Talking Tech Friday – Citizendium

Happy rainy Friday!  It’s great to be feeling normal again, I tell you.  But down to business.

This week’s Talking Tech Friday is a little different from what I’ve reviewed in the past.  Citizendium  is not an application, but I think it is still appropriate for this column.

What is it?

Citizendium is a wiki.  It was started by Larry Sanger, who was also one of the co-founders of Wikipedia.  Citizendium’s mission is to create ” an enormous, free, and reliable encyclopedia. The project…aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names. We have over 5300 articles and hundreds of contributors.” (From the about page).

How does it work?

Citizendium allows anyone to contribute to the compendium, but contributors are required to use their real names and accounts must be approved by the Citizendium administrators.  All authors have a user page with a short biographies to encourage ownership of their work, and are required to agree to the Statement of Fundamental Policies before contributing new content.

Editors review articles for accuracy, grammar, etc. and approve them for posting.  Editors are required to have some expertise in the areas they manage, and may organize and plan articles on their topics.  The editors join different workgroups organized around subject areas, and work within those groups to review articles.

Citizendium also used constables, or community managers, to ensure that the community adheres to the fundamental policies and keep an eye on user behavior.  Constables are required to have a bachelor’s degree and be 25 years old, so a certain degree of maturity is expected.

Let’s take a look

I randomly chose a few different articles.  I had a little trouble with this, because the main reason I use Wikipedia is to find information about more popular topics, such as bands, video games, etc.  Citizendium hasn’t been around very long, so still has a long way to go to catch up to Wikipedia.

Bicycle – I like the tabs at the top of the article indicating that this is a draft version, as well as the bibliography tab.  You can see that the article is nicely laid out, but still needs a lot of work adding content.

I went to the approved articles page, and looked at the one for Symphony.  It’s a well written article, with good references, and approved by an editor who’s a music professor at MIT.  The Talk page in itself, discussion the composition of the article, is fascinating.  I would trust the content of this page.

I clicked on the random page, and was directed to Doctor Who.  This is a draft article, but seems pretty complete.

Library Use

I think that one of the most useful aspects about Citizendium is that it’s striving to be a reliable online encyclopedia.   As a university librarian, I’m constantly struggling to educate students about reliable sources and to take Wikipedia articles with a grain of salt.  As Citizendium grows, I’d love to be able to point students to it instead, and use it as an example of how to evaluate an online resource (editor’s authority, the talk pages, etc.).  Of course, this would be equally useful for students of any age.

Citizendium is also doing a project with universities called Eduzendium, which encourages college professors to have their students write Citizendium articles as an assignment.  I think this is a fabulous idea and would be useful for students and Citizendium both.

I’m tempted to sign up to be a contributer.  Maybe I will.



~ by Anali on February 15, 2008.

3 Responses to “Talking Tech Friday – Citizendium”

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