EDIT: If you want to work on Infobitt.com, please watch the help video (under "help" or here) first.

My short bio: I'm co-founder of Wikipedia and founder/CEO of Infobitt.com, which I want you all to check out and join! I started many other sites. In reverse order: ReadingBear.org, WatchKnowLearn.org, Citizendium.org, Textop.org (this is just an idea, but a cool one), helped with EOEarth.org, Nupedia, and Sanger's Review of Y2K News Reports. I also have a Ph.D. in philosophy and my wife and I homeschool my two wonderful little boys.

My Proof: This tweet: https://twitter.com/lsanger/status/544639354920898561

Comments: 1467 • Responses: 77  • Date: 

Marie_Klee1531 karma

What steps will the company take to keep Infobitt neutral and unbiased?

LarrySanger1477 karma

(1) Articulate and elaborate a neutrality policy. (I was the originator of Wikipedia's neutrality policy, via Nupedia, and I plumped for its adoption against much resistance.)

(2) We're democratic. Extreme views will tend to be ranked down.

(3) If we're flooded with people from one point of view, we'll actively recruit people from opposing points of view, to make sure we have a balanced community. In a democracy, a balanced community will mean a balanced vote.

(4) There are technical things we can do too.

elektroholunder858 karma

Doesn't breaking news require some kind of trust model? Take the recent events in Sydney as an example.

Many web properties like reddit or twitter already have the ability to break news, simply by virtue of having a critical mass of users that can add to a topic due to their first-hand knowledge of or proximity to an event.

The problem that remains is that this information is often hard or even impossible to verify. How will infobitt help me decide beyond my own gut whether a piece of news is correct or not?

If it only delegates that issue to its sources, what makes infobitt more than a mere aggregator?

LarrySanger864 karma

Good question. The answer what you indicate at the end: we delegate matters of verification and trust to our sources, to begin with, anyway. We are a "mere aggregator," but we do not aggregate articles; we aggregate facts which we find in articles.

Of what special value is that, you ask? Well, a large part of the reason it take so long to catch up with the news is that facts are spread out across many different articles, but the articles are also redundant with each other and with previous reporting. Finding the facts that are really important, but which you didn't already know, is a little like finding the proverbial needle in the haystack. Basically, Infobitt has us pooling our news-hunting activities and benefiting from the results. Not unlike what Wikipedia does for the facts that make up general knowledge.

d8_thc62 karma

Doesn't breaking news require some kind of trust model?

Yeah, like a rubber stamp of government approval type thing.

Take the recent events in Sydney as an example.

I feel like most of these events that happen are caught by civilians a ton of the time. The best recent footage of protests, or the hostage situation were from ordinary people.

I love the idea of creating a worldwide meshnet of live reporting, and taking out the opinion of political talking heads in the process.

LarrySanger63 karma

Infobitt will be able to do this.

I "live bitted" the Ferguson protests making use of Twitter posts, YouTube streaming video, etc.

F0064R99 karma


LarrySanger234 karma

It's called democracy. It's like jury nullification: I can write all the rules and policies you like, but if you write or vote contrary to them, and people go your way, I'm not going to stand in the way.

Listen, one of the awesome features of Infobitt is that, because pieces of content are one sentence long, it becomes possible to simply ask the community which of competing sentences should be displayed, and what order they should be in. This completely sidesteps the interminable edit warring of Wikipedia.

I absolutely hate Wikipedia's boneheaded amounts and types of policies. I do think quite a few policies are needed for an encyclopedia. But at a certain point, policies started looking like rhetorical weapons more than helpful guidelines.

I'm the author of the "ignore all rules" rule. I later repudiated it, only because people were misinterpreting the intent, supposing it to mean that we endorsed anarchy. That wasn't the point. The point was to use common sense and don't let bureaucratic thinking get in your way. Unfortunately, it did. Now there are (quite ironically) long, bureaucratic-sounding explanations of what "ignore all rules" means...ugh.

shavingcollywob61 karma

(2) We're democratic. Extreme views will tend to be ranked down.

