Wikipedia Rival Goes Live
Citizendium, a new, free, user-created online encyclopedia, is designed to avoid some of the pitfalls that have bedeviled Wikipedia. While anyone can read and edit Citizendium, they will have to use a real name to do so. Larry Sanger, one of the co-founders of Wikipedia, believes that anonymity contributes to some of Wikipedia's more publicized faults. The volunteer contributors to Citizendium are expected to provide their real names, have that identify confirmed and submit a short biography. And their contributions will be reviewed for accuracy by experts in given fields. Sanger originally conceived of Citizendium as a fork of Wikipedia. A fork copies everything in a given product and then goes off in its own direction. But he decided that it made more sense to start from scratch than to first mine the Wikipedia content for any potential "gold." Given the increased barriers to participation, it's likely to be some time, if ever, before Citizendium, approaches Wikipedia's three million member accounts. Citizendium currently has about 900 authors and 200 editors. Of its 1,100 articles, only 11 display the green check that indicates that it has been "approved" by editors.
A lot of the workshops and lectures I do on technology center around Blogs and Wikis and podcasts etc. The question 'how many know what a Wiki is?' is generally followed by blank stares, until I give them Wikipedia as a base. Ah yes, most have heard of Wikipedia, and many have used it. For several years now, the online encyclopedia Wikipedia (www.wikipedia.org) has been drawing us into an interactive format for providing information. I tend to think that it epitomizes the Web 2.0 school of thought, where information is in constant flux and readers are more active participants.
Citizendium is the new kid on the block. Like everything else, it was inevitable that even the venerated Wikipedia would need a 2.0 type upgrade. To be fair, Wikipedia itself has evolved through its rather short life, but as with many things, there are inherent 'flaws', not the least being the relative anonymity of its authors. Citizendium takes on those flaws and ups the ante.