Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Citizendium to Compete With Wikipedia

A co-founder of Wikipedia Larry Sanger has launched Citizendium last week. Citizendium is currently in Beta. According to the founder “the world needs a better free encyclopedia”. The bywords go as “Citizens compendium of everything”. Citizendium works much like Wikipedia with similar MediaWiki Software; but it claims to provide more authentic and accurate information on any subject. It aims to improve on Wikipedia and take it to the next level by introducing more controls at every stage. According to Citizendium; Wikipedia is plagued by problems with defamation and vandalism, in addition to factually incorrect entries. Sanger hopes to change this.

Citizendium is different from Wikipedia in that it requires users to register with their real names. It makes contributions accountable. Anyone who registers with their full name can contribute. Secondly; the articles submitted by users are governed by a board of editors who are supposedly experts in their chosen fields. Sanger claims to currently have over 180 editors and over 800 plus authors. An author can start and edit an article and an editor can decide which version of an article is approved and which requires an academic background in a particular area of expertise. Contributions are monitored by Constables. A "CZ Constable" can be a volunteer who is required to have a bachelor's degree and be of at least 25 years of age. These constables (like for example Sanger) will have the authority to ban inappropriate or factually wrong contributors. Articles vetted by editors and constables become “CZ Live” articles. A CZ Live article is one which has undergone significant changes (not grammatical or spelling corrections). Articles are finally approved and fall in the category of “approved articles”.

Will Citizendium succeed? Well; I think Citizendium has a long way to go if it has to beat Wikipedia. For one thing the first entrant in any breakthrough service or technology always takes the lions share. For Citizednium to grab a share of Wikipedia will not be a small task. Remember that in just six years Wikipedia has 1.7 million articles in English alone. As of March 25 Citizendium had just 1100 articles. There is some truth in the allegation that Wikipedia sometimes provides incorrect information. On a few occasions Wikipedia has provided incorrect information. But in my view this is a small trade off to what is an amazing database of information that can be generally relied upon.

Good Luck Citizendium - Take on Wikipedia.

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