Is Citizendium dead?

In March 2010, about 90 people made even a single edit to Citizendium. Compare Conservapedia, which has 76 in the last week at the time I write this. The difference is, the latter is pretty much a personal website run by a gibbering fundie lunatic which gets pretty much all its traffic from sceptics making fun of it; the former was a serious project.

This is terribly sad. What went wrong?

8 thoughts on “Is Citizendium dead?”

  1. Citizendium never really had its own identity as a website, other than being “not Wikipedia”. They allowed themselves to be defined by their competitor, which in marketing is a bad thing.

  2. James: Citizendium’s people seem to be aware of that and try to build up their own identity. It might now be easier for them now that Larry no longer plays a leading role at CZ, giving them enough room to develop.

  3. Here is one of those 90, and while I have no answer to your final question, the answer to the one in the title is clearly no. As an indication, the very page you cite states that over 200,000 words have been added in March. This may be small by Wikipedian standards, but differs from 0 by more than the leading 2.

    I was not around when Citizendium started, but probably a number of things went wrong, as is natural when something new is being attempted, especially when it faces competition (real or perceived) and when others prefer to make fun of it instead of having a closer look or even participate. However, one success is for certain – the overall atmosphere within the community is really friendly and conducive to collaboration, while vandalism is a matter of hearsay.

    The problem that James mentioned is real, but, as Mathias pointed out, not bound to persist – what may become the seed of a proper identity is currently being planted in the form of a community-written charter draft which is meant to make the site more inviting to both experts and the public, such that there is hope that you can report more than 90 people contributing next March. In the meantime, nothing wrong with having an occasional look at the site (e.g. via Special:Random), or even making a few edits here and there.

  4. There’s also a thread on wikien-l and on Talk:Citizendium in which I have noted the same observation. The discussion on those is interesting as well.

    The point is that CZ got huge attention when it started, and it has completely failed in its reasons for founding, let alone ambitions. But if it can be revived, that’ll be excellent. And frankly, Wikipedia needs competition.

    (I’ve spent an entertaining day today on RationalWiki, a site of comparable activity to CZ. But at least that started in the gutter.)

  5. >It might now be easier for them now that Larry no longer plays a leading >role at CZ, giving them enough room to develop.

    Perhaps thats the problem. Most wikis (and i think most open source projects share this) need one insane contributor to get things rolling, and this one insane contributor needs to pretty much do everything for at least a year or more – until it is total self sufficient. Citizendium is in a market already filled by wikipedia, so there is no inherent need for it (unlike wikipedia, which had both novelty going for it, and every other encyclopedia being behind a pay wall), thus it is not going to build itself.

  6. I wouldn’t be so sure in claiming Citizendium to be dead, it is there, and it is an alternative to Wikipedia, me being a long term Wikipedia editor am on the verge on evaluating Citizendium in order to see what’s fundamentally different from Wikipedia and if those differences is a potential cure from the bad state of some categories of articles in Wikipedia, foremost most religious articles, and some philosophy — another bad situation is some certain WP rule-benders that harasses other editors by playing the system. As long as Wikipedia is not the best of worlds, Citizendium is a test bed for alternative ideas, and since no information really disappears, some day Citizendium will be mature.

  7. If Citizendium is to revive, then I hope the participants take note of the comment section here. Dr Sanger comes across, as one commenter notes, like he’s writing a press release for the North Korean government. Particularly telling are the several comments from academics detailing just what was wrong with trying to work on Citizendium and why they were rapidly alienated and left.

  8. I don’t think James Hare’s claim explains the difference: Conservapedia also strongly started as being “not Wikipedia” and still does strongly identify that way. Something went on here more complicated than just the problem of negative identification.

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