At the time of this writing, the opening sentence of Larry Sanger’s Everipedia entry is pretty close to his Wikipedia entry. It describes him as “an American Internet project developer … best known as co-founder of Wikipedia.” By the time you read this, however, it may well mention a new, more salient fact—that Sanger recently became the Chief Information Officer of Everipedia itself, a site that seeks to become a better version of the online encyclopedia than the one he founded back in 2001. To do that, Sanger’s new employer is trying something that no other player in the space has done: moving to a blockchain.
Oh, blockchain, that decentralized “global ledger” that provides the framework for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (as well as a thousand explainer videos, and seemingly a thousand startups’ business plans). Blockchain already stands to make medical patient data easier to move and improve food safety; now, Everipedia’s founders hope, it will allow for a more powerful, accountable encyclopedia.
Here’s how it’ll work. Everipedia already uses a points system where creating articles and approved edits amasses “IQ.” In January, when the site moves over to a blockchain, Everipedia will convert IQ scores to a token-based currency, giving all existing editors an allotment proportionate to their IQ—and giving them a real, financial stake in Everipedia. From then on, creating and curating articles will allow users to earn tokens, which act as virtual shares of the platform. To prevent bad actors from trying to cash in with ill-founded or deliberately false articles and edits, Everipedia will force users to put up a token of their own in order to submit. If their work is accepted, they get their token back, plus a little bit for their contribution; if not, they lose their token. The assumption is that other users, motivated by the desire to maintain the site’s value, will actively seek to prevent such efforts.
(L-R) Everipedia co-founders Travis Moore and Theodor Forselius, and Dr. Larry Sanger
The benefits of the move, according to Theodor Foselius, Everipedia’s co-founder and CEO, are many. For one, it allows active users to be more than just volunteers. “In places where Wikipedia has the most active user bases, like India, all these people edit for free,” he says. “The ability to be a stakeholder in the encyclopedia they edit and get real monetary value back, it’s really exciting to me.”
The value is more than literal, however. Blockchain’s primary advantage, as with turning money into a decentralized commodity, is that
- Study of 250M Wikipedia edits over 10 years shows that 1% of editors produce 77% of the site's content; ~40% of top 1% of editors bow out every five weeks (Daniel Oberhaus/Motherboard)
- Early Bitcoin dev and proponent of Bitcoin's SegWit2x upgrade, Jeff Garzik, debuts a cryptocurrency, Metronome, which he says works on multiple blockchains (Olga Kharif/Bloomberg)
- Facebook tests button to provide additional context on links in News Feed, such as the publisher's Wikipedia entry, trending information, and related articles (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)
- Sources: Facebook's news subscription tool is delayed on iOS over Apple's 30% App Store cut; the tool will rollout on Android phones over coming weeks (Peter Kafka/Recode)
- Slack updates screen sharing feature to allow collaborative editing, marking up of docs, more and says Screenhero to be shuttered in December (Matthew Lynley/TechCrunch)
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