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We might think of setting capturebot loose on CZ links, as some notable articles we discuss might go down the memory hole. tmtoulouse 05:47, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

I think to add a page to CB's homework, it has to be added to some list at its user page or something. I'll RTFM and see what it says. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:49, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
OK, I added it to the CB list. Please be sure to put "capture" tags (below the edit box under "wigo") on appropriate links; the links should be diffs or permalinks. I will find one and test it. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:54, 15 October 2010 (UTC)
Locked and loaded, captain. All that remains now to is to add the tags to appropriate links. Sadly, many or even most are not difflinks, poor practice when quoting a wiki! Especially on a supposedly "gold" article. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:01, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

WIGO CZ page?[edit]

Since not much of this banter is about the article, why don't we set up RationalWiki:What is going on at Citizendium? and use it and the talk page for this Titanic-watching? Seed the talk page with most of what is here. At least the WIGO format encourages people to use good links and tell the story. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:08, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Meh, maybe, but I for see another "WIGO 4th Reich" in a few months. Tmtoulouse (talk) 04:12, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
Not a bad idea, no reason not to. --Onion <talk> 04:57, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
I don't expect it to last long, but I am trying to relieve the burden on this talk page and put it somewhere more suited to the current brouhaha. I'm not expecting it to be on the main page wigo list or anything. Just a "see also" from the article for now. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:36, 20 November 2010 (UTC)
All right, I concur, congratulations CZ you are now WIGO worthy. Tmtoulouse (talk) 06:31, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Can we haz banner?[edit]

Shouldn't we place a banner on top of this page stating that the current follies are discussed at RationalWiki:What is going on at Citizendium? larronsicut fur in nocte 07:51, 20 November 2010 (UTC)

Yes, and you just wrote it! ħumanUser talk:Human 16:41, 20 November 2010 (UTC)


They would have done better by doing the Wiki fork. Seems like at least they would have had some critical mass and some links for Google juice and all.

Obviously CZ hasn't worked, but WP is a mess too. Even the Featured Articles don't meet the prose quality expected in most magazines or a "real" encyclopedia. And there is definitely a shortage of real experts and academics. Plus, people are blogging much more now, so that that is a way to get the thrill of self-publishing. Of course, there's more fun and games and ANI on WP, but that becomes a lot of the raison d'etre. (talk) 03:59, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

What I am most annoyed about is that the mismanagement of CZ means that it can't be used as a valid test case for the possible success of an "expert guided" style wiki. CZ's failures can largely be traced back to Larry Sanger doing, saying, and acting really idiotically and irresponsibly. But the same concept in the hands of a competent community manager, would the results have been a lot different? Or is the whole concept intrinsically flawed and doomed to failure. Will people never be willing to work "under" someone on a volunteer open project of that scope.
The real names criteria is also a confound. I don't think expert guidance requires a real name policy, and I think it could be very off putting in and of itself. The first issue is verification, signing up for a community is often like an impulse buy at a super market. The colorfully wrapped packages you stare at while waiting in line wouldn't get purchased if they were locked behind a case that required hours of waiting and an ID check. However, I will say that people are becoming more and more comfortable having real life information easily accessible online. The "facebook/myspace generation" probably doesn't have nearly the hang ups about pseudoanonminity that the usenet generation has. Tmtoulouse (talk) 06:39, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Wait, I think I just solved CZ's editor resource crisis. Code up "FarmVille WikiStyle" and all your worries are over. Tmtoulouse (talk) 06:41, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Regarding tmtoulouse's last paragraph, first post, while the "real data" part may not be such a big deal, it still creates a significant hurdle to joining, and a giant one to simply fixing, say, typos, as a drive-by. To the OP, "wikipedia is a mess"? Really? The last thousand articles I looked at were all good to very good, with a few stubs thrown in. Asterisk (talk) 06:43, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Regarding his/her new comment, lol indeed. Get those FB addicts to do something useful for a change! Asterisk (talk) 06:44, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Wikipedia is great for some things, okay for others, and problematic for some. I use it as a resource for when I have a question or want a brief overview of an idea or topic and its not of great importance the detailed accuracy. This comes up all the time in a casual way, but I wouldn't use it as a source for my professional work (nor would I use Encyclopedia Britannica). The one place it never fails me is pop culture! It can always tell me when to expect the latest episode of my favorite shows to appear as torrents! Tmtoulouse (talk) 06:47, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Even if they imported WP over to CZ, the problem has always been its administration, so IMO it would not fundamentally improve with more articles. FreeThought (talk) 06:58, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
Rumor has it that they all ready have Wikipedia sitting in the dark damp dungeons of there 350 gigabyte postgre database. Tmtoulouse (talk) 07:03, 29 November 2010 (UTC)
I think the main reason CZ failed is the absurdly high barrier of entry. That simply doesn't work with wikis, which depend on as many people joining in as possible. A WP fork would've gotten them nowhere, they'd still need editors to make it more than a WP mirror. And for all of WP's faults, it's not nearly as bad as you describe. It might not be the world's best written encyclopedia, but it's good enough, and it's definitely the largest and most used. -- Nx / talk 07:20, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

Healing arts workgroup, homeopathy, etc.[edit]

The healingarts workgroup is no more. Ullman's homeopathy article has been legislated out.

But there's still a lot of pseudoscience there.

Now, the encouraging recent events should be noted and worked in, but let's not go crazy - this is still the encyclopedia where the article on "Critical views of Chiropractic" is actually an ATTACK PIECE on critics of chiropractyimg - and with D. Matt Innis on the Editorial Council (I think, anyway), I don't see that changing soon.

I'd say, keep in things like Sanger promoting Ullman's homeopathy article - noting what happened as soon as Sanger was out of power -but refocus the introduction to the list of greatest pseudoscientific hits onto Chiropracty, and so on and so forth.

