Larry Sanger/And more old comments

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Larry, have you ever seen The InformationSphere? It's run by an individual named Jan Keller. His goals seem to be quite compatible with ours, and there are quite a few good articles there. I was thinking maybe you could introduce yourself and see if any collaboration between our two projects is possible. --STG

I believe I've already written to him, and it didn't seem to have gone anywhere. I don't recall that he's replied. Collaboration is a good idea, but there are three incompatibilities: his contributors own the copyrights to InformationSphere's content, it isn't collaboratively-written, and he has mostly stub entries rather than actual articles. There's also a practical problem from his point of view, and that is that Wikipedia is already so much better than InformationSphere and is growing so quickly that the suggestion to merge the projects is tantamount to his losing a significant amount of control over his own project.

One possibility, for purposes of getting traffic, would be to input Wikipedia articles into his project, with the proper attribution statement; try this beta version:

<a href="">Wikipedia</a> the free, collaborative encyclopedia</a> - <a href=",_newcomers">Welcome</a> - <a href="">FAQ</a> - <a href="">Recent changes</a>

Help build a complete encyclopedia from scratch!


Larry I am sorry to be argumentative, but I have seen a person whom you apparently appreciate here as an unofficial editor(whose name begins with a C) edit every page I worked hours on, and then when this un-named "C" finishes, everyone's happy ! Why is this a collaborative effort when the winning run goes to those "We who edit the most and delete most without end win". I really think you need to warn people who are simply embedded in their own scheme of how this pedia should look, and tell them to take a vacation. Would you mind reviewing this "C's" edit record and correlate how much irritation and even apathy this creates ? DO you want articles or do you want censorship ? Thanks. ~ BF

BF - appeals to Larry may get you nowhere. The general pattern of article evolution at Wikipedia is that the majority rules. Yes this leads to a whitebread consensus on a lot of things, but the alternative is worse. I have been involved in the issues around New Age, and I fully support Cunctator's editing. If I didn't I would overwrite his work myself.
The present New Age article is fair, unbiased and neither disrespectful nor laudatory. I think your problem is that you want the world to know that "New Age is a wonderful thing". Fine, say that, but not in the Wikipedia. Others like Taw want to say "New Age is a load of nonsense" - that won't stand either. I have had my own disagreements with Cunctator, but on the whole I feel no reason to distrust his ethics or disrespect his judgement. You are taking his actions personally, and there is no reason to do so. (Larry - sorry for diving in on your page) - regards - MB (above cut and pasted to Cunctator's page)

I don't know anything about the case here, so I don't want to say anything about it. (I wish I could keep up with Recent Changes, but that's a lost cause now, it seems.) What I can say is that many contentious issues have been, amazingly, successfully resolved by a joint commitment to writing wikipedia articles from the neutral point of view. This means that one person's view does not "win out" over another's. It's basically correct (but rather vague) to say that competing views on a subject should be presented fairly. Now, given that, the question really comes down to this: did Cunctator's editing result in your view being presented unfairly, in an overall context in which all views (worth any mention at all) on whatever subject is up for consideration should be presented fairly?

Usually, this is a more or less objective matter, on which reasonable people can arrive at, indeed, a consensus. Hence, I am truly delighted to be able to say that I do not have to serve as a judge of disputes (except over really hard cases, and even then I keep my mouth shut and let other reasonable people work things out, as they do!).

BTW, everyone is an editor here. See Wikipedia policy. --LMS

Thank you. --BF

Larry - thanks for your advice and encouragement during my time at Wikipedia. Tim Shell seems to feel I am to be the subject of abuse and contempt now, and I can't be bothered to fight over it, so I'm leaving. Do take care. I wish you well on the project. - Manning

Manning, please don't go! This is just exactly the sort of thing we need to work through. We can't have people leaving due to personal difficulties. I've seen your work and it's of high quality. Why do you care what Tim thinks? Why not resolve it in e-mail? Tim is a reasonable guy, I know, he's a friend of mine. --LMS

Larry - thank you for your kind words. I didn't plan to post again on the Wikipedia, but I feel I owe you at least the courtesy of a reply. I am trying to slip away quietly, as I find dramatic scenes distasteful, on the web or IRL :)

I would have loved a resolution, but there hasn't even been a dispute to resolve, as "dispute" involves a dialogue, of which there has been none. Tim simply hurled his abuse, and then deleted everything I said. You may see how I am failing to reconcile this with your statement that "Tim is a reasonable guy". The incident was now several hours ago and there has been no attempt at resolution, yet a quick scan of Recent Changes indicates that Tim has been present in the duration. It is hard to draw many alternate conclusions.

