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But more importantly Citizendium is guaranteeing itself a big fall by:

a) Starting with a copy of Wikipedia - why start from a bad model.
B) Inviting people to collaborate on what to delete - a bad move if ever there was one.
c) Expecting people to contribute without those people having anything to show for it, nor any way to check or improve their writing - the no feedback model is guaranteed to piss people off.
d) Having all work passed through a team of experts whose only expertise is they convinced some people of their expertise, whose decisions are arrived at in closed session and without explanation.

Sanger doesn't want another Wikipedia and he won't. He'll get another Nupedia.

I think that Sanger really really doesn't get it - how to compile an encyclopedia, how to harness the enthusiasm of people. how to reward good scholarship or just participation in the project. Instead he's got a black box model with an inexplicable filter.

Initially I was excited by Citizendium but now I'm depressed. Has Sanger learnt nothing?
I have to say, this whole chain of blog 'n' response is rather confusing, but let me try to summarize it for the sake of, well, having a summary:

Nicholas Carr took Cory Doctorow to task for supporting Clay Shirky in his efforts to pronounce Citizendium dead on arrival, due to what Shirky saw as a lack of understanding on Larry Sanger's part about what really constitutes "expertise." Larry Sanger's own reply to Shirky (what kind of name is "Shirky," anyway?) was seen as "defensive" by the pro-Wikipedia contingent, who all along have bashed Sanger for his tendency to produce "nothing but vaporware" (for lack of anything better to bash him over). Carr's reponse to the whole thing was to say that while Citizendium may be doomed, it's because of too little respect for expertise, rather than too much. (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)

This all took place a month ago, but I missed it at the time. But this is still the only instance I've seen of a pro-Wikipedian criticizing Citizendium and/or Sanger for a legitimate reason other than Sanger's previous failures to produce a viable competitor to Wikipedia. (I'm probably just not be looking hard enough...)

QUOTE(Nicholas Carr @ Sept. 20, 2006)
Let me throw out another (not entirely baked) thought. If you really want to compete with Wikipedia, don't recruit experts to act as editors. Recruit good, smart editors to act as editors, and recruit experts to act as contributors. The editor's job should be to synthesize the knowledge of experts (whether those experts are professionals or amateurs) and distill it into good, consistent, readable (and preferably concise) prose. If the experts trust the judgment and skill of the editor, I think the likelihood that they'd contribute would be increased substantially - particularly if their contributions were acknowledged in some way. In this way, you'd not only address Wikipedia's content problem but you'd also address its equally large writing problem (which Sanger's Citizendium concept doesn't address, so far as I can see).

I think Carr makes a very good point here. Not all experts are good editors, and vice-versa. So to some extent, success might hinge on the question of how many people who are good at one, but not the other, are willing to admit that they're good at one, but not the other.

And maybe the real question isn't "what will kill Citizendium?" - but rather, "what will Citizendium kill?" And if it kills off any remaining vestiges of desire among academics and professional experts to participate in collaborative online knowledge-gathering projects, is that a good thing, or a bad thing?

I'd say it's a bad thing, because then, not only is internet culture back to dealing with Wikipedia by default, it gives the tin-plated despots and self-aggrandizers who have taken over Wikipedia an even easier time of it, in their tireless efforts to basically screw up as much of what currently passes for the sum of human knowledge as they can.
Quite right. Citizendium is meant to act as a respectable filter for the chaos of Wikipedia. But the history of the Internet has proved that people good enough at their jobs to be a respectable filter have way better things to do than volunteering their time to resolve years-long, hideous flamewars and clean up original research. For example, they could write for Britannica or Encarta, not have to worry about arguing with other editors, and get paid for it. Filters are a great idea-- last week I was talking with a Washington Post executive who thinks blogs should be filtered by newspapers-- but given the volunteer nature of the Internet, they are difficult to put into practice.

The strange exception which tests this rule is the Korean OhmyNews. I'm not exactly sure how that happened but I don't think Sanger will be able to duplicate its success.
QUOTE(JohnA @ Fri 20th October 2006, 5:09pm) *

But more importantly Citizendium is guaranteeing itself a big fall by:
a) Starting with a copy of Wikipedia - why start from a bad model.
Initially I was excited by Citizendium but now I'm depressed. Has Sanger learnt nothing?

Apparently he might have learned at least one thing!

I move that JohnA gets a free pass to say "I told you so" for the next week and a half. wink.gif
Jonny Cache
Don't worry, it's a wiki -- any learning that accidentally accrues is just as easily erasable.

Jonny cool.gif
"I told you so" rolleyes.gif

If Sanger wants to be a competitor to Wikipedia then he has to address the key issues of how to motivate and encourage good writing and good scholarship on a wiki.

And that means understanding why Wikipedia is so successful.

The key reason why Wikipedia has so many editors is because of a very basic human motive: instant gratification. There's a key reward to the ego from editing an encyclopedia live and knowing that everyone else sees what you've just added or changed. Editing Wikipedia is like eating chocolate for most women, a form of illicit pleasure of a near immediate rush of pleasure-center-triggering chemicals.

Another reason would be improving the lot of mankind for future generations - a form of the "Big Lie" sold endlessly by Jimbo Wales - the Marxist notion that knowledge generated by ordinary people in the absence of economic incentive is somehow more pure and more accessible than competing nasty capitalistic enterprises.

In the absence of any economic or social reward for writing, some Wikipedians write for purely altruistic motives (the so-called "exopedians") and rarely if ever engage in the edit wars and bun fights that WR is most familiar. They are the real engine of Wikipedia and the most pitiable people on the planet. Their hard work has been subverted and betrayed.

But most editors are not that engaged. They want the instant gratification of editing without the hard sweat of reading and distillation - this is the Google generation after all - so smaller edits are more the norm. This group composes far and away the largest group of editors.

A key barrier to publishing used to be a separation between writer/researcher and editor/publisher. But there's no barrier to entry at Wikipedia. All you need is a keyboard, a mouse, an Internet connection and an agenda for changing something.

Now we on WR generally know that the reasons for Wikipedia's success are also the key sources for its failures.

Sanger knows some of this.

But what Sanger hasn't done is address why Nupedia failed and Wikipedia succeeded, nor why putting up barriers to collaboration without any replacing incentive risks very strongly replicating Nupedia and vindicating Wikipedia by so doing. And the risk is very high.
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