Cannabis Ruderalis

Lars Aronsson, 2020.

LA2 (with internal ID number 445) is the Wikipedia identity for Lars Aronsson, Sweden, also active on the German and Swedish Wikipedia. He is a professional computer programmer and a self-employed consultant [1]. He is also the founder and coordinator of Project Runeberg, a volunteer effort to digitize classic Scandinavian literature [2].

On some languages, I operate LA2-bot (talk · contribs).

Soon after joining Wikipedia in the spring of 2001, I had a minor controversy with Larry Sanger, and to avoid escalation* I left Wikipedia and later that year started my own wiki,, in Swedish. I summarized my early experience in a paper Operation of a Large Scale, General Purpose Wiki Website (2002).

*) Swedes are conflict-avoiding, which is easily explained by natural selection. When two prehistoric Germans had an argument, the one of them who had the instinct to avoid conflict would move north. This is how Scandinavia was populated.

Everything went fine for a few years, and was the world's 3rd biggest wiki for some time. In November 2002 about half of its contributors left for the Swedish Wikipedia, which then got a fast start, but this didn't slow down. However, in the spring of 2004 various forms of vandalism got out of hand, and I decided to close the site to editing on April 15, 2004. At the time it had 55,000 articles, while the Swedish Wikipedia had 23,000. One year later the numbers were 57,000 and 70,000, respectively. According to, was once Sweden's 94th most visited website with a global ranking of 16,000. The success of can be attributed to liberal policies (it is not strictly an encyclopedia) and excellent software performance in times when Wikipedia was very slow.

In the summer of 2004 at the Wizards of OS conference in Berlin, I first met Jimbo Wales, Sunir Shah and some leading German wikipedians, and saw the founding of the German chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. In 2005, following the first Wikimania, I pioneered the use of scanned page images in Wikisource. In October 2007 I helped to set up the Swedish chapter, where I was a member of the board until February 2012. In 2008 I visited Wikimania in Egypt and helped to organize Wikipedia Academy 2008 in Lund, Sweden.


May 7, 2014: I begin work on a comparison of two cities: Linköping, Sweden, and Veliky Novgorod, Russia. It might seem odd that I return to this diary after exactly six years and once again to write about Russia. In between, I have been more active on Swedish Wikipedia (2007–2010), Wikisource, Wiktionary (2011), and Project Runeberg (2012–2013).

May 19, 2008: The Russian Wikipedia at 283,000 articles grows bigger than the Swedish one, which thus loses its position as the 10th biggest language. This comes the day after Russia wins the ice hockey world championships. In the 11 days from May 16th to 26th, some 199 new articles pertaining to Sweden are created on the Russian Wikipedia, as part of the "Swedish week".

October 20, 2007: Wikimedia Sverige is founded, the Swedish chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation. I was elected to the board.

August 2006: Writing History. Historian Marshall Poe wrote a piece "The Hive" for The Atlantic Montly (Sept. 2006) where he digs deeper into the prehistory of Wikipedia than anything I've read. That's good, but is it good history? It documents some facts, but does it explain anything? After the fact (Wikipedia is now a big success), it goes back and tracks where this success came from. It's more like a king hiring somebody to write a chronicle rather than independent history research. It's like searching for the lost key under the streetlight, rather than going back to the dark place where the key was probably lost. We've seen it before. In writing the history of the Internet, people interview Vint Cerf, and we learn everything about how ARPA funded research into packet switching. But the success of the Internet and Wikipedia comes from the large number of users, and very few of them were packet switching researchers or philosophy mailing list moderators. Many of them were early users of timesharing mainframes and personal computers, who moved in groups to newer systems. There's a different history, the history of the digital communities, that still waits to be written. For the time being, we just have the chronicles of the current kings.

August 2005: Structured Data Meet the Unstructured Wiki. Many new subprojects close to Wikipedia (belonging to the Wikimedia Foundation or not) are going in the direction of structured data as opposed to the flat namespace and unstructured wikitext of the original Wikipedia. The German Wikipedia introduced a template "Personendaten" for structured biographical metadata for the purpose of being harvested and used in a search function on the German Wikipedia on DVD. Similarly, geographical coordinates from articles of the German Wikipedia have been extracted and are now available as a separate index file. If these examples are turned on their heads, a library authority file (LCNAF or PND) or geographical gazetteer could be used as a list of wanted articles for Wikipedia. Even though Wikipedia now has an impressive 680K English and 270K German articles, any such list would consist of far more red links than blue ones. Many of the names would never deserve encyclopedic articles of their own, or would they? Does IMDb require a minimum level of fame before an actor can be listed? How long can the "long tail" be? GerardM certainly has strong ideas about how to design the Ultimate Wiktionary, based on the not-yet-existant Wikidata software. Could Wikidata also be the platform for lists of not yet biographed personal names and not yet described geographical place names?