I guess you haven't been to /r/politics

LarrySanger83 karma

/r/politics isn't a news summary site. It is a news discussion site. It also doesn't have a commitment to neutrality, because it isn't a news summary site.

shavingcollywob66 karma

But I'm not sure how much of a commitment there can be to neutrality when stories are voted on democratically. /r/politics is committed to neutrality in theory too. You aren't supposed to vote down a differing opinion simply because it's a differing opinion but go against the grain and you'll be voted down into oblivion.

I don't see anything that makes me believe Infobitt will be any different.

LarrySanger18 karma

For one thing, we don't use upvotes/downvotes. We use actual fine-grained rankings; we drag and drop bitts into 10 slots. So, sure, we rank differently, but even political opponents can agree that certain stories are important, even if there is a difference of opinion about how important. The fact that there is disagreement means not that stories will be deleted but that their average rank will be between what one side says and what the other side says.

Vilvos43 karma

We're democratic. Extreme views will tend to be ranked down.

What if a fact (like anthropogenic global warming) has become an "extreme view"? How will you cover news about controversial facts?

LarrySanger14 karma

Just because conservatives find AGW to be unproven (maybe some find it "extreme" but I doubt it), or just because progressives find concerns about Benghazi ridiculous, it does not follow that stories about these will disappear. They'll just be ranked differently. Unless they're big news, they probably won't be ranked so highly, because one side will tend to rank it down.

One thing worth noting is that we make no distinction between stories once they're in the pool. When you vote on the rank of a bitt (our name for a collection of facts about a story), you rank it 1-10 or in the pool. The purpose of this is to prevent people from having an undue influence in how low a story is ranked.

In addition, one thing we can and plan to do--but it won't be for a while before we'll be able to do it--is that we can weight rankings, and what is presented to you, based on how you weight various tags applied to users, like political party, religion, nationality, etc. Then you can see the news as weighted by people like you. Or you can see news as weighted by everyone.

Mustangarrett19 karma


That's a fun new word for me!

LarrySanger28 karma


mxjf1 karma

It just sounds like what reddit ALREADY IS. some crazy event happens, someone posts about it on reddit and gets it upvoted. If enough people disagree, it gets downvoted. Sir, you just made a /r/worldnews clone. That's exactly what you described.

LarrySanger5 karma

Nope. Infobitt collects news about the same story from multiple sources, finds unique facts, summarizes each in a sentence (="facts"), and then ranks the facts in order of importance. The collection of facts is a bitt. Then we rank the bitts in order of importance (think predicted historical impact).

It's just not the same at all.

ReadinBeforeSleepin389 karma

Really? That's awesome. Before getting Wiki launched and running, did you expect it to become as essential to the internet users as it is now?

LarrySanger484 karma

Expect? Well, I was sensible enough to know that, probably, it would fail. So when it started taking off, I (like Jimbo and everyone participating) was very excited. I'm capable of dreaming up lots of stuff so I'm sure I dreamed of spectacular success. Did I expect it, though? No.

ReadinBeforeSleepin109 karma

How much have you earn from it?

LarrySanger153 karma

See below.

Asheghetam188 karma

The satisfaction of being a person who has impacted the lives of millions of people positively.

LarrySanger269 karma

Sure, there's that.

Drayzen52 karma

Wikipedia has a systemic moderation bias problem. How are you going to prevent this on highly debated subjects?

LarrySanger74 karma

Because the unit of content in Infobitt is the fact, which is at most 200 characters, we'll be able to share out moderation responsibilities to basically everyone, who will be able to come to relatively quick decisions since the content being judged is so short. So, instead of biased judges (moderators), you'll face a jury of your peers.

I'm very much looking forward to the end of edit-warring and wheel-warring.

Rocky20rulz299 karma

Have you considered aiming it towards mobile devices? The seemly quick and concise nature of it, would seemingly to point towards quick browsing/checking updates throughout the day as opposed to sitting at the computer reading through articles like wikipedia.

kyzfrintin100 karma

It'd be great to have an app for it, like many other news sites.

gologologolo74 karma

I think the mobile news arena is hugely barren despite being so potent.

Maybe a gearing in that direction could help infobitt take off

LarrySanger127 karma

We think so. Creating an app is a high priority for next year.

LarrySanger38 karma

Agreed. We have to build the system that inputs the content first, though. But we're definitely ready to get an app out there. We'll start work on that next year, hopefully early.

