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My resignation--Larry Sanger

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March 1, 2002

Dear friends:

I hereby resign as editor-in-chief of Nupedia and I also hereby give up any position of authority I had with Wikipedia; assuming particularly that funding will not be able to be found for the position of Nupedia editor-in-chief (see below), I don't intend to work on either project any significant amount within the next few months, and very possibly ever.

Obviously, I owe you an explanation.

First, let me stress that this has nothing to do with my lack of faith in the projects or in the nobility of the mission. It also has absolutely nothing to do with my relationship with Jimbo or Bomis, which remains friendly. I really do hope the projects go on to great successes, even without me. It is even still possible even that Bomis, or a future Nupedia Foundation, will find the money to pay for my job, and I might be in a position to come back to the old job. But I'm frankly not expecting this.

As you know, since the beginning of February, I've been working on Wikipedia and Nupedia as a part-time volunteer. I haven't been able to do nearly as much as I wish I could do, but job-hunting and money-making activities necessarily occupy a great deal of my time. Unfortunately, I do not expect to see, within the foreseeable future, any sort of compensation for the time and responsibility I've continued to hold in the projects. Now that I'm unemployed, I can ill afford to spend my free time this way. This is, I'm afraid, by far the most important reason for my resignation.

Second, a little bit of history will help to explain this as well. I was more or less offered the job of editing Nupedia when I was, as an ABD philosophy graduate student, soliciting Jimbo's (and other friends') advice on a website I was thinking of starting. It was the first I had heard of Jimbo's idea of an open content encyclopedia, and I was delighted to take the job. So I want this to be clear: I did not set out to be a leader and crusader and organizer. As a job, this has been the best I've ever had. But this project is not something I would have chosen as a hobby, frankly; with my spare time, even after having started it and having grown to care a lot about it, I must admit I'd rather be spending time with my wife, reading and writing philosophy, and playing fiddle. (I'm making a little money now teaching fiddle in Columbus and enjoying that immensely.)

A third important reason is that I feel I simply cannot do a good job working only part-time. It seems like every time I sit down to do a little work on Wikipedia or Nupedia, I am now asking myself, "What's the use? I don't have any time to do anything of importance." If I can't do the job right, what's the point of doing it at all?

So--I wish Wikipedia all the best and hope that it can find its way forward without my involvement. Wikipedians, don't take my departure as an excuse to leave yourself. My departure should not be taken as a reflection on Wikipedia, or you. It still might succeed brilliantly. It's very important that you continue to edit each others' work, that you encourage in each other good habits, that you welcome new contributors, and that you praise good work when you see it. As for Nupedia, obviously, the only way it can be revived is if it either finds money to pay an editor-in-chief or perhaps an emeritus professor who is willing to volunteer. I am no longer going to pretend to be able to be editor-in-chief as a part-time volunteer--even if I had the desire and the spare time. I'd be interested in helping to organize it--again--as an employee, but I'm not holding my breath.

I will try to assist in any transitioning, if any needs to be done (e.g., listservs I now moderate will probably have to be made unmoderated). I should continue to be reachable at lsanger@nupedia.com, but not via mailing lists (I'll be unsubscribing). Otherwise, I feel a clean break is necessary. I have no hard feelings at all for Jimbo or the others at Bomis, and I wish to thank and say "best wishes" to--well, a long list of people in both Wikipedia and Nupedia. You know who you are. If you don't mind, I'd rather not name names, for fear of leaving anyone out.

By the way, if you've got a serious job lead for me, please let me know.  :-)

All the best,
Larry Sanger, Ph.D.
Ex-editor-in-chief, Nupedia
Ex-chief organizer, Wikipedia

See also Sanger's Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir.