How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

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How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

David Gerard-2
Larry Sanger started Citizendium with a detailed plan for precisely
how it would work, which he detailed in a Slashdot article in 2005 and
kept firmly to. This produced the weird phenomenon where he treated
user suggestions like they were *threats*. I just read a Paul Graham
article which contains a line summing up the problem here:

    If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it
is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone
is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter
what.

Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace and seems
utterly unable to solve the problems it knows it has, let alone the
ones it doesn't. If room to zip around it exists, something small
enough to be nimble can find it.


- d.

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Sarah-128
On Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 12:26, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Larry Sanger started Citizendium with a detailed plan for precisely
> how it would work, which he detailed in a Slashdot article in 2005 and
> kept firmly to. This produced the weird phenomenon where he treated
> user suggestions like they were *threats*. I just read a Paul Graham
> article which contains a line summing up the problem here:
>
>    If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it
> is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone
> is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter
> what.
>
> Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
> in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
> Work like a startup.
>
One of the key skills that Jimbo brought to Wikipedia was knowing when
to be hands on, and when not. If you look through the early mailing
lists -- not just the very early ones, but the first few years --
that's the thing that shines through again and again. If I had to
point to one issue that made Wikipedia successful it was this ability
to steer without micromanaging.

Sarah

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Fajro
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 3:26 PM, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

>
> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
>

With more Wikipedias.

This is my idea for Wikipedia:

http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposal:Recognize_that_Wikipedia_is_more_than_an_encyclopedia_and_fork_it

--
Fajro
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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Marc Riddell
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
on 4/7/11 2:26 PM, David Gerard at [hidden email] wrote:

> Larry Sanger started Citizendium with a detailed plan for precisely
> how it would work, which he detailed in a Slashdot article in 2005 and
> kept firmly to. This produced the weird phenomenon where he treated
> user suggestions like they were *threats*. I just read a Paul Graham
> article which contains a line summing up the problem here:
>
> If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it
> is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone
> is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter
> what.
>
> Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
> in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
> Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace and seems
> utterly unable to solve the problems it knows it has, let alone the
> ones it doesn't. If room to zip around it exists, something small
> enough to be nimble can find it.
>
>
You're right, David. And when the dust finally settles (if it were ever
meant to settle :-)) the encyclopedic project that really works
consistently, reliably and progressively will be one that truly knows how to
work with those who create and maintain the substance of it: People. And I
will be very happy to assist this endeavor when it is started. Wikipedia is
at a standstill. The primary focus of the powers-that-be seems to be
building a donor base. But, from the top down, none has a clue how to work,
guide, collaborate, or motivate the persons who are these new donors; much
less the incredible persons that make up the existing one. This has been
pointed out time after time on this and other Lists. But the message seems
to be falling on ears tuned to a different frequency. It's in the people,
people!

Marc Riddell


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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

MuZemike
In reply to this post by Fajro
Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't that what we have been doing so
far (i.e. with all the other sister Wikimedia projects)?

-MuZemike

On 4/7/2011 1:37 PM, Fajro wrote:

> On Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 3:26 PM, David Gerard<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>
>>
>> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
>>
>
> With more Wikipedias.
>
> This is my idea for Wikipedia:
>
> http://strategy.wikimedia.org/wiki/Proposal:Recognize_that_Wikipedia_is_more_than_an_encyclopedia_and_fork_it
>
> --
> Fajro
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l


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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

David Gerard-2
On 7 April 2011 21:56, MuZemike <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't that what we have been doing so
> far (i.e. with all the other sister Wikimedia projects)?


Yes, but also other niches Wikipedia leaves. Wikia, for example,
started to form wikis of any sort, but has rapidly taken over the
niche of fansite wikis.


- d.

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Fred Bauder-2
> On 7 April 2011 21:56, MuZemike <[hidden email]> wrote:
>
>> Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't that what we have been doing
>> so
>> far (i.e. with all the other sister Wikimedia projects)?
>
>
> Yes, but also other niches Wikipedia leaves. Wikia, for example,
> started to form wikis of any sort, but has rapidly taken over the
> niche of fansite wikis.
>
>
> - d.