Everyone who was a member of Healing Arts has kept their "expert" status at present ( - technically, the exact wording should bar Ullman, but I bet it won't ) so let's follow how this plays out, and edit accordingly, neither letting them off too easily for token moves towards skepticism, nor attacking the modern Citizendium for Sanger's idiocy.

I need to make an account. (talk) 01:27, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Sanger wasn't the only idiot on Citizendium as the recent "imbecile" hi-jinks with Hayford Peirce, and the ill-informed comments of Aleta Curry can attest. IMO Citizendium made a mistake by simply pushing the Homeopathy article "under the rug" by blocking all future edits for a over a year on the draft page. The rules regarding the approved page haven't changed but simply blocking the drafting page and leaving a huge notice at the top makes it look like Citizendium is censoring the topic, which no doubt alternative medical supporters will use to criticize the site. The readers only see the approved article first anyway. Much better to allow the people to make an informed decision on what homeopathy actually is and isnt. I'm wary of sites that police knowledge and stifle debate - it makes us sceptics look as bad as the Roman Catholic church in the Middle Ages. FreeThought (talk) 02:20, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
I am struck again by just how ugly that website is. Giant section header text... really poor writing, mispellings/typos abound... Too many chiefs and too few indians (I suspect that phrase is not really PC, oops, I fix) too many chefs and too few prep cooks leads to a mainspace full of poor-quality junk. I guess. But I am only a pudding, what do I know? Outside of tennis, that is? Blancmange (talk) 02:32, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Strangely, some of the ugly goes away when you are logged in. I wonder if the people who run the place realize how awful it looks to outsiders (since they are all logged in...)? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:47, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Citizendium's home page is truly awful. Aside from the basic ugliness it's got lots of substantive problems. For example the casual visitor would expect that the buttons labeled "Natural Sciences", "Arts" and the like would take them to portals or lists of articles under those headings. Ha! Tricked you, sucker! They go to organizational tables for workgroup structure and procedures. Doctor Dark (talk) 06:07, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Recruited academic experts?[edit]

The article states "many of the recruited academic experts have left, driven away by the site administrators" and the reference cites Dr Martin Cohen, a philosopher as one such; he and another exile from Citizendium have set up a website that might interest RationalWiki, it's called You might particularly enjoy the article on Alternative Medicine [2] (Yet could it be that the active molecules of the St-John's Wort and the onion do deliver a message, through the algebra of organic molecules?) And then you might think that maybe Citizendium site administrators might have had a point.Sparx (talk) 11:08, 7 December 2010 (UTC)

omfg... I made the mistake of cruising a few random articles on that site. What a repository of crapola. Yeah, CZ is better off without Cohen's brand of lunacy. Doctor Dark (talk) 06:15, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
Cohen's tenure at CZ, before he was banned for the mortal sin of releasing an email, was, in some respects, comic. Sanger welcomed him with great fanfare, as another fill-oh-so-fur, Sanger and Cohen, as far as I can tell, having comparable amounts of academic experience beyond their degrees.
For a time, Cohen just argued a lot. Then, claiming that Philosophy was part of everything (well, how can you know you are discussing things without epistemology), he started adding Philosophy to the workgroup list of any article where he wanted authority. This included homeopathy, and some even more woo articles on the ideology (for want of a better term) of alternative medicine. Eventually, even Sanger slapped him down for that.
He then started trashing talk pages, refusing to follow ordinary indentation, keeping comments ordered, etc., to the point that no one could read them -- other than seeing Cohen's observation in a prominent place. If there's real interest, I can try to dig up archives. There were complaints to the Constables, on the level of "we can't read this", and citing the CZ pages on talk page procedures. The Constables suggested that those were only advisory. The person who had written them for Larry then said that when he did so, he expected them to be rules, not guidelines, although they still needed some common sense to be applied.
In the midst of that, he was banned, and then took his attacks on CZ to Times Higher Education. I can only describe the dialogues there as the pursuit of the inedible by the unspeakable.
In fairness, Cohen did provide a certain amusement value unless you were enmeshed in it. Ayn Rand discussions tend, by their very nature, to become very strange very quickly. It frightens me that when Cohen and Sanger went at it on that topic, there probably were no psychoactive substances involved. (what can I say? A younger friend just sent me a condolences card after I told her I got through the sixties and seventies without ever getting successfully stoned.) Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 19:09, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Expertise, academic and not-academic[edit]

Not ever having been a True Belted Academic, I can't really say what they do, but the comment about Sanger seems real enough. I would add to that that he had no idea what non-academic practitioner experts do, but was especially contemptuous of them.

Now, what's a practitioner expert? Well, someone mentioned beer and hallways, so I immediately thought of the IETF or NANOG, or physicians or paramedics abusing their livers. There are some discussions going on, some very informal by email, on trying to get a better handle on "expertise", and some of the ideas might, I hope, have promise. We'll see. There definitely are people that will accept the idea of a practitioner expert, and that academia isn't the only way to gain expertise. Milt Beychok, who is my exemplar of a chemical engineer, has a bachelor's degree -- but one hell of a resume. It took me quite a while to stop laughing when he wrote that he would never live in a house within a mile of a chemical plant built or operated by someone with a pure doctorate in academic chemical engineering, who had never started up a high-pressure production facility.

My first run-ins with Sanger were in the areas of system administration and security, and then in information retrieval. In 2007, there was a time in which there was self-registration, and then some vandalism. The solution was the stronger bar to entry. When I got there in May 2008, and first heard about the problems, I suppose I was silly enough to think about multilayered and largely automated protections against vandalism, rather than depending on any single mechanism. Sanger was incredibly contemptuous, for example, of such suggestions as karma/reputation software tied to quota mechanisms for potentially dangerous operations such as article moves. It became obvious that he had no serious software, information security, or system administration background. It became obvious that he didn't know he didn't, but, obviously, any discipline is inferior to fill-oh-so-fee.

