CZ:Citizendium Press Releases/Jan242007

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Citizendium Pilot Project Open For Public

Contribution - Project Announces Non-Profit Status

Columbus, Ohio — January 24, 2007 — The Citizendium, a project aimed at creating a new free encyclopedia online, announced today that its pilot project has been a success, and that it is moving rapidly toward a public launch. For the first time, anyone can visit the website (www.citizendium.org), create a user account and get to work within minutes. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model by adding “gentle expert oversight” and requiring contributors to use their real names.

Since the Citizendium pilot project began in November 2006, over 150 expert editors and 350 authors have joined, creating hundreds of articles, testing the concept and software, and participating in lively discussion on the future shape of the project.

“We are demonstrating that experts and non-experts can work shoulder-to-shoulder on a wiki, using their real names, in a collegial atmosphere,” said the project’s Editor-in-Chief, Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger. “We didn’t know whether this would work, but it has so far, quite well. We are learning that accountability has merit in the world of wikis.”

After the initial phase of carefully screening the project’s first applicants, an automatic sign-up process has been implemented and participants will begin reaching out via global Internet mailing lists to professors, students, professionals and other contributors. "It’s been a busy first couple of months laying the groundwork and now we’re ready to open our doors to public contribution—both participatory and financial,” said Mike Johnson of the Citizendium’s Executive Committee.

The Citizendium also today announced its acceptance as a project of the nonprofit Tides Center, through which it may receive tax-free donations. Tides acts as an “incubator” of nonprofit organizations. The Citizendium intends to become independent at the end of 2007. The Citizendium has received a significant “start-up” grant from the Revson Foundation, as well as additional gifts from individuals, including a very generous gift from Craig Caviezel, a Salt Lake City philanthropist.

“We’re thrilled to announce our non-profit status,” said Sanger. “We have been contacted by over a dozen foundations and corporations interested in supporting us. The fact that we had not yet obtained 501(c)(3) status was a sticking point for many. So our new relationship with Tides means we can move forward on this front.”

The Citizendium has also launched an online fundraiser to request tax-free donations from the public to help make the project a reality. It plans to use new funding, or in-kind support, to obtain the server space and bandwidth needed to open the project up to the world. It is also in the process of hiring the staff members required to manage the rapid growth.

About Citizendium

Citizendium is an experimental new wiki project created by Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger that combines public participation with gentle expert guidance. The pilot project commenced by forking content from Wikipedia and then progressively fine-tuning and augmenting this information, as well as creating original articles. The Citizendium public site is currently under development. To participate or for more information, visit www.citizendium.org.