ReadWriteWeb, one of the internet’s most widely-read blogs, published an interesting progress report on Citizendium today. This was quickly followed by a lengthy list of corrections from Larry Sanger.
ReadWriteWeb author Josh Catone compares Citizendium’s progress to Wikipedia’s early progress, much to Wikipedia’s favor. Although he does pay much deference to the fact that Citizendium has only been publicly viewable for one month.
Catone compares Citizendium’s 13 approved articles to their counterparts on Wikipedia, stating that the Citizendium articles are “generally more fleshed out than their Wikipedia counterparts, but not necessarily more accurate.” He further notes that “…in at least one case, I actually preferred the Wikipedia entry.”
For the article on dogs, Wikipedia’s entry begins, “The dog (Canis lupus familiaris) is a domestic subspecies of the wolf, a mammal of the Canidae family of the order Carnivora. The term encompasses both feral and pet variants. It is also sometimes used to describe wild canids of other subspecies or species.” The Citizendium entry, meanwhile, starts off, “Domesticated from selected wolves thousands of years ago, the dog is often called ‘man’s best friend’. Throughout the world today, dogs are found associated with humans, although certainly not always as a part of the household!”
Though it’s easy to cherry pick examples of poor writing on any wiki, Citizendium is highly protected and vandal-free. So it is extremely interesting and relevant to the Citizendium experiment, to compare the quality of Citizendium articles with Wikipedia.
General Article Comparison
To this effect, Catone goes on to write that:
The ‘CZ Live’ articles are mostly woefully inadequate. Wikipedia trumps them in almost every case, so comparing them isn’t really worthwhile. For amusement’s sake, though, compare Citizendium’s article on itself to the Wikipedia entry on the site.
I know first hand how difficult it is to gain momentum on a new wiki. And it is daunting to be compared to a juggernaut like Wikipedia. However, given Sanger’s repeated and aggressive attacks on Wikipedia, he is inviting this sort of open comparison.