That's what draws a crowd. A lesson there. I still think we should eat
their lunch; I was never a deletionist.

Fred


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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ian Woollard
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
You should be careful what you wish for. It's not hard to make a
'viable competitor' encyclopedia that would be so corrupt and
inaccurate it would make the Fox News network... look like a news
network. And if it was glossy and facile enough, plenty of people
would probably be dumb enough to use it.

On 07/04/2011, David Gerard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> Larry Sanger started Citizendium with a detailed plan for precisely
> how it would work, which he detailed in a Slashdot article in 2005 and
> kept firmly to. This produced the weird phenomenon where he treated
> user suggestions like they were *threats*. I just read a Paul Graham
> article which contains a line summing up the problem here:
>
>     If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it
> is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone
> is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter
> what.
>
> Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
> in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
> Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace and seems
> utterly unable to solve the problems it knows it has, let alone the
> ones it doesn't. If room to zip around it exists, something small
> enough to be nimble can find it.
>
>
> - d.
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>


--
-Ian Woollard

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

MuZemike
Why does Conservapedia come to mind :)

-MuZemike

On 4/7/2011 7:03 PM, Ian Woollard wrote:

> You should be careful what you wish for. It's not hard to make a
> 'viable competitor' encyclopedia that would be so corrupt and
> inaccurate it would make the Fox News network... look like a news
> network. And if it was glossy and facile enough, plenty of people
> would probably be dumb enough to use it.
>
> On 07/04/2011, David Gerard<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>> Larry Sanger started Citizendium with a detailed plan for precisely
>> how it would work, which he detailed in a Slashdot article in 2005 and
>> kept firmly to. This produced the weird phenomenon where he treated
>> user suggestions like they were *threats*. I just read a Paul Graham
>> article which contains a line summing up the problem here:
>>
>>      If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it
>> is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone
>> is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter
>> what.
>>
>> Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
>> in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
>> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
>> Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace and seems
>> utterly unable to solve the problems it knows it has, let alone the
>> ones it doesn't. If room to zip around it exists, something small
>> enough to be nimble can find it.
>>
>>
>> - d.
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> WikiEN-l mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
>> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>>
>
>


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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

geni
In reply to this post by Ian Woollard
On 8 April 2011 01:03, Ian Woollard <[hidden email]> wrote:
> You should be careful what you wish for. It's not hard to make a
> 'viable competitor' encyclopedia that would be so corrupt and
> inaccurate it would make the Fox News network... look like a news
> network. And if it was glossy and facile enough, plenty of people
> would probably be dumb enough to use it.


One thing that should probably be considered is that from the
competing POV wikipedia does 2 things.

1)It provides information to people on general interest topics (for
broad values of general interest)
2)It provides a plece for people to write articles on general interest topics.

We've received both competition and attempts at competition in both cases

In case 1 competition comes from Britannica and the million and one
aps for viewing wikipedia on your phone.
In case 2 competition attempts include knol, citizendium and more
successfully hoodong

--
geni

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ian Woollard
On 08/04/2011, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:
> more successfully hoodong

Yes, although on some articles it's interesting to read,  translated
back to me via google translate, what is clearly my own text, with the
same images I selected, from an encyclopedia that claims they now own
the copyright on it. ;-)

> --
> geni

--
-Ian Woollard

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Stephanie Daugherty
IMO, the "next best thing" will be whatever can come along and solve
our social and community problems technologically, while being easier
to edit.
Treat assholes like bugs in the software - code around them, figure
out how you can make the experience downright painful for them while
making it easier for the sort of people that you really want to
attract. Build the software to guide people in the direction of
correct behavior, and to inherently track sourcing, etc.

