This Interview is a Stub: Wikipedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger on Being Wrong

After Google, Wikipedia might be the single most powerful new influence on how we as a culture organize, disseminate, and access information. For millions of Web-connected citizens, the online encyclopedia is the place of first resort for looking up everything from Shirley Sherrod to sickle-cell anemia. There's no question about its scope or popularity: It has 3.3 million articles in English alone (compare that to the roughly 120,000 articles in the online edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica) and attracts nearly 78 million visitors each month. There's also no question that it's an astonishing triumph of open-source development: The entire colossus was built by a bunch of largely anonymous and entirely unpaid contributors.

There is, however, a great deal of argument—and consternation—about the accuracy of Wikipedia entries.  That's why I went looking for Larry Sanger, the disaffected Wikipedia co-founder who broke with the project over concerns about its credibility.  Click here to read my interview with him over on Slate, temporary home to this blog.   


Okay, maybe you don’t have strong beliefs about the “right” way to load a dishwasher, or about your sweetheart’s propensity to do it “wrong.” In that case, either you are unusually saintly or (like me) you don’t own a dishwasher. But you almost certainly get involved in domestic disputes about who’s right and who’s wrong all the time; we all do. Although interpersonal arguments can have a number of causes – from serious and painful breaches in trust to the fact that we haven’t had our coffee yet – an impressive number of them amount to a tug-of-war over who possesses the truth. We fight over the right to be right.