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GNUPedia Project Starting

Hemos posted more than 13 years ago | from the new-use-of-gnu dept.

GNU is Not Unix 165

Hector Facundo Arena writes: "The Free Universal Encyclopedia and Learning Resource (GNUPedia) Web page is online today. GNUPedia is a project for the development of a free encyclopedia. You can read more in the Richard Stallman's project announcement document. We invite you to participate in the project and join the mailing lists"

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Re:RMS spoke a bit about this tonight (2)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502514)

Why limit it to non-fiction!? Take a look at [] where you can download some great fiction for free. Make no mistake, Jim Baen and the authors want to make money off this little project, by spreading the word and getting the mid-list author's names out there, and they are bound to do better than the music industry, since they are embracing the web instead of denying its existence.

Everything 2 (1)

Paul Maud'Dib (135044) | more than 13 years ago | (#502515)

Why not just use everything2? It's a perfect medium to generate such a database.

Re:woooooooooooopsh (1)

ghoti (60903) | more than 13 years ago | (#502516)

But a traditional encyclopedia is written by experts in the field, or at least people who know how to research stuff. While existing encyclopedias may not be perfect, they are pretty close. The problem I see with gnupedia is that any kid can add some half-baked stuff and have that submitted as equally correct as something written by somebody who really knows that stuff.
And I don't understand how pointing out an error in one article in another would be useful. First, you have to find all the articles that talk about the one you are currently reading. And second, which one do you trust? If I want to look something up, I don't want to start doing lots of research to decide which of the different articles is the correct ones. That's not what I use encyclopedias for.
So in conclusion, I believe that an encyclopedia is about the last thing the open source idea is useful for. That's just a different kind of beast.

Re:Control (1)

Mawbid (3993) | more than 13 years ago | (#502520)

You should hear my father's rant about the Encyclopædia Britannica. You won't hear the word "unbiased" in it. He'll tell you that while the current online version calls Albert Einstein a "German-American physicist", which I suppose is fair enough, his printed version just says "American physicist". (Can someone check their old E.B. and see if this is really true? As I'm writing this, it seems unbelievable.) I wonder though. If Albert had been a bad guy, would he still have been a "German-American physicist" or just a "German physicist"?

hot sexy GNUPedia action (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#502533)

If you want to see hot steamy GNUpedia action, visit the GNUPedia page at

internet=encyclopedia (2)

schechter (221706) | more than 13 years ago | (#502534)

Isn't the internet already an encyclopedia of sorts? Whenever I need information, I just go to Google [] and I'm able to find out what I need. The only thing that could be better is if the info was organized more efficiently, but doing that would be worthless effort in my opinion.

here's another one: (2)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502535) []

I like their copyright:

Copyright © 1997 by TheReference.
All rights reserved. No part of this site may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the Publisher.

GNUPedia == Nupedia? (3)

meta4 (4862) | more than 13 years ago | (#502536)

Richard is famous for his lack of tact, but come on, GNUpedia? Why choose this name when the Nupedia [] project (same concept -- free online encyclopeida) exists and is already very well established? This seems like either (1) a blatent attempt to confuse would-be users and steal audience through confusion, (2) a remarkable failure to do the required homework before starting a project (remarkable because Richard is supposedly so bright), or (3) just plain insensitivity. It's enough to drive any feeling, thinking person as far away from GNU as possible. Geesh...

Spelling 'mistakes' (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#502537)

The article speaks of quality control. What I want to know is if, just because the FSF is located in the USA, the whole thing will have the lazy 'incorrect' American English spellings (eg: 'color' over 'colour').

English is a language from England. A country that 'steals' this language cannot make changes to it and then claim they are right. Color is incorrect spelling.

The Internet is global. The English language is also global. Colour is how it is spelt in all but one nation.

Will this 'GNUpedia' (which already has a spelling mistake in the title just due to ASCII issues) be biased towards one man's (RMS's) native flawed spelling, or will it be correct for a wider, if non-US, audience?

Anonymous because this will come across as a troll to anyone that thinks I am wrong.

Re:Brilliant Idea!!! (2)

Robert S Gormley (24559) | more than 13 years ago | (#502538)

I couldn't agree more. Particularly the stance on "correcting incorrect information"...:

We won't. It'll be up to other articles to point out inaccuracies.

Forgive me, but WTF?!?

An encyclopedia is meant to be a "comprehensive collection of knowledge", not information which is incorrect and left untouched, because (to quote RMS' announcement) "we dare not let any organisation have control over the content".

This sounds ripe to be a disaster, or calamity. Imagine the slashdot trolls getting into it.

Re:here's another one: (2)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502539)

One of my favorites: Encyclopaedia of Integer Sequences []

and, and hell,

everything (1)

whydna (9312) | more than 13 years ago | (#502549)

It's kinda like everything then...

i have an encyclopedia already (3)

vsync64 (155958) | more than 13 years ago | (#502550)

Everything2 [] is kinda like this. I refer to it whenever I hit a strange word or concept. Plus it has that wonderful encyclopedia-like concept when you look up a word, and see another word, and look it up, and suddenly it's 3 hours later. E2 adds the advantage (?) of human-generated sorta random links.


structure the GNUPedia documents in HTML? (3)

goon (2774) | more than 13 years ago | (#502553)

screams for something more than html. are there any existing xml dtd's or schemas for organising such information?

Interesting experiment, but the challenge is huge (3)

matrim99 (123693) | more than 13 years ago | (#502555)

Ever try to get 10 experts to agree on a general thesis, let alone 100 or 1,000? Ouch!

It's sure to have much more updated and technically accurate than any print encyclopedia I've personally seen, but the main point of an encyclopedia (IMO) is to concentrate knowledge of any given field of knowledge and give a solid, accurate portrayal. Sure, there can be many different points of view presented, but ultimately, it needs to wrap up conclusions and points in at least *some* manner. Ever seen a Usenet thread do this successfully?

