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Fun:Citizendium FAQ

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Citizendium has a Frequently Asked Questions page. Thanks to Citizendium having become/never stopped being a complete failure, it's a bit inaccurate. But we here at RationalWiki can fix that.

Introductory topics[edit]

What is Citizendium, anyway?[edit]

Citizendium pointless bureaucracy statistics
Citizendium is a wiki encyclopedia project aiming to create the world's finest free source of pointless bureaucracy. We are inviting the public to help create content, but with no active constables to approve your membership, well... good luck with that. We were supposed to have a "gentle guiding" role for experts, but Larry Sanger drove them all off, and, anyway, we'd need active constables if we were ever going to do any of that. Our contributors use their real names, and the whole project is largely vandalism-free, due to the lack of active editors.

What is Citizendium trying to achieve?[edit]

The emphasis here is on trying.


Our goal is to capture the full range of humanity's various understandings and knowledge of reality. That's not going to happen. We also expect our approved articles to be, in the long run, as authoritative, error-free, and well-written as encyclopedia articles are expected to be. That's also not going to happen.


"Quantity, alone, is useless".

A new sort of online community

Full of infighting, power-mad administrators, pointless bureaucracy, people who think they're experts on a subject, and general dysfunction.
Wait, let's try that again.

Exactly the normal sort of online community

That's better.

Why is another online encyclopedia necessary?[edit]

The world needs a trustworthy free encyclopedia. And we can't do that. So we need another free encyclopedia to replace us.

How are you progressing?[edit]

Really badly.

This is an "Expertpedia," isn't it? Experts only, right?[edit]

No. Actually, we managed to drive all our experts away. Oops.

How do I join?[edit]

You don't.


Our last active constable left February 2013. We don't have anyone to allow new people to edit. Go away.

Presuming by some miracle I join anyway, how do I get started?[edit]

Just start editing! Don't worry about getting all the formatting right, and certainly don't bother adding the {{tl|subpages}} template! We'll take anything that at least makes us look a smidgen active. Please. We're begging you.

The justification and prospects of the project[edit]

Why real names?[edit]

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Why make a special role for experts?[edit]

Because we thought we could attract experts.

Why think it is important for people to agree to a Statement of Fundamental Policies? Why enforce a policy of professionalism in behavior?[edit]

Well, first of all, our idea of professionalism is nuts. It has more to do with the Get-Along Gang than any actual profession. We want you to be perfectly nice, never giving anyone offence. Here's a few things that page on professionalism says are worthy of a ban, after a single warning to stop:
  • Insults or personal attacks, on talk pages or other open forums, that are relatively mild, but are still objectionable because they impugn the character, or personal or professional credibility, of a project member. (Even on other sites.)
  • Talking to someone with disdain or disrespect, including ignoring the social norms of conversation. For example, referring to someone by their surname rather than their first name as is the norm in conversation on Citizendium.
As for why you should agree to a bland statement that includes such horribly controversial ideas as "Citizendium is a wiki" and a lengthy detailing of the structure of our bureaucracy...
It seemed like a good idea at the time?

But don't the above points really mean the project is some sort of top-down, "fascistic" or at least old-fashioned sort of system?[edit]

One glance at our recent changes log makes it clear that the project operates as much as a "bazaar" as any other wiki or open source software project. People contribute as they want, when they want; they are going off in a thousand different directions at once.
With that non sequitur out of the way, it's probably best to presume the answer is "yes".

What exactly is the point of the project, when Wikipedia is so huge and of at least reasonably good quality?[edit]

To impress babes.

How can you possibly succeed? Wikipedia is an enormous community. How can you go head-to-head with Wikipedia, now a veritable goliath?[edit]


You began as a fork of Wikipedia, and then decided not to fork after all, but start most of your articles over from scratch. Why?[edit]


Are you going to run out of money and have to close this site?[edit]


People tell me that this project has failed. Has it?[edit]


The project's people and culture[edit]

How similar is this project to open source hacker culture, and how similar to the culture of academia?[edit]

"FAQ" stands for "Frequently Asked Questions". No one has ever asked that question. (But for what it's worth, the answer is "not at all to either.")

