[Posted to Citizendium-L, as well as the Forums where you can reply to it if you like.]
Some have said that the Citizendium can’t possibly compete with Wikipedia, that we can never achieve their momentum, and that, therefore, we will always be irrelevant. I think that this sentiment is a bit confused and could stand a bit of perspective.
I remember what caused Wikipedia’s growth, which led directly to its present (qualified) success: we created content; Google spidered the content; people arrived from Google at Wikipedia pages; they created more content; lather, rinse, repeat. It’s called “the Google effect.”
As long as we have a quorum of people creating a growing amount of content, then as soon as we open up to the public and have Google spider CZ, we too will experience the Google effect. This will become particularly pronounced as time goes on since people will be more apt to link to approved CZ articles than WP articles, over the long haul, I think.
I remember what people said when we started Nupedia and Wikipedia. I remember people saying, “How do you think you can ever compete with the big proprietary encyclopedias, which can pay their writers, and which don’t have to rely on amateur volunteers?” How wrong those people were: as we now know, it was merely a matter of time.
So why not think that it is also merely a matter of time for CZ?
We haven’t even launched publicly yet–because, er, we can’t afford it. (Not because we don’t want to.) And yet already we have a definite community and many excellent articles under way. This doesn’t bear comparison to Wikipedia now, but it bears comparison to Wikipedia in its first year, and CZ comes off looking pretty well.
We have seen fireworks this past week, I think. We’ve had a whole series of wonderfully productive days, and I think we’re really hitting our stride with this new self-registration initiative. When we launch publicly, I think we are going to see much more amazing growth. Again, perhaps not amazing by Wikipedia’s standards today, but amazing by any other standards, even perhaps by the standards of Wikipedia in 2001.
I think there is another thing that many skeptics are not taking into account. It is that there will come a time–probably this coming year–when it is clear to everyone that CZ is not going away, that it has been growing, and that there is no reason that it will not continue to grow exponentially just as Wikipedia did.
And then people will really start to pile on. That’s when our technical headaches will really begin–and that’s why we’ve got to be prepared!