My only motivation for being here was because I enjoyed the sense of contribution. Take that away, and there is no reason to come here any more. As I said elsewhere, I suspect you will lose more contributors in the future if this contemptuous behaviour is not curtailed.

Again, all the best for the project, and thank you for the kindness and hospitality you have extended to me during my time here. Warmest regards - Manning

You (the staff) are going to have to start assigning tasks -or at least making requests. It took the 9th edit of Popeye to note his enemy was misnamed (Brutus indeed!) and the 23rd of the Unabomber to notice that university was mis-spelt among other errors. You state that each edit move things towards perfection, but I don't see this in all topics.

Brutus is the name of Popeye nemesis on the spanish language translation (just to explain where the error can have crept from).

The character went by both the names Brutus and Bluto in the animated cartoons which started in the theater in 1933; the official King Features web page only lists the name Brutus (Bluto indeed! :-) Further discussion should go on Popeye/Talk.

I agree that those are pretty egregious errors. But this is a volunteer project; we can't assign tasks. Edits do generally move things toward perfection, indeed. This doesn't mean that every imperfection will be caught with every edit, or that any particular imperfection that you catch will be corrected within any particular number of edits. Remember, this project is essentially a draft of an encyclopedia, not a finished work; bearing this in mind might make appalling mistakes seem less appalling. More generally see Wikipedia/Our Replies to Our Critics. --LMS

I reworded (again) the notice for FOLDOC material. I think you'll like this one: Free_On-line_Dictionary_of_Computing/Status --STG

Perfecto! --LMS

OK, so I don't have a sense of humor. Fine. :-) BTW, I reserve the right to ruthlessly edit this page. This is my page. :-) Rag on me all you want, just not on this page.

Thanks, AstroNomer. :-) --LMS

Larry, I wasn't trying to rag on you that time and I'm trying to play nice in general. I don't have a Wikipedia personal page and I don't intend to create one at this point. If I want to communicate with you how would you suggest I do it?
(And there was never any question in my mind that you should do whatever you want with your page.)

How to communicate depends on what you want to say. If you want to pass judgment on me, my character, my mother, or anything else that you feel might get my goat, feel free to e-mail, where I will promptly ignore your missive. If you want to treat me like a colleague, feel free to use this page. Thank you! --LMS

Hey Larry, I just sent you an email (only b/c I had to attach an image, not because I treated you, uh, uncollegially. Further discussion at Caffeine/Talk). --KQ

Yep, and I replied! --LMS

moved from /To do:

Hi Larry -- had to put this here, because your main page reads "read only"...couldn't find a talk page. Anyway, re the Old Prussian stuff -- it may not be copyrighted, but it is certainly copied, and just doesn't really have anything to do with Old Baltic...more to do with Helga's bizarre ethnological theories. I'd rather be safe than sorry, because I'm positive this is lifted -- perhaps from the same site she keeps linking to for comparative Lord's Prayers (www.christusrex). I'm just tired of re-writing bad history written in atrocious English, as well as boldly editing (i.e., often slashing away)-- and it would be nice if this article had a point. done venting now. JHK

Oops, it's not supposed to do that. :-(

Why not e-mail me with more details? I will try to follow up. --Larry

You should be able to edit this page now. --LMS

Testing to see if I can! --Also Larry

Larry you got mail ! ~BF

Yes, and responded. --LMS

Has it ever been considered that personal pages are not a good idea?

No, I don't think that has ever been considered, at least not by me. --Larry

I don't know if the article on Philosophy of religion that you (Larry) wrote originally is available still, or if the only copy is in the revision history, but I found it a very easy read, which brought up definitions of atheism, agnosticism, etc. in a natural way. The current article doesn't feel as polished, nor does it seem to be focused on the issues of philosophy of religion. I know your original article was written from a Christian point of view, and thus didn't really give information about alternate definitions, but the article as it is doesn't speak from any point of view (in my opinion not even from the NPOV), and definitely has less 'meat' to it. I'm not trying to hurt anyone by expressing my opinion, but I hope that you have kept and will maintain, the original article, as I see it as of great value.

Frankly, I agree other people have sometimes done a less than optimum job of editing my work, but I haven't always had time to keep up with what they've done. I don't mind, really. As you can see, I have gotten back to the article. The original article was written from the point of view of someone who is trying to explain the Western concept of (a Western philosophical discipline) the philosophy of religion. Non-Western religions are of course discussed in the philosophy of religion to some degree, but the focus is very much a continuation of the old Aristotelian and medieval projects of reasoning about the God of Christianity. --LMS

Howdy, Larry-san. People at Max Headroom/Talk are discussing putting .wav files on the page. Any issues (copyright?) with this? Thanks.

