How to influence people

February 27, 2007

Larry Sanger’s Citizendium is just drowning in good press these days. Unfortunately for the site, two slashdottings later the site is still struggling to keep up a decent rate of expansion: the “Big Write” project fizzled, and hundreds of new users in just a few days have done little in terms of writing new content. So, when Ars Technica’s Nate Anderson posted a glowing three-page review of the Wikipedia alternative, it was another chance for Citizendium to leap to the big time.

However, the resulting discussion thread turned out a little differently. The response was overwhelmingly negative, despite the best efforts of Citizendium’s Jason Potkanski, an Ars reader and forum denizen himself.

This is where the story gets interesting, though. It seems that Larry saw the discussion thread, which had been linked to on his site’s official blog, and decided to take a read. Here is his response (emphasis mine):

Jason, why do you waste your time in that discussion? Clearly you’re dealing with a bunch of jackals there who simply hate the idea of the project. There will be only more and more such people as we become more and more successful. No one cared much last September, so we only had a few negative reactions, all of them saying that it can’t work; but now that we’ve got over 1,000 articles, many hundreds of participants, consistently well over 500 edits per day (and pushing toward 1000 regularly), with scores of regular contributors…well, some people are evidently starting to feel threatened by us.



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4 Responses to “How to influence people”

  1. Larry and I exchanged words today as well – – And when he reprimanded me for what he considered “a mean-spirited, vicious personal attack,” I was tempted to ask for the name of his charm school.

  2. Chris Desouza Says:

    Citizendium isn’t struggling. It is growing. It took Wikipedia 5 years to get where it is now. Yes, you guys are mean spirited. The kind who look to mock and trample anything on the verge to better the world.

    I side with Larry. Shame on you guys!

  3. daveydweeb Says:

    Chris, actively insulting the very people that one is trying to recruit is a laughably bad move. Forgive me for laughing at it.

  4. Jon Says:


    Larry’s actions lately seem increasingly confrontational. I don’t know him, so I don’t feel qualified to form any opinions on him as a person. But his behavior is increasingly…intriguing.

    I blogged about his latest Jimbo attack on my blog ( today.

    I struggled to maintain an objective tone, but I’m not sure I succeeded!


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