Inversely, trolls are penalized for malicious and false entries.
Larry Sanger—who founded Wikipedia alongside Jimmy Wales in 2001—has openly stated before that he was not happy with what the public encyclopedia has become. Although he was co-founder to the free online library, he was also its most outspoken critic, finally throwing in the towel only a year after in 2002.
Although many hail Wikipedia as a great and noble achievement in its resistance against the pressures of commercialization throughout the years, Sanger was severely frustrated with what he refers to as “edit wars” between trolls who overrun the website by “mob rule” and ultimately obliterated the credibility of articles on the site. In an interview with Vice in 2015, Sanger expressed his disappointment over what started out as a dignified effort for free information. “People that I would say are trolls sort of took over. The inmates started running the asylum,” he said.
Today, Sanger has come with the same vision for information, but armed with a more powerful weapon against what ruined credibility for Wikipedia. Sanger just recently joined as chief information officer for blockchain-based encyclopedia startup Everipedia, which, just like Wikipedia, is free for all to access.
And here’s one big and fascinating difference: Everipedia will incentivize legitimate entries by awarding editors with cryptocurrencies for their work, and will penalize false or inaccurate write-ups, which Sanger believes will usher in a “knowledge marketplace.”
“I’m more drawn to the philosophical, epistemological benefits,” Sanger says. “What I look forward to is a knowledge marketplace, so that people are incentivized to contribute what they know.”
Editors who put in accurate and quality articles are rewarded with “IQ points,” and these will later on be converted into tokens. To troll-proof the online library, anyone who wants to curate or edit any entries are required to stake a token before they can submit edits, which they will then lose as a penalty should their entry be proven false.
“In places where Wikipedia has the most active user bases, like India, all these people edit for free,” says co-founder and CEO Theodor Foselius. “The ability to be a stakeholder in the encyclopedia they edit and get real monetary value back, it’s really exciting to me.”
In addition to incentivizing integrity, Foselius notes that decentralization of an information library helps keep it censorship-proof. “If everyone on the team got abducted tomorrow,” Foselius says, “the site would keep running.”