That's for you to investigate before uploading. :-) A good person to ask is Lee Daniel Crocker. I imagine there are copyrights on all soundbites of Max Headroom, but golly, wouldn't it be great if there were something in the public domain? You should ask the copyright owner (MTV, or whatever). --LMS

I can't speak to copyright, but we should spell out file format standards for both images and audio. Wikipedia policy doesn't have much to say, which is understandable because this is relatively new ground for Wikipedia. Microsoft's .WAV in particular is not an ideal choice because it is not a true complete file format standard, it is only a header standard, and the contents of the file are subject to the whims of the CODEC-of-the-month used to create the file. If we could dictate that the .WAVs were standard PCM contents, it would be good, but who knows if the vast majority of participants would have a way to verify that. Where would be the right place to discuss this? --Alan Millar

Hi Larry! I'm not going to be so bold as to do it myself, but it would be a great idea to put "Happy Halloween" on the home page today. Our Halloween article is not too shabby, and it's topical. Thanks. --Dmerrill

I did that! --LMS

copyright question - what do you think is the status of lists of titles and authors, as seen in the external links on Western canon? Could we include Mortimer Adler's list or the list from St John's College, or is it better to send people to them? --MichaelTinkler (congrats on the upcoming wedding, by the way).

Thanks, Michael! Er, I know little about this, except that I don't want to break copyright laws. Lee has said something to the effect that information from tables is not copyrightable--only the format. I am guessing that that couldn't be applied to this case, though. Maybe you could investigate?

Maybe someone could post a link to a copyright questions mailing list, eh?! --LMS

Just a note to explain why I restored TheCunctator's copies of the vandalized pages. I conmpletely agree with you that we shouldn't have a vandalism archive (in fact, I think it's an absolutely horrible idea with nothing to recommend itself), but I also strongly believe that we shouldn't edit other people's personal pages save in extreme circumstances (copyright violations and other illegal activity, for example). Thus, I intend to promptly delete any vandalism archives in the encyclopedia or Wikipedia "namespaces" (so to speak), but also to restore any deleted personal pages. This naturally puts me in a rather difficult position... --STG

Well, I'm going to delete them again. I don't think the issue is important enough to comment on at length. --LMS

I ask you to reconsider, both your actions and your opinion on the importance of the matter. Deleting material on homepages is not a small issue, and it is going to stir up a lot of controversy, and probably anger as well. --STG

I agree with STG, and will restore them again if you delete them again.

You ought to know better than vandalise other people's personal pages. --AV

I'm with Larry on this one. "Personal" pages don't "belong" to their owner any more than any other Wikipedia page does. They are part of Wikipedia, not your private playground. The very concept of "owned" or "authored" pages is a bit anti-Wiki. We have, as a community, agreed to allow things like personal commentary there that wouldn't be appropriate elsewhere, but that doesn't mean we have relinquished all standards for what goes there. If you want to keep a record of Wikipedia vandalism, then put it on your own website, and use your own server bandwidth and disk space. But keep it out of Wikipedia; we have a goal here, and that doesn't support our goal. --Lee Daniel Crocker

Very well said, Lee. But I'm going to write an essay that goes to what I see as being the heart of the matter behind Cunctator's repeated disruptions of Wikipedia. --LMS

To say that "that doesn't support our goal" is merely a lofty way of presenting a personal opinion. It doesn't support your goal of what Wikipedia is - very well. But if you (or anyone else) delete personal pages of the Cunctator that don't support your goal, be prepared that someone else will delete your pages that don't support someone else's idea of that goal.
The tradition in this community has been that personal pages are deleted or refactored by their owners. Breaking this tradition should be well-justified, for example, by gross abuse of Wikipedia's disk space or bandwidth, which is plainly not the case here. Just because you happen to think that preserving mutilated versions of the homepage is bad, doesn't mean it's a good justification for breaking the tradition. The issue is one on which reasonable people can disagree. --AV
This doesn't completely contradict my position. I am against a vandalism archive (see HomePage/Talk). What am I trying to say is that I don't think that Wikipedian pages should be deleted without some serious consideration and discussion. In this particular case, I was hoping to convince C to remove them himself, rather than start an edit war. --STG

See /Is Wikipedia an experiment in anarchy?


