Our launch, which happened about a month ago, was a tremendous success. It generated well over 200 mentions of CZ in the press (by the Google News count), but more importantly, we ballooned from 820 authors just prior to launch to 1504 as I write this – almost doubling our numbers. For this we have our wonderful constables, such as Robert Tito, David Tribe, and Sarah Tuttle, to thank. Our editor pool has grown from 180 to 228 (and, as usual I’m afraid, a long backlog waiting to get in). The number of “CZ Live” articles has grown from 1100 to 1550 — a respectable rate of about 15 articles per day, and certainly a higher rate than we had a few months ago. Actually, the number of articles we’ve created is higher than that, because while doing the Big Cleanup, we have removed many “CZ Live” tags from articles that were mistagged.
Speaking of that, the Big Cleanup continues apace. Whereas we had checklisted 721 articles on April 4, we now have 1400. That’s well over half of all the article pages on the wiki. With 23%, or 327, of these articles “Advanced” (either Approved or Developed), and another 32%, or 442, “Developing,” well over half of the articles in our database are beyond stub stage and have been significantly changed, if they were taken from Wikipedia (and many haven’t been). More detail, albeit a week old, can be found in this very useful stats post from mathematician Aleksander Stos.
I can assure you that, after only five months, that’s excellent work. After five months, the average level of quality of articles on Wikipedia was far below this. We’re even doing respectably compared to where Wikipedia was at this time in terms of sheer numbers of articles — despite our first four months being a private pilot project, requiring sign-up, and requiring the use of real names. Also, I suspect we have more sheer content than Wikipedia did at the time, but actually confirming this suspicion would take a lot of work.
We want to cut the response time to editor applications. So we are getting more Editorial Personnel Administrators started, including Richard Jensen, a retired history professor who has done a lot of work on the wiki lately (I recommend the Abraham Lincoln article he started); Gareth Leng, U. of Edinburgh physiologist; Nancy Sculerati, NYU medical school professor; and Anthony Sebastian, UCSF medical school professor. That’s in addition to Bernard Haisch, astrophysicist, and me. This is currently very science-heavy, I know…something we’ll remedy as we go along.
Yesterday, we finally started the Editorial Council with 39 members. On the mailing list, which is members-only but which has open archives, we’ve just been introducing ourselves; we’ll actually start business next week.
After a post calling for applications from people to fill self-designed leadership positions, we’ve had a number of submissions, most of which are still under review. Nancy Sculerati will be joining us in an additional editorial role, such as article approval director, but the details have yet to be settled. Sorin Matei, Purdue U. Communications Dept. professor, has proposed that he lead “Eduzendium,” a project that would invite student groups, under the guidance of professors, to contribute to us for academic credit. This one is low-hanging fruit so it’s likely we’ll take him up on his offer. Sorin has also proposed some more technical projects, including one that involves geocoding wiki data. There are others people and proposals, as well, but the Executive Committee, like myself, has been extremely busy. We’ll get replies out sooner or later.
Another sort of project: there is an entrepreneur who is very interested in supporting the work of CZ tech lead, Jason Potkanski, and I on a partnered Citizendium project that would make a significant new enhancement to MediaWiki — and which would use Citizendium as the test bed for this enhancement. Any such enhancements, of course, will be open to community discussion; the great thing is that basically he wants us to give him the software requirements. This is a “classic win-win,” since Jason and I need the support, CZ will be greatly improved by this software (it’s a feature I’ve wanted for a long time), and the entrepreneur wants to market the servicing of the (free/GPL) software. Details anon, pending a signed agreement.
The Executive Committee and other governing bodies are now named on a new Personnel page. There you will notice three new additions: Stephen Ewen, one of our many hard-working constables, has agreed to act as Assistant to the Chief Constable, relieving some of Ruth Ifcher’s workload; Kelly Patterson has joined us as Fundraising Assistant; and Louise Valmoria has been busy setting up mailing lists for individual workgroups.
Speaking of mailing lists, Louise has created many lists and is putting finishing touches on them. I believe we can expect in the next week or two the announcement of a few dozen new mailing lists, focused on announcing to editors and authors new developments and policy questions that need deciding, and directing them to specific wiki pages and forum boards for further action & interaction.
I think and hope that this will prove instrumental in bringing editors and editors in particular workgroups together and focused on getting articles approved and, we hope, recruitment. The existence of the Editorial Council may help here, too. One question we will be addressing is how to improve the methods and categories of approved articles. One proposal being discussed on the forums would create a “Proof” page for copyediting. Another proposal would have us simply link to approved versions in page histories and forego a “Draft” page altogether. Another would have us designate a stricter category of “Certified” articles, which can be approved only by people with relatively narrowly-focused expertise on the topic of the articles, and open up the category of “Approved” articles in various ways (e.g., to a long-anticipated category of “assistant editors” or “specialist editors” that would give some approval authority to graduate students). Yet another proposal would have us make more prominent use of the category of Developed articles (now linked from the front page).
These are, however, just proposals at this stage. It’s pretty likely that we’ll make some such changes. As I’ve said, I’m committed to our finally adopting an approval process that allows and inspires people to approve large numbers of articles. Consider our current stock of 12 very fine approved articles evidence merely of our first baby steps in working out what the process should be. I’m going to see to it that the pace picks up.
Speaking of approved articles, we have finally approved our first Computers article, about the Linux mascot Tux. Congratulations to all involved, and especially to the 18-year-old Josh Williams who did a lot of the authoring, and the three Computers editors who stepped up to the plate. Hope you fellows can approve a bunch more now!
One Citizen has been in communication with the subject of a biography, Gilad Atzmon, which inspired us to create a new namespace, TI: (for “topic informant“). We’re going to use this namespace to place (with permission!) communications, interviews, and relevant essays from persons who can act as informants (i.e., interviewees) about topics. It seems to me the “Tux” writers also had an e-mail exchange…that would be the namespace to put it.
We have finally allowed everyone permission, once again, to move pages & their histories, a function previously restricted to constables, simply because vandals were abusing it. Now that there aren’t any vandals left (although we did have a visit a few weeks ago from a vandal who had made an account during the self-registration period), there’s no reason not to let everyone move pages themselves. Note that we haven’t even protected the main page of the wiki.
I finished an essay for online journal Edge called “Who Says We Know: On the New Politics of Knowledge.”
I’m probably forgetting some mentionables…but anyway, that’s long enough. As you can see, we’re making excellent progress, and you can expect even more in the coming months.