Who is joining this community?[edit]

No one. Remember? No constables?

How can I find out more about your contributors?[edit]

We have maybe 5 active ones, if we're being generous. Just stick around a bit.

Who is behind the project?[edit]

Very, very few people.

In many open source communities, there are "benevolent dictators for life." Is that Larry Sanger's role here?[edit]

No. Larry Sanger would never be described as "benevolent".

Funding and related issues[edit]

Can I donate to the project, to help ensure it comes into existence?[edit]

Yes! Oh, please GOD yes. Don't worry about forgetting - we promise to beg, plead and cajole you for money constantly, changing to ALL BOLD ALL CAPITAL TEXT WARNING OF IMPENDING FINANCIAL DOOM every so often. Throw us a bone, will ya?

Will the Citizendium accept advertisements?[edit]

Only ones we get no money for. If you want a vanity article on yourself or book you wrote or something, feel free! But we are strongly against the idea of being paid for this.
Also, why not donate some money to us?

How committed are the Citizendium leaders to making and keeping this a non-profit project?[edit]

As if Citizendium was ever going to turn a profit for anyone but the Tides Center.

Will I be paid for my contributions?[edit]

No. All of our contributions are donated by the contributors. As said before, GIVE US MONEY! PLEASE!!!!!!

Will someone else profit from my contributions?[edit]

That presumes someone will ever see them. Heh.

The role of editors[edit]

What is the difference between Authors and Editors?[edit]

An author is anyone who contributes to the project, while editors are the special people, who are far better.

What do your expert "editors" do here?[edit]

Nothing. We don't have experts. Larry drove them off.

I don't see myself as an expert. Can I still participate?[edit]

No. We can't approve new members, because we lost our last constable, remember?

But I already have a login.[edit]

Oh, well, then, throw up whatever you want. Vanity articles, rants, grammar guides, 'sall good.

Who can become an editor, and how?[edit]

No one. We can't approve new members, remember?

Can you really expect headstrong Wikipedia types to work under the guidance of expert types in this way?[edit]

[Blah blah Wikipedia sucks blah blah Citizendium is better, and you're better than those riff-raff Wikipedians if you join us.] tl;dr No.

How can you possibly ensure on a wiki that editors will have the carefully limited authority you want to give them?[edit]

By never gaining any more editors by not having any active constables.

Are editors paid?[edit]

No. And this question is a repeat.

What, then, can motivate editors to get involved?[edit]

You're presuming editors do get involved. Have you checked our stats?

Wikipedia and the Citizendium[edit]

How does the project differ from Wikipedia?[edit]

We're better. Also, 300% more snark than Wikipedia.


Questioning another editor's judgement is grounds for banning.img

Question withdrawn.[edit]

International Prospects of the Citizendium[edit]

I live outside the U.S. and my native language isn't English. Is there a role for me?[edit]

Yes, as the holder of the title of "Highest Donater to The Cause."

Will you be attempting to start versions of the Citizendium in languages other than English?[edit]

For some reason, the other FAQ asks both these questions, but gives the same answer to both of them. So, in the spirit of the original FAQ:
  1. If the English language project appears to work well, we will launch in a number of other languages; so... not gonna happen.
  2. Yes, if the English language Citizendium succeeds; so... not gonna happen.

If Citizendia in other languages are started, will the central management of the Citizendium be fully international?[edit]

...Wait, you're going with that as the plural? Seriously?

How will you actually get the Citizendia in other languages started?[edit]

...As said before, this is dependent on the success of English Citizendium.
Not. Gonna. Happen.


How do I contact Citizendium staff?[edit]

Posting on RationalWiki. WIGO:CZ, ideally.
This isn't actually a joke. About the only way problems on Citizendium get dealt with any more is if someone pokes fun of them for it on RationalWiki. Every other way is completely broken and unfit for purpose.

Where can I find out more?[edit]