In fairness, I believe he did invent the Related Artices page. It's strictly hierarchical. When, one day, I introduced some headings that dealt with nonhierarchical object relations, he blew up.

Unfortunately, we still have some people who are contemptuous of computer-type practitioner expertise, but have some administrative authority. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 02:47, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

This is why citizendium's focus on recruiting "experts" is flawed. There are highly qualified people who get a job in any academic institute but they simply don't have the people skills nor patience to edit a public project with other editors of different backgrounds. FreeThought (talk) 23:43, 23 December 2010 (UTC)
There are some discussions that actually are getting a grasp on there being several kinds of expertise, and several ways of getting each kind of expertise. I still cherish a comment by Milt Beychok, who is a world authority in his branch of chemical engineering but has a bachelor's degree, saying he would never live in a home within a mile of a chemical plant designed or operated by someone with a doctorate and no work experience. All in all, there are a number of people more willing to accept that academia isn't the only way to become an expert -- and yes, people skills are a separate matter.
In my experience, the Editorial Personnel Administrators have done a decent job of assessing expertise, asking for additional information as needed. There are any number of reasons why well-qualified people may choose not to put their entire background on their user page, but, in pursuit of acceptance, provide details in confidence to the EPAs. It bothers me, however, that some people highly visible in past or present "governance" will make public attacks on the qualifications of people they dislike -- when they simply do not have full information.
I like it that one aspect of expertise can be knowing what you don't know. Conversely, though, there are people that may start out just being hostile, and then move on to attacking qualifications on the basis of inadequate knowledge. At times, I wonder if CZ would be a better place with trial by combat. :-) Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 00:51, 24 December 2010 (UTC)


I found this forum thread while working on the Dana Ullman article. It's old, but I think that Sanger's comments are very enlightening as to how the problems arose on Citizendium.

A couple Sanger quotes of note:

"If for instance you feel that the "intelligent design" article should simply say, or take the clear stance, that intelligent design entirely lacks credibility, period, that is tantamout to rejecting the neutrality policy. As a Citizen, however, you are committed to this policy. Please, please do not harbor plans to change the policy, because this will only end in grief for everyone. Neutrality is part of the social contract that defines CZ, which I have been quite clear about since Day 1."

"This means, among other things, that we do not reject Intelligent Design, and we do not endorse anthropogenic global warming. We can certainly explain the mainstream view sympathetically, saying indeed that it is the mainstream view, but we will neither say or even subtly imply that this view is correct. This is not an Encyclopedia of the Mainstream."

And, finally, in response to someone arguing that things should be stated as facts unless a significant body of people in the scientific field disagrees:

"This view is contrary to our Neutrality Policy, to which you are committed, Russell. If you can't accept it as a working principle, at least, you're not welcome here. That's the bottom line.
I wrote the policy precisely to reject the sort of view you are promoting. The view you are promoting is contrary to neutrality, and is in favor of simply biasing the resource in favor of whatever the mainstream says."

In other words, it appears that Citizendium's problems were a DESIGN FEATURE. God, Sanger's an idiot. Do we have an article on him? (talk) 02:46, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

And certainly not Intelligent Design either. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 10:34, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
Sanger is central to many of the problems that plague Citizendium. I seriously hope he quietly disappears and doesn't set up another compendium/encyclopedia project. FreeThought (talk) 12:37, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

When I rewrote the Memory of Water article, I added the sentence "Chemists and physicists generally see this notion as nonsense." I wonder if Larry would object to that. Pashley (talk) 00:35, 8 January 2011 (UTC)

Larry Sanger - testing - Yes, RW does have article. Unless it's a redirect, of course. Troutmaskreplica (talk) 09:13, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
A blue link does not automatically mean an article.[3] --ZooGuard (talk) 09:51, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

Broken links[edit]

The editorial council decision links seem to all be broken. I suspect incompetence, as Citizendium uses the same links. (talk) 13:59, 9 January 2011 (UTC)

That's because the servers are being changed at the moment apparently. —Tom Morris (talk) 14:24, 9 January 2011 (UTC)
The URL for the Editorial Council wiki has changed. It is now: The old URL, , no longer works. --Chris Key (talk) 04:58, 10 January 2011 (UTC)[edit]

I don't think this is true, or, at least, was not widely considered true.

From :

If another editor in the article's workgroup finds that the article is so objectionable that approval, in his considered opinion, should not be granted, then the "ToApprove" metadata is removed by this editor, who puts his reasons for this action on the talk page. (This is a fail safe rule, to prevent the approval of articles that are inaccurate or misleading.)

I believe this was generally taken to apply to approvals of new versions, meaning Ullman could veto any version he disliked. In any case, the article was approved on every occasion by homeopath vote, and the draft was never allowed to develop away from anything not pro-homeopathy for long enough that it ever could have been approved in a different form, so this is very much a theoretical objection, not a real one. (talk) 04:55, 11 January 2011 (UTC)


Can't raise CZ. Him (talk) 16:10, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

No problem for me. Redchuck.gif ГенгисRationalWiki GOLD member 18:58, 17 January 2011 (UTC)


I recognise that the main purpose of this article is satire, but I think it could be even more amusing if it stayed a bit closer to the facts. Larry left his position as leader of the project in September last year. His recent inactivity is proven by the fact that he is absent from your list of Citizendium/Active_users. Your satire, which mainly rests on asserting his incompentency, is therefore getting old. Citizendium is now lead by democratically elected councils. If you wish to satire anyone with credibility, you should satire us. Johan Förberg (talk) 16:02, 17 January 2011 (UTC)