Do this right, and wikipedia will be pretty much dead, do it wrong,
and we'll be laughing at you here in 6 months. :P


On Thu, Apr 7, 2011 at 10:33 PM, Ian Woollard <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On 08/04/2011, geni <[hidden email]> wrote:
>> more successfully hoodong
>
> Yes, although on some articles it's interesting to read,  translated
> back to me via google translate, what is clearly my own text, with the
> same images I selected, from an encyclopedia that claims they now own
> the copyright on it. ;-)
>
>> --
>> geni
>
> --
> -Ian Woollard
>
> _______________________________________________
> WikiEN-l mailing list
> [hidden email]
> To unsubscribe from this mailing list, visit:
> https://lists.wikimedia.org/mailman/listinfo/wikien-l
>

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Sarah-128
On 04/07/11 11:37 AM, Sarah wrote:
> One of the key skills that Jimbo brought to Wikipedia was knowing when
> to be hands on, and when not. If you look through the early mailing
> lists -- not just the very early ones, but the first few years --
> that's the thing that shines through again and again. If I had to
> point to one issue that made Wikipedia successful it was this ability
> to steer without micromanaging.
>
  This is an important observation.  It contrasts with some of his later
efforts at wading into controversial issues.  These have often seemed as
drive-by efforts by someone who was not completely up-to-date with the
matter at hand.  These would generate more controversy in an already
dirfficult issue that just needed time to be worked through.

Ec

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On 04/07/11 2:29 PM, David Gerard wrote:
> On 7 April 2011 21:56, MuZemike<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>> Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't that what we have been doing so
>> far (i.e. with all the other sister Wikimedia projects)?
> Yes, but also other niches Wikipedia leaves. Wikia, for example,
> started to form wikis of any sort, but has rapidly taken over the
> niche of fansite wikis.
>
An who can complain about that?

The sister projects began by filling in important niches. The first,
Meta, provided a way in which we discuss activities and ideas about
ourselves and policy that was not inherently encyclopedic.  Wiktionary
was a response to "Wikipedia is not a dictionary." etc. A fork could
easily start with copied material which from that moment would evolve
differently. They may choose to abandon NPOV.  Having several sites that
freely and independently do this would in fact put our own NPOV in a
broader perspective.  Another may choose to be more aggressive in the
treatment of copyright.  They would assume the risks at a level which
makes them comfortable, but in the longer term we too would benefit from
their efforts to free data.

They need to be willing limit the growth of their projects to match
their funding. A project that tries to duplicate everything on Wikipedia
is dooming itself to starvation. Subject specialization is the most
evident criterion for this. From the Wikipedia side we need to link to
these projects for alternative views. They are not our enemies.

Ec

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Fred Bauder-2
On 04/07/11 4:13 PM, Fred Bauder wrote:

>> On 7 April 2011 21:56, MuZemike<[hidden email]>  wrote:
>>> Perhaps I'm missing the point, but isn't that what we have been doing
>>> so
>>> far (i.e. with all the other sister Wikimedia projects)?
>> Yes, but also other niches Wikipedia leaves. Wikia, for example,
>> started to form wikis of any sort, but has rapidly taken over the
>> niche of fansite wikis.
> That's what draws a crowd. A lesson there. I still think we should eat
> their lunch; I was never a deletionist.
>

I confess that when my wife and I are sitting in front of the TV, and a
question arises from whatever we are watching, Wikipedia's relevant
articles become a first source of information on our laptops while we're
watching. When we do that we seldom feel the need to follow the sources.

Ec

Ec

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Ian Woollard
On 04/07/11 5:03 PM, Ian Woollard wrote:
> You should be careful what you wish for. It's not hard to make a
> 'viable competitor' encyclopedia that would be so corrupt and
> inaccurate it would make the Fox News network... look like a news
> network. And if it was glossy and facile enough, plenty of people
> would probably be dumb enough to use it.
>
That would be great!  Maybe Fox News itself can pick up the idea. Their
accuracy and corruption is not our responsibility. If they're bad
enough, that will make us look better.

Ec

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Ray Saintonge
In reply to this post by Stephanie Daugherty
On 04/07/11 9:05 PM, Stephanie Daugherty wrote:
> IMO, the "next best thing" will be whatever can come along and solve
> our social and community problems technologically, while being easier
> to edit.

Social and community problems cannot be solved technologically.

> Treat assholes like bugs in the software - code around them, figure
> out how you can make the experience downright painful for them while
> making it easier for the sort of people that you really want to
> attract. Build the software to guide people in the direction of
> correct behavior, and to inherently track sourcing, etc.

