Can Anyone Challenge Wikipedia?

By | March 26, 2007

We all know of the world’s greatest source of information, Wikipedia. Students begin (and sometimes end) all research on Wikipedia. Any one with a medical disorder goes to the site to get their prognoses. If you want to know what a Billiken is you go to Wikipedia. (Go search what a Billiken is anyway, it will blow your mind. I am planning on starting a Billiken fan club. Tell me if you want to join. Maybe I should change my name to Billiken S-R) If you want to learn the science from apples to zip ties, you can find a comprehensive 97% accurate article on the subject. In fact, a good amount (more like 99%) of my Haynes.TV research is done on Wikipedia. However with such an extensive library of random information and a cult following of confused individuals, can anyone possibly challenge the dominance of Wikipedia?

Citizendium (Citizens’ Compendium) began testing in November 2006. It already has over 1000 articles in its possession. It was created by Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. Sanger’s goal is to inject some intelligent expert advice into the wiki encyclopedia. He will do this through a hierarchy of expertise and responsibility. Authors must submit their full name. They will then be subject to constables that can ban irresponsible or “stupid” authors from contributing. Constables must be at least 25 and hold a bachelors degree. The authors will then be supervised by editors. Editors choose which material makes it to the site. Editors require an academic background in a specific area of expertise. The system of authors and constables should prevent the free roam of false information that plagues Wikipedia. Wikipedia has seen complaints for Internet “vandalism” from subjects that have had articles falsely written about them. Also, an interesting fact, Stephen Colbert has been banned from Wikipedia for his abuse of the site, having his viewers alter comments in an immature (0r hilarious) way.

However, I don’t see Citizendium making it too far. While the stages of revision will prevent inappropriate and inaccurate information from reaching the site, it will restrict the sites growth. The appeal of Wikipedia is that there are so many articles, one can find almost any tidbit of information on their site. They can change with popular culture, politics, and the economy. Citizendium will be restricted by a limited pool of authors. Wikipedia seems to grow exponentially, while I see Citizendium growing in a line at best, most likely plateauing in a few years. Maybe Citizendium’s 820 authors and 126 editors should spend their time making Wikipedia a better site. At least 5 of them should contribute Billiken articles any. Wikipedia is too large and powerful to mess with. They almost define popular knowledge. Any other wiki encyclopedia is just wasting its time.


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