Citizendium: Wikipedia co-founder Sanger's Wikipedia rival

Citizendium launches tomorrow!

Caroline McCarthy Former Staff writer, CNET News
Caroline McCarthy, a CNET News staff writer, is a downtown Manhattanite happily addicted to social-media tools and restaurant blogs. Her pre-CNET resume includes interning at an IT security firm and brewing cappuccinos.
Caroline McCarthy
2 min read

There's been a lot of talk about "killers" recently, namely potential YouTube competitor Joost. And for a while, we've known that Wikipedia would soon have a potential rival in Citizendium, a project announced several months ago. But Citizendium's different: founder Larry Sanger isn't aiming to shoot down Wikipedia; in fact, he was one of that site's co-founders. Rather, he's aiming to use Wikipedia's model and existing content to build something that he hopes will be better--and less of a free-for-all. Though anyone can be a Citizendium "author," contributors will be required to use their real names, thus eliminating the anonymity that has made it easier for some dubious edits to be made in Wikipedia. There will also be "gentle expert oversight" to provide some guidance, and presumably to prevent future wiki-vandalism in the manner of Stephen Colbert.

Now, Citizendium has launched a preliminary site where interested users can register and test the site out. It already has a base of more than 150 expert editors and 350 "authors," who have been testing the site out since November. The new encyclopedia also has new non-profit status through the Tides Center organization, and will be accepting tax-deductible donations (it's holding a pre-launch funding drive right now). By the end of the year, however, Citizendium hopes to be independent of Tides.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not Web users find Citizendium a more trustworthy alternative to Wikipedia, or whether their impression will be that it's too restrictive a model. As is the case with pretty much every brand-new site that we profile on Webware, we'll have to see what unfolds.