Difference between revisions of "CZ:FAQ"

From Citizendium
Jump to navigation Jump to search
imported>Jochen Wendebaum
(first final)
 
imported>Pat Palmer
 
(133 intermediate revisions by 18 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
'''Note: this is all subject to debate, clarification, and change.'''  Such flexibility is very important in a collaborative project in which contributors make refinements to [http://www.citizendium.org/fundamentals.html the basic model].
== Introductory topics ==


===What is ''Citizendium''?===
:''Citizendium'' is a wiki project aiming to creating objective encyclopedic articles about virtually any subject, of a type which could not be written in Wikipedia. Our contributors use their verified real names, in a congenial and supportive online community.  We welcome experts as well as the general public who would like to share their knowledge.  Topics range from the universal to the highly local, including parks and school sports teams.


== Introductory and Most Important Topics ==
===How are you progressing?===
:Citizendium currently has [[:Category:CZ Live|{{PAGESINCAT:CZ Live}} articles]].


'''What is the ''Citizendium,'' anyway?'''
===Is this an experts-only project?===
:No - anyone can join Citizendium. Our essential feature is not expertise, but responsibility. That said, we value expertise and ask our authors to declare a little about their experience, education and interests on their User page.  Generalists--non-experts--are often perfectly capable of creating excellent and reliable material on many subjects, especially if they're good writers and researchers. It seems obvious that the intelligent use of experts in a collaborative project can help to improve the quality of the output.  In the past, Citizendium tried a management system whereby experts had a special role with decision-making power over others; that system is no longer in place.


An expert-led, public participatory, wiki-based project to sum up human knowledge.  See the [about.html About page].  For the fundamentals, see the [http://www.citizendium.org/fundamentals.html Statement of Fundamental Policies].  For another, now outdated introduction, see "[http://www.citizendium.org/essay.html Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge]."
:If you are looking for a peer-reviewed specialists' encyclopedia, you may wish to read [http://www.scholarpedia.org/ Scholarpedia].


'''How are you progressing?'''
===How do I join?===
:Fill out the {{ApplicationForm}}--we ask for a name, e-mail address, short bio, and (private!) information about how to confirm your identity--then you'll be asked to confirm your e-mail address. When that's done, a community manager, called a Moderator, can approve you and then read about how to [[CZ:Getting Started|get started]].


[[CZ:Statistics|Quite nicely]].  Well over 1,000 contributors and well over 1,000 articles--we'd give exact numbers here, but they'd soon be out of date--and all within just a few months of existence.
===How do I contact ''Citizendium'' staff?===


'''What is your funding model?'''
:Please see [[CZ:Contact|Contact]] or go directly to the [https://forms.gle/uEsckP5hCkAiifus7 enquiry form].


The'' Citizendium'' is under the management of the Citizendium Foundation, which is a project of the Tides Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  The Foundation itself is in the process of applying for 501(c)(3) non-profit status and will become independent probably in early 2008.  We are a non-profit, open content project, and always will be.  Due to important features of the project's design, we hope to be able to find adequate funding through multiple sources:
===How do I get started? ===
:It's pretty easy.  Do you have some knowledge you'd like to express?  About--well--''[[CZ:Article Inclusion Policy|almost anything]]?''  Then search for an article about it.  If we don't have an article about it, then [[CZ:How to start a new article|start one]].  ''Don't'' worry about getting all the formatting right: just use "the easy way" you'll see [[CZ:How to start a new article|here]], and start. Writing for ''Citizendium'' is about as easy as writing an e-mail. See [[CZ:Getting Started|Getting Started]], and for a short page that contains all the basic getting-started info, read our [[CZ:Quick Start|Quick Start]]!


* In-kind donations of support and hardware from universities and companies.
== The justification and prospects of the project ==
* Grants from companies that want to use content from the ''Citizendium.''  (Not required by the GNU FDL, of course.)
===Why real names?===
* Sponsorships.  While the ''Citizendium'' will never accept advertisements, we might accept sponsorship and post unobtrusive sponsorship statements.  We know this is a sensitive issue: see [#sponsorships this question] for details.
:We believe the use of real names improves the credibility of the output: people can see who contributed some content, and whether they appear to know anything about the subject. We also believe that people tend to behave themselves better when their identities are known and their behavior is out in the open, and good behavior is crucial to a smoothly running knowledge community.
* [https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=15045 Donations from individuals] (tax-free).
* In time, we may also develop a [http://www.citizendium.org/contentbrokers.html free content brokerage].


See also "[[CZ:FAQ#funding||Funding and Related Issues]]."
===Are you against pseudonymity or anonymity in general?===
:We take no official stance on the common practice of pseudonymity and anonymity online, as a rule. The ''Citizendium'' is a special sort of project: the arguments for real names in a serious "knowledge project" are much stronger than in other contexts.


'''How can I get involved?'''
===What are the project's [[CZ:Policies|policies]]?===
:Our [https://en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:Policies policy document] shows the minimal rules.  The Citizendium has existed for well over ten years, and our management team is familiar with certain types of problematic characters and their patterns of bad behavior.  We have revised our policies in ways which we hope will minimize interpersonal conflicts--such as, by allowing lead authors and (possibly) multiple articles about a given topic.  In part due to the modest size of this project as of 2020, interpersonal conflict has been thankfully rare.  We hope to keep it that way.  One thing we'll be doing, going forwards, is trying to intervene privately if we see possible troubling behavior without needing to resort to public slap-downs.  This is exactly the kind of behavior you'd like of management in a job situation.