*Pictures Johnny 11th grader trying to write a HS paper with this encyclopedia, with every paragraph starting like this: "However, Professor John Doe believes that...", "Dr. Paul Denton disagrees...", "Laura Croft, PHD, flamed Paul, however, and..." *

Anyhow, this is a really cool experiment.

Re:woooooooooooopsh (2)

Robert S Gormley (24559) | more than 13 years ago | (#502556)

Existing encyclopedias have a review process. Difference is, factual errors, once pointed out, will be corrected in the entry. Not by "corrective other articles" which will end up being someone's energy in going and verifying. Which is no more different than people to do. An encyclopedia is meant to be a collection of knowledge.

Re:Control (3)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 13 years ago | (#502557)

Real encyclopedias are controlled by editorial boards that provide unbiased, fair and reasonable content

No person, or group of them, is completely unbiased. An editorial board is no exception. Since whether or not something is 'biased' is really based on the viewer's perspective, what may seem unbiased to you may seem biased to me. So that's not a reasonable argument for calling this 'not a real' encyclopedia.

Perhaps what you meant is that their particular bias is somewhat less mainstream than that of the typical suit-and-tie editorial board. Probably true. I'm in agreement that RMS is a nut. But does that make the information any less valid? Personally, I think that the more different views of the same information we have, the better.

Yes, this is the type of encyclopedia that I want. Or, rather, it's one of them.

Re:Control (3)

Robert S Gormley (24559) | more than 13 years ago | (#502558)

I hate to see the entries for Microsoft, Bill Gates, etc etc. Or intellectual property. Music Industry. Movie Industry...

Richard and Hygine (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#502559)

Stallman has claimed dibbs on the chapter devoted to personal hygine and grooming.

Re:here's another one: (2)

corbettw (214229) | more than 13 years ago | (#502568)

I was just about to submit a post on how funny this is, and how their lawyers would be working around the clock suing everyone who goes to their site, when I went to the site myself and read the copyright notice. You left out an important bit:

"The publisher allows the following exception: information may be retrieved and copied for personal use only, so long as the end result is not directly or directly for a business or commerce, or provides any gain, financial, material or otherwize."

GNUPedia? You'd think they would have picked... (1)

oGMo (379) | more than 13 years ago | (#502569)

You'd think they would have picked a different name. Something innocent sounding, like "The GNU Foundation", organized on a remote continent, where a bunch of scientists, researchers, and writers could work on it.

They could have even set up a second one, but I'm not sure where that'd be or what they'd do... ;-)

Free the information? (1)

jjr (6873) | more than 13 years ago | (#502570)

Or get information? I understand the fact that people get more done when everybody has thier say then the person in charge take the information adn runs with it. This project will only succed if everyone contributes and if there is a strong leadership somewhere. I hope this projects succceds good luck.

Nuts... (2)

gregbaker (22648) | more than 13 years ago | (#502571)

I had this idea a while ago. Good thing somebody else had it and actually did something about it.

Now, if I can just find the time to implement my idea for a whole new kind of porn site that will revolutionize the industry...

Re:structure the GNUPedia documents in HTML? (1)

fullung (1612) | more than 13 years ago | (#502572)

I've already sent an e-mail to Mr Hector Facundo Arena ( regarding this.

I think it would be great shame if GNUPedia ended up to be a bunch of HTML files.

Either use DocBook, that most everyone knows (and loves?) or use XML. Probably there is already a schema for encyclopedias, otherwise this project could do us all a favour and create one. They could also use various other XML goodies, like the W3C's newly proposed recommendation, MathML.

In short, Hector should get a clue and do this right. HTML isn't a format suitable for this job.

Re:Spelling 'mistakes' (5)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#502573)

Perhaps someone could write an American English to Brittish English translator.

Maybe they will add one to Babelfish, so that you can type in "I was smoking a cigarrette while pushing the pram" and get back "I was burning a fag at the prom"

Re:structure the GNUPedia documents in HTML? (1)

fullung (1612) | more than 13 years ago | (#502574)

Another super-sweet feature: XPointer [] . What modern encyclopedia is going to be of any use if you can easily find related information?

Re:TeXinfo man, TeXinfo. Get with the program. (3)

Snowfox (34467) | more than 13 years ago | (#502582)

man pages!
Oh, yeah. We wanna learn about our world using man pages...

# man hallway
HALL(1) &nbsp House General Rooms Manual &nbsp HALL(1)

hall - long room in a building

hall [-benstuv] [-] [person ...]

The HALL location accepts persons sequentially, presenting them with a standard hardwood floor support system. The persons may be dispatched to alternate locations in an arbitrary order. The person operands are processed in command line order. A single dash represents the standard input.

The HALL utility operates continually, catching fire if an error occurs.

Because of the selection mechanism used to perform input, not all visitors may be interesting or even initially invited.

porch(1), bedroom(2), park(1)

Martha Stewart, "Your Inviting Hallway", _Better Homes and Gardens_, 1983.

A hallway appeared in a very deep cave.

1st Snowfox Home Distribution October 13, 1999

Everything (2)

spunkypimp (17324) | more than 13 years ago | (#502583)

I'm sure the editors of Slashdot have never heard of this site [] , but there's a site called Everything2. The GPLed encyclopedia sounds an AWFUL lot like E2 while reading the description of what will go in to the encyclopedia. People submit articles about thier area of expertise. Sub-encyclopedias (meta-nodes), etc. make this sound like a souped of version of E2. I'm glad Nate already thought of this. Way to go, RMS

Looks like The Everything Copyright Problem (1)

yerricde (125198) | more than 13 years ago | (#502584)

GNUPedia looks a bit like Everything [] . Everything is a flexible web database run by the people who used to run Slashdot [] and written and edited by the world. (Ever wonder what those [?] [] s are on /. articles? That's E2 [] .) Copyright doesn't stop people from adding song lyrics to the database [] .

All information generated outside of the free software community is under perpetual copyright anyway [] .

Like Tetris? Like drugs? Ever try combining them? []

There is already a free encyclopedia (2)

foog (6321) | more than 13 years ago | (#502585)

The famous 11th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica is not only in the public domain now, but it has been entered into ascii form as part of the Gutenberg project. They can't CALL it the Britannica, because that's still under trademark, but a comparison of the articles to the 11th edition on my shelf shows that's what it is. Good encyclopedia if a bit dated---and a great place to start.

