In an effort to answer the need to have a more scholarly and definitive online encyclopedia than Wikipedia, Larry Sanger, a co-founder of that site, is about to launch Citizendium, intended to mix the collobrative nature of Wikipedia with editors and filters, reports eSchool News
Sanger has recruited subject-matter experts who will serve as content editors and will require registration before users can edit or post. This is in contrast with the free-for-all of Wikipedia, where anyone can post information anonymously.
This democratic approach has prompted criticism about the authenticity of information and has led some colleges to ban Wikipedia as a citable reference.
"I think there is a need for a more reliable and free [online] encyclopedia," said Sanger. "If we can create a more reliable and free encyclopedia, particularly if we adopt a different system than Wikipedia's, then we should."
Citizendium and Wikipedia are still quite similar, however. They both foster a ongoing, collaborative approach to gathering information. And anyone can edit, delete or modify content that has been placed on the site - including the work of previous authors - using only a browser.
The difference, explains Sanger, is "more cultural than operational." Along with recruiting content experts to serve as editors, Citizendium will require users to register their names before editing any information.
"We're using an honor system to do this, and in the occasional case where we find someone is using a pseudonym, we'll ban that account," Sanger said.
Still there may be exceptions to the no-psuedonym rule. Sanger said political dissidents, certain scientists and those who are not allowed to author articles under an agreement with their employer, for instance, may be allowed to use a pseudonym.