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The Sciences

Wikipedia Quaking in Wiki-Boots?


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Wikipedia—the Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit—has gone through an entire dramatic cycle on a truly Internet-era timescale; over the last not-quite-four years, it was born, pushed on the user-generated-content craze, became the 12th-most-popular site on the Web, and is now experiencing a vigorous backlash for having pages that are written by kooks and/or full of errors. ("The hive mind is for the most part stupid and boring," says Discover's own Jaron Lanier.)

Now, one of its co-founders is launching a competing online-o-pedia with a fundamental difference: its content will be written and guarded by editors, experts who would qualify based on "imperfect but effective" credentials like "degrees, professional society memberships, things like that." As someone who's seen plenty of Wikipedia writers' errors, belligerence, and most-of-all, flat-out bad writing, I think it sounds interesting. But we here at DiscoBlog think there's a lot to a name (clearly), and I'm more than a bit skeptical that anything called "Citizendium" is going anywhere—or perhaps I'm just bitter that my mouthparts hurt when I try to say it.

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