  • On Commons I'm adding geo-tagged photos, commons:User:LA2
  • On Meta I'm presenting some ideas about digitizing books with MediaWiki, m:User:LA2
  • On OpenStreetMap I'm trying to explore GPS tracklogs for making maps, User:LA2

August 2004: de:Zunft Hi LA2, concerning your question "Zunftzwang and Jews", I searched on different channels, but I didn't found anything really relating to your question, as you might have read by my reply on the discussion-side. But may be, you will find something on this homepage, that I discovered today: [3]. It is in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian. I would be lucky to register more coresponding articles in Swedish from you (although I do only know a few words in Swedish)! Good luck! [4]

April 2004: Free Encyclopedias on the Internet. Time goes and projects develop. 2004 is the year of free encyclopedias on the Internet. Nothing is really new, but the momentum, size and multitude of efforts is impressive. And all projects use HTML forms for text editing, either for writing new articles (wiki) or for proofreading OCR text against scanned images of classic out-of-copyright printed works. See also the history of Internet encyclopedia projects

Of the above, Lars Aronsson (user LA2) is the founder and manager of and Project Runeberg, and participates in the other projects.

Update: September 10, 2002: I made this anonymous edit to the article Wikipedia, which was later moved to become the background section of History of Wikipedia#Background. The address was me.

Februry 18, 2002: Year in Review. I want to explore the time dimension. Traditional encyclopedias don't have one. They pretend to be published momentarily, and to contain the eternal truth, which is of course not the case. On the other hand, newspapers, magazines, journals and historic "timelines" do have a time dimension, which is the only way to find anything in them, unless someone compiles a keyword index or makes the text full text searchable. Online knowledge banks should be able to combine the features of an encyclopedia with those of a timeline. But how? Wikipedia has taken a path of making each year and date-of-year into a link, e.g. May 14, 1814, called the year-in-review system. How useful is this approach? We cannot know this before we try it, so I'm helping to implement this system. This is my current approach:

There's a problem with this--I go to "most wanted" and find long lists of random years, linked to by other years that have little or no real content. I also get them a lot when I ask for a random page. I'm not opposed to the time approach to encyclopedizing, or I wouldn't be working on the day-of-the-year pages; I do have doubts about lots of blank pages linking to each other. Vicki Rosenzweig
Vicki, that's a valid point, but I hope it is a temporary state and that these 1000+ pages will soon be filled with useful information, both from "pages that link here" and from external sources such as my own Telecom History Timeline (yes, feel free to use that information in Wikipedia). But it is also possible that the entire Year in Review system is wrong. Maybe it doesn't scale. Maybe it could be done all different. But how? And where are the limits? I don't think we can know before we tried it. --LA2

February 2002: Swedish monarchs.

Thanks for the pointer on nomenclature on Oskar I - royal names are giving us fits - especially since a non-native speaker of English keeps adding genealogical information from such a variety of sources that one has no idea how the next name will be spelled! --MichaelTinkler

Hi, LA2, nice work on Sweden - but can we please standardise these names? First, please add "of Sweden" to royal article titles - many names and numerals can be duplicated among different countries. Also, though, it's normal encyclopedia practice (I'm not including Wikipedia here - we need a standard practice) to use the ruler's name in the form common in the language of the encyclopedia - Gustavus Adolphus thus isn't only Latin, it's also English, since we never devised our own substitute for that form. I'm also personally for leaving out names after the numeral, hence "Gustav II of Sweden" (with redirects of course from Gustavus Adolfus and Gustav Adolf), but others will have their own views.

As I've said elsewhere, the use of English in this context isn't anglocentrism, it's a convention reflecting the tendency of kings and nobles to move about and to rule polyglot entities (e.g. Emperor Karl V = Carlos I of Sweden, and his successors could validly have names in German, Czech, Hungarian, French, Italian, Slovene etc. if we were to go by the language of their dominions). I hope we can all discuss these issues and come up with an agreed standard, because otherwise we're going to end up in an awful muddle. Cheers. User:David Parker

Comment from LA2: Michael, the commentary is now moved to Swedish monarchs. I have continued to add some structure (and more names) to that page. David, you sure have a lot of ideas. I disagree with putting "of Sweden" after everything, because this would be just like a hierarchical structure of subpages. In most cases the numerals do make the names internationally unique (royals and nobilty have been moving around Europe for centuries, so this has been taken into account already), and the cases that require disambiguation aren't worse than any other words, terms or names. I also strongly disagree about removing the names after the numerals, which would be in complete disrespect of all established practices. I have changed all occurances of Gustaf II Adolf (the Swedish spelling) to Gustavus Adolphus, since this latin name form seems to be the most used in English literature, but there is also an English form Gustav II Adolph, which is used by the Microsoft Encarta. -- February 10,2002.