There is some satire here and there but that is not the main purpose of the article, or at least that is not my interpretation of its purpose. While the article does need updating I think people have been waiting for the dust to settle during the transition to the post-Sanger era. Sanger started the project and dominated its first few years when the site culture was being developed, so it would not be appropriate to erase him from the article. Doctor Dark (talk) 16:50, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
Except almost every line of disaster at CZ can be traced back to Sanger's massive ego, and comparatively size incompetence. The pseudoscience, the community management, the financial and technical structure, all Sanger. Tmtoulouse (talk) 17:49, 17 January 2011 (UTC)
It's not really a satire when every statement is backed with fact. Sanger is an important part of Citiendium's history, and any article about Citizendium is going to need to talk about him, and his bad decisions which hurt the project, because the problems he started haven't been solved, they remain to the present day. For example, Citizendium is absolutely dependant on experts. But almost all the people interested left because Sanger repelled them, and it's now too late to do the press-driven recruitment drives Citizendium could do when it was just starting up. That does not bode well for Citizendium.Aconite (talk) 05:10, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Citizendium#Citizendium's greatest pseudoscientific hits[edit]

Most of these are out of date. Is Citizendium correcting itself, or has the advocacy simply moved to other articles? Aconite (talk) 09:04, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Never mind; I've gone through and checked the latest versions for all of them. While some are fixed, most remain terrible. Aconite (talk) 09:27, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Well done! larronsicut fur in nocte 11:36, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
I've taken the liberty of ddumping the ones that are now fixed, since I found some new ones that aren't. At all. We discuss homeopathy, which was notable as A. it's always been controversial B. its fixing was so unusual, C. it was an approved article, and D. Sanger praised it repeatedly, so I think that can stand in for the less-relevant historical examples. Aconite (talk) 14:41, 19 January 2011 (UTC)[edit]

Kind of sad that I can see an article like this, and my only reaction is "Eh, expected worse", followed by deciding it's just not on the level of badness of the other pseudoscientific hits. Hell, I'm giving a pass because, while it tries to claim that autism is caused by mercury, at least it doesn't mention vaccinations in any way. Aconite (talk) 13:43, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

Rearranging the deck chairs[edit]

Can someone check this section? I tried to bring it up to date with recent events, but it could use more eyes.

Also, I cut this paragraph, because we don't need a speculative paragraph anymore; we have evidence we can use instead. Still, there's some useful points that might be worth including, if we rewrote it. If someone wants to pull out the wheat from the chaff, it's here:

Even if these issues can be overcome, the charter gives no reason to think it would guide the project to a better future. The document[1] seems to violate every possible principle of parsimony and practicality, comprising a mind-numbing 55 Articles (with Article 24 promising "a minimum of bureaucracy"). It makes constitutional the real names policy, but fails to mention encyclopedias. It shows no evidence of awareness of the problems that killed participation and led to bad content, and has too many bureaucratic positions for such a small community.[2]

Aconite (talk) 19:46, 11 January 2011 (UTC) [A.k.a. the IP editor from here and Dana Ullman. Finally got an account.]

I don't really see the problem with what is quoted above, except that the grammar is clunky. Why did you cut it, again? For Becathly (talk) 12:20, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Why Wikipedia wins[edit]

If this section is so in flux, and if the warning about the gold article thing means anything, shouldn't we build the new section in the talk page or a sub-page? For Becathly (talk) 08:35, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

It should stabilise fairly quickly. If it doesn't, feel free to yank it and put it here until it does. That said, I don't think the warning is meant to prevent new material being added, and it's not like it's undergone any huge changes, just little copyedits. Aconite (talk) 08:46, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
In any case, given the article as a whole is currently undergoing a series of rewrites to bring it up-to-date with Sanger leaving, it's not like anything else in the article isn't under flux. =) Aconite (talk) 08:53, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
Well, the reason I mentioned this here was that there was a whole new section, IIRC, that was full of trivial errors. If the article is in great flux, it should be yanked from the cover-story thing. Surely gold brain articles should not contain spelling errors. For Becathly (talk) 12:17, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

The concept of expertise[edit]

In an edit note to the main page, Doctor Dark (Talk | contribs | block) wrote, "The concept of expertise on Citizendium: The main point is inconsistency. (A Ph.D. and a few pubs is not excessive for an academically-oriented project.))"

It is by no means universally agreed on CZ that expert views are necessarily academic. Our most active and respected Editor approver has pointed out he has a bachelor's, but over 50 years of practice, is the author of the standard multi-edition textbook in his subfield of chemical engineering, and has said he wouldn't want to live within a mile of a chemical plant designed by someone with a doctorate in CE but no operational experience. One useful distinction that's been suggested is there will be "academic experts" and "practitioner experts". Not all practitioner experts are going to be published -- think of lawyers with client confidentiality and expertise in staying out of the courtroom.

Another point, again not universally held, is that one's CZ writing, at some point, can be of a sufficient body to be a factor in judging expertise. All sorts of combinations are possible, and nontraditional learning certainly can't be ignored. In my opinion, and at least some others, if someone can produce evidence of peer-reviewed publishing in one area, it should not be immediately rejected that they can get to an expert level in another field of personal interest--he clearly knows what formal research requires. Remember the origin of the word "amateur" -- in the pure sense, it's one who loves the subject. I suspect many would consider Eric Hoffer (if he weren't dead) more of an authority on philosophy than is Dr. Sanger.