Re:GNUPedia == Nupedia? (2)

baldeep (213585) | more than 13 years ago | (#502586)

Why choose this name when the Nupedia project...

Yes, I agree. I favor the name Encyclopedia GNUlactica.

Finally an open source project I can contribute to (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 13 years ago | (#502587)

Because of and Microsoft Cut and Paste Technology

Re:"GNU System" defined (1)

Arandir (19206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502588)

The GNU System is a POSIX layer.

Where the hell did it say that in the original GNU announcement? I haven't checked in a few weeks, but I don't recall it anywhere else in the GNU documents for that matter.

RMS announced that he was going to create a free unix like system. So far he or his foundation has not produced one. Depending upon your definition, an operating system can be defined as simply the kernel, or the kernel plus userland, or the kernel plus userland plus everything else in the distribution set. But no matter how you look at it, the OS is integral to the kernel. As long as it's using a non-GNU kernel, it ain't The GNU System. The closest you could get would be to call it the Linux OS with the GNU environment.

Oh! Did I mention? All of the POSIX layer stuff you're talking about is done in the KERNEL.

...or Win32 (producing Red Hat Cygwin).

That ain't The GNU System. Get real.

Re:here's another one: (2)

istartedi (132515) | more than 13 years ago | (#502589)

That just raises more issues. I can't legally gain from the content?

So, I shouldn't read it unless I expect to gain nothing from it.

Re:GNUPedia == Nupedia? (1)

Arandir (19206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502590)

But Nupedia has affiliations with the Open Source Movement(tm). RMS doesn't believe in the Open Source Movement(tm), so he is creating a separate encyclopedia for the Free Software Movement(tm). I guess if he call call Linux as GNU/Linux or LiGnuX, then he can call Nupedia as GNUpedia.

Re:i have an encyclopedia already (2)

Gone Jackal (108992) | more than 13 years ago | (#502591)

Damn...seems like the site's been slashdotted, so this is a rather uninformed opinion. But I will say this: Everything2 as an encyclopaedia has severe limitation, since that's not what it was meant to be. If you've hung around there for more than an hour or so, you'd realize this. You head on over looking for information on A.E. Housmann or cellular Redox reactions, and find the place filled with nodes with titles like 'DMan (or 'insert user here') sucks monkey balls' and 'why I started wearing dresses and tucking it under...). That's fine, but it means anything there is highly experiential and rather useless as a reference tool (look up the entries for Linux, RMS, and Microsoft...).

I like the idea of a project for factual reference; it's nice to have a place to go to without sifting through pages of hot pr0n on altavista or yahoo (or, gasp!, even google), or random homepages with useless, self-aggrandizing drivel. Why not have an encyclopaedia online, readily available, with cursory descriptions of subjects that can constantly be updated? On the other hand, coding this in pure html seems foolish; the everything engine is perfect for this, and (though I may be wrong) even GPL'd. I'm curious how this will develop.

...or h2g2 (2)

root_42 (103434) | more than 13 years ago | (#502592)

There is of course h2g2 [] -- Douglas Adams' famous guide. But it's more a practical encyclopedia. So maybe we really need something like a "free as in free speach" clone of Britannica.

Re:i have an encyclopedia already (1)

Gone Jackal (108992) | more than 13 years ago | (#502593)

Yes, but then Mr. T. ate my balls, and all I could do was sit for days in front of the big red button that doesn't do anything waiting for it to do something.

good for RMS... (3)

eries (71365) | more than 13 years ago | (#502594)

Articles, and especially courses, will often include software--for example, to display a simulation of a chemical reaction, or teach you how often to stir a sauce so it won't burn. To ensure that the encyclopedia is indeed free, all software included in articles and courses should meet the criteria of free software ( and open source software (
Good for RMS, not launching into a rant about Free Software vs. open source software, but instead embracing both philosophies as acceptable in this case. Since every time he gest sidetracked, he gets massively criticized, let's see a massive groundswell of positive feedback this time...

Re:RMS spoke a bit about this tonight (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#502595)

It's a cool link, but aren't the works copyrighted? The whole idea of a free encyclopedia is that it is copylefted or public domain. You might as well use the online Britannica.

- Steeltoe

Related Open Content idea -- open Travel Guides (2)

Micah (278) | more than 13 years ago | (#502604)

I'm glad to see this. It has potential.

I've pondered the idea of having Open Travel Guides. People that are familar with a given location can add all the details they can on cities, hotels, transportation, things to do, etc. It would all be stored in an open XML and all kinds of clients could be written to display and search and print relevant items.

Sort of like Lonely Planet only better. :-)

I'm not sure I have time to start this, but I wish I did. There are too many other things to work on. :-(

Re: TEI DTD for SGML (1)

ism (180693) | more than 13 years ago | (#502605)

okay, this is a quick thought, but the Text Encoding Initiative [] has a DTD for encoding works of literature. i've seen it used for articles, books, and stories, and it might work for an encyclopedia. there are existing engines that can bring these SGML documents to the web (in HTML). it would definitely be more flexible and easier to search for things than HTML. of course, XML is here, and with the power of Schemas over DTDs, is probably a better choice.

i'm not sure if it would be better to get a headstart in getting information into the system, and probably have to encode it (in XML or whatever), or to wait until the encoding standard is available. considering that many entries will be updated, i think the headstart is the better option. but it's going to be hella mundane encoding things after the fact.

Re:i have an encyclopedia already (1)

bfree (113420) | more than 13 years ago | (#502607)

Anyone else remember when the web used to be like this? Hit altavista and surf aimlessly for hours!