F0064R279 karma


LarrySanger383 karma

Infobitt is different from WikiNews, and most similar citizen journalism websites, because WikiNews basically involves amateurs attempting to write news stories. As a result the work ends up unimportant, old, poorly sourced, and/or not well written (writing very well is difficult). Journalists are paid money because they have rare skills.

Infobitt does not feature amateurs doing what journalists do. It features amateurs summarizing facts gathered and carefully expressed by (one hopes) slightly more careful and better-trained professionals.

It's very different from Reddit because Reddit features a single source per story and, typically, just a headline. The headlines are ranked by counting simple up or down votes. By contrast, (1) we collect many facts per story, (2) from multiple sources, (3) expressed in full sentences, and (4) we rank the facts (and whole collections of facts, called bitts) by dragging and dropping them into a rank, rather than up- and down-vote. So, we're very different there.

No comment about Jimmy Wales first calling me co-founder then downplaying my role. I and others have said all I need to on that subject.

eric_a_out222 karma

Why do we have to "join"?

The absolute best thing about Wikipedia is that I don't have to be advertised to, or provide information that the NSA can look at when I'm looking at articles.

LarrySanger197 karma

It's free.

The only reason you have to join to see the site is that we fear the consequences of too much traffic all at once. We need to test each new level of traffic and fix bugs associated with the site at that level of traffic. The code is pretty complex and still beta (prone to bugs).

eric_a_out167 karma

But then in the future you won't have to join? If there is one thing I loath in this universe it's makng an account every where I go so companies can profile me to death.

LarrySanger205 karma

Yes, absolutely.

The reason you have to make an account is so we aren't constantly slammed with traffic that our system can't handle yet...kind of like what is happening at this exact moment thanks to Reddit. Maybe I should have given this AMA more thought. ;-)

ComputersByte104 karma

Yeah...definitely should have been prepared for the Reddit hug of death.

jdscarface94 karma

I'm capable of dreaming up lots of stuff so I'm sure I dreamed of spectacular success. Did I expect it, though? No.

He did it again.

LarrySanger24 karma


mycall17 karma

Yup, I can't even sign up without some error.

LarrySanger82 karma

That's because of Reddit. Sorry, we should have prepared more, apparently. Please try again tomorrow! :-(

RankFoundry71 karma

I've seen attempts at sites like this, where multiple news stories/sources would be combined into one page listing all the different details from different stories as well as updates as they unfold. Some were also making it a focus to show the differences on certain aspects between different stories on an event so you could see where the viewpoints differeed. None of them got any traction.

What do you think makes Infobitt viable? What's the killer feature?

LarrySanger85 karma

Can you think of examples? I'd be curious to interview the people behind those sites. I'm afraid I can't think of any examples that were quite like this.

I don't think there is a "killer feature," per se. Was there any one particular feature about Wikipedia that was the "killer feature"? The fact that it was a wiki? No, that's not it; there were lots and lots of wikis around when Wikipedia started. None of them became a top 10 website. Why not?

The devil's in the details; in other words, it's all in the execution. After Wikipedia got started, within a year we started getting imitators. Most of them fell flat on their face because they changed key points in the formula that made it work. Wikia later copied the Wikipedia formula almost perfectly and made a business out of it.

shouldbeworking2355 karma

Why do I have to cite that Lindsay Lohan is a crack whore on wiki? or else it takes it off... :(

LarrySanger280 karma

I think you're asking why you need to provide a reliable source for claims that, if false, could damage a person's reputation irreparably. Is that right? That's what you're confused about?

shouldbeworking2362 karma

is TMZ a reliable source?

LarrySanger97 karma

I really don't know. I don't read TMZ. I'd have to look into it. If I were making a judgment of policy for Infobitt (and one was necessary), I'd ask journalists.

A4050 karma

Considering the nature of an immediate, breaking 'news story,' and the flow of subsequent updates, what do you see as the visual/appearance format for Infobitt?

LarrySanger60 karma

We need to do a visual redesign, clearly. I'm going to get advice on visual design (as opposed to functional design) from somebody who knows what the hell he/she is talking about. I have no interesting opinions about the visual appearance of websites.

two_off48 karma

I would think that news would need to be a lot more rigorously sourced to stand up to proper journalism standards. How will Infobitt make sure that these standards are met?

