Free online encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, should be taken with a pinch of salt, co-founder Larry Sanger said.

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger. Photo: AFPWikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger. Photo: AFP

Speaking to Times of Malta, Dr Sanger said Wikipedia had been dubbed by some as “the original fake news”.

However, he said, he always found the term to be “a bit of a misnomer”.

“Fake news has always been around, since before Wikipedia as well. We just did not call it that.”

The free encyclopaedia rose to popularity because its content could be edited and created by volunteers around the world. While this made its content easily accessible, the portal also deve-loped a reputation for containing misinformation.

“The fact that anyone can edit a Wiki does create issues. However, the problems could be quickly addressed because the issues could be fixed,” he said.

Dr Sanger hopes to address this issue in his latest venture, Everipedia, an online encyclopaedia on the blockchain.

Fake news has always been around

The latest venture has review processes that allows people to become “token-holders” that can vote on every edit in the articles.

If more people vote it up than down then that edit is included, Dr Sanger said.

Admittedly, the co-founder said, it was “a low-bar of inclusion”, adding it was at least an extra layer of oversight.

“There’s also a governance module that allows people to exert a democratic control over the network,” he said. The idea was fairly simple – as you worked on the encyclopaedia you became a “governor” of the network.

Dr Sanger said he continued to be inspired by the idea that millions of people could be organised around the world to share information.

“When I first got online in the 1990s I was fascinated by the idea that so much information could be so easily gathered and organised, especially if a lot of people are working together,” he said.

“The idea still inspires me and I think it should inspire people a lot more to have more creativity in designing systems that organise people to build and catalogue our knowledge in different ways,” Dr Sanger said.

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