Umm (1)

crimsonic (179069) | more than 13 years ago | (#502608)

Can I write the article about marijuana? I promise I am very knowledgeable about it.

editors, possibly. (1)

ism (180693) | more than 13 years ago | (#502609)

since the articles are GPL, a class of writers, i'll call them editors, could go around and collate all the disparate articles into one, which would become the main entry. if information is wrong, follow-up articles can correct them and cite sources, and the editor can verify the information or make a judgement call as to what to include in the new version. the old articles would still need to be available, according to the GPL, so they could be accessed through a "revisions" link.

it would be a continually evolving document, just like print encyclopedias. the advantage would be that those that detect the errors could fix it themselves instead of waiting a year for the next edition. eventually, certain articles would get to the point of being static and would get to the level of accuracy we desire.

Re:Control (1)

RyanMuldoon (69574) | more than 13 years ago | (#502611)

If you look at history, Encyclopedias have traditionally been written with intentional bias. The first encyclopedia was written mainly by Diederot and other french luminaries in a hubristic attempt to create a collection of all human knowledge. They were not coincidentally also some of the major thinkers of Western political history, operating under a very restrictive monarchy and church. So, in order to further their political agenda of ridding France of the monarchy, and encouraging a government that had the consent of the people, their encylopedia was full of completely slanted entries, all of which were designed to undermine the monarchy without the censor's noticing. Almost all encylopedia's since have set out to do essentially the same thing - push whatever political or social agenda the creators want. The GNUPedia people are doing what has always been done. Incidentally, a number of other encyclopedias were first started by having interested people sending entries in to the editors by mail. All that is changing is that now we can use email. So, before you think RMS is crazy, read up on some history, and realize this is how it has always been done. If anything, RMS should be praised - especially by the community whose agenda such an effort would most help.

It's all about editting (4)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 13 years ago | (#502612)

I've been doing some work at an ecyclopedia publisher for several months now. All their employees are editors or people assisting the editors (and a few administrators, etc). All the research and writing, including the subject-specific editors, are freelance. Most come from academia

In some ways this shows some promise for GNUPedia -- the real content is already coming from distributed individuals, usually people for whom writing is not a profession. OTOH, I think it shows the weakness as well -- what makes a bunch of articles an encyclopedia is the editorial influence. The web already has lots of articles, but it doesn't have the editorial influence.

Most of what the editors do is bitch at the contributors who are late submitting their articles. This is because an encyclopedia that covers 90% of the necessary material is a bad encyclopedia. Who's going to do the bitching for GNUPedia? And how would they possibly have any authority to bitch? They aren't paying anyone anything...

I think GNUPedia should place more emphasis on compiling and cataloging. Most of the content already exists. That's what OpenDirectory is all about... that's what the web is all about... and a lot of the content is from people who wouldn't mind giving up control, because they aren't receiving anything in return anyway. A little flattery could go a long way...

If already-existing resources were compiled and editted, released under a copyleft-license, GNUPedia could really be successful. But as it seems stated, it feels like GNUPedia is just a rephrasing of what the web already is.

Also, GNUPedia or some subset needs some exclusiveness. I think a lot of people who contribute to these encyclopedias do it because in a small way it makes them a published author. In academia the greatest rewards are things you can say about yourself, not things you have. If GNUPedia can make people rightfully proud of being contributors, then it can definately succede.

Re:Control (2)

Sanity (1431) | more than 13 years ago | (#502613)

This certainly raises an interesting question - is it possible to be unbiased? Sometimes you cannot help expressing an opinion on something just by the language you use. Whether you refer to a group as "terrorists" or "freedom fighters", whether you refer to "open source" or "free software". It seems like it will be a real challenge to maintain reasonable impartiality with a collaborative development model.


Re:Moderation and Multiple Entries (2)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 13 years ago | (#502614)

Add moderation and multiple entries,and it would basically be everything2 (

The whole project should be rated -1: redundant

Moderation and Multiple Entries (2)

RobertFisher (21116) | more than 13 years ago | (#502615)

First, let me say that I think this is a REALLY great idea. An extremely high-quality encyclopedia made freely available through the GNU license would be a gift of immeasurable valuable to the intellectual heritage of the world. However, there are some serious problems with the described encylopedia that could seriously degrade its quality, and render it much less valuable as an intellectual resource.

As you can see, the working method is very simple. People send us articles, and we add them to the encyclopedia. That's all.

Really? No peer review? What about multiple entries? Who will determine which articles get published, and what criteria will be used? Who will check the validity of the factual information presented, and who will check the checkers?

As best as I can tell, the only answer that the GNUpedia page gives is

Although there are lot of things waiting to be defined. We want to hear from you....just send it to He'll post it on the enclopedia.

I tip my hat to Mr. Arena, who has taken charge of a potentially very important project. However, neither he nor any other single individual is qualified to judge the content value of the entire sphere of human knowledge. The world of the intellect is not a democracy, and not every writer's entry will be of equal value when it comes to mastery of the subject and ability to convey ideas. Without a moderation system, this project could be fatally doomed to posting poor, or worse yet, signficantly inaccurate material.

huh? (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 13 years ago | (#502616)

I'm sure the editors of Slashdot have never heard of this site(

what do you mean? they own it

Re:RMS spoke a bit about this tonight (1)

Kierthos (225954) | more than 13 years ago | (#502617)

Yeah, but the point of the Baen Library is that the authors who have stuff posted on there might not be the most popular ones in existence. This gets their works out to more people, and since the idea is to put the first book (or two) in a series up, you get readers more interested in the series, and they go out and buy the books.

Besides, they have to know that people will print out the text of the books. They accept it. Unlike the music idiots who can't seem to contend with the idea of duped CDs or mp3s. (You ever notice we didn't hear any screaming about duped tapes?)


Re:"GNU System" defined (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#502618)

I'm no expert on this, so disregard this comment if it's completely off ;-)

"RMS announced that he was going to create a free unix like system. So far he or his foundation has not produced one."

To my knowledge "they" have produced the Hurd, but it's not quite finished yet. I wouldn't hold my breath for it to get done either. However, if you are so anxious for RMS to produce an OS, why don't you help him, or have you completely misunderstood his concepts?

Also, the Linux kernel _is_ GPLed, so in an indirect way the FSF has actually "produced" an OS. However, as you can see, such credits are really old and meaningless in a true collaboratory environment.

