The amount of activity on the CZ wiki has been phenomenal and increasing since Monday. Pre-launch, we were dancing around 500 edits per day — respectable. Now, I estimate traffic is up to about 2000-2500 edits per day. Of course, it will probably settle; but who knows? It might not. After all, we still have a steady stream of new applications, more than our constables can keep up with, which is why we’re trying to get some new constables on board. (Also, we’re trying to kick Jason’s butt into overdrive on our Semi-Automated Hand-Approval System, but he’s been optimizing the servers and squashing bugs.) Over 300 authors, I’m pretty sure — all of them with biographies — so we now are about to break 1200 authors, and probably another 50 editors, but we’re taking longer to get through them (as usual — sorry, folks). Also, Google and other search engines have slowly started spidering us…but we’re already #2 for a certain obscure search…and we’re sure to get increasing traffic from them.
Opening up the website did more than just bring traffic, attention, and many new contributors. I think the new folks and the old folks are all pretty energized by the attention the website has gotten, and their own energy then feeds on itself.
All in all, I’d count the launch and the aftermath of the launch a solid success. We have had some extremely interesting new partnership proposals, by the way, which is another reason to call the launch a success.
Because the Citizendium has a role for experts, some have suggested recently that we’re “elitist.” But the claim is, frankly, absurd. Projects that allow teenagers to work with tenured professors and seasoned professionals cannot with any good sense be called “elitist.” Consider a hierarchy of “elitism” in content-production organizations:
- Very exclusive: the only participants permitted are not just experts, but distinguished experts. Example: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. One of the finest free reference works available online, just by the way. Would it be appropriate to accuse them of being “elitist”?
- Exclusive: experts/professionals only. Examples: most big newspapers and magazines; some academic journals.
- Expert-focused, but semi-expert-welcoming: while experts are most actively recruited, honored, and empowered, the system is also open to people who have a solid but nonexpert understanding of the relevant material. Example: Encyclopedia of Earth; some academic journals (think: first papers written by grad students).
- Open, but making a special role for experts: no expertise is needed to participate, but experts are invited to fill a special role in the system. Example: Citizendium.
- Radically epistemically egalitarian: everyone may participate, and no roles are made for experts; everyone is on an equal footing when it comes to making judgment about what is allegedly good, true, and beautiful. Example: HotOrNot, Wikipedia, and most Web 2.0 projects.
We are far more open and egalitarian compared to most everything outside of Web 2.0. To accuse us of elitism is merely to expose the limitations of your world.
Here’s our latest press release. It’s mostly old news by now for regular readers of this blog.
“The modest success of our pilot project shows that there is hope that we can correct exactly the sort of abuses that people demonize Web 2.0 for,” said the project’s Editor-in-Chief, Wikipedia co-founder Dr. Larry Sanger. “You don’t have to choose between content and accountability. We have shown that we can create open and credible content. We can, in fact, be open to all sorts of participants, but still hold people to higher standards of content and behavior as a community.”
I’ve recently posted an essay, “Why the Citizendium Will (Probably) Succeed.”
From the first two paragraphs:
The Citizendium pilot project wiki got under way privately at the start of last November. In the intervening months, we have steadily grown to some 1,100 “CZ Live” articles — that’s approximately how many articles we have done significant work on. A fairly large percentage of these, I believe well over half, are either original articles or have been significantly changed from Wikipedia sources. We have steadily added authors and editors in this period, so that we have 820 authors and 180 editors (some of whom also have listed themselves as authors). Our activity has grown from 100 edits per day in the first month to over 500 prior to launch. Every day, a large variety of people from many fields sign on and do some work. This is all in a period in which the project has been visible only to those who have applied to the project. In addition, while it has received a fair bit of press, we have done very little in the way of recruitment — but with good results when we have. More aggressive recruitment is our trump card, which we haven’t played.
…the progress report shows merely that the fundamentals of the project are sound, many basic doubts are now dismissible on the basis of solid experience — and little more than that. It shows that that experts can be quite good at wiki-style strong collaboration; that they can work well together with the general public; that a wide variety of people have a substantial desire to work on this sort of project; that a largely collegial and pleasant community can be built on principles of the use of real names and gentle expert guidance; that, so long as we avoid wide-open self-registration as we tried for about three weeks, this sort of project can be free of vandalism. In short, there are no “gotchas” — nothing that makes me think this project can’t work — and quite a bit of good news.
I argue at some length that the Citizendium will enjoy a Google effect and that the latent demand for CZ is sizable and growing. I conclude with replies to a bunch of objections.
87 Sites carrying AP story according to news.google
Emergency tweaks to en.citizendium since database server isn’t ready. Server holding ok, except for one brief blip.
UPDATE: Google News says the number of news pages reprinting one of the two AP articles is now well over 180. Online sources include USA Today, ABC News, CNN, MSNBC, FOX News, CNET News.com, ZDNet, Times Online, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, Sydney Morning Herald, Globe and Mail, The Age, Newsday, Editor & Publisher, Canada.com, San Jose Mercury News, International Herald Tribune, Kansas City Star, Seattle Post Intelligencer, Denver Post, MIT’s Technology Review, Sacramento Bee, SiliconValley.com, Houston Chronicle, Forbes, BusinessWeek, MSN Money, and a zillion local newspapers. –LMS
As of 2:15 PM, Eastern, we are live. Whether or not you are signed in, you can read everything on the wiki. The pilot project is over — I would argue a solid success.
A long AP feature story announcing our launch is available widely. Here’s a copy from USA Today. There is also an interesting sidebar being titled, “Sanger says he co-started Wikipedia.” (That’s news?)
Currently Pilot is being backed up in preparation for death and born anew as a dedicated database server.
Mail services were migrated off today in an as-painless-as-touching-a-9-volt-to-your-tongue transitition.
Forge will go away, recommended by Troy, in favor of Trac. See trac.citizendium.org . A small problem will be migrating the old bug reports to the new system and implementing a better authentication system. gForge was cool, but provides overly complex ways of doing things that we are not using.
Code reverts have been made to fix the long diff bug as well as try and fix the occasional wiki lockup problem. Neither bug has reared it’s head since. Greg has fixed the max page size issue.
Disclaimer code has also been reverted so approved articles and the disclaimer do not clash. A generic disclaimer has been added to sitenotice until the hard code is fixable.
…and I am exhausted.
Downhill from here…
Blog and Forums now find home on reid, one of the last two servers delivered today. May take time for your DNS to update to the right IP address. If you are reading this though, the changes have gone through.
A few days ago I said on the project mailing list that we would be deciding very soon about the license, and that I was leaning toward using CC-by-nc for our own original articles, and the GFDL for all Wikipdia-sourced articles. This was reflected in the comparison between CZ and WP that I posted yesterday.
Well, this has created some strong reactions–finally–and perhaps now the CZ community is ready to have a debate it has badly needed to have. The license issue is important, because it will determine whether Wikipedia can use content that we create, because it might help set us up in an interesting new open content business model, and quite frankly because a lot of people just care a lot about this stuff. One person has even said that he would delete all his edits from the wiki if we were to use a certain license.
Anyway, while the discussion is hot and heavy on the forums (between project participants–because forums are restricted to participants), I hope I can motivate people to use the wiki to sum up and standardize the arguments on the question: “Should we permit or disallow commercial use of CZ-originated articles?“