LarrySanger35 karma

We break the news into single-sentence statements, called "facts," and each fact has to have a source. In a feature we've tested out, and which we'll add pretty soon, you'll be able to submit an alternate statement of a fact if you think someone else has got it wrong; the community then will vote on whose version of the fact is best. How's that sound?

bureX34 karma

Edit wars are currently an isssue for Wikipedia sometimes... but the article can and does get locked/protected until a solution is found. However, that takes time.

What about Infobitt? News is time-critical. What are the criteria for considering some news source to be a reputable one, and what happens when various editors disagree in the heat of the moment? What about government news agencies, are they included in this story?

LarrySanger16 karma

Since we're not really a wiki ("Wikipedia for news" is just suggestive, not literally correct), we work differently.

It depends on the disagreement. When we have all our planned features, then when a user thinks that some factual statement is incorrect, he can (a) flag it (if abusive), (b) rank it or "pool" it, (c) write a different version of the fact to compete with the one. I don't think we'll have to use all three of (a)-(c).

bethteball25 karma

how much money you made from wiki?

LarrySanger59 karma

Well, aside from the meager salary Bomis paid me (that'd be Jimbo's startup)...not much!

burrit0cannon25 karma

Do you like cats?

LarrySanger53 karma

Sure! Someone in my family is allergic or I'm pretty sure we'd have one. But I had one growing up. Her name was "Kitty." She was very, very fat (so her nickname was "Fat Cat") and she lived to the age of 22 or 23.

burrit0cannon21 karma

Then you have earned my respect! :)

LarrySanger70 karma


That was easy.

ypenguin22 karma


LarrySanger43 karma

Yes. Wikipedia fills a universal need, or desire, for quick answers.

Similarly, Infobitt will fill a universal need, or desire, to get caught up with the news very fast. We'll make it possible to get caught up five times as fast as you could before. You'll be rushing to Infobitt to include the latest news in the way you now do on Twitter, Facebook, or Reddit. We'll also finally give the long tail of citizen journalism a route whereby it can make it onto the front page of a hard news site.

You're certainly right that they're different.

Yes, I've gleaned any number of lessons from my Wikipedia days. The content has to be open content, so it will be. It's important, if you're creating a shared resource, that rules be stated clearly and that they be very gently enforced. My job description in these early days of Infobitt includes "recruiter" and "cheerleader," just as was the case in Wikipedia's early days. I could go on!

DramDemon20 karma

If you had a chance to do everything again, what would you change, if anything?

LarrySanger81 karma

If I could do everything with the benefit of 20-20 hindsight, human life would not be what it is now. Presumably I would try to contact my wife as soon as we were both 18 or something. I would start projects that have worked earlier, as soon as they became technically feasible, and I would completely skip projects that didn't work. Etc., etc. It's not a terribly meaningful question, if you think about it.

ismellliketuna17 karma

Is Hakuna Matata truly a wonderful phrase ?

LarrySanger50 karma

Being an effective human being requires low stress levels. Taking it easy and not getting stressed out is always a good idea. But problems, yes there are problems in the world. So, I'm ambivalent.

ImCompletelyAverage17 karma

I'm probably late to the party, but I still have questions. I've created an account and it looks simple, much like Wikipedia, but I don't know where to start. I've got these ten things on the front-page with some more stuff on the side bar. How do I vote these things up or down? What is the bitt pool? How is this different than reddit in the fact that a certain group of o opinionated people will be more prevalent than others? Don't you think this would result in certain left or right wing bitts being ranked higher? Why do the number of dots under a bitt differ? Also, how will you prevent one person from creating multiple amounts and changing the vote that way?

I usually hate them, but I think a tutorial is in order to get new users accustomed to the feel of the site. Please don't think I'm trying to shoot this idea down, I really want this to work because I'm just as sick of biased news as much as the next guy, but I don't think this will ever succeed if you don't have the harshest critics. I would love to discuss, as a user, how this website works. Also, please remember to think about the users before you make large changes. Too many apps and website do this and the users seem to end up displeased. Sorry for ranting, this is exciting and I want this to work!