"As long as it's using a non-GNU kernel, it ain't The GNU System. The closest you could get would be to call it the Linux OS with the GNU environment."

The Linux kernel is GNU-licensed.

"Oh! Did I mention? All of the POSIX layer stuff you're talking about is done in the KERNEL."

As I understood him, the GNU system is a _specification_ of an OS, or class of POSIX-compatible OSes, not one actual implementation. A layer is never implemented anywhere near where it is specified in the specification, but gets implemented in kernel and device drivers as a process.

- Steeltoe

Re:i have an encyclopedia already (1)

kiwaiti (95197) | more than 13 years ago | (#502619)

That's fine, but it means anything there is highly experiential and rather useless as a reference tool (look up the entries for Linux, RMS, and Microsoft...).

Whats your point?

I think theyre great!


Re:woooooooooooopsh (1)

rgmoore (133276) | more than 13 years ago | (#502620)

gnupedia's finally coming...i just want to know how accurate its gonna be :|

Well the article does mention this point, to wit:

But what some pages are erroneous, or even deceptive? We cannot assume this won't happen. But the corrective is for other articles to point out the error. Instead of having "quality control" by one privileged organization, we will have review by various groups, which will earn respect by their own policies and actions. In a world where no one is infallible, this is the best we can do.

I personally think that this is the correct answer. The plain fact is that, try as they might, existing encyclopedias are not perfect. They contain erroneous information, authorial and editorial bias, and plain old opinion. You can't really trust a single article on any topic no matter who wrote it, because nobody is perfectly informed and free of bias. The only practical alternative is to let many well informed people write articles so that reviewers and readers can form their own judgments.

yay (2)

gunner800 (142959) | more than 13 years ago | (#502621)

Finally, an encyclopedia with a techno-communist bias! I was getting so tired of my old Dead White Male encyclopedias, and the Revisionist History editions played hell with my self esteem.

Seriously, how does the accuracy check compare to something released by Encyclopedia Brittanica? Will there be any sort of verification, or am I going to be sifting through a few thousand "First post!" articles doing research?

My mom is not a Karma whore!

Aren't encyclopedias obsolete? (1)

MrShiny (171918) | more than 13 years ago | (#502623)

Do we really need a encyclopedias now that we have the web and great search engines like Google? An encyclopedia on the web seems especially ironic.

Wrong Acronym? (1)

Corty (186595) | more than 13 years ago | (#502628)

The project was called Free Universal Encyclopedia and Learning Resource, and they've called it GNUPedia. Now come on RMS it's time you guys thought of cooler names, what wrong with using the one staring you in the face?

FUELeR, Hell it even conjures images of providing mental fuel for the masses! Try a bit of positive marketing, come on, you'll enjoy it!

Oh let me help (2)

baywulf (214371) | more than 13 years ago | (#502630)

I'm will to write the html content in Microsoft Frontpage!

bias (2)

cosmic heat death (227938) | more than 13 years ago | (#502635)

Does anyone really believe they can produce rational, bias-free entries for Microsoft and Linux? and who the hell will be able to write an entry about sexual intercourse?

Not quite Everything (2)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 13 years ago | (#502636)

Close, but not exactly. An encyclopedia is informative and factual, whist many of the most highly rated nodes on Everything are subjective, funny and contrafactual, creative, or personal accounts and fiction about human experiences. And lots of-meta discussion of E2.

For instamce, cool nodes right now on E2 include "Step away from the fridge, lardass!", "just give him the damned fish", "How to annoy a fast-food worker on counter", "Could you please be more specific and less annoying?"

Hardly encycolpaedia material.

Re:Control (2)

Arandir (19206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502637)

The problem is how to ensure the encyclopedia is relatively unbias. It's impossible to be completely unbiased, so let's strive for the next best thing. And RMS and his fans are not it. I dread to see the article on "freedom" that passes his muster.

The first step is to indeed create an editorial board. This should be populated by experts in their area as chosen by their peers. And all articles need to be submitted to a peer review. The next step is for RMS and the other project founders to publically distance themselves from the editorial process.

The GNUpedia (aargh, I hate that name!) needs to be created exactly like any other encyclopedia. The only difference is that the content will be freely redistributable.

I'm still unsure about the modifiability though. If I'm reading an article written by an expert in his or her field, I want to be confident that what I am reading is really what they wrote.

Re:GNU GPL? (1)

kurisudes (258390) | more than 13 years ago | (#502638)

"All derivative works..." I guess so

Foreign Languages? (1)

Heutchy (73751) | more than 13 years ago | (#502639)

I can't get into the page (slashdotted?), but does this have entries in only English, or is there a mechanism for making it multi-lingual?

Re:Spelling 'mistakes' (2)

JLMartin (256956) | more than 13 years ago | (#502640)

Sorry, but that was just silly. I wouldn't have modded it as a troll, but you seem to have trouble with the fact of U.S. dominance over the rest of the world.

American English isn't incorrect, flawed, or whatever word you choose to use — it's just different. Do you also rail against the Italians and Spanish for constantly misspelling Latin words? Do you think that the English language just sprung up one day out of thin air, identical to the way it's used in the United Kingdom today? Perhaps you should castigate the editors of the OED for butchering the spellings of the words from which English evolved. See, language evolves.

Secondly, as another poster said, American English is the language of the Internet. Didn't you ever notice that the W3C's own recommendations use "color," not "colour?" Besides, if you look at the countries where English is the native language and which have played the largest roles in the Internet (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., and the U.S.), the population of the U.S. easily doubles the combined populations of the rest of them (~280 million - ~120 million).

Aren't there any more important battles out there that you could be fighting?

Re:It's all about editting (2)

Ian Bicking (980) | more than 13 years ago | (#502641)

Most of what the editors do is bitch at the contributors who are late submitting their articles.
To ammend my own comment to be fair to the editors they actually do a lot of editting. Every article is editted at least twice by the commissioning editor (from the publisher), twice by the project editor (an expert on the encyclopedia's subject), once by a copyeditor, once by a proofreader, is reviewed by a researcher, and also has freelance researchers compile bibliographic and other information.

