Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website on the planet according to Alexa, is loved by everyone who needs a one-stop overview of just about any topic under the sun. Wikipedia is one of the oldest and most popular products of Web 2.0: an online ecosystem of peer-to-peer solutions.
Lunyr is a blockchain startup giving the familiar crowdsource encyclopedia model we’re all familiar with a decentralized facelift. The result? A platform that rewards you for knowledge-sharing.
The Wikipedia Age
It’s hard to remember life before Wikipedia. The site has become synonymous with the internet itself. If you were a student prior to the computer age, you might remember sticking your nose in what now seems like dusty old tomes in a dark corner of your local library. Referencing and cross-referencing a stack of 20-odd books was the norm for any project or research paper, and effective indexing techniques were your best friend. Owning a set of fancifully bound encyclopedia books was a status symbol, proof of your intellectual prowess.
When Wikipedia came along, library seat occupancy experienced a notable shift. Suddenly, you could get your work done in half the time, riding, as it were, on the hard work of dedicated contributors who spend countless hours creating and reviewing content.
These Wikipedia contributors took on the job of compiling an all-in-one encyclopedia that is not only available online but is free to use. Wikipedia has also significantly lowered the stereotype of research being only for geeks. When in doubt, Wikipedia it out.
Lunyr, Wikipedia’s next-of-kin
Knowledge-sharing on the internet is run on the back of countless unseen hands. These devoted users are what make sites like Wikipedia, Quora, and Reddit some of the most popular go-to spots when it’s answers you’re after.
While Quora contributions can be helpful in promoting your business, and Reddit a valuable place for discussion and debate, Wikipedia is considered a labor of love. Contributors go by usernames, and content is (ideally) vigorously peer-reviewed. Content is checked not only for factual accuracy but also for self-interest.
Lunyr (pronounced “Lunar”) believes it has come up with a win-win solution. Their platform aims to preserve the generous mechanism underlying a peer-to-peer knowledge base whilst combining it with a rewards system. A labor of love can now be a labor for income, too.
And in the long run, the Lunyr API aims to enable a myriad of software companies in the artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality fields to use this treasure trove of information in their applications.
Why the Blockchain?
This is an often-overlooked question. Blockchain for the sake of it is an expected trend as the technology grows, but basing a product on blockchain technology does not secure it a market seat by default. Thanks to its Ethereum-powered foundation, Lunyr is able to decentralize a service that has thus far been available through a central authority only.
Why is this important? Because any foundation – noble as its intentions may be – is governed by a set of guiding principles. A non-profit such as Wikipedia relies on sponsorships and donations to keep its doors open. If you’ve ever received a “Please donate $5” email from founder Jimmy Wales, you’ll realize that individual donors alone are not what keeps the engines running. Wikipedia receives support from the likes of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and Intel, and has been criticized for undue censorship, bias, and revenge editing.
Lunyr’s monetization model is straightforward and clear-cut: ad revenue. Of course, this does not eliminate the need to keep stakeholders happy, but Lunyr itself has no say over which of their open-source content stays and which goes. At least, this is the current understanding. Should this shift in future once they’re operational, it will go against the blockchain grain and the technological mechanism of action.
The strength of the Lunyr model lies in its rewards-focused orientation. Contributors engage with information – whether adding, editing, or reviewing – and in return are incentivized for their efforts. Submissions cannot be added to the network until it has been peer-reviewed, ensuring that publicly available content is accurate and of high quality. Sub-standard content quality is a problem that Wikipedia still grapples with.
According to Lunyr:
For readers, there will be more valuable, peer-reviewed information that would not be available unless experts were rewarded for contributing.
Lunyr tokens will be Ethereum E20-driven and function as an on-site utility currency. Lunyr concluded their token sale on April 27, 2017. 47,923 ETH (US$4.3 million at the time) were sold. Lunyr is a member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
The Lunyr Team
Co-founder and CEO Arnold Pham has previous experience as founder of Unifin, a blockchain startup advisory firm. Co-founder and COO Andrew Tran has previous experience as an account executive at Oracle, and CTO Christopher Smith is a software developer veteran.
Lunyr’s roadmap is indicative of many changes up ahead.