LarrySanger8 karma

I hear you. Please watch the help video and read the FAQ.

We badly need a help overlay. It's not really self-explaining.

You don't vote things up or down. You drag and drop bitts to rank them.

The bitt pool is where you put any bitts that don't make the top 10. Everything in the pool is the same rank, as far as your personal ranking goes.

I think ultimately the ranking of bitts with some ideological sensitivity will be somewhere between the average progressive rank and the average conservative rank.

0 dots = 1 fact. 1 dot = at least 2 facts. 2 dots = at least 4 facts. 3 dots = at least 8 facts. Etc.

We can't prevent one person from creating multiple accounts and changing the vote yet, but when it becomes a problem, we'll datamine voting and data and IP addresses and figure it out as best we can.

The combo of the video and the FAQ is OK as a tutorial.

-pepesilvia15 karma

How do you defend the open source platform against the "anyone can go in and edit false information" argument? I think open source is the way of the future, looking at things like Wikipedia and Bitcoin, but I'm never really sure how to respond properly to something like that.

LarrySanger20 karma

As on Wikipedia, with many eyeballs, all errors are shallow. This is even more so the case on Infobitt because every single sentence has a source, and it's easy to click through to the source to see if it says what Infobitt says it says. And as we move forward we'll give people incentives to do just that.

S_O_I_F13 karma

What's the funniest edit anybody's ever made on Wikipedia (that you know of)?

LarrySanger16 karma

LeVentNoir11 karma


All actual news events turn into wiki pages anyway.

Follow up, are you going to cover only the news stories which is relevant to each reader? If not, then why do you claim you'll be a fast and efficient run down of the news?

LarrySanger20 karma

To save time. Wikipedia creates encyclopedia articles, and encyclopedia articles should be narratives (sort of, anyway) that describe the topic in general terms. This usually involves arranging facts not according to importance but according to subtopic and according to how they fit in with a narrative.

On Infobitt, we're saving you time (and will do so more as we grow) by prising out all the unique facts about a story from various sources and putting them in rank order of importance. This way you don't have to scan an encyclopedia article--or a traditional news article--to glean the most important things that you didn't already know.

fruitloopyalc8 karma

What is the policy regarding editing articles to include spoilers for movies or TV shows?

Say someone had inside info and tried to edit an article to include the results of a show before the finale, would that be removed? How would this be noticed and handled? Is the entertainment industry involved in any way?

LarrySanger12 karma

No policy on that yet. No entertainment industry involvement yet.

Personally, I think Wikipedia's policy (I don't know if they've changed it yet) of including spoilers without alerting readers to the fact that spoilers are coming up is truly boneheaded.

ohwowbeau5 karma

Is this going to be just real news or are you also going to do celeb news? Also do you think this will get funded better than wiki?

LarrySanger3 karma

Real news on the front page. We'll have celeb news in the Entertainment category and in special tags (when we've added a tagging system; it's in the plans). Our focus is on serious stuff but less-serious stuff can be buried. If we get a lot of traffic there, great!

We won't be better-funded than Wikipedia, if that's what you mean, for a while. But eventually we will be, if we're successful.

PM_ME_A_HORSE4 karma

What are your main criticisms of Wikipedia?

LarrySanger15 karma

I'm not interested in criticizing Wikipedia anymore. I sort of promised publicly that I wouldn't, so I shouldn't. But I guess it's OK if I link to some old criticisms from before I made that promise: http://qr.ae/q949u

mattion4 karma

What are some of the most edited Wiki articles?

LarrySanger7 karma

I'm afraid I haven't a clue. Someone here probably can point you to the right wiki page. They pay people to track this sort of information, I believe.

ketchupBottle4 karma

I hear running a non-profit organization is very very difficult to manage. Do you get a hard time from IRS? What are the benefits of running a non-profit organization? And what are the down falls?

Thank you very much for doing this AMA.

You rock!

LarrySanger3 karma

The Reddit announcement (at the top of the page) is misleading and wrongly marked up (not my fault). We aren't nonprofit, precisely because running a nonprofit is hard and it's very hard to raise money for the software this project needs.

joelschlosberg3 karma

Do you miss Bad Jokes and Other Deleted Nonsense?