I think the editors just hate all the time they have to spend bugging contributors, so they tend to talk about it a lot.

But really, it's a lot of effort beyond just the effort the authors put in. It takes them about two years from start to finish to compile a moderate-sized encyclopedia (these are encyclopedias like The Encyclopedia of Gardening -- a full-subject encyclopedia is never really finished, so it's hard to say how long that might take).

What Editors? (2)

Codeala (235477) | more than 13 years ago | (#502642)

"As you can see, the working method is very simple. People send us articles, and we add them to the enclopedia. That's all."

I hope this is just an oversight, but it seems they don't plan to edit/moderate the articles. I bet you end up with hundreds of submissions on hot topics and nothing on less well know subjects.

Speaking of moderations, may they should use Bender [] ! I think it is about time Slashdot contribute something to make up for all those sites we /.ed ;-)


Re:bias (1)

hyperstation (185147) | more than 13 years ago | (#502643)

since i work for a porno guy, i think i'm highly qualified! also i have some external personal experience :)


Re:At least it's better than no outward links like (1)

Aunt Mable (301965) | more than 13 years ago | (#502644)

Yes, instead people write the URLs and you copy them.

If you have strong editorship you can have external links without degrading into Yahoo.

-- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

Re:Moderation and Multiple Entries (added) (2)

RobertFisher (21116) | more than 13 years ago | (#502645)

I take it back : there is a proposed concept in place. I just noticed that on Stallman's summary of the project, he states

But what happens if some pages are erroneous, or even deceptive? We cannot assume this won't happen. But the corrective is for other articles to point out the error. Instead of having "quality control" by one privileged organization, we will have review by various groups, which will earn respect by their own policies and actions. In a world where no one is infalliable, this is the best we can do.

This seems like a community-based system similar to that used by slashdot. However, I think particularly for very detailed technical articles, allowing everyone in the world to decide who will earn their "respect" (quantified as a numerical value like slashdot kharma?) may be quite problematic at best, and fundamentally flawed at worst. The truth of the matter is that democracy does not work in polling the entire world about intellectual matters. Polling 10 million Americans about two conflicting articles about Elementary Particle Physics will not produce a more accurate result that polling 2 or 3 expert High Energy Physicists. Who decides whether those individuals are experts? A slightly larger, though still small, community of peers.

Re:GNUPedia == Nupedia? (1)

Aunt Mable (301965) | more than 13 years ago | (#502646)

I agree.

-- Eat your greens or I'll hit you!

Re:Brilliant Idea!!! (1)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#502647)

Easy, try looking up "Free Software Foundation", "GNU" or "Open Source" in the online Britannica. There you have plenty of reasons for this :-)

I think this can be an excellent idea, if an article can be modified by others in a way so that the valueable modifications are read by the casual reader. However, it's a difficult project, which *should* have clear guidelines to creating articles and a database back-end to make things easier.

- Steeltoe

Bad URL (1)

Codeala (235477) | more than 13 years ago | (#502648)

One more (slightly OT) thing, lets hope is just a temporary address and is not the project official site.

I just don't understandard why they don't have sites like There must be some reasons why the GNU people don't create more virtual domains, is this mentioned anywhere.


What is this? Mind control? (2)

Lonesmurf (88531) | more than 13 years ago | (#502649)

Perhaps, but a nice solution for this would be to allow multiple entries for subjects. You write one, I write one, RMS writes one, MS writes one. The reader has the opportunity to read them all and parse accordingly.

Think this is crazy? That's how the Internet works *right now*. I know enough to take everything I read with a grain of salt; I research, I compare, I put facts together and compare motives. I make my own, informed opinion.

You can't do something like this with paper books because it is cost-prohibitive and ineffective, but on the internet where expansion is not only easily compensated for, it is expected.


Re:Control (1)

bockman (104837) | more than 13 years ago | (#502650)

Real encyclopedias are controlled by editorial boards that provide unbiased, fair and reasonable content.

Well, no. All an editorial board can provide is a coerent bias, i.e. a bias aiming toward the board's set of prejudices.

Including uncensored world-wide contributions, OTHA, povides random bias, which can lead to two results :

  • more objectivity (unlikely, IMO)
  • caos ... just like slashdot (but fun caos, sometime).

One could argue that given the strength of RMS prejudices^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H ideas, GNUpedia will probably have a very coherent bias ;)

I think it's a good idea but... (2)

nicolas.bouthors (243330) | more than 13 years ago | (#502651)

I think this idea is very good. I think that most of the comments agree on one thing though : Stallman's article doesn't give enough details on the practical side to make it seem real. He (as usualy) defends the ethical side of the problem, and rightly enough describes the way the content should be free (speech) but he leaves a huge blank area in the field of the practical (and technical) implementation of GNUpedia.

I think that Internet and the Open Source community is somehow ready to start such a project (and I don't think it was the case anytime before).

What we need to make it real is a deep deep thinking on the technical/practical side of it. And while we are here, why not talk about how you would technically do it ? I mean, /. readers are probably the most qualified to talk/think about this if not to implement it themselves...

Here is how I would see it : I think that what we realy need in terms of encyclopedia is something that would sit between Shaslcode and QuestionExchange. Something where anyone could post comments, articles, pictures and all the shit, but where every willing people could also judge the pertinence of the content. Say for example that this article is a troll, this other one is "insightfull" and so on. People could also say "this article was usefull to my knowledge". So we would have two level of moderation : one on the "editorial scale" (troll/interesting), and one on the content quality/usefullness.

Why ? Because I think that Stallman is right on one point at least : it needs to be completly free (speech) to be interesting. Doing else would be doing something that has already be done (say britanica [] for example) and that perhaps doesn't need to be done again.

Making GNUpedia [] an "open to any post" system is a nice idea, but it also implies that we will have to face A LOT of content submissions. Even if we wanted to create an "editorial board" to decide what would be included and what would not (which we cannot if we want to remain free as in speech) it would be too much work for (volunteers) individuals to "separate the good from the evil" [] .