While he has indicated he doesn't want it, I would have no problem with Hayford Pierce being a perhaps specialized Literature Editor (e.g., science fiction and mysteries). I'd prefer him to some academic postmodernist Official Lit'ry Critics. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 22:33, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Ganfyd and Citzendium[edit]

Perhaps there should be a 'compare and contrast' between Ganfyd wiki (get a note from your doctor) and CZ - and the quality of the expertise shown therein. (talk) 16:03, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

I don't really like Garfield. --Idiot numbre 188 (talk) 16:06, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

I was talking about [4] and giving the acronym. (talk) 16:21, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

But there are no cartoons there. --Idiot numbre 188 (talk) 16:37, 19 January 2011 (UTC)
As an interesting (or not) aside, the Wikipedia article about Ganfyd is currently being considered for deletion. --Idiot numbre 188 (talk) 17:12, 19 January 2011 (UTC)

WP deleted the Wikinfo page (the site is respectable/useful) (talk) 16:48, 21 January 2011 (UTC)

WP's choice of keep/not keep is relevant - that Ganfyd requires contributors to be experts and/or knowledgeable in the given field and comparisons with CZ is the point. (Any other wiki of a similar nature could be used). (talk) 16:38, 28 January 2011 (UTC)

Sanger's community genius goes back a long way[edit]

You know how, in 2002, Spanish Wikipedia basically got up and left and forked to form Enciclopedia Libre? Yeah, it was Larry did that. - David Gerard (talk) 16:30, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

...I love how a third of Sanger's reply is basically still advocating for the advertising which drove an entire language off the project. Thank GOD Wikipedia ejected him. Maybe it's time to fork an article on Sanger? Aconite (talk) 16:59, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
Looking at resulting latest Larry/Jimbo spat it's further evidence that key events in terms of wikipedia's success is that both of it's founders lost control. Editors like The Cunctator may be annoying but they have their uses.Geni (talk) 02:30, 25 January 2011 (UTC)
Sanger publicly attacked Jimbo recently for claims he supported advertising on Wikipedia in the past. A post from Sanger's past will come back to haunt him. Sanger is quite happy to pocket advertising money when it suits him. FreeThought (talk) 01:43, 27 January 2011 (UTC)

Moving forwards[edit]

I think the article's now been pretty much updated to reflect the end of the Sanger era.

That said, it's clear that a lot's going on with the Editorial council. I'd suggest that, in a month or two, we'll need to add a section on them, but that it's probably premature to begin that now.

We'll also need to decide on whether/how we name council members. I'd suggest, presuming they go on as they are now, with petty bureaucracy, sniping at each other (primarily Hayford attacking Howard), and avoiding the important issues, that we might need to identify them, but wouldn't need to use their full names - first name would be ample.

Thoughts? Aconite (talk) 11:36, 20 January 2011 (UTC)

Well, CZ has a real names policy and the EC wiki is supposed to be transparent. In all fairness, more than one member of the EC has tried to introduce substantive matters, but these haven't always succeeded. While I have not done a formal count, my impression is that more "suggestion box" motions have been worked on than internal council. I honestly don't know if some of my proposals have not been picked up upon because they are bad proposals, or because my name is on them.
Certainly, I don't mind being named, even though I've been criticized for speaking here.
Hope this is reasonably balanced. Now, I'm off to be made radioactive and scanned. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 11:56, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I was the one who took out the mentions of Hayford and Howard by name. What's important in the context of the article is that they're Editorial Council members and not that they're Hayford Pierce and Howard Berkowitz (no offense intended to their self-esteem). Also we should try to respect their privacy because these aren't public figures who have actively sought press coverage -- contrast with e.g., Larry Sanger and Dana Ullman. Doctor Dark (talk) 14:35, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
I agree with the change for now, but looking towards the future, it's likely that documenting the Editorial Council is going to need to be one of the many focuses of this article, and it's going to get confusing if there's no way to distinguish between them. Basing this loosely on WIGO CZ, consider the following: "One member attempted to get another member thrown out, before a financial crisis finally brought them back to focusing on Citizendium's existence. The first member resigned, saying he couldn't get anything done, after which a third member, after stating that anyone who found the signup difficult was complete soon took the sniping of the second member back up, supported by a fourth member."
If we get into EC politics at all, we're going to have to identify them somehow, simply you can't write like that, especially not collaboratively. I also think that documenting the EC is something this article needs to do once they've been around a bit longer. May as well think about what to do now. Aconite (talk) 15:40, 20 January 2011 (UTC)
They use their real names. So should we. Cripes, how simple is that? No whitewashing necessary. These are their log-in names, how else are we supposed to refer to them? ħumanUser talk:Human 04:14, 11 February 2011 (UTC)


Don't use jpeg format for line art or similar images. Other than the rarely-used lossless implementation it always produces artifacts at sharp edges. A good rundown of appropriate file formats is here. ObScience: this is because of the loss of short-wavelength information in jpeg quantization step, so that results are bad at sharp edges where the wavelength in theory approaches zero. Doctor Dark (talk) 20:50, 29 January 2011 (UTC)

Did you grab it to post here on the article? ħumanUser talk:Human 04:12, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Gold brain/cover story[edit]

I think this article should not carry the gold brain logo, and should be removed from the random cover story stack while it is being edited avidly to address current news. Recent edits tend to require copious copyediting, etc. Change to silver? Dirty White Boy (talk) 02:57, 31 January 2011 (UTC)

What's up with this? Nobody cares? ħumanUser talk:Human 04:12, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Global warming[edit]

This article says

The global warming article still gives half its space to advocacy for denialism.

This didn't seem right to me, so I performed a word count. Sections 1-7 of the CZ article on global warming contain 4856 words. Section 8 (on skepticism) contains 1747 words. Moreover, section 8.3 contains a definition of climate sensitivity that is straight from the IPCC report and has nothing to do with skepticism.

