[Nupedia-l] Let's make a wiki

Larry Sanger lsanger@nupedia.com
Wed, 10 Jan 2001 12:50:32 -0800

No, this is not an indecent proposal.  It's an idea to add a little
feature to Nupedia.  Jimmy Wales thinks that many people might find the
idea objectionable, but I think not.

"Wiki," pronounced \wee'-kee\, derives from a Polynesian word,
"wikiwiki," but
what it means is a VERY open, VERY publicly-editable series of web
pages.  For example, I can start a page called EpistemicCircularity and
write anything I want in it.  Anyone else (yes, absolutely anyone else)
can come along and make absolutely any changes to it that he wants to.
(The editing interface is very simple; anyone intelligent enough to
write or edit a Nupedia article will be able to figure it out without
any trouble.)  On the page I create, I can link to any other pages, and
of course anyone can link to mine.  The project is billed and pursued as
a public resource.  There are a few announced suggestions or rules.  The
concept actually seems to work well, as you can see here with the
original wiki:


Links are indicated by using CapitalizedWordsBunchedTogetherLikeThis.
If a wiki page exists, the word is underlined; if not, there is a
question mark after the word, which is clickable, and which anyone can
use to go and write something about the topic.

Setting up a wiki for Nupedia would be very easy; it can be done in
literally ten minutes.  (We've already found this out.)

As to Nupedia's use of a wiki, this is the ULTIMATE "open" and simple
format for developing content.  We have occasionally bandied about ideas
for simpler, more open projects to either replace or supplement Nupedia.
It seems to me wikis can be implemented practically instantly, need very
little maintenance, and in general are very low-risk.  They're also a
potentially great source for content.  So there's little downside, as
far as I can see.  We can make wiki versions of all new Nupedia
articles, too, and that can be a place where additional changes and
commentary can be gleaned (authors could ignore what goes on on the
wiki, of course--it's up to them).  The content can be licensed under an
open content license.

A Nupedia wiki would instruct users to try to make their entries
resemble encyclopedia articles, but the usual wiki sort of banter would
be permitted.  This would make things more interesting to many users,
who could *instantly* create, edit, and comment on articles.  If a wiki
article got to a high level it could be put into the regular Nupedia
editorial process.

We would not integrate the Nupedia wiki into the rest of Nupedia (though
wiki pages could link to regular Nupedia pages, there wouldn't be links
back).  It would be a completely separate part of the website.  The
search engine would not return wiki pages, and wiki pages wouldn't be
listed among other regular Nupedia pages.  We'd just have a link on the
left or right hand column of the website, "Nupedia Wiki", and let people
explore it if they're curious what it is.  On the front page of the
Nupedia wiki we'd make it ABSOLUTELY clear that this is experimental,
that Nupedia editors don't have control of what goes on here, and that
the quality of articles, discussion, etc., should not be taken as a
reflection of the quality of articles, review, etc. on the main part of
the Nupedia website.

Does anyone have an objection to our trying this out?