I have a small problem. The problem relates to a Wikipedian, Asa, whose chosen wiki name is also that of a significant faction of the Norse gods (and also a biblical king that someone will want to cover one day). I have pointed this out (diplomatic, like...) in Asa/Talk. I am kind of reluctant to nuke Asa's page to replace it with encyclopaedic content, but I can't see any way round it, particularly if I am to explain concepts like Asatru... In any case I await Asa's response. sjc

Sounds like you're handling it well. --Larry

Larry, I see you're considering moving to Colorado. I live in view of Pike's Peak. I could fill in details about Colorado Springs, Colorado, but then it would be a just boring encyclopedia article :-). Send me e-mail or continue discussion on either of our pages if you'd like to discuss details about living on the Front Range. If you have specific questions, I'd be glad to track down answers. <>< tbc

Wow, thanks Tim! Very cool!

My new wife and I will be based in Longmont in the middle of December, looking around at towns and finding a place to rent for a while. Thanks, we'll definitely keep your offer of help in mind! --LMS

Hi Larry, I added Leda and the Swan, which to the best of my knowledge is out of copyright. I'm not 100% percent sure of that, though, so I wanted to let you know in case I'm wrong. --Dmerrill

Well, why do you think it's out of copyright? --LMS

UK copyright is generally 50 years after the author's death. Yeats died in 1939, so copyright should have expired in 1989. What I'm unsure of is whether the copyright is still valid in the US, even though copyright has expired in the UK.

Sounds plausible, but I dunno. Maybe I should try to bone up on the relevant areas of legal knowledge necessary for this job. On the other hand, I can almost always consult someone who knows more than I ever will! :-) --LMS

Hey Larry (or anyone), I noticed that somebody has deleted a page I had contributed to - Richard Bachman/The Long Walk. How do I go about retrieving it? Cheers, Verloren

Do you mean that someone has permanently deleted a page that did exist? I really doubt that. I certainly didn't do so, and I very much doubt anyone else would have. Moreover, if anyone has, that's a problem I want to know about. Are you sure the content you contributed doesn't exist at Richard Bachman/The Running Man? --LMS

ahem...erm...hmmm...Thanks for correcting my stupidity, I got my titles mixed up (Coughs discreetly and sidles off-stage, blushing furiously) Verloren

Larry Sanger got married today. - Tim

Pictures of Larry and Rita's wedding and other silliness can be seen here:

Just wanted to say "thanks" to Tim for making this page. --LMS

I'm now of the opinion that the following text does more harm than good, in that it tends to make people think that I think I am or should be in control of the project, when I neither think I am nor that I should be. I still do think that, when controversial decisions must be made, or when the project needs some leadership in some way (that no one else is supplying!), then it's my job to help out in this way. Otherwise--which means, almost always--I would rather be treated as an equal. I would rather my opinions almost always be taken as just that, opinions--not as statements of policy that must that I am obliged to defend as statements of policy. In view of this, I think it's actually a good thing that I not try to clarify what relationship I have to the project. This is something I miss from the early days (when I made no such clarifications). --Larry Sanger

I wish it were possible that I be just another soldier, and in the past, this is what I how I have characterized my role here. But I know that this is a simplification of the situation. I have self-consciously rejected, in the Wikipedia project, the title of "editor-in-chief," which is my title in the Nupedia project.

As to the content and copyediting of articles, I am happy just to make my edits, or state my opinion, let it rest alongside others' for the concerned parties to make of what they will. On issues of policy, I think it is of the utmost importance to listen to all points of view and to try to understand a community consensus--and, when necessary (it often isn't), to try to arrive at a resolution even when a consensus isn't possible. But when important issues of policy need to be decided, then, when the help of the community, it is ultimately my role to articulate a decision.

Why do I not simply assert that I am the supreme autocrat of Wikipedia? (I sometimes do, but jokingly.) It's because I am quite aware that, in order to win as many good people to this project as possible, it is important that I try as little as possible to control people here; it is important, moreover, that people do not feel controlled by me, even if I'm not trying, because they'll resent this just as much. I strongly feel that Wikipedia thrives precisely because it is open and free, and how open and free the project is, is in part a straightforward function of my attitude toward it.

But I also feel responsible for the quality of the work done here--as I suppose many participants do--and there are certain habits that I try to teach, by exhortation and by example, and which I feel are essential to our creating an excellent encyclopedia. For example, I have felt strongly from the beginning (even the beginning of Nupedia) that it is essential that a public, participatory, international encyclopedia be very firmly committed to a neutral point of view or lack of bias. I think this is the only way we can avoid the verbal equivalent of open warfare, and peace--maybe not perfect peace, but peace nonetheless--is an essential element of progress in this context. So I have gone out of my way to explain our nonbias policy over and over again as necessary, and it's one of the few points that I feel very adamant about. I'm using the nonbias policy as only an example of a habit I try to instill. There are many others, mostly codified in Wikipedia policy, what Wikipedia is not, most common Wikipedia faux pas, and Wikipetiquette.

