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March 26, 2007

Wikipedia Gets (Serious) Competition

There's another new general purpose wiki available, Citizendium, or the citizens' compendium.  It is founded by Larry Sanger.  Sanger is often referred to as a co-founder of Wikipedia.  That should give Citizendium some instant credibility. 

He's setting up Citizendium in a different editorial mode from that of Wikipedia.  For starters, all contributors must use their real names, thus avoiding the Essjay scandal that hit Wikipedia awhile back.  The average Joe on the street can contribute, subject to editorial controls by those with subject area expertise.  There is a higher level of control in the form of constables, individuals who enforce the rules "using common sense and leniency while following 'the rule of law'."  So the editors enforce content accuracy while the constables make sure the participants play along collaboratively within Citizendium.  For more on this structure, see the Citizendiums's Statement of Fundamental Policies.

There are over 1,000 articles in Citizendium with the potential for it to turn into something serious.  For comparative purposes, here are links to Wikipedia's entry on Cat Coat Genetics and the Citizendium entry on Cat Colors.  Even Wikipedia started off with little and grew large, large enough for problems to be newsworthy.  Citizendium, it seems, wants to take the best parts of Wikipedia's model and turn it into something that is a bit more vetted for accuracy.  It's FAQ says as much. 

Citizendium seems to be as much a social experiment as it does as a compendium for knowledge.  Will experts and non-experts work together in peace and harmony?  Who knows.  An online encyclopedia that strives for accuracy can be a worthy competitor to Wikipedia.

And while we're on the subject of competitors, check out Scholarpedia.org.  This is a peer reviewed encyclopedia written by scholars from around the world.  The content is mostly dense scientific material.  But hey, why not.  Maybe someday there will be the definitive article on the genetics that make cats look different.  Meow.

March 26, 2007 | Permalink


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