[[CZ:CFA|Please join us]] (no, you don't have to have a Ph.D.!); second, join [http://smf.citizendium.org/ the project forums] and contribute your thoughts to the discussion.  Also, a [https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=15045 donation] at this crucial juncture would help get this venture off the ground.
===Why enforce a policy of [[CZ:professionalism|professionalism]] in behavior?===
:A bedrock principle of ''Citizendium'' is professional behavior: while you need not actually be a "professional" to participate, you are still expected to behave like one.  Offline communities have effective social pressures to keep impolite, insulting, and inflammatory conversation to a minimum: frowns, uncomfortable silences, social ostracism. Online communities cannot use these same mechanisms, and so they need something different. Some of the longest-lasting, most interesting, and best-behaved Internet discussion groups feature "moderation"--that is, a referee can tap someone on the shoulder if he is getting out of line, and may eject him from the conversation if necessary.  While articles or [[CZ:Talk Pages|talk pages]] are wide open to edit, ''Citizendium'' [[CZ:Moderator Group|Moderators]] are empowered to remove comments that are disrespectful. See ''[[CZ:Professionalism|Professionalism]]''.


'''Can I donate to the project, to help ensure it comes into existence?'''
===But don't the above points really mean the project is some sort of top-down, "fascistic" or at least old-fashioned sort of system? ===
:No.  One glance at our [[Special:Recentchanges|recent changes log]] makes it clear that the project operates as much as a "bazaar" as any other wiki or open source software project.  People contribute as they want, when they want.  And, like other open projects, out of this chaos, order emerges.  Work does not proceed only after someone orders it.  Work can begin as soon as a person signs up.


Yes, please! We take major credit cards and your [https://secure.groundspring.org/dn/index.php?aid=15045 donation] is tax-deductible.
===What exactly is the point of the project, when Wikipedia is so huge and of at least reasonably good quality?===
:Like Wikipedia, this is an open/free content wiki.  We do not see The Citizendium as competing with Wikipedia, although this project was intended (many years ago) to do so.  We use Wikipedia too, and we recognize it for the things it has done very well--for example, in keeping a complete record of the latest versions of an operating system. This "complete cataloging" function is valuable and there is little reason for us to duplicate that effort here. The Citizendium's strength lies elsewhere. There are things Wikipedia is not so good at, because of the nature of its system of massive, anonymized crowd-sourcing.  Some Wikipedia articles are written, not for persons unfamiliar with the topic, but rather for those who are already subject matter experts.  Some articles are tightly controlled by unknown editors who suppress the expression of concerns they do not agree with.  Software, for example, cannot be evaluated in terms of its advantages or disadvantages in Wikipedia.  Many times, people want an overview of what is most important to know about a thing.  Not everyone will agree on what that is, but here we use our real names, and so you can try to evaluate the quality of an article here in terms of who has participated in its creation.  Wikipedia articles show bias in a variety of ways, and it is impossible to understand that bias, given that it is impossible to know the identities of the individuals who are controlling the content of an article.


If you would prefer to write a check, make your checks to "Citizendium Foundation/Tides Foundation" and write to sanger at citizendium.org for the address.
===Are you going to run out of money and have to close this site?===
:So far, the project has benefited from a number of financial donations from various people, and we hope to continue raising funds to keep the server online far into the future. You can keep track of the situation via the monthly [[CZ:Financial report|financial report]].


You are donating the money to Tides, legally speaking, but the money is earmarked for the'' Citizendium '' (minus Tides' very reasonable fee for their valuable administrative work).
===People tell me that this project has failed. Has it?===
:Citizendium has been around since 2006 and has always had a pool of regular contributors and enough funds to keep going. In over a decade, it has gone through at least two major different management teams. While it is true that activity on the site has declined since its inception, it is also true that the number of articles, including expert-approved ones, slowly but surely keeps going up, and we believe some of it is very high value.  Our management team is committed to keeping the project alive, both for its congenial online community and for the high points of its best output.


If you donated to us last year, you may now write off the donation!
== The project's people and culture ==


We believe there are many forces ready to converge and bring a responsible, expert-managed fork of Wikipedia into existence.  As the project evolves, we believe other forces, from universities, corporations, and foundations, will step up to the plate and make sure that the project has the resources it needs.  We are so committed to this project that we are, to be quite honest, deliberately taking personal risk in starting this project.''  ''If you believe in our mission, you can help defray this risk by making a donation.  Please know that we will be spending any money cautiously and thoughtfully, with a careful eye to the biggest "bang for the buck."
===Who is joining this community?===
:Generally, people who support the basic project design--and there's a lot of them from various walks of life. It's not just "experts," and it's not just "the usual online mob."  Think of it as a highly potent blend--something really unusual, new, different--because it really is.  Many academics and other highly knowledgeable people have gone out of their way to try to edit Wikipedia, only essentially to be beaten back by the community. Not only are they welcome, they are asked to form part of the editorial leadership of the ''Citizendium.'' Many disaffected Wikipedians have gotten involved.  There are also students, and young professionals, who appreciate a more mature, sensible community.  There are even some people who are being seriously introduced to wikis for the very first time by the ''Citizendium.''


'''Why is it "experimental"?'''
===How can I find out more about your contributors?===
:All of our authors and editors use their real names. No cute aliases or menacing pseudonyms are allowed! You can find out about most authors on their User Pages. You can also find lists of Authors via the subject [[CZ:Workgroups|workgroups]].


