Internet censorship is the topic of the moment, and there are lots of members of the blockchain community who hope that decentralization can put an end to what they perceive to be arbitrary speech restrictions by governments and private corporations.
Today, a blockchain-based online encyclopedia called Everipedia announced the launch of its network, which it claims will be able to store knowledge, decentralized and free from government interference. It counts Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger among its team.
The project uses blockchain to achieve its goals, the digital ledger system described in Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper introducing the concept of bitcoin. Instead of using a single server to store data, the blockchain distributes data across a network that requires consensus before allowing changes. Instead of recording financial transactions, Everipedia uses the blockchain to ensure anyone around the world can access the encyclopedia. Countries like China, Uzbekistan and France have all taken action to censor Wikipedia in varying ways. Everipedia aims to end this, using a technology called the InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS.
“All articles currently being created by our users on the newly launched network are already stored on the blockchain through IPFS,” the team tells Inverse. “That means anyone can take an IPFS domain and re-host the articles, making the content on the network virtually un-censorable by government censors.”
The project also creates incentives for users to contribute, through “IQ” tokens that grant voting rights on key decisions. The goal is to remove the need for advertising or donations, while providing economic incentives to create good content. The token system also protects against vandalism, as users vote on good contributions to accept onto the encyclopedia. The system uses technology from the EOS.IO network, which also powers the world’s fifth-largest cryptocurrency EOS.
The team also explained how Thursday’s launch takes the power away from the developer team and hands it back to the users:
The new product we have released makes the entire editing process completely transparent and open to anyone with an EOS account on the blockchain, meaning that it is a permissionless app that anyone can contribute to without us being gatekeepers. The voting and consensus method is completely transparent as well since it all takes place on the EOS blockchain which is a public ledger. Essentially, this MVP [minimum viable product] displays the promise and vision we have of creating a provably fair, self-sustaining, uncensorable knowledge base using blockchain technology.
The encyclopedia itself was founded back in 2015 as a more modern version of Wikipedia. In the ensuing years, it’s built up an impressive community of 8,000 volunteers and six million articles, more than the English language version of Wikipedia — thanks in part to a lower threshold for notability. While Wikipedia has become a household name thanks to its easy access of knowledge, Everipedia could grow into something bigger.
“It’s going to change the world in a dramatic way, more than Wikipedia did,” Sanger told Inverse in December.