Larry Sanger launches Citizendium to compete with Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales’ Wikipedia co-Founder, Larry Sanger, is gearing up for the public launch of Citizendium, which he hopes will supercede Wikipedia.

How Citizendium plans to Best Wikipedia

Citizendium’s original model was to copy all of Wikipedia’s content, and then have a team of experts approve any further changes to the material. Sanger has since abandoned that road, choosing instead to start his new encyclopedia from scratch. As of February 4th, Sanger blogs there are 1,000 articles in progress. Citizendium hopes to address many of the problems of Wikipedia by having all users login using their real name, and creating a split structure of “constables”, “editors”, and “experts.” You have to register with Citizendium to view any of their articles, but a manifesto stating their current policies is here.

Who is Larry Sanger?

Larry Sanger is a former employee of Jimmy Wales and original Chief Editor of Wikipedia. Following the dot com crash, when Wales was no longer able to pay Sanger a salary to work on Wikipedia, Sanger quit Wikipedia on March 1, 2002 citing “difficult people, trolls, and their enablers” as well as Wikipedia’s “anti-elitism, or lack of respect for expertise.” At the time of Sanger’s departure, Wikipedia had approximately 25,000 articles.

What was Sanger’s Role in Wikipedia?

Though he left Wikipedia in its infancy, and has done much to criticize the site, Sanger has recently gone to great lengths to publicize his role in founding Wikipedia. Though Jimmy Wales has disputed Sanger’s role in creating the site, Sanger has published Slashdot essays and even a full page on his personal website devoted to proving his importance to creating Wikipedia. To get an idea of the degree to which Sanger is obsessed with receiving credit for Wikipedia, note that he is the most frequent poster to the Larry Sanger talk page on Wikipedia, making constant notes on information that should be included about him. Granted, Sanger was extremely important to founding Wikipedia. But is it too unfair for me to note that much of his public work since quiting the site four years ago seems to be devoted towards pleeing for credit?

I will keep an interested eye on Citizendium’s public launch. Maybe they have a better model than Wikipedia, at which point I will gladly sign up. But at this point, starting a whole new wiki foundation from scratch seems like vanity.

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