So what we need is a system that allows anybody to feed it with his/her particular bit of knowledge, and them let the individual reader make the content "worth reading" by moderating it up or down.

Then, after a while, we might (might) have something interesting for anyone. In that case I'm sure it would be the greatest success of Open Source movment (aren't we talking about free knowledge, free information since the very beginning of Open Source ?)

Another thought I have too : why make it web (http) based ? Any rational reason for it ? I think we have now in our hands a better technical way to do it : why not build it as a peer-to-peer network (based on this [] or that [] ) with a client/server program using Gecko [] to render the documents ? What do you think ? That was my 2 cents worth thoughts...

PS : Please forgive the english, it's not my mother tongue.

Re:bias (1)

kapone_1 (152775) | more than 13 years ago | (#502652)

are you suggesting that all tecno-geeks and related sorts are incapable of getting a root (no, not on a system guys, but im sure you're all 31337 h4x0r5)? one only needs to go here [] to see that ppl in the online community are capable of sexual contact beyond cyber in #beastial_cybersex_with_chicken_bots_and_ppl_who_t hink_their_chickens. and how many ppl have picked up at a lan party? all us geeks get sex! (well almost all, but who the hell is bill gonna pick up on msn with the nick 'micro-soft-guy'?

Re:structure the GNUPedia documents in HTML? (1)

jstarr (164989) | more than 13 years ago | (#502653)

Based on my knowledge, no. However, Xanadu would work exceedingly well. Xanadu is a hypertext system described by Ted Nelson [] which provides enourmous support for structuring and comparing data. Encyclopedias have a parallel structure - entries change over time, concepts are connected - that a better hypertext system than HTML is really needed to bring out the best of it.

Everything [] is a good example of a well-connected, deep collection of linked documents. However, Everything does not much in the way of structure, nor is it easy to compare documents or change how the structure is seen. An encyclopedia for today's world, additionally, would really demand graphics and video for some of the concepts. Certainly animals should be shown, not described. (Nelson's hypertext is much closer to hypermedia in today's parlance. Since Nelson invented the term hypertext, the change is due to misuse of the term.)

However, Xanadu has never been implemented fully. So, instead, the project may have to work through some sort of versioned, checked HTML (to verify links), and provide some powerful tools to search and manage the data.

Information Validity (2)

six bands (253046) | more than 13 years ago | (#502654)

Isn't asking for the general public to submit articles asking for trouble, all it will take is one or two pieces of plagiarised information to cause a possible legal problem for GNU

RMS spoke a bit about this tonight (2)

myc (105406) | more than 13 years ago | (#502655)

I went to the DFWUUG(Dallas/Ft. Worth UNIX User's Group) meeting tonight, where RMS was the keynote speaker. during Q&A he mentioned something about this project, and also the ideal he subscribes to where he believes all non-fiction technical knowledege should be free as in speech. While I think it is a worthy goal to attempt to write a free (as in speech) encyclopedia, it's much more difficult than writing free software. One of the things RMS mentioned tonight was the lack of quality documentation for GNU software; well, an encyclopedia is the mother of documentation, and it also needs to be constantly updated as well. Also, who/how will the correctness of information be verified? Encyclopedic knowledge is not like computer code, there is no litmus test to see if it works or not; computer code either compiles and runs, or it doesn't. It's a tough thing to undertake, both in terms of actually completing and general acceptance, esp. given the free (as in beer) encylopedias already out there i.e. [] .

That being said, I would love to see it work :)

Re:TeXinfo man, TeXinfo. Get with the program. (1)

cosmic heat death (227938) | more than 13 years ago | (#502656)

man pages!

Re:Not quite Everything (1)

tardibear (135254) | more than 13 years ago | (#502661)

I agree with you that Everything2 is not an encyclopedia, however, the Everything engine would be an excellent way to build something like GNUPedia.

Cease and Desist letter to all world countries (2)

bockman (104837) | more than 13 years ago | (#502663)

Please refrain from using any term derived from ancient Latin(c). Latin Language(c) is copyrighted by Roman Empire, and only its certified descendands can use it or any work derived from it.

Re:Pretty Sleazy (1)

hqm (49964) | more than 13 years ago | (#502664)

Perhaps the Brittanica company is the one who insisted that their name not be used anywhere. The Project Gutenberg people generally do include all credits for authors of the works. BTW, I think they are providing a tremendous service, although it is too bad that they do not have better PR. Realize that there is *no* other place to get this material online. If not for project Gutenberg, the only way to find these books is to hope that they are in a library someplace or that some publisher has thought it worthwhile to keep them in print.
I am an old woman now, and things are very different to what they were in my youth. Then we, who travelled, travelled in coaches, carrying six inside, and making a two days' journey out of what people now go over in a couple of hours with a whizz and a flash, and a screaming whistle, enough to deafen one. Then letters came in but three times a week: indeed, in some places in Scotland where I have stayed when I was a girl, the post came in but once a month;--but letters were letters then; and we made great prizes of them, and read them and studied them like books. Now the post comes rattling in twice a day, bringing short jerky notes, some without beginning or end, but just a little sharp sentence, which well-bred folks would think too abrupt to be spoken. Well, well! they may all be improvements,--I dare say they are; but you will never meet with a Lady Ludlow in these days.
Etext of My Lady Ludlow by Elizabeth Gaskell

Re:Related Open Content idea -- open Travel Guides (1)

hqm (49964) | more than 13 years ago | (#502665)

Very neat idea. The nice thing is that the subject matter is already neatly categorized (by geography).

Again, the issue of editing comes up- the public
needs a way to make endorsements and to verify the
integrity of the endorser. Something like at, for example, might be workable. Simply reviewing all the comments or content a given user has posted is a pretty good way to
guage their integrity.

Re:Spelling 'mistakes' (1)

Richard Lamont (27936) | more than 13 years ago | (#502666)

The American spelling of 'color' is true to the original. The 'u' was introduced into the British spelling relatively recently as a silly, pretentious affectation in the Victorian era.

