How the SEP Works, and Why It’s a Model for the Internet


The problem with the internet is that “nobody trusts it, yet everybody is referring to it.” That’s Nikhil Sonnad, a reporter and former philosophy student, in an article at Quartz about how the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) is a model for improving the internet.

Its creators have solved one of the internet’s fundamental problems: How to provide authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers…

The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off. The story of how the SEP is run, and how it came to be, shows that it is possible to create a less trashy internet—or at least a less trashy corner of it. A place where actual knowledge is sorted into a neat, separate pile instead of being thrown into the landfill. Where the world can go to learn everything that we know to be true. Something that would make humans a lot smarter than the internet we have today.

The article goes into how the SEP operates, its distinct achievements, and whether its model could be successful in other domains.

We philosophers are indeed very fortunate to have it as a resource. You can make a donation to it here.

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