CZ:Workgroup Weeks/We can do this

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A letter to all Citizens. Please read!

Dear Citizens,

I am officially announcing the Workgroup Weeks (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:Workgroup_Weeks) initiative. Workgroup Weeks will promote a workgroup for a week: each week, we will be promoting and highlighting a different Citizendium workgroup. For example, we'll have "Biology Week," "History Week," and "Music Week." There will be a major headline on the front page, and other internal and external publicity for the event. Leading up to each week, we'll be doing significant recruitment. This is similar in concept to the Write-a-Thons, but extends across the entire presence of a single discipline on the Internet.

Workgroup Weeks is the biggest initiative we have planned so far, in terms both of the amount of labor needed and of the potential positive impact. It has the potential to double or triple our participation rates--or, indeed, raise them by an order of magnitude. We have never done a massive, concerted, ongoing recruitment effort. I know from experience that such efforts, if fully executed, really work. When we do this, we'll reap enormous dividends.

Now, if we were to leave this hard work to one person--me, say--I estimate it would take that person about a year of full-time work to get it done. I personally don't have the time to do it, with everything else I must do for the project, and we can't afford to pay anyone to do it. But if we all get together, and spread the work out over many weeks, we'll require relatively little work from each person, while the concerted, collective impact of that work will be tremendous.

But, to have that impact, we must get organized. To get organized, we all have to get motivated--and so I need to persuade you that this will work and will be worth the effort. So here goes.

First, I organized Nupedia and then Wikipedia by doing the sort of recruitment I am inviting you all to do. In fact, I've done this sort of thing many times. It's kind of my specialty. I know it works. If we follow this plan, we will get massive numbers of excellent new participants. It's not a question of whether the plan is sound, it's a question of whether we have the will to make it happen! If we follow the plan, people will show up in droves.

Second, this initiative is modelled partly on our successful and ongoing Monthly Write-a-Thons. It is worth examining why this works. We announce that on the first Wednesday of each month, there will be an "event." Because people (justifiably) think the wiki will be especially active and welcoming on that day, more people than usual show up. There is a shared understanding that allows people to coordinate their activity and thereby reap the rewards of their coordination. Well, there are many, many experts out there who would like to work on something like Wikipedia, but they don't really like Wikipedia itself, and they don't know how to start something better--basically, they don't know how to get coordinated. Who does the coordination?

We do--that's what we propose. We circulate a message far and wide around the Internet:

The Citizendium is the "better free encyclopedia" opportunity that you and your colleagues have been waiting for. On this specific week, we invite all X-ologists, and everyone interested in X-ology, to converge on the Citizendium to give it a serious try. With over seven million words and 6,000 articles written by a true expert-public collaboration in 18 months, it's worked very well so far. Now it's just a matter of building up both content and community. So, if you show up on that week, we'll bootstrap CZ's X-ology Workgroup into a more robust existence. Shall we give it a try?

The answer, I am very confident, will be a resounding "Yes!" But, again, in order to make this happen, we need to coordinate ourselves in advance, in order to get the word out and make the event a reality.

This solves not only a general problem in various disciplines, it solves a problem closer to home. Since the beginning of our existence we have been wondering how to build up our workgroups so that they have a more robust existence. We'd like to get a core group in each discipline who can "goad" each other into action, be counted on to approve our best articles, and attract new people. Workgroup Weeks is specifically designed to solve that problem. It is the single best idea on offer to "kick-start" our workgroups.

As Editor-in-Chief, I am responsible for our recruitment efforts--you can count on me to take the lead. I will pitch in and do the "grunt work" myself, as you have seen me do on many occasions, but I definitely can't do it all myself. You're absolutely needed. If you have any inclination to help out--on the assumption that this initiative really can be made to work--then please sign up (http://en.citizendium.org/wiki/CZ:Workgroup_Weeks#Workgroup_sign-up_pages). If we come together, we'll accomplish huge things.

Thanks in advance. Let's roll up our sleeves!

--Larry Sanger 14:48, 8 May 2008 (CDT)