Wikipedia founder launches rival site

27 Mar 2007

Citizendium, unveiled on 25 March by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, is also an open-source online community encyclopaedia.

This new site comes at a time when two Wikipedia officials have resigned and some colleges have banned their students from using the site as a reference, claiming that allowing anyone to edit an entry on the site renders it a factually unreliable source.

Sanger’s site claims to bypass this problem by providing “gentle expert oversight” and requiring all contributors to use their real names.

Anyone may contribute to the site but it will be moderated by a group of expert editors, with suitable academic qualifications, or equivalent for non-academic or hobbyist subjects.

Wikipedia was launched in January 2001 and is based on wikis, or open source editing software, that allows anyone to create or modify an entry.

The site contains over 1.7 million articles in English alone. It is ranked by Alexa Internet, a US-based web stats company, as one of the 11th most visited sites on the internet.

However, Wikipedia has faced libel charges in the past, the most notable being from former USA Today editor John Seigenthaler. A wiki entry falsely linked him to the assassinations of John and Robert Kennedy and was left on the site for over four months before Wikipedia editors spotted it.

Earlier this month a high-profile editor on Wikipedia was found to be a 24-year-old Kentucky man with no academic qualifications who was posing as a professor of philosophy.

Wikipedia has recently received criticism from such respected news organisations as the BBC and Reuters due to its vulnerability to factual errors as well as acts of vandalism.

By Marie Boran