We're trying to be modest.  We don't ''really'' know if this will work, any more than we ''really'' knew that Wikipedia would work when it was first launched.  We think it will, we want it to, and we are planning on it.  But as with all collaborative projects, it really depends, dear reader, on '' you--''whether you will support the project with your participation.
===Who is behind the project?===
:If you want to understand the ''Citizendium'' properly, you have to understand that it is part of a relatively new and largely misunderstood phenomenon: it is a self-selecting online community. For that reason, the most important members, the bedrock of the project, are not some editorial board, but instead the rank-and-file volunteer authors who work on the project regularly.  In this way, it is more like a place or a community than a publishing project.  That said, we do have a management team shown at [[CZ:Personnel|personnel]] with various responsibilities.


'''How much will this project partake in open source hacker culture, and how much will it partake in the culture of academia?'''
:For a further introduction to the community and how it operates, see [[CZ:Community Overview|Community Overview]].


That's another part of the experiment: we are trying to marry the two cultures.  Maybe it's absurd to try, but try we will.  On the one hand, we want to teach academics and other professionals to work in a strongly collaborative way and adopt the principles and ethics articulated in, for example, Eric Raymond's essays "[http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/cathedral-bazaar/ The Cathedral and the Bazaar]" and "[http://www.catb.org/~esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/homesteading/ Homesteading the Noosphere]" (essays we recommend you read, if you have not yet done so).  So this ''will'' be a bottom-up, collaborative, distributed wiki project.  It'' will not'' be the command-and-control, bureaucratic sort of project with which many academics are familiar.  Academics should be aware of that before they sign on.  They won't have the sort of authority they might be used to having; they will have to, indeed, ''collaborate'' as parts of a very large and intellectually diverse community (or so we hope).
===Are you part of a larger project? Do you have any links with other sites?===
:No. ''Citizendium'' is an independent, self-run, volunteer community. Its founder, Larry Sanger, has not played an active role in managing the project for many years, and in 2020, he ceded ownership of the domain name to [[User:Pat Palmer|long-time wiki member Pat Palmer]].


On the other hand, we want to make a special place for experts to get involved as senior members of the community.  Really, this is not ''that'' different from open source software projects, because those projects have senior participants who decide what's goes into and what stays out of the code.  This only means that the hacker notion of a meritocracy on the basis of visible work must be qualified--not entirely jettisoned, of course--so that people with real-world, hard-won credentials are given an appropriate sort of authority in the project.  (That's visible work too, ain't it?)  See "[[Faq#editors|The Role of Editors]]" below.
== Funding and related issues ==


'''Who is behind the project?'''
===Can I donate to the project, to help ensure it comes into existence?===
:Yes, please! Server rentals, bandwidth, and domain registrations are all ongoing costs.  So we need your help to sustain this important work through [[CZ:Donate|donations]]. We accept major credit cards.


A large and growing group of people, including an Executive Committee, [[CZ:Personnel|partly enumerated here]], and a great many editors and authors hard at work on the project, who are taking responsibility in all sorts of ways.  Wikipedia co-founder [http://www.larrysanger.org/ Larry Sanger] is Editor-in-Chief.  Jason Potkanski is the technical lead.  There are many other very hard-working people involved.
===Will the ''Citizendium'' accept advertisements?===
:No. Advertising was prohibited by the Citizendium's founding charter and we have seen no reason to change that.


'''Will this be Larry Sanger's personal project forever?'''
===Will I be paid for my contributions?===
:No. All of our contributions are donated by the contributors. As a nonprofit, all volunteer project, all contributions are covered by the [[Creative_Commons_CC-by-sa_3.0|Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported]] license


No.  This is not a personal project, but a community project.  We believe that a collaborative online community, to be healthy, must resemble a law-governed, constitutional republic--just like offline communities.  So, when the charter is adopted, Larry will be fully beholden to whatever processes it defines.  He might then lose his role as editor-in-chief.  He's willing to take that chance in order to set up a community that is healthy, vibrant, responsible, and ''self-managing.''  In fact, Larry is committed to ''stepping down'' from the leadership of the ''Citizendium'' within two or three years at latest, to set the healthy precedent of allowing others--members of the volunteer community--to take over his role.  (What really excites him, even more than encyclopedias, is [http://www.textop.org/ Textop]'s Collation Project.  But he's putting that on the back burner for now.)
=== Will someone else profit from my contributions? ===
:We are a nonprofit project, in order to ensure maximum participation and the independence of our information.  


== Funding and Related Issues ==
:We make our content available for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute (provided they properly credit us as the source of the information) and hope that this opens the door for others to benefit from the project.


