Monday, October 22, 2007

The disappointment of Citizendium

Citizendium officially launched in March of 2007. And still today, they have failed to develop any real identity for themselves; it still seems that virtually all discourse about what Citizendium is continues be "whatever we are, we're not Wikipedia!" and very little more. This is brought to my attention as I read some of the the essays being written by Citizendium contributors as Citizendium tries to decide what license to use for their content. Here we have Anthony Argyriou arguing for the CC-BY-SA-NC license; his main concern in choosing a license is to ensure that Citizendium's work cannot be reused by Wikipedia, which to me appears to be very little more than pettiness. Utkarshraj Atmaram's rebuttal is good (and he even recognizes that Citizendium might possibly have an identity other than "the site that isn't Wikipedia"). Unfortunately, his position seems to be in the minority; most of the commentators appear quite afraid that Citizendium content might be used on Wikipedia, thereby "harming participation", presumably because it would make Citizendium less unlike Wikipedia.

Of course, Citizendium continues to sport, as a defining document, a thorough explanation of how Citizendium is not Wikipedia. They really need to go past this and start working on defining Citizendium by what they are, and not by what they are not. Otherwise, they'll end up the Wicca of the internet, filled primarily with bitter ex-Wikipedians who can't agree on anything except for one thing: Jimbo isn't the godking.