I'm as offended by crass American arrogance and presumption as almost everyone else in the rest of the world, but you've picked a duff example here.

Re:GNUPedia == Nupedia? (2)

KjetilK (186133) | more than 13 years ago | (#502668)

Hm, yeah, I just e-mailed with the Nupedia folks, and they said they had just contacted RMS to discuss licensing issues and stuff like that.

Re:Everything 2 (2)

Steeltoe (98226) | more than 13 years ago | (#502669)

There are several disadvantages of Everything2. Here are some, not all, I'm unimaginative today ;-)

*) Lack of clear editorial layout, rules and standards.
*) Lack of many properties which could easily automate knowledge searching, relationships, gathering and extracting. For instance using XML DTDs with one or more hierarchy structures.
*) Lack of multiple front-ends, like database query-support.
*) Lots of articles per entry, instead of one compiled article.
*) Lack of version control and diff-manipulations.
*) No pictures, no sounds, no videos. No tables, no graphs, no mathematic formula sheets.

I hope GNUPedia will meet these shortcomings properly. Don't get me wrong on Everything2, it's a nice system. It's just not perfect. Try some advanced, non-geek questions and you'll end up with a nodeshell. Try a geek-question, and get a geek-biased answer. Say this is all up to the users of the system, but it's still what it is.

- Steeltoe

FFS, Merkins can't even spell British. (2)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 13 years ago | (#502670)

No wonder you have problems with really big words like colour and aluminium.

Or maybe you're referring to the spelling of people named Britt?

Re: TEI DTD for SGML (1)

abdulwahid (214915) | more than 13 years ago | (#502671)

I really think that XML is the best. It paves way for formatting of the information in many different ways and allows much more to be done with it. Everybody knows the weeknesses of HTML so I don't need to re-stress them.

The problem is, if they devise an agreed upon DTD that the XML should follow, it is essentially going to produce a new language that authors are going to have to learn. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows HTML these days. Even my Mum created some web pages. Therefore it is easy for people to submit things in HTML. However, to give them something new to play with, you need to give them some nice tools to do the job. I mean they would need a decent GUI editor. That is one of the problems with DocBook. DocBook is great, but there is still a learning curve there before people can go out and use it. I think they should concentrate on building tools for writing documents that fit an XML DTD that they come up with. Preferably something that is similar to HTML or DocBook so that there aren't so many tags to learn.

Editors, Editors, Editors (1)

JimPooley (150814) | more than 13 years ago | (#502672)

They NEED to have editors, and lots of them.
(A) to filter out the crap which they will most assuredly get.
(B) to check that submissions aren't ripped off Britannica or Encarta or Funk & Wagnall or whatever. It may balk RMS to have his editors use Encarta, but they'll need to. If it turns out an entry in this is ripped off, they will have their arses sued off before you can say 'Zygote'.
(C) To check spelling and grammar. Really.
How they're going to reward all these editors is another thing. Professional editors don't work for free...

Hacker: A criminal who breaks into computer systems

the GNU system (often called 'Linux'). (1)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | more than 13 years ago | (#502673)

Hehehe, it's not even "GNU/Linux (often called 'Linux')" anymore.
You will be assimilated!
(I'm just having a bit of lighthearted fun, to be honest I don't really care what any one calls it.)

Linking restrictions (2)

G-funk (22712) | more than 13 years ago | (#502674)

I was reading through, thinking "What a dammned great idea", thinking "This is suprisignly rational from RMS", untill I read the restrictions on linking outside of documents.

Before I complain about the theory of it, here's the problem:

Scenario 1: You can not link to pages that contain links to pages that aren't under the appropriate license.

Result: You cannot link to anything, because nearly every site will eventually link out.

Scenario 2: You can link to pages that aren't under the same restrictive license, as long as it's "free enough". This effectively makes the rule useless, and IMHO is the way to go (ie lose the rule).

But why at all? Why does RMS feel it's his place to effectively censor the viewer from further non GNU-sanctioned learning? And yes, it's possible to find things without links, but it's a lot harder.

Why oh why do you have to do shit like this RMS? Your zealotry gets in the way of your ideals, and their acceptance, which is a shame, because they are truly great aspirations.


Control (5)

THB (61664) | more than 13 years ago | (#502675)

Real encyclopedias are controlled by editorial boards that provide unbiased, fair and reasonable content. Judging from slashdot, and RMS' personal opinions I would conclude that is encyclodepia would be quite biased. In order to be of any use, it will have to be unbiased. If stallman is any judge of why people write free software, contributors will not want to write for it unless they can influence others opinions. We can see this right on the page with the comment about the "GNU system", sometimes called linux.

Is this really the type of encyclopedia that you would want?

Hasn't this been tried before? (3)

Dr. Tom (23206) | more than 13 years ago | (#502676)

Well, last time I checked (about 30 seconds ago) [] still allowed full text searching of their encyclopaedia; it has figures and everything. Now, they still sell CDs and stuff, but compared to the $1000 I spent for the print version in 1980, the info is almost free (though not copylefted). Then there is [] which is also costless.

But the real question is, whatever happened to the Interpaedia? Remember, the web-based, user-written, free encyclopaedia? Sound familiar? It's what RMS is proposing, and it's what failed before. What is different this time? The only links I could find to the Interpaedia were a gopher link and an old broken link to an archived discussion.

The Professor and the Madman (1)

Tony (765) | more than 13 years ago | (#502677)

I am currently reading a book about a major contributor to the OED, a homocidal lunatic. Very good book. Not my point, though.

My point is this: the OED, one of the greatest reference works in the English language (or, *the* greatest reference work *on* the English language) was constructed by commitee. *Very* interesting, the parallels between the OED and GNUPedia.

Of course, the OED did have an editor who could control content.

GNU GPL? (2)

tbo (35008) | more than 13 years ago | (#502678)

Will it be GPL'd? Does that mean that if I print out the article on Phylum Nematoda and hand it in for my Biology report, I have to GPL my report card?

What if I just use a bit of the information in a report? Must it be GPL'd?
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