'''Do you accept donations?'''
==Where can I find out more? ==
{|width=90% align=center border="0" cellpadding="4" cellspacing="0" style="border-bottom:1px solid #dddddd; border-top:1px solid #dddddd; border-left:1px solid #aaaaaa; border-right:1px solid #dddddd; margin:0 auto; clear: both;"
!align=center colspan=3 style="background:#CCFFCC"| '''Our [[Help:Index|help system]]'''
|-align=center
|''Questions and answers to help you find the information you need''
|}
{{col-begin}}
{{col-break}}
*[[CZ:About|About]]
*''[[CZ:Why Citizendium?|Why Citizendium?]]''
*''[[CZ:Why_I_contribute_to_CZ|Why I Contribute]]''
*[[CZ:Myths and Facts|Myths and Facts]]
*[[CZ:Article Inclusion Policy|Article inclusion policy]]
*'[[CZ:Citizen|Citizens]]'
*'[[CZ:The Author Role|Authors]]'
*'[[CZ:The Editor Role|Editors]]'
*[[CZ:Group Editing|Collaborating]]
{{col-break}}
*[[CZ:Policies|Policies]]
*[[CZ:Governance|Governance]]
*Information for [[CZ:Reader|readers]] of this site
*[[Special:RequestAccount|Sign up information]]
*[[Citizendium|Citizendium article on Citizendium]]
*[[CZ:Statistics|Statistics]] page
*[[CZ:General disclaimer|Disclaimers]]
*Follow us on Twitter ([http://twitter.com/TheCitizendium general news];<br> [http://twitter.com/CzPages new pages]), [http://www.facebook.com/citizendium Facebook] or [https://plus.google.com/+CitizendiumOrg Google+]
{{col-end}}


Yes.  We are a project of the Tides Center and, since we are a 501(c)(3) non-profit, your donations are tax-deductible.  [[CZ:Donate|Click here]].
From the [[CZ:Home|'''HOME''']] page you can get started, get technical help, see our policies, and explore our organization in detail.


'''What do you mean in saying the ''Citizendium ''might accept sponsorships, but not advertisements?'''
''[[User:Larry Sanger|Larry Sanger]] is the author of the writings listed below, unless otherwise noted.  Others are welcome to submit essays in a similar vein.''
* [[CZ:Fundamentals|Statement of Fundamental Policies]]
* [http://www.citizendium.org/oneyearandthriving.html The Citizendium one year on: a strong start and an amazing future] (October 2007; first year progress report)
* [[CZ:Press|Press]]
* [[CZ:Citizendium_Press_Releases/Oct302007|Latest press release]]
* Older press releases: [[CZ:Citizendium_Press_Releases/Oct172006|1]] | [[CZ:Citizendium_Press_Releases/Jan242007|2]]
* [http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/sanger07/sanger07_index.html Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge] (''Edge.org,'' April 2007)


Sponsors of the ''Citizendium'' would have the opportunity to be named in brief, unobtrusive, text-only sponsorship statements at the bottom of '' Citizendium'' pages.  A statement might read something like this: "The '' Citizendium'' is made possible in part by a generous grant from XYZ Corporation."  The articles on which these statements appear will be determined randomly, but the frequency of any given name would be determined by the amount of the grant.  This is done in public television and radio and such sponsorships are not generally regarded as being at odds with the non-profit mission of public broadcasting.
{{Organization}}
 
The ''Citizendium ''community will enjoy broad oversight over the sponsorship program as well as the proceeds from it.  Guidelines for sponsorship statements will be included in the community charter.  We will also be writing into the project charter both that sponsors will have no editorial influence over the project, that enforceable, adequate oversight of this rule must be in place, and that no grants that make specific editorial demands will be accepted.  (The precise wording of such rules remains to be worked out.)
 
'''What steps are you taking to make the'' Citizendium'' an independent'' ''nonprofit?'''
 
The Citizendium Foundation is a non-profit corporation registered (for administrative purposes) with the state of Nevada.  The Foundation will very soon be applying for federal 501(c)(3) recognition as a nonprofit organization.  For the rest of 2007, however, we will be a project of the Tides Center, which is itself a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.  We are fully committed to making the ''Citizendium'' fully independent in 2008.
 
'''How committed are the ''Citizendium'' leaders to making and keeping this a nonprofit project?'''
 
Completely.  If some big corporation were to offer us a million dollars to reorganize the project as a for-profit (if that were possible somehow), we would refuse.  We're not in it for the money.
 
'''Why not?  (Imagine an incredulous voice.)'''
 
Because that's the only way the ''Citizendium'' can come into existence, and we want to see it come into existence.  We believe that volunteers--both from academia and from the hacker world--will refuse to contribute to a Wikipedia-style knowledge project if it merely lines the pockets of profit-making enterprise. Besides, the best way to ensure freedom, independence, and neutrality of information is to make sure that the information does not depend on any particular vested interests--that the content itself is ultimately in the hands of a responsible online "republic of the mind."
 
== Project Management and Partnership Issues ==
 
'''What are your needs?'''
 
As Wikipedia itself did, the ''Citizendium ''is beginning life as a grassroots, by-our-bootstraps operation, one that we wouldn't be attempting if we did not have much evidence of a strong latent demand for it.  There are several areas in which we are looking for donations, equipment, and services:
 
* While we have received a few modest grants, and generous gifts from individuals, we definitely need more to sustain the project.
* In-kind server hosting and network support, from companies and/or universities, would be greatly appreciated.  While we have some generous support from Steadfast Networks of Chicago, we would like to have servers in other locations.
* Universities and foundations might host organizational conferences.  As of early 2007, this is becoming a higher priority.
 
Foundations, or potential partners, who can supply any of these, or if you think we have other needs, [[FAQ#contact|let us know]]!
 
'''What partnerships are you looking for?'''
 
We would love to partner with universities who can offer funding, dedicated (if only part time) technical personnel, and equipment, as well as promoting the project among faculty and students.
 
