It hasn't been long since a group of twenty-something-year-old developers approached the founders of Wikipedia with a partnership idea to expand their business, only to be dismissed as wide-eyed amateurs. Which is why I was somewhat surprised when recently, less than three years later, the founder of the Everipedia told me the former cofounder of Wikipedia would be joining their team.
Mahbod Moghadam, one of the founders of the "everyone"-generated online encyclopedia, told me former Wikipedia cofounder Larry Sanger would be joining his team as an expert. Sanger, who has been building online encyclopedias for almost two decades now, left Wikipedia in 2002, citing limitations in the project's expertise and ability to expand.
"The real problem is i just think they could be doing so much more if the system were different," Sanger told me in a phone call in December. "I think Wikipedia is too small, it’s got a community of active users of ten to twelve thousand people. That’s not enough."
Sanger came up with a system he called "Greater Wiki", which would allow other online encyclopedia systems to aggregate articles and invite the rest of the world to participate in editing and rating the articles while sharing personal demographic information such as gender and nationality. Essentially, the Greater Wiki system would compete with Wikipedia to invite a broader range of online encyclopedias used by the public.
"The reason i joined Everipedia, besides the fact that they’re energetic, lots of fun, is that I really enjoyed their website," Sanger told me.
Unlike Wikipedia, Everipedia allows a broader range of access for the public to edit and engage with Wiki pages as soon as they are up. Anyone can create a Wiki page, and on virtually any topic. The downside to an all-access encyclopedia seemed obvious; but after learning more about the system, the upside seemed infinite.
Everipedia, like a small but growing number of technical startup companies, would be putting their system on the Blockchain. Not only would they allow users to generate cryptocurrency by engaging with articles and subscribing to various functions on the website; Everipedia would be placing its own form of cryptocurrency on the market and gift users with a share of it from the get-go.
Theodore Forselius, the Swedish internet innovator and CEO of Everipedia, told me the outstanding advantage would be adding an "incentive layer" to the platform.
"That allows users to get tokens and allows users to decide which articles stay on the site and help govern which allows all editors to actually own the platform," he said. "It wasn't posssible until Blockchain technology allowed that... It's not only owned collectively, but also posted collectively."
Everipedia would be the first startup of its kind to do something like that. Forselius told me his team would be using a system called IPFS, which would decentralize the entire web-sharing system.
"The really cool thing about this [IPFS] protocol is that it allows us to host the entire site and content on the editors' laptops collectively," he explained. "They not only produce tokens; they also produce bandwidth. So that means we won't need centralized servers. There will be no cost for us to run this."
The outcome of something like this would be huge. First of all, it would completely remove power from governments and foreign hackers and place autonomy in the hands of individual internet users. Websites under IPFS are hosted peer-to-peer, which means each user develops its own server.
Second, it immortalizes the information shared on the system. If Everipedia were to disappear or get hacked, the articles would still continue to live on users' individual bandwidth.
"Everipedia has been growing. We have 7 million users a month, 6 million users, as soon as the wiki protocol is finished, we’re moving Everipedia onto this wiki protocol. That kind of acts as a process to kickstart this whole thing," the CEO added.
Not gonna lie; I was pumped to hear about this. I met the Everipedia guys less than two years ago, when they were in their infant stages of development as a startup. I barely had 400 Twitter followers at the time, but a wiki article I shared from their site blew up almost instantly. Moghadam and his cofounders, Sam Hamidi-Kazemian, Travis Moore, and Forselius, were so amused by the sudden surge of traffic from my post that they invited me to check out their loft in Westwood, where they and a vibrant team of software engineers and developers lived and operated out of. I kept in close touch with the team, and they taught me a lot about building websites and digital monetizing.
Sanger is a newer addition to the team, but the team is constantly expanding. They've gotten a blast of media attention over the past couple of months. The team members recently told me they were in talks with the CEO of another major online encyclopedia, which was considering moving their site to Everipedia's wiki protocol.