LarrySanger4 karma

Yes, and thanks for asking!

MarsShadow3 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA! I'm wondering if you could give us all uninformed lazies a little information on what Infobitt is and what made you create it?

LarrySanger6 karma

"How we can organize the news (short version)" was written for you! (There's a longer version too.)

Here's an excerpt:

It is human to want to know what’s going on. Perhaps billions of people follow the news every day in one form or another.

This is why there are endless streams of news flooding the media landscape, more than ever before. Many of us would like to stay on top of the spreading pool of news. But the flood is getting deeper and wider.

That’s why we skim various news sources, apps, our friends’ feeds, blogs, etc. We resign ourselves to not knowing many details; for that, we must read many articles in full. Only devoted newshounds have time for that.

Beyond the sheer quantity of news, we must navigate redundant news, click bait, sensationalism, and on and on. The news has become noisy and confusing. There’s a sea of it, and it’s uncharted.

The facts about an ongoing story are often spread across many different sources, from the New York Times down to a humble blog. Nobody organizes the facts. No media outlet has the motive or the ability to come to grips with everything.

But we do—billions of us have that motive, and if we are organized in the right way, we’ll have the ability. What if we pooled our efforts on the news in the way we did on Wikipedia?

But how?

Here’s the Infobitt model. We grab different facts from different news sources, summarize them in sentences which link back to those sources. We each drag-and-drop the facts into our preferred order, and the system calculates the sense of the community. The result is a bitt.

That’s not all. There’s a stream of new bitts arriving in the system. We put bitts in order of importance by drag-and-drop as well. We’ve made a new way to collaborate on collecting the news.

We want this done for every article about every story. And we want it constantly updated. After all, it’s 2014.

Only a giant, international, online community could make this happen. This is citizen journalism re-envisioned to include an enormous distributed editorial function. It’s ambitious, but we can do it.

obi-wan-kenobi-nil3 karma

How do you plan to keep Infobitt free of ads?

ALSO: Just tried to sign up for Infobitt and it won't let me use the apostrophe in my last name when I sign up. Any chance of getting that fixed?

LarrySanger7 karma

We don't. It's going to have ads; it will be for-profit. I've worked on a long series of non-profit and educational projects. I know how it goes. The reason Infobitt is non-profit that the software doesn't exist yet, and raising the money to support this sort of project is very difficult. Making it a for-profit ensures that it will exist and be well-supported!

Sorry about the name problem. We'll get it fixed eventually!

Vaypo3 karma

First, a sincere thank you.

Second, will Infobitt be sort of an archive of information like Wikipedia or will it be a good source for breaking news and current events? I'm hoping for the latter because the news nowadays is a joke.

LarrySanger4 karma

Both, but it is a source for breaking news and current events, mainly. In other words, you can already use it to quickly find the history of news stories. It's not complete because we haven't covered all important stories, but we have covered a lot. As we grow and expand the value of the site as a news archive will grow, making it possible to catch up with an ongoing story more easily.

But anyway, yes. I know what you mean when you say the news nowadays is a joke. We're trying to fix that.

that_random_potato2 karma

What exactly is Infobitt? I only get a landing page when I go on there. Describe it in 5 words.

LarrySanger3 karma

Wikipedia for news.

(Could you describe Wikipedia itself, or Reddit, or Quora, in any interesting way in five words?)

davemello842 karma

Hello! Have you ever heard of B.J. Novak's short story, "Wikipedia Brown and the Case of the Missing Bicycle," and if so did you enjoy it?

LarrySanger2 karma

Ha! No, I'm afraid I haven't read it. I think I did hear the name "Wikipedia Brown" before though.

Nicker2 karma

How would you handle a situation if more countries adopt the new Spanish laws of requiring payment towards news sites from aggravates pulling their information?

Would you cease all action from those domains *.es, like Google is, or implement a new work-around?

LarrySanger2 karma

Have those laws really gone into effect? I thought maybe not.

Anyway, that's a good question. I'm inclined to think we would simply have a Spanish edition hosted on U.S. or European (not Spanish) servers. But I don't know. I'd have to consult with legal experts.

gbjlu2 karma

Is wiki really asking money for strippers or is it really going down in the dumps?