So, I have to walk a fine line between, on the one hand, trying to instill what I regard as good habits (and to persuade people, rather than force them to accept, that they are good habits), and on the other hand, preserving the notion that Wikipedia is a place that is open to all manner of articulate, knowledgeable contributors. In sum, I want Wikipedia to be as open a place as possible, but I firmly deny that Wikipedia is committed to total anarchy, and I assert certain sorts of responsibility for the project: see Is Wikipedia an experiment in anarchy?

If you are inclined to add to my workload by complaining about how something I have done is unreasonable, please bear a few things in mind:

  1. I am open to debate. I'm a very reasonable person. I am a trained philosopher and a veteran Internet discussion participant. Now, the fact that I'm open to debate doesn't necessarily mean that I'm going to be convinced by your arguments--but I could be. My mind has been changed on numerous occasions by what others have said here, and I am not (usually :-) ) afraid to admit it when I'm wrong.
  2. But I'm very busy. This means that I cannot engage everyone fully in every debate. If I haven't replied to you, you can assume that it is not because I think you're not worth replying to; basically, I wish I had an infinite amount of time so I could give every person and every issue my full, undivided attention. But because I am currently assigned the nearly impossible burden of leading both Wikipedia and Nupedia, surely you can understand that I won't necessarily be able to respond to you properly, or even at all, in every case.
  3. I really hate personal unpleasantness, but in the past, anyway, I seem to have attracted more than my fair share of it. Some people think that, because I do, as I said, constantly try to instill what I think are good habits, I can come across as condescending and difficult. This is not because I am feeling condescending and difficult. I also don't think I'm better-educated or smarter than you. (There are plenty of people who are better-educated and smarter than I am.) I'm just busy, and I'm trying to do my job. Anyway, if you feel personally wronged by me, please write me at lsanger at, and let's try to get to the bottom of the problem.

Where am I going to live?

I've moved this text to this "old comments" page because it's old news.

I'm currently in Las Vegas. My fiancee (or, she'll be my new wife) and I will be moving temporarily to Colorado in December; after that, we might take a tour of the West. I've lived in many places after leaving Anchorage, especially Portland, Oregon and Columbus, Ohio (but also Munich, Minneapolis, Minnesota and San Diego, California). I lived in Izhevsk, Russia recently from the end of April until the end of July, 2001--see also Izhevsk, Udmurtia. I also recently made a great nine-day trip to Ireland, in early August. I'm a fiend for Irish traditional music, and I play fiddle roughly in the Donegal fiddle tradition. I can move around like this because I work online.

I'm getting married and we're going to move somewhere and, hopefully, settle down in one spot for longer than a year. Since we can live virtually anywhere, we've been thinking a lot about where to live. Our criteria include (in approximate order of priority): inexpensive living; friendly people; sunny (but not too hot) weather; a good Irish traditional music scene; a large university library nearby; low taxes; family-friendly; mountains; snow in winter (enough for cross-country skiing); near family (the West); ocean; English-speaking (always a plus, anyway).

We've considered a number of different possibilities. The following we've tentatively ruled out: Anchorage, Alaska (I grew up there but the winters are too dark, we agree); Seattle, Washington (too rainy for her); southern New Hampshire (too rainy, far from family...); Pennsylvania including the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area (more rain, far from family, and high taxes); Portland, Oregon (that rain problem again). Maybe we can live with a bit of rain, though.

After more consideration, we have tentatively narrowed it down to the following: the Denver, Colorado area (the Front Range area) and Spokane, Washington. Both of those are sunny, within easy flying or even driving distance to family, have pretty friendly folks and low crime rates (good for families), etc. But Denver seems to beat out Spokane in a few different areas: a better Irish music scene, a bigger library (Boulder), bigger mountains, etc. The only significant advantage Spokane has is that it's cheaper. So right now we're leaning in the direction of the Front Range area. I've looked at a number of towns: Ft. Collins, Colorado; Loveland, Colorado; Longmont, Colorado; and maybe Colorado Springs, Colorado. We're also interested in the smaller towns in the area. If you could help develop articles on these subjects, or anything else about th Front Range area, it would be of potential practical use for us. So, you could kill two birds with one stone.