Further, section 8 reminds readers of the following facts

  1. Although all national science academies that have issued statements on the matter accept the IPCC's conclusion that future man-made climate change is likely
  2. In June 2009 a book defending the skeptical view was published by the Heartland Institute,[57] an institute that takes a partisan position against what they call "myths of global warming"
  3. A 2010 assessment of the IPCC report by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency found no significant errors

Finally, reference 55 given in section 8 is to an official statement issued by American Physical Society that is strongly contested by skeptical physicists (there were even members of the APS who left the APS because of this statement).

Although I'm not a skepticist with regard to global warming (on the contrary, I believe that right now mankind is stupidly and irresponsibly wasting its fossil resources), I nevertheless believe that it is proper that CZ signals the existence of the opinion of the denialists. --P. Wormer (talk) 10:07, 7 February 2011 (UTC)

I get a somewhat different word count but you're right, it's well under half. Comparing it to the Wikipedia article it looks like most of the first part (the science part) was taken from Wikipedia, maybe an earlier version of the WP article and the denialism is CZ's "expert" contribution. I've revised the entry accordingly. Doctor Dark (talk) 20:21, 9 February 2011 (UTC)

History and updating[edit]

I appreciate the effort to keep this updated and relevant but seems a shame to loose huge chunks of history in the proccess. Tmtoulouse (talk) 02:16, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Yeah, it can be tough to strike a balance between conciseness and completeness. If I've deleted material you think should remain please go ahead and add it back, or roll the whole thing back to an earlier version -- I've got no self-esteem invested in this. Doctor Dark (talk) 02:54, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Screw concise, keep it complete. Just use past tense and dates where necessary. We have no mandate to be "concise". ħumanUser talk:Human 04:11, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Dan Schneider interviews the epistemologist Larry Sanger[edit]

Link. Rational Wiki is not mentioned. Bulgarian politics is. :) --ZooGuard (talk) 09:41, 10 February 2011 (UTC)

It looks like a second photo of Sanger exists. Burndall (talk) 09:53, 10 February 2011 (UTC)
Beware: Dan Schneider interviews are seriously tl;dr. Schneider is a pompous, self-aggrandising jerk of the highest order. I read it on the train yesterday and wanted to slam broken glass right up my bum to reduce the pain. —Tom Morris (talk) 01:19, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
Thanks, always interesting to get confirmation from someone knowledgeable about the issues in question. I found the style of the interview quite offputting but thought "it's not my field, maybe they do things differently." Doctor Dark (talk) 02:57, 11 February 2011 (UTC)
There were a few bits I skipped over, but Larry's answers are all pretty reasonable on philosophy. Nothing particularly controversial really. Which is a shame. Whatever people's take is on Wikipedia and Citizendium, Larry is an interesting guy. On the philosophy front, Schneider managed to cover a wide range of stuff, but was so interested in getting validation for whatever his theory of the week was that he didn't actually ask what Larry's actual epistemological research was about and what his conclusions were (at least not in any detail that would satisfy anyone who has studied philosophy).
As for the interview? It's occasionally amusing, but mostly bloody infuriating to read. Schneider will ask some question he pulled straight from his ass, then Larry tries to give a reasonable response. Then Schneider goes off into la-la land (do a search for "UFO", for instance) and Larry is left tries desperately to answer this strange man's questions. Eventually Larry gets kinda bored with the barmy questions Schneider keeps asking and starts calling him out. Schneider seriously thinks of himself as being a hot shit interviewer, up there with the Charlie Roses of the world when his interview mostly seems to consist of him whining about people removing links to his groundbreaking interviews from Wikipedia, and then bukkake-ing guests with bullshit theories and wondering why they don't take his theories as gospel. His previous interview with Dan Dennett was a total pile of shit, and in the interview with Sanger he seems to blame Dennett's bemusement at his crap interview style with a lack of intellectual curiosity.
The thing is 40,000 words long according to Larry's tweet. And a huge chunk of it is Schneider being a pompous douchebag, as I've just pointed out. —Tom Morris (talk) 07:27, 11 February 2011 (UTC)


A couple of quotes from Larry:

Y’know Dan, I have to make an observation. These questions are not really about what I believe, asking me to reveal what I’m thinking about, regarding topics that are of concern to me; many of them are more about what you believe, and getting my reaction to what you believe. So if my answers are made dull by my saying, “I don’t really know about that,” that would be why: because you’re getting my feedback on your own thoughts, and it seems you frequently think about stuff I don’t know anything about, or haven’t thought much about.
I really don’t have anything more to say about myself—I shudder to think how many words I’ve written. This has been the weirdest interview I’ve ever had. It’s not really so much a systematic exploration of what I believe as a systematic exploration of my reactions to various often idiosyncratic puzzles that you have come up with. Of course, it’s been pretty revelatory of myself, but also of you. To that extent, it has been like a conversation—but not really a conversation because that requires that there be the possibility of a back-and-forth. I’m very concerned that the whole thing might have been nothing more than an exercise in vanity. And a pointless exercise, as I’m sure nobody but you or I would have read this whole thing. Oh well.

That's basically all you need to know about the interview. Thomas Larsen (talk) 14:50, 11 February 2011 (UTC)

Kangaroo court or real justice?[edit]

Howard's getting his credentials investigated. Ooooh! 21:25, 12 February 2011 (UTC) SusanG Toast

This has been coming for a while. On a related note I've thought about adding a section to the article entitled "Piloting the B-Ark" where we discuss CZ's excessive bureaucracy. Would the title be too much of an in-joke? Doctor Dark (talk) 21:34, 12 February 2011 (UTC)
Telephone sanitizers? Surely not! 21:39, 12 February 2011 (UTC) SusanG Toast
How dare you compare the Citizendium Editorial Council to telephone sanitizers? That's a gross insult to telephone sanitizers! (talk) 11:55, 13 February 2011 (UTC)

Question to which the answer is 42 applies.

