Today’s Morning Edition mentioned that Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia.org, is creating a rival site called Citizendium. He’s written about why Citizendium will succeed on his personal site. Here’s an excerpt:
the Citizendiumhas, I think, an immediate and broad appeal to many readers who are also potential writers. The appeal to readers is obvious. Finding factual or “encyclopedic” information about general topics is one of the main things people use search engines to do. This no doubt is why we click on Wikipedia links so frequently: regardless of how dodgy the information might be, it does, after all, purport to be accurate information, which is what we’re looking for.
If we add reliability to this basic, winning formula, the appeal to readers increases hugely. I suppose the reason Wikipedia articles are as attractive to search engine users as they are, is simply that they sum up a lot of information. That implies a high signal-to-noise ratio. But if an entry has been overseen by experts–that is, if the project as a whole is evidently devoted not just to boatloads of information, but boatloads of credible, expert-vetted information–then it becomes much more attractive.
Clay Shirky, well-published web skeptic, isn’t convinced Citizendium will work. Read why.
You can check out the beta of Citizendium here.