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Nupedia was an English-language Web-based encyclopedia whose articles were written by volunteer contributors with appropriate subject matter expertise, reviewed by expert editors before publication and licensed as free content It was founded by Jimmy Wales and underwritten by Bomis, with Larry Sanger as editor-in-chief Nupedia lasted from October 1999 until September 2003 It is mostly known now as the predecessor of Wikipedia, but Nupedia had a seven-step approval process to control content of articles before being posted, rather than live wiki-based updating Nupedia was designed by committee, with experts to predefine the rules, and it approved only 21 articles in its first year, compared to Wikipedia posting 200 articles in the first month, and 18,000 in the first year Unlike Wikipedia, Nupedia was not a wiki; it was instead characterized by an extensive peer-review process, designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias Nupedia wanted scholars ideally with PhDs to volunteer content Before it ceased operating, Nupedia produced 25 approved articles that had completed its review process three articles also existed in two versions of different lengths, and 74 more articles were in progress Jimmy Wales preferred Wikipedia's easier posting of articles, but Larry Sanger wanted to control content at Nupedia and founded Citizendium instead

In June 2008, CNET UK listed Nupedia as one of the greatest defunct websites in the still young internet history, noting how the strict control had limited the posting of articles


  • 1 History
  • 2 Editorial process
  • 3 Software development
  • 4 See also
  • 5 References
  • 6 Further reading
  • 7 External links


In October 1999, Jimmy Wales began thinking about an online encyclopedia built by volunteers and, in January 2000, hired Larry Sanger to oversee its development The project officially went online on March 9, 2000 By November 2000, however, only two full-length articles had been published

From its beginning, Nupedia was a free content encyclopedia, with Bomis intending to generate revenue from online ads on Nupediacom Initially the project used a homegrown license, the Nupedia Open Content License In January 2001, it switched to the GNU Free Documentation License at the urging of Richard Stallman and the Free Software Foundation

Also in January 2001, Nupedia started Wikipedia as a side-project to allow collaboration on articles before entering the peer review process This attracted interest from both sides, as it provided the less bureaucratic structure favored by advocates of the GNE encyclopedia As a result, GNE never really developed, and the threat of competition between the projects was averted As Wikipedia grew and attracted contributors, it quickly developed a life of its own and began to function largely independently of Nupedia, although Sanger initially led activity on Wikipedia by virtue of his position as Nupedia's editor-in-chief

Besides leading to discontinuation of the GNE project, Wikipedia also led to the gradual demise of Nupedia Due to the collapse of the internet economy at that time, Jimmy Wales decided to discontinue funding for a salaried editor-in-chief in December 2001, and Sanger resigned from both projects soon thereafter After Sanger's departure, Nupedia increasingly became an afterthought to Wikipedia; of the Nupedia articles that completed the review process, only two did so after 2001 As Nupedia dwindled into inactivity, the idea of converting it into a stable version of approved Wikipedia articles was occasionally broached, but never implemented The Nupedia website at nupediacom was shut down on September 26, 2003 Nupedia's encyclopedic content, which was often described as limited, has since been assimilated into Wikipedia

Editorial process

Example of a Nupedia article on the classical era of music

Nupedia had a seven-step editorial process, consisting of:

  1. Assignment
  2. Finding a lead reviewer
  3. Lead review
  4. Open review
  5. Lead copyediting
  6. Open copyediting
  7. Final approval and markup

Authors were expected to have expert knowledge although the definition of expert allowed for a degree of flexibility, and it was acknowledged that some articles could be written by a good writer, rather than an expert per se and the editors approving articles for publication were expected "to be true experts in their fields and with few exceptions possess PhDs"

Ruth Ifcher was someone Sanger depended upon and worked closely with on Nupedia's early policies and procedures Ifner, holding several higher degrees, was a computer programmer and former copy editor and agreed to be volunteer chief copy editor

Software development

Nupedia was powered by NupeCode collaborative software NupeCode is free/open source software released under the GNU General Public License designed for large peer review projects The code was available via Nupedia's CVS repository One of the problems experienced by Nupedia during much of its existence was that the software lacked functionality Much of the missing functionality had been mocked-up using underlined blocks of text which appeared to be hyperlinks, but actually were not

As part of the project, a new version of the original software called "NuNupedia" was under development NuNupedia was implemented for testing at SourceForge, but never reached a sufficient stage of development to replace the original software

See also

  • Internet portal
  • List of online encyclopedias
  • List of wikis
  • Scholarpedia
  • Wikipedia
  • Wikipedia:Nupedia and Wikipedia: Articles copied to Wikipedia


  1. ^ "Nupediacom WHOIS, DNS, & DomainTools" WHOIS 2016 Retrieved 2016-03-06 
  2. ^ a b c Poe, Marshall September 2006 "The Hive" The Atlantic Retrieved January 1, 2007 
  3. ^ a b Sanger, Larry April 18, 2005 "The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir" Slashdot Retrieved May 26, 2012 
  4. ^ Lih, Andrew 2009 The Wikipedia Revolution: How a Bunch of Nobodies Created the World's Greatest Encyclopedia London: Aurum p 38 ISBN 9781845134730 OCLC 280430641 His academic roots compelled Sanger to insist on one rigid requirement for his editors: a pedigree "We wish editors to be true experts in their fields and with a few exceptions possess PhDs" read the Nupedia policy 
  5. ^ Shun-Ling, Chen May 5, 2010 "Self-governing online communities in Web 20: privacy, anonymity and accountability in Wikipedia" PDF Albany Law Journal Retrieved March 1, 2013 
  6. ^ Lanxon, Nate June 5, 2008 "The greatest defunct Web sites and dotcom disasters" CNET UK p 5 
  7. ^ "NuPediacom WHOIS, DNS, & Domain Info - DomainTools" WHOIS Retrieved 2016-07-06 
  8. ^ a b Gouthro, Liane March 10, 2000 "Building the world's biggest encyclopedia" PC World Retrieved January 19, 2008 
  9. ^ a b Frauenfelder, Mark November 21, 2000 "The next generation of online encyclopedias" The Industry Standard/CNN 
  10. ^ jwales January 17, 2001 "Re:GNUPedia = Nupedia" GNUPedia Project Starting Slashdot 
  11. ^ Larry Sanger January 10, 2001 "Let's make a wiki" Nupedia-l mailing list Internet Archive Archived from the original on April 14, 2003 
  12. ^ "Nupediacom Editorial Policy Guidelines Version 331" Nupedia November 16, 2000 Archived from the original on March 31, 2001 Retrieved June 3, 2010 The rule of thumb an editor should bear in mind is: would an article on this topic be of significantly greater quality if it were written by an expert on the subject If yes, we will require that the writer be an expert on the subject If no, nonspecialists who are good writers are more than welcome 
  13. ^ "How to be an editor or peer reviewer for Nupedia" Nupedia Archived from the original on April 10, 2001 Retrieved June 3, 2010 
  14. ^ Lih, Andrew 2009 The Wikipedia Revolution New York: Hyperion p 37 ISBN 9781401303716 

Further reading

  • Larry Sanger, The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir Part 1 and Part 2 Slashdot, April 2005
  • Larry Sanger, "Nupediacom Statement of Editorial Policy, Version 21," Printable Version dated May 10, 2000
  • Larry Sanger, "Nupediacom Statement of Editorial Policy, Version 32," Printable Version dated June 23, 2000

External links

  • Earlier versions of Nupedia from the Internet Archive
  • Nupedia - revived Nupedia on Wikia

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