Wikipedia Through the Looking Glass/3apes

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File:3apes - The Wikipedia POV.pdf


Started in November 1999 as a side project, 3apes was an attempt to make a "community-built" web directory, similar to , that was usable like a search engine. It was sometimes erroneously called a "search engine". Wales attempted to "juice" interest in 3apes by offering "clickback credits" to websites who used 3apes. Wikipedia's own History of Wikipedia [1] article once mentioned 3apes, but no longer does so. At one time, there was a Wikipedia article on 3apes; it now redirects to the Wikia article [2]. All other mentions of 3apes, like [sic], have been "scrubbed" from Wikipedia.

The original 1999 appearance of 3apes, via Earliest capture [3] of, 27 Nov 1999. According to the attached offer: "Our affiliates program may be the most generous offer ever made to webmasters at large. Of course, it is free to join. The deal? You send us traffic in any non-fraudulent way, and we will pay you 25 cents per unique visitor. The catch? You will spend your earnings by bidding on listings at 3Apes.Com. What better way to earn traffic for your site?"

3apes was a precursor to Wikia. In May 2004, claimed to have 4061 registered users, "most of whom had been automatically transferred from the earlier 3Apes project".

Registration [4] Owner Name Bomis, Inc. Email Address 3911 Harrisburg St. NE St. Petersburg, FL 33703 US Content Data Title 3apes Online Since 06-May-1999 Speed: Median Load Time 1370 Owned Domains

Trademark [5]

Email from [redacted]

Subject: 3apes
Date: Wed, 5 Jun 2013 20:20:36 -0400
From: [redacted] [email redacted]

To: Edward at Logic Museum [redacted]

"Here's a cut-and-paste of your question and my answer to 3apes:"
"He is using a similar idea to Wikipedia, i.e. user-generated content, but he monetises it. There's a lot of evidence of linking through from Wikipedia, and getting Wikipedia users onto Wikia. So that all makes sense. (Note also that he took the 3apes community onto Wikia initially - 3apes is very hard to find any story on, but essentially looks like a variation of DMOZ).
"All 3 apes generated were a bunch of death threats from people in mainland China. The concept was that for everything a user put into the search engine they earned 25 cents in PROMOTIONAL credit, not actual money. No one really knew what this meant. So a bunch of Chinese people got involved thinking they were going to make a bunch of cash. When no cash was forthcoming, they emailed Jimmy en masse. When he explained what promotional credit meant, they didn't quite get it - a pretty hard concept even for native English speakers to grasp, especially since it's meaningless bullshit. Anyway, the Chinese were still mad, and told Jimmy something like IF NO PAY ME YOU I KILL YOU!!! Jimmy sent an email saying 'oh settle down.'"
He never heard from them again."

From this [6] forum post, 2006

"The Tampa Tribune reports that Jimmy Wales recently spoke at the TEDx conference in Tampa about the three big failures he had before he started Wikipedia, and what he learned from them. In 1996 Wales started an Internet service to connect downtown lunchers with area restaurants. 'The result was failure,' says Wales. 'In 1996, restaurant owners looked at me like I was from Mars.' Next Wales started a search engine company called 3Apes. In three months, it was taken over by Chinese hackers and the project failed. "

Promotion by Jimmy

  • aug-09-20007
Hey, have you checked: ( [8])? The site looks unprofessional, but the idea is pretty clever: Awarding you money for every search performed from your site (as many search engines do), but not paying the money, but have it as a credit to bid for search keywords (as Still, the numbers are too happy. Crediting 25 cents for a search, and letting to bid as low as 1 cent (while this engine is low traffic, this bid may be top 10 in many keywords), just does not fit. Maybe the thinking of the guy is "I will never pay a cent, and meanwhile I am generating traffic, so let´s use a CPM network for banners. Besides, the affiliates will have so much funnymoney on their accounts that they will bid higher and higher". Really brilliant, although they do not have banners yet. But my question is, would be a good idea promoting in such site? I think it resembles a "click exchange" program, maybe with a very targetted audience. Comments?
  • Tue Aug 6, 20029
Hello, let me introduce myself. I'm Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Nupedia and Wikipedia, the open content encyclopedias. You can read about these projects here: I'm experimenting with an idea for an open content web directory, at The principle of organization for 3apes is very simple at the moment. It functions on the same basic principles as a "wiki". All the data will be made available under a free license. I might use the GNU FDL, but the GNU FDL is a bit too complicated for what I want to accomplish. In any event, the data will be licensed freely. One of the problems with ODP, as many XODP readers know, is that ODP has had trouble with cliques and power struggles, for better or worse. One of the problems I see with virtually all "alternative" volunteer directory services is that they do not utilize a free license. I believe that this discourages volunteers. One of the problems with BOTH ODP and the alternatives is the difficulty in getting started. With 3apes, you don't have to sign up or anything, you just grab a button for your toolbar and you're in business. This is in the experimental stages. Many features will be added soon, but I wanted to quietly announce this here to see if a few good people might like to check it out and give advice. --Jimbo
  • Sep 23, 2002, 3:35 AM12 I'm forwarding this to wikitech-l. I've been wanting to do a dump of our article titles to insert into the search engines that I manage (bomis and 3apes, mainly), just to drive more of the traffic that I influence towards wikipedia. I did a little program for this in the old UseMod days, but Bomis hasn't updated it's wikipedia links since then.:-( Perhaps we should have a script to generate RDF, which is a simple format used by dmoz and familiar to search engine operators. --Jimbo


The last visible capture of 3apes was on 3 February 2003 [13]. It showed "68434 topics in the system, 49462 keywords in the system, 81047 urls in the system" Three days later, 3apes disappeared forever without a trace.


• Tech groups search [14] Lots of stuff from Jimbo • On Wayback machine [15]


(See the Discussion page here for status of links).