Nothing unusual in excessive bureaucracy. I think it was Professor Parkinson who pointed out that the Royal Navy had more admirals than ships. Peter Jackson 16:49, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
They still haven't decided on whether the old Healing Arts editors still have editorships, but they have time for petty infighting. (talk) 17:42, 25 February 2011 (UTC)
Somebody said all the HA editors were also Health Sciences editors anyway. Peter Jackson 18:15, 3 March 2011 (UTC)

Neverthless, CZ articles are not academic articles[edit]

[1]img You don't say! 15:16, 13 March 2011 (UTC)SusanG Toast

Excerpted for the article: see note 63 in the current version, in the header of the "concept of expertise" section. Doctor Dark (talk) 17:18, 13 March 2011 (UTC)


When did this get removed from the cover rotation and why? - David Gerard (talk) 17:41, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Apparently unilaterally about a month ago? I see no reason why it shouldn't be put back. Tmtoulouse (talk) 17:58, 13 March 2011 (UTC)
Restored - David Gerard (talk) 18:35, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

Worker bees[edit]

CZ not only lacks experts, but also worker bees. Take a straightforward topic as the Nobel Prize; anybody can write about it and an encyclopedia should definitely cover it. The Nobel Prize article of CZ is copied straight from WP (weren't there endless discussions forbidding this?). The list of Medicine winners ends at 2007; the list of Physics winners end at 2009. Chemistry and Literature nobelists are absent and the list of Peace winners is up to date but brief (reasons for winning are not given). --P. Wormer (talk) 18:21, 13 March 2011 (UTC)

And the "Content is from Wikipedia?" box appears never to have been ticked. If Citizendium were to remove every wikipedia derived article from the compendium you would have a project that would struggle past a hundred decent quality articles. Revan (talk) 01:38, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Trolling CZ[edit]

This would be a wonderful challenge. I mean, think of all the material just sitting there! Dictatorial governance, petty squabbling, pretensions of excellence, delusional fantasies about their glorious future, absurdly large debts built up because of... insanely incompetant management.

CZ is such a farce. I really should get stuck in there, could do a lot of damage. MarcusCicero (talk) 19:03, 23 March 2011 (UTC)

Don't do that. While they've got lots of problems they also have a good share of decent, well-meaning people, from the Managing Editor on down. It isn't Conservapedia. Doctor Dark (talk) 08:06, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
What kind of powers do you think I have? I'm not a sorceror. MarcusCicero (talk) 09:09, 24 March 2011 (UTC)
Actually I personally wouldn't object to you doing it, so long as you are not nasty or malicious about it. Your trolling of here was certainly annoying but it did show up that we have (had?) issues with dealing with people who did not have our best interests at heart. --DamoHi 08:17, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
Better do it quick. The money runs out in September. —Tom Morris (talk) 00:35, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

Once a Citizen, always a Citizen[edit]

When I registered with CZ in 2007 I wrote a positive user page (little did I know). After my second or third collision with the "Editor-in-Chief" I shortened my user page considerably. This went unnoticed until I decided to leave this nagging, bickering get-together of pompous quarrelmongers and changed my user page announcing my departure. The CZ Gestapo, usually too lazy to update anything (see my message above), reacted promptly, reverted my page to the 2007 version, and for good measure blocked it. This was because "readers of CZ articles are entitled to know the credentials of their author" (as if a Wiki author can be held responsible for later mutilations of his/her work).

Recently I noticed the endless discussion about a Citizen's right to change the discussion page associated with his/her user page, and when I read that the user page itself is under complete control of the user, and noticed that the block on my user page was lifted, I decided to change my user page to:

From August 2007 until May 2010 Paul Wormer was active as chemistry/physics editor. Info about his expertise can be found here.

The CZ police, not accepting such a user page, acted firmly and decisively. It promptly reverted my user page to its 2007 version.

It feels is as if one is trying to escape a religious sect: once we posses your soul we do not let go of it. --P. Wormer (talk) 17:38, 5 April 2011 (UTC)

Paul, while I do regret your departure, I think I understand the reasons -- I've sometimes felt that way. If I can try to help, please let me know. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 17:44, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Howard, what could you do? You're close to being an outlaw there. --P. Wormer (talk) 19:36, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
Oh, I know, Paul...but I haven't stopped trying. (Admittedly, some just consider me very trying.) It was unclear if you've asked for something specific and it was denied.
There are ironies--I now know to be careful in voting against something, since my "no" vote unintentionally provided the quorum to let something, supported only by 3 EC members, pass. Still, I personally dislike quitting, unless I find a real alternative to do what I've been wanting to do. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 21:29, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
What I want is clear: According to article 8 of the charter, which specifies that a user is the editor of his/her user page, I want to be able to state on my user page that I escaped the lunatic asylum left the project without getting into an edit war with H. Peirce, M. Innis, M. Edwards, or any other of the inmates highly esteemed former colleagues. --P. Wormer (talk) 23:03, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
It's an interesting point that if CZ favours knowledge or IRL credentials that they should be made clear and public. But presumably the previous versions of your user page are/were still available - so this information is never really properly hidden. Also, it's your right (as a user) for your page to reflect you current views, opinions and credentials, not info that's 3 years old. So while I understand the position of CZ in doing that, it's more than a little off and seems to ignore the entire point of using a wiki (where previous versions are available!). Scarlet A.pngtheist 23:14, 5 April 2011 (UTC)
I can think of two reasons offhand why Dr. Wormer's page was reverted. First, his deletion left his User page bio as being less than 50 words. Second, and more important, he was a prominent Editor here for a number of years. Editorial Council resolution basically says that Editors must be prepared to have their credentials and qualifications made public and to remain public. Dr. Wormer's credentials, therefore, were no longer maintained in a CZ space. Which is why the Constabulary, correctly in my opinion, reverted his deletion. Hayford Peirce (talk) 02:45, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

