CZ:Citizendium Press Releases/Mar272007

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Maggie Quale
FortyThree, Inc.
831.621.3773
Citizendium@fortythreepr.com

Citizendium Opens its Free Online Encyclopedia Project to the Public

Columbus, Ohio – March 27, 2007 – Citizendium, a project aimed at creating a new free encyclopedia online, announced today that a beta version is now available to the general public. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on the Wikipedia model with accountability and academic-quality articles as cornerstones of its work. To achieve this, Citizendium requires contributors to use their real names. As a result, the four-month pilot project has created a thriving, productive and vandalism-free community.

“The modest success of our pilot project shows that there is hope that we can correct exactly the sort of abuses that people demonize Web 2.0 for,” said the project’s Editor-in-Chief, Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger. “You don’t have to choose between content and accountability. We have shown that we can create open and credible content. We can, in fact, be open to all sorts of participants, but still hold people to higher standards of content and behavior as a community.”

Citizendium is now ready for the general public to participate in the community and begin reading and editing content. To date, over 180 expert editors and 800 authors have joined the project and have already worked on over 1000 articles. Moving forward, the community will continue to collaborate on thousands more articles, develop the concept and software, and participate in lively discussion on the future shape of the project. The Citizendium community consists of the following:

Authors: Citizendium authors constitute the majority of Citizendium’s population. Authors can start new articles, edit existing articles and talk things over on the discussion page. Editors: Editors, who are experts in their fields, work shoulder-to-shoulder with authors and other editors. Editors, however, have two special functions over authors - they may make decisions when needed about how an article should read and may approve specific versions of articles. Constables: Constables are friendly, hard-working folks who make sure the community runs smoothly. If you break a rule, a constable might gently tap you on the shoulder and explain what's wrong. Constables make decisions solely about behavior, not about content, which is the domain of editors. “Anonymity can certainly speed up the development cycle of online projects, but it also opens the door to the significant problems like vandalism and inaccuracy, as we’ve seen highlighted recently in the news,” Sanger said. “We are proud to say that we have had no vandalism either before or after the short period in which we tested out a self-registration system. We've discovered that it's a good thing to have human beings take part in screening other human beings because it gives you the ability to prevent and mediate many of these types of problems.”

In the upcoming weeks, Citizendium will implement a semi-automated, quick registration system that will still rely on human interaction for final approval. Since the Citizendium pilot project began in November 2006, it has been readable only to participants in order to conserve the bandwidth demands of high usage volume. To prepare for increased traffic once the doors are open, Citizendium recently installed four additional servers for a total of five, two of which were generously donated by Steadfast Networks.

For more information about the results of Citizendium’s pilot project, visit http://www.citizendium.org/whyczwillsucceed.html to read a new essay by Sanger titled, "Why the Citizendium Will (Probably) Succeed.”

About Citizendium

The Citizendium (sit-ih-ZEN-dee-um), a "citizens' compendium of everything," is an experimental new wiki project. The project, started by a founder of Wikipedia, aims to improve on that model by adding "gentle expert oversight" and requiring contributors to use their real names. The Citizendium public site is now open to the public. To participate or for more information, visit www.citizendium.org.

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