhaps as a process addition some sort of elected moderation could be invoked for articles which fail to stabilize due to the current process failing. The talk section would then become the moderator enforced center for evaluation of proposed changes. --Jonathan


Thanks for the feedback, Jonathan. I thought perhaps I myself had been too abrasive in upbraiding people. (That's clearly a problem with me, I know. I'm working on it. :-) ) Eventually, some sort of moderation might well become necessary, but for now, I'd like to keep things as free as possible. --Larry


Sangers Reviews : http://www.sangersreview.com Is there a reason why that now seems to link to a sex webcam, or am I missing your double life as "Tina"


Ugh. Well, it had to happen, I suppose. I wasn't interested in fronting the money to renew my rights to the sangersreview.com domain name, so apparently this sex site bought it, because it was still generating traffic. --Larry


Larry, I just wanted to congratulate you on your excellent K5 article. I think you presented Nupedia and Wikipedia fairly, honestly, and objectively (and that last one is not an easy task for someone who thinks these projects are the coolest things going!). I think the K5 readership (and Slashdot too, but to a lesser extent) offered us some great feedback, both positive and negative, which may prompt a commentary from me. And finally, the positive effect on Wikipedia is, to say the least, damned impressive. I hope that Nupedia reaps similar benefits. --Stephen Gilbert


Agreed. Congrats. And even more impressive (to me) is that Wikipedia is included as a search option among other encyclopedias. I noticed though that the way that search engine is set up appears to have case sensitivity (I tried searching for my article on "alchemy" but only found it by searching on "Alchemy".) Something to look into, perhaps... -- BryceHarrington


Larry: I live in Seattle, and it is very expensive here, and traffic is AWFUL as in really, really terrible. During rush hour, and even during non-rush hour periods traffic is so bad that you can't get anywhere in as little as an hour. There is really not a pleasant place to live w/in one hour of Seattle, in my opinion. I think you may want to consider going a little farther afield, for instance there are ferries to islands in Puget Sound and across the sound. For instance Port Townsend on the Kitsap Peninsula is a very pleasant town, with a lower cost of living. There are a few Irish bars in Seattle which sometimes have music, but nothing like a real Irish pub w/ informal sessions, at least not that I am aware of. Olympia, over an hour to the south, is a pleasant little town. There used to be inexpensive places to live within the city, but not any more. You don't mention desired weather, but it really is cloudy and rainy a lot. But if you are OK with Ireland you can handle a Seattle winter. Oceans and mountains we got plenty of. There is snow nearby, but it hardly ever snows at sea level.


Hey, thanks, Jmccann! Very interesting. I hadn't heard about the awfulness of the traffic situation. Definitely worth thinking about. I know for a fact that there are good informal sessions in Seattle; it's reasonably famous for it. The names of the venues presently escape me. Anyway, this is very helpful. What can you say about Ellensburg, Washington, where Central Washington U. is? Have you been to their library? Any good? What about the drive over the pass--how long would that take? --LMS

Ellensburg is a small town just east of the Cascade Mountain Range on I-90. Cattle is important to the economy of the town, there is a large slaughterhouse there. The old part of the town is pleasant enough, with old brick buildings from the late 19th c., but most of the town is typical American blighted post-auto zoned-ugly sprawl. From memory, it is around 2 hours to drive in good traffic (90 becomes very congested at rush hour, and on long weekends). My wife and I have gone there in the spring several times to ride our bikes because eastern Washington has a much drier climate and it is nice to spend a weekend w/out rain after the sometimes dreary winters on this side of the mountains. I have no idea how the library is. If you want to go to a good library in Washington state, you will end up at the University of Washington. Getting lost in the stacks of Suzallo library on a daily basis was one of the reasons it took me so long to graduate. I was there yesterday in fact, I belong to the alumni organization solely to retain my checkout privileges.
That's the whole problem...finding a place that fits all my criteria. Where can I find a reasonably sunny place, with mountains and snow, that doesn't cost an arm and a leg to live in, that is within reasonable driving distance of a good library and a good Irish trad music scene...etc. Maybe Colorado, somewhere near Boulder, although I think the music scene isn't so great. I guess I'll have to sacrifice a bit for our quality of life in other respects.  :-) Thanks! --Larry

So how's Portland fit to these criteria?


Except for the rain, it fits pretty well! It's high on the list! --Larry