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New Citizendium to correct Wikipedia’s wrongs?

By Ken Fisher | Published: September 19, 2006 – 09:18AM CT

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is starting a Wikipedia competitor. His new Wiki-based Citizendium project (a “citizens’ compendium of everything”) is expected to launch within a few short weeks, and in many ways it is aimed squarely at fixing Wikipedia’s weaknesses. At least, such is the tone of the site’s project page.

Citizendium will begin life as a “progressive fork” of Wikipedia, taking all of its launch content from the “infamous” online encyclopedia. Yet the project will distance itself from Wikipedia to focus on becoming “the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects.” There’s no ifs about it: Citzendium is being created to “outdo” Wikipedia.

How? The big difference between Citizendium and Wikipedia will be the presence of “experts” on Citizendium who will have the final say in editing disputes. Just who are the experts, though? The plan is for the site’s operators to post the ideal “credentials” of an editor, and then contributors themselves will decide if they fit the bill. In other words, one essentially appoints oneself to the position of expert. An editor must publish their own credentials online, and these credentials must be verifiable. I’m sorry Mbutu Ngangi, but you can’t be an editor just because you say you have millions of dollars in Laos and five doctorates.

What happens if even the expert editors can’t solve a problem? If things get unruly, Citizendium will also feature “constables” who will have the power to ban troublemakers. The project’s homepage reminds you, however, that “those who want the option of working anonymously and in a wild-and-woolly atmosphere in which rules are not necessarily enforced should always be able to do so on Wikipedia.”

Starting from not-scratch

Citizendium will indeed begin life as a full mirror of Wikipedia, and may carry Wikipedia content throughout its tenure. Citizendium will continue to refresh its articles with updates from Wikipedia, with one major exception: articles that have been modified at Citizendium will not be updated. There are plans for editing tools that will allow Citizendium users to track and see changes on the Wikipedia version of an article, but the general idea is to take Citizendium articles in a new direction with the help of experts, where experts are needed.

The irony is that both sites will both share the GFDL license, which means that there’s nothing to stop Wikipedia editors from copying the best of Citizendium. For his part, Sanger seems fixated on the idea of making a welcoming place for experts to contribute, and it is his view that Wikipedia isn’t that place. Nevertheless, the work of these comforted experts may end up right back at Wikipedia. It is truly hard to predict how the “experts” will react, for while many people are willing to talk about “experts” and “academics” as though they were a monolithic culture, they’re just everyday people, and there are more than a few contributing to Wikipedia already.

To begin, Citizendium will launch in English, but the project is open to forking off into other language if it appears worthwhile.

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Larry Sanger says “tipping point” approaching for expert-guided Citizendium wiki

By Nate Anderson | Published: November 21, 2007 – 08:21AM CT

Citizendium, the expert-guided wiki run by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, has just turned one. After blowing out the candle on the site’s birthday cake, Sanger issued a lengthy status report asserting that Citizendium is ramping up rapidly and is ready to make major advances in its bid to show the world a better knowledge production model. Still, the site can’t dodge the critics who wonder if it has a point.

When we took a long look at Citizendium back in February, we noted that only eight articles had been “approved” by the site’s expert editors (anyone can contribute, but experts oversee specific articles and approve them as accurate). Today, that number has jumped to 46.

That may still seem insignificant, but Sanger points out that article creation and approval are accelerating, and he claims that Citizendium’s articles are in any case of “far better quality” than Wikipedia’s. “This, I hope you’ll agree, counts for something.”


Larry Sanger

Tim Lee, a Cato Institute scholar and frequent Ars contributor, didn’t buy the hopeful rhetoric. In a recent blog post, Lee doesn’t see Citizendium’s traffic or article creation numbers as anything impressive enough to draw in the people who are skeptical of contributing to such a project until it is clear that their effort won’t be wasted. He calls the entire project “a solution in search of a problem.”

“The question is whether there are multiple distinct niches that a single encyclopedia can’t serve simultaneously,” he tells Ars. “If multiple niches existed, you might see different encyclopedias evolving to fill each niche. But I’m having a hard time imagining what those different niches might be. A single, comprehensive encyclopedia would seem to be more useful to almost everyone than multiple, smaller encyclopedias. If that’s true, then barring major screw-ups, Wikipedia will be the dominant wiki-based encyclopedia for the foreseeable future.”

