Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger thinks blockchain can build a better online encyclopedia.

Sanger, who left Wikipedia in 2002, is now chief information officer of Everipedia, which last week launched its IQ Network on the EOS blockchain. The company aims to use its new IQ tokens to reward contributors who edit content as well as give them a stake in the network. This week, the company is working to fully integrate the blockchain with its existing encyclopedia.

Everipedia’s contributors aren’t in it for the money; they want recognition and a sense of serving the community. The IQ tokens are a measure of that.

The problem that spurred formation of the IQ Network became evident during Sanger’s time as a co-founder of Wikipedia, he tells ThirtyK. “The millions of dollars the Wikimedia Foundation collects do not generally trickle down to the rank-and-file, the contributors,” he says. “If there was a way for them to become co-owners of an encyclopedia and mine tokens by writing encyclopedia articles, that would be more fair and more motivating.”

Token Awareness

To create awareness of the new IQ tokens, Everipedia airdropped, or gave away for free, 5.1 billion of its 10 billion tokens to EOS token holders on July 12. Everipedia will use the remaining 4.9 billion IQ tokens it still holds to fund operations, its past investors, future partnerships and, possibly, further airdrops.

Currently trading for about one and a half cents each, the IQ tokens have a miniscule monetary value. But Sanger says the company’s contributors aren’t offering their services to make money; they want to gain recognition and a sense of serving the community. The IQ tokens, he says, are simply a measure of that and will be awarded for approved articles or edits based on the number of votes received approving the content.

The tokens’ real value is in the voting rights they confer, “not over Everipedia, Inc., but over the rules that govern the Everipedia Network,” Sanger says. Therefore, contributors have some input into how edits to the site’s source code may be proposed, which affect research and development and how the network scales up. They also confer rights to determine which edits are ultimately included on the network.

Blockchain creates a decentralized governance structure that makes it possible for many different encyclopedias to contribute to a single resource governed by a technical protocol,” Sanger says. The business case for such eventual collaboration is debatable, but blockchain technology certainly provides an audit trail for any changes to Everipedia’s articles. Changes are approved by social consensus, with discussions occurring on social media.

Integrating Blockchain

Now, one week after the IQ Network debuted, the Everipedia team is focused on continuing to integrate blockchain into the encyclopedia, which launched in 2015 as a decentralized, more encompassing version of Wikipedia that included, for example, links to social media accounts. The other major effort is to ensure the governance rules are engineered “so they make sense in the long term,” Sanger says.

“We plan to evolve into a great front end designed with full blockchain integration in mind, so contributors can track their IQ, earnings and stake in the organization, he says.

Once those basic capabilities are in place, Sanger and the Everipedia team plan to work on the Everipedia content itself. It already includes all of Wikipedia’s content (under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license), so Sanger is focusing on what he calls GreaterWiki” features.

“We want competing articles for the same topics, including different sources, and ultimately a complete record of all encyclopedic content online,” he says. I can see incentivizing the maintaining of that metadata, as well as a rating system for the articles so we have the world’s first decentralized marketplace of ideas,’ enabling us to surface the best of our knowledge according to different, competing groups of raters.”

Gail Dutton
Gail Dutton is a veteran journalist who has interviewed several Nobel laureates as well as leading innovators in the fields of biotechnology, IT, and business. She has written for a variety of trade and consumer magazines, including Forbes, Entrepreneur, The Scientist, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, Life Science Leader, Data Center Knowledge, and Data Center Manager, from her office in Washington state.