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Open Content Encyclopedia


May 17, 2000: This message was distributed by Papyrus News, a free e-mail distribution list on the global impact of information technology on language, literacy, and education. Feel free to forward this message to others, preferably with this introduction. For information on Papyrus News, including how to (un)subscribe or access archives, see <>.


A major new encyclopedia project,, is looking for informed and enthusiastic people to help direct and construct an "open content" encyclopedia, planned to become the largest general encyclopedia in history.  Articles will be peer-reviewed and carefully copyedited by means of a growing network of mailing lists. The project has significant financial support, and its leaders and owners are committed to a years-long, intensive effort.  Among the project's leaders, the excitement level is high at <>

In constructing this encyclopedia, we intend use the special opportunities of the internet and hyperlinks to include articles written at varying levels of generality and specialization.  (Programmers may be interested to know that the articles will be encoded in XML format.)

We are in need of well-qualified writers, editors, and peer reviewers in all areas, and will be doing searches for subject area editors.  At present, we have about three dozen Ph.D.'s, M.D.'s, and other highly-trained professionals who have generously volunteered their time as Nupedia editors and peer reviewers.  Most of these people are also advisory board members who help shape Nupedia policy and procedure.  We are all committed to creating an open, public, academically-respectable institution.

What does it mean to say the encyclopedia is "open content"? This means that anyone can use content taken from Nupedia articles for almost any purpose, both for-profit or non-profit, so long as Nupedia is credited as the source and so long as the distributor of the information does not attempt to restrict others from distributing the same information.  Nupedia will be "open content" in the same way that Linux and the Open Directory Project ( are "open source."  As has been the case with those projects, we plan to attract a huge body of talented contributors.

Indeed, since making our initial press release in March, over 1500 people from around the world have signed up as Nupedia members.

Because Nupedia will be open content, it will be in a freely-distributable public resource created by an international public effort.  It is not an exaggeration to say that your contributions would help to provide an international public a free education.  We believe Nupedia is, thus, a project worthy of your attention.

If you want to join us or stay apprised of the progress of Nupedia, please take a minute to go to the Nupedia website at <> and become a member.  (Becoming a member is quick, easy, and free.)  Please consult for details about steering committee positions and consult for a draft statement of Nupedia editorial policy.

Best regards,

Larry Sanger, Ph.D. expected May 2000 Philosophy, Ohio State
San Diego, California

P.S. If you wish to help promote this project -- something we would greatly appreciate -- please do forward this announcement to any *appropriate* forums and to colleagues you think may be interested (including your local/departmental mailing lists and newsgroups).  Or, if you would rather that Nupedia make the announcement on a forum you frequent, please just give us a pointer to the forum and we can take it from there.

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Last updated: May 18, 2000