CRF Blog

Jimmy Wales talks to Wired

by Bill Hayes

In How Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia Harnessed the Web as a Force for Good, Wired magazine interviews the founder of Wikipedia.

Wired: Your first encyclopedia, Nupedia, was peer-reviewed. How did it lead to the free-for-all that is Wikipedia?

Wales: We had been working on Nupedia for nearly two years, but we had only completed something like a couple dozen articles. I wanted to figure out why it was taking so long. So I decided to write an entry about Robert Merton, who had recently won the Nobel Prize in economics. When I set out to do it, I realized that the editors were going to send my draft to the most prestigious finance professors they could find, and it felt very intimidating. That’s when I realized, this isn’t going to work; it has to be easier to contribute.

Wired: When did you first hear the word wiki?

Wales: I’m not sure, but the first time the concept became clear to me was in December 2000, when Jeremy Rosenfeld, who worked with me at the time, proposed using a wiki on the encyclopedia project. We decided to give it a try, and we got more work done in two weeks than we had done in two years. [more]