Male and computer nerd (opensource software), born 19670728, French living in France.
I used to work for O'Reilly, co-founded a French opensource company (IDEALX, now OpenTrust). I'm directing a book collection published by a French book company ('Eyrolles').
About Citizendium (CZ)
To attract contributors CZ has to maintain dedicated people tackling various technical missions in order to enhance user experience, from the bare user interface to giving an assurance that any consensual plea (which may for example be "a wiki with private articles and some workflow enabling some to publish articles", which is in fact some form of the over-discussed approval system, which now needs someone to create a first rough implementation, to be criticized and refined) from contributors validated by the project leaders will be fulfilled (for example by searching/extending/developing an adequate extension for the underlying software: Mediawiki). This was and remains a major component of Wikipedia thrust: some talented people soon started to help developing Mediawiki in order to enhance it according to the project's needs. In some cases proposals or needs were not expressed at technical needs but some developer assessed the situation and proposed then refined adequate software modules, some of those became major reasons for contributors and visitors to like the project.
I don't see here anything like that on CZ, and this is IMHO a problem.
The model "the project is the group of its contributors" just doesn't work ("Let's have a party! Bring all your own food and let's have it in your place!"). A newcomer has to see that the project has:
- a good approach
- a 'policy': CZ is very good and Wikipedia IMHO misleaded and misleading
- resources to leverage it
- CZ isn't ready, Wikipedia tackled this efficiently or had luck
Upon seing all thins a potential contributor thinks "I will give living matter (knowledge and work) as the project already offers an adequate mold (policy, rules, tools and technical infrastructure)." Right now CZ 'tools' (softwares) are, IMHO, not convincing as the software used (Mediawiki) is made for the Wikipedia approach, usages and context.
Mediawiki is extensible, I'm not advocating adopting another software nor criticizing the CZ tech staff (hey do a wonderful job given the resources available and I'm very grateful).
CZ contributors chat about what we can do, but who can give a green or red light to a proposal (public and not vetoed) implying some software development, for it to pass into realization stage? Is there any developer intervening in mature users dialogs about some new rules/functionality in order to say "OK, I saw a way to help you achieve this goal thanks to a new software module..."? I bet this will fuel participation and thinking, along with the project's attraction power. I already wrote about this, with illustrating examples, without anyone explaining why I'm misleaded or how we may solve this problem.
A new edition, for example the French one, starting on a new consensual project contract (as there is a social contract) defining what the project and the contributors have to try (hard!) to give to each other, may help.