Hi Lars -- I don't think there is another Oscar I, but we are trying to standardize nomenclature, so 'of Sweden' is appropriate. Please let us know if you disagree -- there have been several discussions -- mostly on history sandards and my page. Feel free to weigh in! Thanks -- User:JHK

Another way of looking at nomenclature is that since wikipedia isn't paper, economical but obscure is not a goal - of Sweden helps readers know what we're talking about. It puts the burden on entry-writers to use the full name and pipe it down to a shorter one [Oscar I of Sweden|Oscar I], but that's worthwhile. The numbers don't help nearly enough with some names. How many Henrys are there? Alexanders, both papal and royal (this is what led to the current papal nomenclature [Pope So-and-so XIV] despite the fact that many papal names are not in use by non-popes). I'm all in favor of more explicit if slightly fuller nomenclature. --MichaelTinkler

Michael, maybe adding "of Sweden" is worth your while, but not mine. Where do you draw the line? You could go on an add "Oscar I who is a guy and was king of Sweden which is a country in Europe which is a continent in the northern hemisphere" for all that I care. If I'm going to write a page on the history of the Swedish parliament in the 19th century, it should be obvious that Oscar I refers to the king of Sweden. In other pages, where this is not obvious, I can add "of Sweden" outside the brackets.--LA2

I just googled a bit. The only human "Oscar I" on the first several pages was indeed the one we're talking about. However, "Oscar I" is also a class of Soviet/Russian submarines--the Kursk was an Oscar I--and the name of an American satellite launched in 1961. Either of these might well be the subject of a Wikipedia article. Vicki Rosenzweig

November 2001: Orders of magnitude. I'm back in Wikipedia, observing, providing comments, sometimes contributing, but not very actively. I'm a member of the wikipedia-l and intlwiki-l mailing lists. My own Swedish Wiki has 3000+ entries, which makes it 50% bigger than the German Wikipedia.

October 1, 2001: I started my own Wiki in Swedish ( which is a dictionary and a second home for my Swedish wireless LAN group and a hackers jargon dictionary and a gazetteer and a few things more, which makes it different from the Swedish Wikipedia. Actually, the only difference is that it doesn't pretend to be an encyclopedia, because I still cannot understand why distinguishing between encyclopedias and dictionaries should be useful in the 21st century. Those who want to explain this to me should do so not in words, but by contributing to the Swedish Wikipedia.

I like your additional comparative measurement pages, LA2, but 1e0 is a bit odd; wouldn't '1' be simpler; also redirects from things like "one cubic metre" would be handy. --User:Dweir

Yes, maybe you're right. Nothing stops anybody from adding these redirects. See the discussion in User talk:Eob.--User:LA2

thanks for the additions to the spanish wikipedia --User:AN

May 2001: Wikipedia is not a dictionary. I joined Wikipedia and wrote a few hundred articles (including the first versions of book and library and information science), then left on May 21, after a disagreement with User:Larry Sanger on the principal difference between an encyclopedia and a dictionary.

Update: In December 2010, Tim Starling found this trace ([Internet Archive]) of what happened. The article "short words" was deleted in January 2006.

A brave fighter can do with a short sword, for he is not afraid to go close to his enemy. The way to acquire knowledge is by close and intense study of the subject matter. My purpose with contributing to Wikipedia is not to make a lasting and useful encyclopedia, because I think that requires a whole lot more organization than this, but I think that I can learn something from using and contributing to this collaboratively edited hypertext.

Hi, LA2! You wrote: "a lasting and useful encyclopedia, because I think that requires a whole lot more organization than this." As an encyclopedia editor, I am now of the opinion that a lasting and useful encyclopedia must first exist--and the best way to put it into existence if it's a wholly volunteer project is to get rid of the official organization wherever self-organization can do. Please see :-) --User:LMS
I would say existence is a necessary but perhaps not sufficient requirement. But the only way we can find out is to create it. I agree on nupedia. --User:LA2

Hi, LA2. I just munched on your Information Theory page. You might like to check to see if you agree. -- User:TedDunning

LA2, in my opinion, Wikipedia is not a dictionary, and it shouldn't be treated as one. --User:LMS

I now see the limits of this project. I'm out of here. --User:LA2 (21 May 2001)

Hey, Guys, Don't be silly! Who don't want short entrys should write more. (And, BTW: Look in some ``real encyclopedias: Their's ofter not more than one or two senteces. Who cares?) -- User:IAm.

LA2, really! Why would you leave? Just because I gave you a criticism? --User:LMS

Yes, please don't take it personally; I don't think anyone would like to see you go. It's just that the vision of what Wikipedia is to be isn't the same for each person. I think that many of the articles which have been started (e.g. the ones on closeted, Mu, etc.) would be perfectly fine for an encyclopedia if they also included historical background on the terms. For instance, "closeted" might include information on Oscar Wilde or other notable figures whose lives changed significantly (for the better or worse) once they admitted homosexuality; "Mu" might include information on the discovery of its significance scientifically, at least in physics and probably in many other areas I'm unfamiliar with. Unfortunately I don't know the backgrounds of many of them, and so haven't supplied them, but that doesn't mean that the entries are useless, by any means. It simply means that for now they resemble an entry in a dictionary more than an entry in an encyclopedia. But please don't be discouraged. --KQ

Here's another request that you stay. If you want to write definition articles, do so. If others don't like them, they can add to them. It's as simple as that. -- Stephen Gilbert User:StefanRybo

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