We are looking for ''meaningful, actionable'' partnership proposals, that is, partnership proposals that entail that either you, or we, or all of us together, actually ''do'' something that forwards the mission of the '' Citizendium'' in some essential way.  We will not entertain proposals for "partnerships-in-name-only."  If you are just interested in becoming a project advisor, see "Project Management and Partnership Issues."
 
'''What partnerships do you have now?'''
 
We are a project of [http://www.tidescenter.org/ the Tides Center], a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  We intend to become an independent nonprofit, probably in early 2008.  [http://steadfast.net/ Steadfast Networks] of Chicago is currently hosting our servers and providing our bandwidth.  Steadfast has donated two servers and other items, while we are paying for three more ourselves.  Some of our mailing lists are hosted at Purdue University.  We have had two reasonably significant grants.  Many other partnerships and support arrangements are in the discussion stage.
 
'''What volunteer positions do you anticipate?'''
 
This will become clearer in time.  But the following we can say we definitely need:
 
* [[CZ:CFA|Authors, editors, and constables]]
* Web designers, and someone to make a great new Mediawiki skin for the '' Citiendium.''  If interested, write Larry Sanger (contact info below).
 
'''I am interested in becoming a project advisor.  I have some special expertise in the sort of project you are about to start.  I am not looking for employment or partnership.  What should I do?'''
 
If you are interested in joining the Advisory Board of the ''Citizendium,'' then please contact Larry Sanger (address below). We will be organizing a large group of prominent, experienced thinkers to consult about the future direction of the project and to ratify the charter.  An excellent first step would be to [[CZ:CFA|join us]] as a contributor, in any case.
 
== The Role of Editors ==
 
'''Who will be able to become an editor, and how?'''
 
We want the editor selection process to be as simple and least open to "political control" (in the broad sense) as possible.
 
We will be posting a list of credentials suitable for editorship.  We have not finished constructing this list yet.  A Ph.D. will be neither necessary nor sufficient for editorship.  '' As a rule of thumb,'' editors in traditionally "academic" fields will require the qualifications typically needed for a tenure-track academic position in the field.  Editors in "professional" fields require the usual terminal degree in their field and at least three years responsible professional experience, and, in most cases, several publications as well.  Editors in non-academic or "hobbyist" fields require varying other kinds of qualification.  In addition, in the future, persons will be able to become editors by direct appeal to editorial workgroups--this exception should, we hope, take care of the unusual cases.
 
The requirement of real world credentials reflects no great love for credentials ''per se,'' but instead represents a crucially important means whereby editorship can be established ''independently of the internal politics and bias of decisionmakers.''
 
'''This will be "Expertpedia," won't it?  Experts only, right?'''
 
Not at all!  As with Wikipedia, ordinary people will form the backbone of the ''Citizendium.''
 
'''But experts will be involved and made into editors.  Aren't you trying to turn the successful "bazaar"-style Wikipedia model into a failed "cathedral" style of project?'''
 
Again, no.  Experts are expected to work shoulder-to-shoulder with ordinary people in this project in more or less the same bottom-up fashion that Wikipedia uses.  The difference is that, when content disputes arise, whatever editors are paying attention to the article will be empowered to articulate a resolution--if the article falls in their area of specialization.  Furthermore, their decisions will be enforceable.  Think of editors as the village elders wandering the bazaar and occasionally dispensing advice and reining in the wayward.  Their presence is merely a moderating, civilizing influence.  They don't stop the bazaar from being a bazaar.
 
'''Can you really expect headstrong Wikipedia types to work under the guidance of expert types in this way?'''
 
It depends on the Wikipedian.  For many, probably not.  The ''Citizendium'' will not be Wikipedia.  We ''do'' expect people who have respect for expertise, for knowledge hard gained, to love the opportunity to work alongside editors.  Imagine yourself as a college student who had the opportunity to work alongside, and under the loose and gentle direction of, your professors. This isn't going to be a top-down, command-and-control system.  It is merely a sensible community: one where the people who have made it their life's work to study certain areas are given a certain appropriate authority--''without'' thereby converting the community into a traditional top-down academic editorial scheme.
 
'''Well, can you expect the ''experts'' to want to work "shoulder-to-shoulder" with nonexperts?'''
 
Yes, because it's already happening; that's one of our early successes, i.e., showing that expert-nonexpert collaboration ''can'' be done to great effect.  Furthermore, experts will have an incentive to work in this project, because when it comes to'' content--''i.e., what the experts really care about--they will be in charge.
 
'''How can you possibly ensure ''on a wiki'' that editors will have the carefully ''limited'' authority you want to give them?'''
 
Two ways.  First, as anyone with much experience in thriving Internet communities knows, the community itself places significant peer pressures on people to follow the rules.  This works for most people, and is one key reason that wikis are able to work.  Second, for those not susceptible to peer pressure, there are both editorial workgroups for content-based problems, and "[essay.html#constables constables]" (the local name for the people empowered to ban troublemaking editors) for behavior-based problems.
 
'''Will editors ever be paid?'''
 
It's hard to say.  The hope, of course, is that we may raise enough money to pay key members of the community to work on the project full-time.  Honoraria might also become possible, but it all depends on the level of donations, sponsorship, and other revenue-generators.
 
'''What, then, can motivate editors to get involved?  After all, they are professionals used to getting paid for their expertise.'''
 
