Wikipedia rival makes its debut
By Candace Lombardi
Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Published: March 26, 2007, 9:48 AM PDT
A new rival to Wikipedia launched its public beta Sunday.
Citizendium, a self-proclaimed "citizens' compendium" of general knowledge, works much like Wikipedia in that anyone can submit information. This community encyclopedia, however, requires users to register with their real names, and its articles are governed by an editorial board.
The wiki encyclopedia was started by Larry Sanger, a co-founder of Wikipedia, according to his own biography.
Citizendium seeks to improve on the wiki model by offering encyclopedic content with "gentle expert oversight," according to its main page.
The content, which has 1,100 articles as of this publication, includes imported Wikipedia articles that Citizendium volunteers and editors are in the process of "cleaning up" and outfitting with templates that track an article's status.
Sanger, who started private testing of Citizendium in November 2006, claims to now have gotten approximately 820 authors and 186 editors on board with the project. Authors can start or edit articles. Editors decide which version of an article is approved and which requires an academic background in a particular area of expertise.
Anyone who registers with their full name is free to contribute. But those contributions will be monitored by constables. A "CZ Constable" is a volunteer who is required to have a bachelor's degree and be "at least 25 years old." These constables (Sanger is one of them) will have the authority to ban inappropriate contributors.
Articles that have been vetted by Citizendium editors and constables are marked as "CZ Live."
This gives Citizendium control over what's posted and avoids some of the problems that have plagued Wikipedia.
Because of its free-form nature, Wikipedia has experienced some problems with defamation and vandalism, in addition to factually incorrect entries. Wikipedia banned comedian Stephen Colbert from its site after he encouraged fans to make funny edits to entries in order to illustrate the vulnerability of an open wiki encyclopedia.