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Wikipedia boss challenged over claims made in Hot Press

In the new Hot Press, Larry Sanger challenges comments made by his former Wikipedia co-worker Jimmy Wales, who insists that he founded the site on his own.

The Hot Press Newsdesk, 24 Apr 2009

In the last issue of Hot Press, Wikipedia boss Jimmy Wales claimed to be the sole founder of the site, playing down the role of former colleague Larry Sanger. Incensed by Wales' comments, Sanger has now broken his silence on the matter, speaking exclusively to Hot Press.

While Wales conceded that Sanger had a role to play in the set-up of Wikipedia, he stopped short of naming him as co-founder.

Reading this, Sanger felt compelled to speak out. In an exclusive interview, he tells Hot Press that he thought of the idea behind Wikipedia, wrote the original policy pages and even came up with the name.

He cites as proof a Yahoo message board post from 2002, where Wales describes himself as "co-founder of Nupedia and Wikipedia.” He adds that Wales was very hands-off, and "his involvement in that seminal first year was far less than mine."

Sanger is frustrated by what he describes as Wales' attempts to write him out of history, saying: “From 2001 through early 2004 or so, when the media wanted to do a story about Wikipedia, we were both interviewed. Then, sometime in 2004, Jimmy started quite simply leaving me out of the history of Wikipedia. From mid-2004, he had started referring to himself as ‘the (singular) founder’ of Wikipedia. Then in about 2005, he began actually denying that I was co-founder."

Sanger has since started Citizendium, (short for Citizens’ Compendium), although it has yet to become as popular as Wikipedia.

But, he says, "we’ll no doubt grow to become a top ten website like Wikipedia. I remember saying very similar things to people who were sceptical of Wikipedia’s prospects. If Wikipedia had, early on, adopted the model CZ has, it would be bigger and better than it is now.”

Read the full story in the new issue of Hot Press – with Jerry Fish and Imelda May on the cover – out now.

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In an exclusive interview, LARRY SANGER - widely credited as co-founder of Wikipedia - takes issue with a number of comments made by ex-colleague Jimmy Wales in Hot Press recently, and explains why his new online encyclopedia, Citizendium, will eventually conquer cyberspace.

Frontlines: 07 May 2009

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