The same thing that motivates experts to get involved in Wikipedia.  (There is, after all, a not-insignificant number of experts involved in Wikipedia.)  The idea is that this is a free resource for ''the entire world'' to use.  Editors will have a desire to teach.  Some people also feel a professional ''obligation'' to teach, something that is reflected by the fact that so many professional organizations have educational and outreach committees.  And, after all, Wikipedia is--as, we hope, the ''Citizendium'' will become--one of first sources of information that many students and other information-seekers consult.  Scholars and students alike are rightly concerned that such widely-disseminated information about their interests be correct.  The idea that we have the opportunity to create a resource that is not only '' enormous'' but ''truly reliable'' as well should be very exciting to many academics.  Besides, the process is fun, which is motivation for many participants at all levels of attainment.
 
== The Justification and Prospects of the Project ==
 
'''How did the pilot project go?  What does it say for the future of the ''Citizendium?'''''
 
[http://www.citizendium.org/whyczwillsucceed.html It's gone very well].  In the period, we worked on over 1,000 articles, we gained over 800 authors, with over 180 of those being extremely well-qualified, expert editors.  We grew from around 100 to around 500 edits per day.  We have received two major donations, from the Revson Foundation and an individual, as well as many smaller donations.
 
In short, we're growing on every front.  The future of the project, at this point, is quite bright.
 
'''You have decided not to fork Wikipedia after all, at least experimentally.  Why?  And does this mean you've somehow given up?'''
 
Please see [http://blog.citizendium.org/2007/01/18/bye-bye-to-wikipedia-articles-hello-to-our-own-work/this blog post] for an explanation.  The short answer is that, while the project has been a success so far, we think we can do even better because people ''might'' be more motivated to start their own articles than they were to edit old Wikipedia articles.
 
We think it is a'' healthy'' sign in a cutting-edge project that there are bold course corrections.
 
'''Is this project just motivated by a personal animosity between Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales?'''
 
Not at all.  This project, and forces that led to it, are much, much bigger than two quibbling personalities.
 
'''How can you possibly succeed?  Wikipedia is an enormous community.  How can you go head-to-head with Wikipedia, now a veritable goliath, if you have just a few people?'''
 
It would indeed be ridiculous if we were pretending to create something better than Wikipedia with just a few people.  But what just a few people ''can'' do is organize a new community.  There are very many people with read/write access to the ''Citizendium'' project wiki, for instance. We firmly believe that there are ''already'' very many people who love the vibrancy and basic concept of Wikipedia, but who believe it needs to be governed under more sensible rules, and with a special place for experts.  We hope they will join the ''Citizendium'' effort.  If there is enough interest, then we'll be able to make a go of it.  Give us a few years; Wikipedia has had a rather large head start.  So we'll see!
 
'''Who is joining this community?'''
 
People who support the basic project design.  To mention just one group, many disaffected Wikipedians have gotten involved.  Many academics have gone out of their way to try to edit Wikipedia, only essentially to be beaten back by the community.  Not only are they welcome, they are being asked to form part of the editorial leadership of the ''Citizendium.  ''There are also a number of people, put off by Wikipedia, who have tried to start alternatives to Wikipedia, particularly in their special disciplines.  But most such efforts have not made much headway.  Those people are welcome to this project as well; bear in mind that there is strength in numbers, and huge amounts of responsibility to spread around.
 
There are also, of course, a few people who have never tried to edit Wikipedia.
 
'''Do you have any plans to fork (or improve upon) other Wikimedia projects, such as Wiktionary?'''
 
Not at this time.  We believe that most Wikimedia projects need to be completely reconceived.  ''Citizendium'' may, perhaps, absorb the [http://www.textop.org/ Text Outline Project] (Textop), which Larry Sanger started in spring 2006, and on which some small progress has been made.  (Larry has limited his own participation in Textop in order to get the '' Citizendium'' started; but he intends to return to it in a year or two.)
 
== Wikipedia and the ''Citizendium'' ==
 
'''How does the project differ from Wikipedia?'''
 
In several significant ways: expert involvement, the requirement of logging in and real names, and more.  What will not change is that the project will still be an'' open/free content wiki.  ''This is covered in detail in [essay.html#editorial this section] of "Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge."
 
'''Do you want to try to "steal" people from Wikipedia and divide the community?'''
 
That is not the aim.  Wikipedia has already driven off no doubt thousands of would-be contributors, and there are thousands, if not millions, of people who never would think about contributing to Wikipedia in the first place, but who might be willing to give the ''Citizendium'' a go.  We want to set up, not a'' replacement,'' but'' ''an ''alternative'' to Wikipedia, a responsible constitutional republic that makes a special place for experts and invites the general public to work shoulder-to-shoulder with them.
 
'''Are you attempting to shut Wikipedia down?'''
 
No.  That makes up no part of our aim.  We wish instead to take the best of Wikipedia's model and use it to create something better.
 
'''Aha!  So you ''are'' trying to ''outdo'' Wikipedia, aren't you?'''
 
Well, of course.
 
'''If you're not trying to shut Wikipedia down, then what relationship do you want with Wikipedia?'''
 
A mutually complementary one, in which we occupy different social niches, as it were.  Those who want to work in a system committed to the maximum empowerment of amateurs should always be able to do so on Wikipedia.  Those who, by contrast, want to work shoulder-to-shoulder in a bottom-up system with experts, in which the experts are able to settle content disputes, will soon have the option of doing so on the ''Citizendium.''  Furthermore, those who want the option of working anonymously and in a wild-and-woolly atmosphere in which rules are not necessarily enforced should always be able to do so on Wikipedia.  Those who, by contrast, want to take personal, real-world responsibility for their efforts, and to work in a dynamic but rule-governed environment, will soon have the option of doing so on the ''Citizendium.''
 