See also talk page discussion. Pashley (talk) 03:20, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

"First, his deletion left his User page bio as being less than 50 words." *snicker* Wasn't Citizendium supposed to be less bureaucratic and process-obsessed than Wikipedia?--ZooGuard (talk) 07:06, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
And let's not forget Editorial Council Resolution EC:PR-2010-24, possibly to be amended as Process Enactment EC:PR-2004-24[MOD]-AM:0001///2:B:J-34Q/001:1011LOL!1!!-0406AA(1).
Originally CZ was meant to be less bureaucratic that Wikipedia but it has always been process-heavy, going back to early in the Sanger days. For example this was Sanger's idea of how to discuss content disagreements. For an insider view see Tom Morris's blog post, cited in our article on CZ. Doctor Dark (talk) 07:25, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
It was pretty much a rhetorical question. :) And I like the way that link switches to green in mid-text.--ZooGuard (talk) 08:06, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Nothing stops you from updating your page to be 'current'. Nothing stops you from stating that you have left the project. However, even though you are an Editor of your user page, you must still follow the rules. The MC approved this version of the user page guidelines. You must have a biography that provides "basic information about themselves, their interests and educational background — preferably a few hundred words, and not fewer than 50." I link is not a biography, and your page did not fulfil the rules. Therefore the Constabulary was forced to act as that page states "The requirement for biographies on authors' user pages will be enforced by Citizendium's constabulary."

If you wish to leave the project then I refer you to the guidelines on 2011-008: "Citizens who wish to leave Citizendium may email to formally resign from the project. The Constabulary will block that user's account from editing, place a notice at the top of their user page stating "This user has resigned from Citizendium" and protect their user page. From that point the user will no longer be considered a Citizen and therefore no longer be subject to rules applying to Citizens nor have the rights conferred to Citizens." --Chris Key (talk) 09:12, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

"and protect their user page" - in what state? Looking at the order of events in your little law, it looks like you would lock it in the 2007 version since only after locking the page and blocking the user will he not be bound by your rules anymore. --Sid (talk) 09:55, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
All this might be understandable if he left a content-free rant on his user page, but instead he gave a concise statement of the time when he was active and a link to his CV. What could possibly be more useful for determining his expertise than his CV? He fulfilled the need to give his qualifications but not in the required 50 words. This smacks of blind rules-mongering at best, and "we'll show you who's boss" at worst. Doctor Dark (talk) 10:09, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
It would be protected in the state it was in when the resignation is processed. If the user page is incompatible with the rules, then it may be reverted to a prior state before processing the resignation.
He did not fulfil the requirement to give his qualifications - he instead provided a link to them. The contents of that link could change at any time, or completely vanish. Therefore we need qualifications to be explained on the user page itself. You must remember that he was an Editor who approved articles. The entire concept of approval relies on an article being approved by a verified expert and his qualifications being shown. --Chris Key (talk) 11:38, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
My impression -- please correct me, Paul -- is that keeping the biography is linked to his being able to put his reasons for leaving on the page. These could be considered inflammatory, although I note that there certainly were statements, of varying intensity, by other Citizens. Personally, I would favor leniency in censoring such "deathbed statements", which need to be known by the community. There is a difference between showing respect, and deleting things that show frustration and anger. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 14:48, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
An interesting Forum thread has been spun. It seems that if one adds a comma to an article that later is approved, one is bound to CZ forever. (Remember, in a Wiki, nobody is the sole author of any article.)
I learned that I have to write a formal resignation. This is very much like the famous small print in contracts: it is written in large print how to register, where is the guideline for unregistering? It is so well hidden that I couldn't find it.
Fortunately, the CZ bureacrats gave the rope to hang themselves: they forgot to establish anything else about the bio than that it must have 50 words. The interesting question now is: if I mention 50 meaningless (but true) facts, will the CZ police change it? We will see.
--P. Wormer (talk) 16:11, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Your wrong Paul. The page I linked to earlier about user pages, which is a policy approved by the Management Council, and the EC regulation linked to from that page about Editor biographies, give quite specific guidance on what constitutes a biography. They certainly say much more than just "write 50 words". --Chris Key (talk) 18:35, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Gee, a place that would practically own and display my biography forever, even if I later changed my mind and wanted it removed. You are aware that in a way, that's worse than Facebook, right? --Sid (talk) 19:41, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
At the very least restrict this requirement to Editors only, not Authors. Editor at CPmały książe 20:31, 6 April 2011 (UTC)
It is restricted to Editors only, as long as they have acted as an Editor. All too many Editorships were given out early, to people who apparently wanted it for a CV but made zero contributions. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 01:36, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Editors have more restrictions, but every "Citizen's" user page has (too many for me) requirements, as per Chris Key's link above. Editor at CPmały książe 21:34, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
Aw! It's really sweet to see RW helping out CZ by offering a neutral forum for you guys to work out what it is you actually want to say, but can you click the big yellow "Donate" button while doing it? –SuspectedReplicant retire me 01:45, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
SR said most of the nice/funny things I was thinking while reading/skimming this. I added the nasty one below. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:08, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Does the button accept Constables? :-) Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 01:50, 7 April 2011 (UTC)
The Constable has recently been devalued. You would need an awful lot of them. –SuspectedReplicant retire me 01:54, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

What assholes. Especially you, Hayford. When does the money run out, again? ħumanUser talk:Human 07:07, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

  1. CZ:Charter (revision of 23 September 2010)
  2. What if we cannot fill all of the positions? (forum thread)