Wikipedia right, but on the blockchain

Well Lunyr, the project in question, is more google knol than wikipedia but they aren’t going to say that in their adverts.

Their system is essentially the knol model with writers getting a cut of the advertising revenue although they have also thrown in a review step. This is the short version; the full version is rather messy.

So far so boring. They do have ~$15 million backing it though with the exact amount depending on Cryptocurrency fluctuations.

Okey some background. The latestish thing in cryptocurrency (think bitcoin and various related things) is Initial Coin offerings. The idea is you buy a cryptocurrency that the startup you buy it from will use for some aspect of their business giving it long term value. In practice at lot of these are scams, ponzi schemes or just pure hot air. Lunyr where the idea is that Lun (the name of their coin) is what you use to buy adverts on the site is one of the more coherent ones.

Lunyr is still in private alpha so much of this post is based on screenshots, Lunyr’s own claims and various comments by people with access.

Broadly I don’t see it getting very far. If google couldn’t get knol to work I don’t see anyone else doing so. The reviewing step I suspect will be less helpful than they hope. After all wikipedia surpassed Nupedia precisely because it didn’t have a reviewing step. Citizendium tried something similar and again it didn’t work to well.

Lunyr tries to get around the problem by rewarding both writers and reviewers. The problem is that the payments are unlikely to be high enough to make either worthwhile. Writing a comprehensive wikipedia article can easily take 100+ hours and reviewing such an article to a high standard (in particular checking the sources ) can again be multiple hours of work (even if the sources are fairly accessible). For anyone wanting to write an article for reasons other than money well wikipedia and a bunch of web-hosts already exist. Equally advertisers already have plenty of places that advertise on the web most of which accept $£€ etc rather than making you go through an exchange to buy something you have no other use for.

If they are somehow successful in earning money then system gaming becomes not just a problem but probably the single biggest factor in the system. Consider all the scams used to mess with impact factor in scientific journals then turn them up to 11 in a world where multiple identities are trivial. Registering a bunch of reviewers and using them to reject any article who’s author hasn’t paid you off is simply the most obvious attack.

On the presentation side their layout appears to be the one critiqued here which basically says it focuses on being pretty over being useful. That said with the greater divide between writer and reader and the importance of looking pretty on mobile platforms this may not be much of a problem.

In terms of the cash they have $15 million. This may seem like a lot but Encyclopedia of Life had $50 million and a far more solid support base and still doesn’t see much use.

Full release is probably meant to be in the fourth quarter of 2018 although their description of what that will entire is pretty vague. As in literally “peer review system 2.0”. Meanwhile the link their whitepaper (the thing Initial Coin Offerings mostly write since its part of the ritual) is now dead. They also currently host on InterPlanetary File System which might be a problem if they gain any traction (although I don’t think they will.

Lun is currently declining in value on the exchanges but given how thinly its traded I wouldn’t read much into that. Fundamentally though there is no reason why Lunyr couldn’t just decide to sell adverts for $,£,€, PLEX, CS:GO knives or even bitcoin. Or take they could just what’s left of the money and run. Initial coin offerings don’t really offer any buyer protection.

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