Tucker Carlson interviewed Larry Sanger on Fox News Thursday night, one of the 2001 co-founders of Wikipedia. In the time since Wikipedia has gone on to become the world's single most important source of history of information about the world. Sanger wishes he had nothing to do with it.
Wikipedia, Sanger said, is no longer a reliable source of honest information. The editors of Wikipedia use highly politicized sources and block dissenting news outlets from contributing, Sanger told Carlson.
"This is one of those things that a lot of people, a lot of us who use Wikipedia have noticed," Carlson said, recounting a wiki journey. "Well, 'wait a second, I know some facts that are somehow not in this entry,'" he said, "or 'they're playing up something that doesn't seem to be true,' or 'this is highly politicized.' You see the bigger picture here," he asked Sanger. "What do you think is going on?"
"Wikipedia allows anonymous contributions," Sanger said, "and that means that because it's one of the most popular sources of information online, there's a natural incentive for governments and corporations, spies, even criminal operations to basically learn how to play the Wikipedia game. So it's opaque to me now, how it really works. And what results is, basically, establishment views are the ones that you find pushed and they have, they've completely abandoned the neutral point of view."
"That's a problem because in my view,"Carlson responded, "Wikipedia shapes this country's understanding of the world. It is the primary source of information for a lot of people—I would probably say most people actually—about history. So, we need to fix this. How do you think that we would do that?"
"I don't know that there is as a way to fix Wikipedia within Wikipedia," Sanger lamented. "It's an institutionally conservative place. What I want to see actually is a new... common sense network of all the encyclopedia articles in the world collected together and made easily searchable. You understand how the blogosphere works, right? So, there's a standard that is used and that makes it possible to collect blogs and blog articles from all over the place.
"I want the same thing to happen, but with encyclopedia articles. And if we did that, then we would no longer have to depend on Wikipedia," Sanger said, going on to say that if that concept were "coupled that with a rating system—or multiple rating systems actually, that would enable us to find the best articles from our own point of view. On every subject and again, we would then be free of Wikipedia."
"It must kill you as one of the people who founded Wikipedia," Carlson said, "which has become this central part of our, of our culture, of our intellectual life...to watch what's happened to it? How do you feel about that?"
Sanger confessed, "I'm embarrassed to be quite honest. And I've said so for a long time. I've been a leading critic of Wikipedia for over a decade now, and I've been trying various things to try to improve on it. And I'm sorry to all the people whose reputations have been sullied by what I got started 20 years ago."
For Carlson, the trouble with Wikipedia doesn't stand on it's on. "Google has helped a lot by promoting Wikipedia," he said.