If you approach an asshole directly you just get shit on your face.  We
do better by encouraging good behaviour than by spending time dealing
with a handful if problem people.

> Do this right, and wikipedia will be pretty much dead, do it wrong,
> and we'll be laughing at you here in 6 months. :P

Sure enough,

Ec

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Charles Matthews
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On 07/04/2011 19:26, David Gerard wrote:

<snip>
> Knowino (and Argopedia, and the survivors of Citizendium, and everyone
> in fact) needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room
> in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia?
> Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace and seems
> utterly unable to solve the problems it knows it has, let alone the
> ones it doesn't. If room to zip around it exists, something small
> enough to be nimble can find it.
Of course the niches are there. The real question is more like this: you
have to avoid the "general" encyclopedia market for the "general
reader". So what do you set out to do? One idea is to have a forum as
front end, and a team of editors who collate material from the forum as
back end. This was pretty much the theory of the first wiki I worked on
(except the forum was a newsgroup). The Web is full of transient
material, and specialised discussions, and all you really need is some
working understanding of what kind of "collation" is worthwhile.

Charles


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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Stephanie Daugherty
In reply to this post by Ray Saintonge
On Fri, Apr 8, 2011 at 4:43 AM, Ray Saintonge <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 04/07/11 9:05 PM, Stephanie Daugherty wrote:
>> IMO, the "next best thing" will be whatever can come along and solve
>> our social and community problems technologically, while being easier
>> to edit.
>
> Social and community problems cannot be solved technologically.
>

I beg to differ here. While not every social or community problem has
a technological answer, that doesn't mean we shouldn't seek one out
where a suitable one exists. We've already been doing it successfully
- things like the edit filter are applications of technology to social
problems (in this case vandalism) that have been proven to have real
world value.

When you have a small community, the community itself tends to
propagate and enforce certain standards of behavior, and distance
themselves from those that don't follow them. As that community grows,
it eventually reaches a point where people are added faster than they
can be assimilated into the norms of the community, and the behavior
of the community changes to follow the behavior of the masses that are
joining it, rather than people changing their behavior to fit
community norms.

Making some of those norms part of "how the system works" - that is,
inside the black box that is the software, takes the confrontations
out of the equation, while keeping the pressure to adhere to community
norms in place long after a handful of editors trying to enforce them
would have been overran and given up. Obviously you can't code "assume
good faith" into the software, but you can change the workflows and
information flow, and communication structure, and even site
permissions to encourage this, and to give someone a chance to stop
unwanted behavior like [[WP:BITE]]ing before it actually has an
effect.

Not every technological answer is going to be direct either - when you
are looking at fixing a people problem with a technological fix, you
have to look at the whole workflow in question, with a mindset of
"what can I change to head this off.... what else will it effect...
will it work...". It may take several rounds of that before a solution
is obvious, and even then, it may not be the right one, or there may
not even be one, but if you start thinking outside the box, oftentimes
something will come out of it that does work :)

Of course, it also works the other way -- look at how some templates
are being used on Wikipedia - the technology is often used to create
problems :)

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Re: How to start a viable competitor to Wikipedia?

Daniel R. Tobias
In reply to this post by David Gerard-2
On Fri, 08 Apr 2011 01:26:41 -0700, Ray Saintonge wrote:

> I confess that when my wife and I are sitting in front of the TV, and a
> question arises from whatever we are watching, Wikipedia's relevant
> articles become a first source of information on our laptops while we're
> watching. When we do that we seldom feel the need to follow the sources.

One time I can recall that such a situation came up was during the
Super Bowl halftime a couple of years ago; somebody I was watching it
with started wondering how old Bruce Springsteen (the feature
performer there) was, so I grabbed my iPhone and looked it up through
a Wikipedia app.  Unfortunately, the page had just been vandalized to
alter his birthdate to be 10 years earlier than it really was, so I
got a wrong answer.


--
== Dan ==
Dan's Mail Format Site: http://mailformat.dan.info/
Dan's Web Tips: http://webtips.dan.info/
Dan's Domain Site: http://domains.dan.info/



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