Citizendium: A Better Encyclopedia or Just an Anti-Wikipedia?

The digital world's answer to Encyclopedia Britannica has its detractors. These critics of open sourcing say Wikipedia is a spottily vetted and often utterly spurious source of online information. On of the more vocal Wikipedia naysayers is none other than its co-founder, Larry Sanger, who says the "radical egalitarianism" Wikipedia touts is nothing of the sort.

The charges against Wikipedia would perhaps not be so damaging if it wasn't one-stop shopping for millions of students trolling for citations for their term papers, i.e., there is a generation of learners being weaned on a scrappy new definition of "expertise."


Sanger attributes it to the mass participation model that creates Wikipedia's content. Suddenly, anyone can be an expert, a precedent that though seemingly democratic, laid fertile ground for half-baked knowledge to be passed off as sound empiricism, which of course is ultimately a disservice to any democracy.

Sanger has gone on to found a rival encyclopedic venue, Citizendium in hopes of alleviating the bad case of existential panic that Wikipedia has induced among scholars and academics. Citizendium set the bar much higher than its rival by requiring all authors to use their real identities, forming peer reviews to vet articles and eliminating real-time editing.

Sanger has further signaled the future of online venues for open-source information will trend toward a more rigorous approach as Wikipedia's content becomes worse over time. Poor quality expertise produces only more poor quality expertise in Sanger's dystopian vision of digital knowledge.

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