Sanger has faced these criticisms from day one but has forged ahead with the project, often taking the time to issue point-by-point rebuttals of his critics.

But money is now a pressing problem for the Citizendium project. “We have gotten by with one full-time employee (me) and $40,000,” Sanger writes in his yearly update. “But it helps that I’ve been supported via speaking and writing fees, and frankly, we do need more money.” Sanger is currently an unpaid volunteer, but is planning a fundraising effort in November and December, and he will then turn more effort to development in 2008.

But Sanger remains a believer. In January, he says, articles were created at a rate of 4.3 per day; now, more than 14 a day are being started. 2,000 people have signed up for accounts, even if most don’t actually contribute. And if he’s lucky, Citizendium is nearing a tipping point that will start to bring the masses into the fold.

“Our fundamentals are extremely solid,” Sanger writes. “There is an unfulfilled need for an expert-guided, open, free encyclopedia under responsible management. A huge number of people know about us, and they just need a little push to get involved. When enough of them do, we will reach a tipping point—our visible growth will cause an avalanche of interest among our inactive supporters, who will then be convinced that, indeed, we really are a going concern.”

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New Citizendium to correct Wikipedia’s wrongs?

By Ken Fisher | Published: September 19, 2006 – 09:18AM CT

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is starting a Wikipedia competitor. His new Wiki-based Citizendium project (a “citizens’ compendium of everything”) is expected to launch within a few short weeks, and in many ways it is aimed squarely at fixing Wikipedia’s weaknesses. At least, such is the tone of the site’s project page.

Citizendium will begin life as a “progressive fork” of Wikipedia, taking all of its launch content from the “infamous” online encyclopedia. Yet the project will distance itself from Wikipedia to focus on becoming “the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects.” There’s no ifs about it: Citzendium is being created to “outdo” Wikipedia.

How? The big difference between Citizendium and Wikipedia will be the presence of “experts” on Citizendium who will have the final say in editing disputes. Just who are the experts, though? The plan is for the site’s operators to post the ideal “credentials” of an editor, and then contributors themselves will decide if they fit the bill. In other words, one essentially appoints oneself to the position of expert. An editor must publish their own credentials online, and these credentials must be verifiable. I’m sorry Mbutu Ngangi, but you can’t be an editor just because you say you have millions of dollars in Laos and five doctorates.

What happens if even the expert editors can’t solve a problem? If things get unruly, Citizendium will also feature “constables” who will have the power to ban troublemakers. The project’s homepage reminds you, however, that “those who want the option of working anonymously and in a wild-and-woolly atmosphere in which rules are not necessarily enforced should always be able to do so on Wikipedia.”

Starting from not-scratch

Citizendium will indeed begin life as a full mirror of Wikipedia, and may carry Wikipedia content throughout its tenure. Citizendium will continue to refresh its articles with updates from Wikipedia, with one major exception: articles that have been modified at Citizendium will not be updated. There are plans for editing tools that will allow Citizendium users to track and see changes on the Wikipedia version of an article, but the general idea is to take Citizendium articles in a new direction with the help of experts, where experts are needed.

The irony is that both sites will both share the GFDL license, which means that there’s nothing to stop Wikipedia editors from copying the best of Citizendium. For his part, Sanger seems fixated on the idea of making a welcoming place for experts to contribute, and it is his view that Wikipedia isn’t that place. Nevertheless, the work of these comforted experts may end up right back at Wikipedia. It is truly hard to predict how the “experts” will react, for while many people are willing to talk about “experts” and “academics” as though they were a monolithic culture, they’re just everyday people, and there are more than a few contributing to Wikipedia already.

To begin, Citizendium will launch in English, but the project is open to forking off into other language if it appears worthwhile.

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Filed under: , , ,

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New Citizendium to correct Wikipedia’s wrongs?

By Ken Fisher | Published: September 19, 2006 – 09:18AM CT

Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger is starting a Wikipedia competitor. His new Wiki-based Citizendium project (a “citizens’ compendium of everything”) is expected to launch within a few short weeks, and in many ways it is aimed squarely at fixing Wikipedia’s weaknesses. At least, such is the tone of the site’s project page.