LarrySanger4 karma

Umm...at this point, neither?

danglebot1 karma

Are you hiring?

LarrySanger1 karma

I'm building a team. :-)

NewtBoy1 karma

How do you feel about people calling your website lies? We can't use Wikipedia in my school because the teachers think its lies. What do you say to that? Thanks for doing this AMA!

LarrySanger2 karma

Well, I don't know. It's not all lies, of course; mostly it's facts. Surely people wouldn't use it if that weren't the case, and if they constantly turned up facts.

The trouble with teachers is that they are just ordinary adults, and all too often they aren't particularly intelligent adults, either. But they speak from a position of authority and therefore their students take what they have to say very seriously. So, look, unless you have some very good reason to take what your teacher says on some mere matter of opinion very seriously, accord it no more respect than you would any random comment on the Internet.

You can't use Wikipedia in your school because they want you to do your own research, and from sources that are edited by professionals. Nothing wrong with that. They can't stop you from using Wikipedia at home; just be sure to use the footnotes (and actually read the sources the footnotes point to, because Wikipedians don't always get what the footnotes say correctly).


Is running Wikipedia a huge pain? And how do you feel about criticism from teachers around the world?

LarrySanger5 karma

I don't run Wikipedia. I left the project many years ago. As to criticism from teachers, I understand where they're coming from, but it's kind of their own fault, i.e., the teachers'. They need to teach their students better how to find and use other, more authoritative sources.

Imookalee1 karma

I just signed up to be a pledge on Infobitt.com. What should my contribution have to best reach the goal of infobitt?

LarrySanger1 karma

Can you edit your question? I don't follow.

Please do go to [pledge.infobitt.com](pledge.infobitt.com) and pledge to add just one fact to the system when 99,999 other people have also so pledged. Then we'll have a big party and break the system! (Not really.)

glhavebacon1 karma

How did you have the stones to keep Wikipedia free? Were you ever close to putting ads on it? It seems like you've been ten clicks away from millions of dollars for a decade now.

I very much appreciate that you did not, and I believe I speak for all of us.

LarrySanger2 karma

You're misinformed about how it got started and my role. :-)

Wikipedia was a project originally owned by Bomis, Inc., a for-profit web portal (and "glamour photography") company. It was Wikipedia.com, not .org, for the first few years. When I was hired, Jimbo told me my job as encyclopedia organizer and editor would be paid for by ads. It was my job to start Nupedia, and Wikipedia was a side-project I also started, which took on a life independent of Nupedia. Just when Wikipedia took off, in 2001, the dot-com boom turned to bust. Bomis had to lay off a bunch of new hires, and I was the last to go. Before I left, Jimmy said he'd try to sell ads on Wikipedia to pay for me. After a while he said he couldn't do it, and I was laid off. But at the same time "the Spanish fork" (you can look it up) situation blew up, so after I left, Jimbo just said, "OK now I can commit to you that we won't run ads, since we're down to almost no costs for Wikipedia."

I myself supported Wikipedia being a non-profit, but only because many people demanded that. It was in the right time and at the right place to become a non-profit. Today, it would be very hard...

snickler1 karma

This sounds very interesting. I never heard of the website, but if it's like Wikipedia for the news.. rock on!

My question is how the articles are judged/moderated in terms of accuracy? I'd love to receive a news source that didn't contain a lot of sensationalized B.S.

LarrySanger1 karma

Well, they're not articles. They're collections of news facts from different sources, and they're called "bitts." The individual facts will be subject to a contest in which different users can submit different versions of the same fact, and the community votes to decide which is the version they prefer.

Sounds like Infobitt might be something you should support. Please write a bitt! :-)

Randomosaur1 karma

Have you ever laughed at vandalism?

LarrySanger1 karma

No, it's usually pretty boring. But I have laughed at vandals.

[deleted]0 karma


LarrySanger1 karma

I guess one of those hippie-ish necklaces might be neat as a present. Or a baja hoodie for myself.

hsvp-3 karma

No ur not?

LarrySanger5 karma

Jimbo said I was in the first three press releases he issued, so there's that. For more fun facts, see: http://larrysanger.org/role-in-wikipedia/