By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Dueling wikis

The Associated Press reports on Citizendium, an attempt to create a user-written online encyclopedia that’s more reliable than Wikipedia. Citizendium’s founder, Larry Sanger, says he’s a co-founder of Wikipedia — a claim that’s vigorously disputed by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

As you’ll see if you follow the links, Citizendium and Wikipedia look much the same, and they’re based on the same idea. The difference is that Sanger says he’ll require real names and use a more rigorous system of expert verification.

There’s no doubt Wikipedia has had its problems, such as the editor who fooled the New Yorker — and everyone else — about his credentials. Like many college instructors, I tell my students not to cite it, though I also tell them it can be a great starting point.

Still, Wikipedia has achieved a certain critical mass. Citizendium will be worth watching, but I wonder whether it might be easier to fix Wikipedia than to start all over.

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  1. Evorgleb

    We’ve been talking about Citizendium over at Highbrid Nation. Personally I use Wikipedia a lot and I don’t see anything knocking it off its top spot. The features that make Citizendium better may just be the features that keep it from having the same sucess as Wikpedia. There can only be one. Who will it be?

  2. A.J. Cordi

    This is going to be like Microsoft v. Apple once again. Even at the height of their fued (Wikipedia & Citizendium), nobody will care.I like Wikipedia a lot. But, as you Dan, I wouldn’t suggest citing it as a source, but it’s a great place to get the basics on pretty much any subject or event.I often link to Wikipedia articles on my blog for posts ranging in subject from the constitution to the McNugget. It’s just a quick and easy reference to give to people who don’t know anything about a certain subject or event. Like I said, just the basics.And, I agree with what you said; it is a great starting point.

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