Besides, the world has had multiple encyclopedias for a long time.  There's no reason why there needs to be just one free, collaborative, general encyclopedia.
 
'''You could have started this project a long time ago.  Why now?'''
 
The full and frank story is very complex, and not ready to be told.  Perhaps we '' should'' have done this a long time ago.  But perhaps we were not ''fully'' justified in doing it until fairly recently.  In particular, many of us think that Wikipedia's attempts to paper over its very public mini-scandals with minor changes have been weak.  It is pretty clear to us that Wikipedia will probably never seriously attempt to solve what ''we,'' at least, regard as the central problems of the project.  For further explanation, see "[essay.html Toward a New Compendium of Knowledge]."
 
== International Prospects of the ''Citizendium'' ==
 
'''Will you be attempting to start versions of the ''Citizendium'' in languages other than English?'''
 
Yes, if the English language ''Citizendium'' succeeds.  We have seen quite a bit of interest from people speaking all major European languages.
 
'''If ''Citizendia'' in other languages are started, will the central management of the ''Citizendium'' be fully international?'''
 
The extent to which the project is centralized at all, or instead federated or "franchised," remains to be decided.  Participants must not assume that we will simply replicate the current, problematic Wikipedia model; we will be developing our relationships much more deliberately and carefully.
 
'''How will you actually get the ''Citizendia'' in other languages started?'''
 
This remains to be worked out and debated.
 
== Contact the Project ==
 
'''How do I contact ''Citizendium'' staff?'''
 
We love notes of encouragement!
 
Please send your mail to the right address:
 
* '''''Citizendium'' leadership:''' admin at citizendium.org
* '''Constabulary:''' constables at citizendium.org
* '''Personnel matters:''' [[CZ:CFA|see this page]]
* '''Bug reports:''' bugs at citizendium.org
* '''Larry Sanger:''' sanger at citizendium.org
 
Bear in mind that these mailboxes may be quite full, and we may not be able to answer right away!

Latest revision as of 13:20, 1 May 2021

Introductory topics

What is Citizendium?

Citizendium is a wiki project aiming to creating objective encyclopedic articles about virtually any subject, of a type which could not be written in Wikipedia. Our contributors use their verified real names, in a congenial and supportive online community. We welcome experts as well as the general public who would like to share their knowledge. Topics range from the universal to the highly local, including parks and school sports teams.

How are you progressing?

Citizendium currently has 17,741 articles.

Is this an experts-only project?

No - anyone can join Citizendium. Our essential feature is not expertise, but responsibility. That said, we value expertise and ask our authors to declare a little about their experience, education and interests on their User page. Generalists--non-experts--are often perfectly capable of creating excellent and reliable material on many subjects, especially if they're good writers and researchers. It seems obvious that the intelligent use of experts in a collaborative project can help to improve the quality of the output. In the past, Citizendium tried a management system whereby experts had a special role with decision-making power over others; that system is no longer in place.
If you are looking for a peer-reviewed specialists' encyclopedia, you may wish to read Scholarpedia.

How do I join?

Fill out the application form (Google Account required)--we ask for a name, e-mail address, short bio, and (private!) information about how to confirm your identity--then you'll be asked to confirm your e-mail address. When that's done, a community manager, called a Moderator, can approve you and then read about how to get started.

How do I contact Citizendium staff?

Please see Contact or go directly to the enquiry form.

How do I get started?

It's pretty easy. Do you have some knowledge you'd like to express? About--well--almost anything? Then search for an article about it. If we don't have an article about it, then start one. Don't worry about getting all the formatting right: just use "the easy way" you'll see here, and start. Writing for Citizendium is about as easy as writing an e-mail. See Getting Started, and for a short page that contains all the basic getting-started info, read our Quick Start!

The justification and prospects of the project

Why real names?

We believe the use of real names improves the credibility of the output: people can see who contributed some content, and whether they appear to know anything about the subject. We also believe that people tend to behave themselves better when their identities are known and their behavior is out in the open, and good behavior is crucial to a smoothly running knowledge community.

Are you against pseudonymity or anonymity in general?

We take no official stance on the common practice of pseudonymity and anonymity online, as a rule. The Citizendium is a special sort of project: the arguments for real names in a serious "knowledge project" are much stronger than in other contexts.

What are the project's policies?

Our policy document shows the minimal rules. The Citizendium has existed for well over ten years, and our management team is familiar with certain types of problematic characters and their patterns of bad behavior. We have revised our policies in ways which we hope will minimize interpersonal conflicts--such as, by allowing lead authors and (possibly) multiple articles about a given topic. In part due to the modest size of this project as of 2020, interpersonal conflict has been thankfully rare. We hope to keep it that way. One thing we'll be doing, going forwards, is trying to intervene privately if we see possible troubling behavior without needing to resort to public slap-downs. This is exactly the kind of behavior you'd like of management in a job situation.

Why enforce a policy of professionalism in behavior?