Citizendium will begin life as a “progressive fork” of Wikipedia, taking all of its launch content from the “infamous” online encyclopedia. Yet the project will distance itself from Wikipedia to focus on becoming “the flagship of a new set of responsibly-managed free knowledge projects.” There’s no ifs about it: Citzendium is being created to “outdo” Wikipedia.

How? The big difference between Citizendium and Wikipedia will be the presence of “experts” on Citizendium who will have the final say in editing disputes. Just who are the experts, though? The plan is for the site’s operators to post the ideal “credentials” of an editor, and then contributors themselves will decide if they fit the bill. In other words, one essentially appoints oneself to the position of expert. An editor must publish their own credentials online, and these credentials must be verifiable. I’m sorry Mbutu Ngangi, but you can’t be an editor just because you say you have millions of dollars in Laos and five doctorates.

What happens if even the expert editors can’t solve a problem? If things get unruly, Citizendium will also feature “constables” who will have the power to ban troublemakers. The project’s homepage reminds you, however, that “those who want the option of working anonymously and in a wild-and-woolly atmosphere in which rules are not necessarily enforced should always be able to do so on Wikipedia.”

Starting from not-scratch

Citizendium will indeed begin life as a full mirror of Wikipedia, and may carry Wikipedia content throughout its tenure. Citizendium will continue to refresh its articles with updates from Wikipedia, with one major exception: articles that have been modified at Citizendium will not be updated. There are plans for editing tools that will allow Citizendium users to track and see changes on the Wikipedia version of an article, but the general idea is to take Citizendium articles in a new direction with the help of experts, where experts are needed.

The irony is that both sites will both share the GFDL license, which means that there’s nothing to stop Wikipedia editors from copying the best of Citizendium. For his part, Sanger seems fixated on the idea of making a welcoming place for experts to contribute, and it is his view that Wikipedia isn’t that place. Nevertheless, the work of these comforted experts may end up right back at Wikipedia. It is truly hard to predict how the “experts” will react, for while many people are willing to talk about “experts” and “academics” as though they were a monolithic culture, they’re just everyday people, and there are more than a few contributing to Wikipedia already.

To begin, Citizendium will launch in English, but the project is open to forking off into other language if it appears worthwhile.

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The Sun BabelFish Blog

Don’t panic !

Friday Mar 09, 2007

Metaweb: a semantic wiki startup

O’Reilly groks the Semantic Web in the latest article “Freebase will prove addictive“. From his article:

But hopefully, this narrative will give you a sense of what Metaweb is reaching for: a wikipedia like system for building the semantic web. But unlike the W3C approach to the semantic web, which starts with controlled ontologies, Metaweb adopts a folksonomy approach, in which people can add new categories (much like tags), in a messy sprawl of potentially overlapping assertions.

Now that’s a very partial simplification. The Semantic Web has always been designed to be grown, though there has been a lot of misunderstanding on this issue as I reported in UFO’s seen growing on the web.

The idea of using semantic wikis to grow ontologies is an excellent idea. Seed with a few tags, nourish with plain text, add a little structure with simple ontologies; water; repeat with a littel more complexity at each iteration. With love and attention and a few lullabies the Semantic Web will be born (see Search, tagging and wikis).

A little further he says:

Metaweb still has a long way to go, but it seems to me that they are pointing the way to a fascinating new chapter in the evolution of Web 2.0.

Soon O’Reilly is going to use the word Web 3.0, just you wait and see!

See also:

Comments:

apparenly wikipedia is coming out with their own search engine to challenge google and yahoo! newslink: http://fly2.ws/wikipedia_Google

Posted by louisa on March 09, 2007 at 06:55 PM CET #

And of course one should mention Nova Spivack’s Radar as the other semantic web startup to watch.

Posted by Henry Story on March 09, 2007 at 11:12 PM CET #

[Trackback] Henry Story, Danny Ayers and Shelley Powers wrote some astute criticisms of Tim O’Reilly’s write-up on freebase. Why do Tim O’Reilly, Cory Doctorow and others continue to mis-cast a means to agree on how to communicate as a centrally-controlled system?…

Posted by Semantic Wave on March 10, 2007 at 07:41 PM CET #

An article in the Economist Sharing what matters in the June 7th quarterly tech review speaks of Danny Hillis and how freebase is based on a graph database.

Posted by Henry Story on June 23, 2007 at 06:10 AM CEST #

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