Sunday, 17 September 2006

Citizendium sets itself up to rival Wikipedia

Nicholas Carr at Rough Type is talking about Larry Sanger's announcement of a new rival to Wikipedia. The new online encyclopedia, Citizendium, intends to be a more rigorous version of Wikipedia with experts invited to provide guidance. Sanger was one of the original founders of Wikipedia and obviously is not entirely happy with the direction it's taken, calling it dysfunctional.

The heart of the dysfunction is the debate between deletionists and inclusionists, each of which has its own association(!).

I've witnessed some of the tension between the two camps personally, with one of my sons being a heavy contributor to the French Wikipedia (primarily articles on Canadian history and politics). I've heard him fulminating about the necessity of baby-sitting people twice his age who seem intent on deleting any article that doesn't correspond to their rigorous definition of what is relevant.

Carr concludes that having two online community encyclopedias might be the best resolution of the conflict. Give them each their own sandbox to play in.
The best way forward in this case - the way that creates the least harm - may not be through the process of consensus-building. Trying to find common ground between the deletionists and the inclusionists seems a futile exercise - in fact, those who seek compromise between the two camps are known as "delusionists." The time may have come to form two competing Wikipedias - to "fork" the encyclopedia, as software programmers would say. Let the deletionists and the inclusionists pursue their separate ideals separately - and let users decide which version best suits their needs.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. But he's wrong. Deletionists are not absolutists and
inclusionists are not relativists. Deletionists are elitists who
believe that no one should be allowed to get information on subjects
they believe to be uninteresting or unnoteworthy. Inclusionists, on
the other hand, fully recognize that some subjects are much more
important than others, they just don't see what is wrong with having
access to information on trivial subjects. After all, it's not like
we're running out of paper...

(Now guess which side I'm on. :P)



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