A bedrock principle of Citizendium is professional behavior: while you need not actually be a "professional" to participate, you are still expected to behave like one. Offline communities have effective social pressures to keep impolite, insulting, and inflammatory conversation to a minimum: frowns, uncomfortable silences, social ostracism. Online communities cannot use these same mechanisms, and so they need something different. Some of the longest-lasting, most interesting, and best-behaved Internet discussion groups feature "moderation"--that is, a referee can tap someone on the shoulder if he is getting out of line, and may eject him from the conversation if necessary. While articles or talk pages are wide open to edit, Citizendium Moderators are empowered to remove comments that are disrespectful. See Professionalism.

But don't the above points really mean the project is some sort of top-down, "fascistic" or at least old-fashioned sort of system?

No. One glance at our recent changes log makes it clear that the project operates as much as a "bazaar" as any other wiki or open source software project. People contribute as they want, when they want. And, like other open projects, out of this chaos, order emerges. Work does not proceed only after someone orders it. Work can begin as soon as a person signs up.

What exactly is the point of the project, when Wikipedia is so huge and of at least reasonably good quality?

Like Wikipedia, this is an open/free content wiki. We do not see The Citizendium as competing with Wikipedia, although this project was intended (many years ago) to do so. We use Wikipedia too, and we recognize it for the things it has done very well--for example, in keeping a complete record of the latest versions of an operating system. This "complete cataloging" function is valuable and there is little reason for us to duplicate that effort here. The Citizendium's strength lies elsewhere. There are things Wikipedia is not so good at, because of the nature of its system of massive, anonymized crowd-sourcing. Some Wikipedia articles are written, not for persons unfamiliar with the topic, but rather for those who are already subject matter experts. Some articles are tightly controlled by unknown editors who suppress the expression of concerns they do not agree with. Software, for example, cannot be evaluated in terms of its advantages or disadvantages in Wikipedia. Many times, people want an overview of what is most important to know about a thing. Not everyone will agree on what that is, but here we use our real names, and so you can try to evaluate the quality of an article here in terms of who has participated in its creation. Wikipedia articles show bias in a variety of ways, and it is impossible to understand that bias, given that it is impossible to know the identities of the individuals who are controlling the content of an article.

Are you going to run out of money and have to close this site?

So far, the project has benefited from a number of financial donations from various people, and we hope to continue raising funds to keep the server online far into the future. You can keep track of the situation via the monthly financial report.

People tell me that this project has failed. Has it?

Citizendium has been around since 2006 and has always had a pool of regular contributors and enough funds to keep going. In over a decade, it has gone through at least two major different management teams. While it is true that activity on the site has declined since its inception, it is also true that the number of articles, including expert-approved ones, slowly but surely keeps going up, and we believe some of it is very high value. Our management team is committed to keeping the project alive, both for its congenial online community and for the high points of its best output.

The project's people and culture

Who is joining this community?

Generally, people who support the basic project design--and there's a lot of them from various walks of life. It's not just "experts," and it's not just "the usual online mob." Think of it as a highly potent blend--something really unusual, new, different--because it really is. Many academics and other highly knowledgeable people have gone out of their way to try to edit Wikipedia, only essentially to be beaten back by the community. Not only are they welcome, they are asked to form part of the editorial leadership of the Citizendium. Many disaffected Wikipedians have gotten involved. There are also students, and young professionals, who appreciate a more mature, sensible community. There are even some people who are being seriously introduced to wikis for the very first time by the Citizendium.

How can I find out more about your contributors?

All of our authors and editors use their real names. No cute aliases or menacing pseudonyms are allowed! You can find out about most authors on their User Pages. You can also find lists of Authors via the subject workgroups.

Who is behind the project?

If you want to understand the Citizendium properly, you have to understand that it is part of a relatively new and largely misunderstood phenomenon: it is a self-selecting online community. For that reason, the most important members, the bedrock of the project, are not some editorial board, but instead the rank-and-file volunteer authors who work on the project regularly. In this way, it is more like a place or a community than a publishing project. That said, we do have a management team shown at personnel with various responsibilities.
For a further introduction to the community and how it operates, see Community Overview.

Are you part of a larger project? Do you have any links with other sites?

No. Citizendium is an independent, self-run, volunteer community. Its founder, Larry Sanger, has not played an active role in managing the project for many years, and in 2020, he ceded ownership of the domain name to long-time wiki member Pat Palmer.

Funding and related issues

Can I donate to the project, to help ensure it comes into existence?

Yes, please! Server rentals, bandwidth, and domain registrations are all ongoing costs. So we need your help to sustain this important work through donations. We accept major credit cards.

Will the Citizendium accept advertisements?

No. Advertising was prohibited by the Citizendium's founding charter and we have seen no reason to change that.

Will I be paid for my contributions?

No. All of our contributions are donated by the contributors. As a nonprofit, all volunteer project, all contributions are covered by the Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license

Will someone else profit from my contributions?

We are a nonprofit project, in order to ensure maximum participation and the independence of our information.
We make our content available for anyone to use, reuse and redistribute (provided they properly credit us as the source of the information) and hope that this opens the door for others to benefit from the project.

Where can I find out more?

Our help system
Questions and answers to help you find the information you need

From the HOME page you can get started, get technical help, see our policies, and explore our organization in detail.

Larry Sanger is the author of the writings listed below, unless otherwise noted. Others are welcome to submit essays in a similar vein.


Citizendium Organization
CZ:Home | Workgroups | Personnel | Governance | Proposals | Recruitment | Contact | Donate | FAQ | Sitemap | Other
Home
Getting Started Organization Communication Technical Help Initiatives
Policies Editor Guidance Content Guidance Article Lists Governance
Welcome Page