Citizendium Forks Wikipedia

    September 18, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Skepticism abounds as the co-founder of Wikipedia plans to start a project fork of the anything-goes online encyclopedia with a new project that will abolish anonymous editing of topics and install topic experts to oversee the content.

Wikipedia has experienced significant growth, media scrutiny, and no small amount of mischief or controversy during its short lifetime.

Wikipedia’s benefit of anonymous editing has become a bane to plenty of people. It looks like Larry Sanger, Wikipedia’s co-founder, perceived this in creating the Citizendium fork of the Wikipedia project:

We believe a fork is necessary, and justified, both to allow regular people a place to work under the direction of experts, and in which personal accountability–including the use of real names–is expected. In short, we want to create a responsible community and a good global citizen.

Some response has been less than enthusiastic over Sanger’s announcement. Blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick wrote at TechCrunch that it’s hard to take Citizendium seriously:

I like variations on familiar models and the web 2.0 certainly isn’t set in stone; but there are a number of reasons I’m very skeptical of Citizendium.

t is reminiscent of the predecessor of Wikipedia, Nupedia – which Sanger was the editor in chief of just like he will be for Citizendium. Nupedia allegedly flopped under the weight of its PhD requirements, software inadequacies, the superiority of the wiki model in general and Wikipedia in particular.

In other words, barring further information about Citizendium – it’s hard to take it seriously. The project does have some stuffy backing for its snoozer of a text-only web site so perhaps it will prove viable. I’m not holding my breath.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington differed with Kirkpatrick through a posting Arrington made on his CrunchNotes blog:

Marshall asks whether wikipedia really needs to be “fixed” and suggests it doesn’t.

I think it does. While wikipedia appears to be open to all, I’ve seen numerous examples of changes getting immediately deleted for what appears to be political reasons rather than the pursuit of pure knowledge. And I’ve also seen people be attacked for making changes that appear to be factual and correct.

Arrington also noted that Wikipedia’s entry about TechCrunch has a number of errors, which he won’t even think about trying to fix. “The wikipedia community has completely intimidated me to the point where making a change to that site is unthinkable,” he wrote.

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.