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Why CZ failed to take off[edit]

The idea was, essentially, a startup. And I just read a Paul Graham article which contains a line summing up Larry's early "big plans set in stone" attitude:

If you want a recipe for a startup that's going to die, here it is: a couple of founders who have some great idea they know everyone is going to love, and that's what they're going to build, no matter what.

Knowino needs to look at this and see what they can do. Is there room in the encyclopedia game? I sure hope so. How do you beat Wikipedia? Work like a startup. Wikipedia now changes at dinosaur pace. If room to zip around it exists, something small enough to be nimble can find it.

Oh, you have to be prepared to throw away everything you thought was a good idea if it turns out not to work. This is why CZ is profoundly unlikely to manage the same trick - David Gerard (talk) 18:19, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

The trajectory of CZ was interesting: solid growth through early 2008, then it just sort of rolled over into decline. I'm not so sure that the failure to thrive can be put down to policies and other such things that we mention in our article. People leave for lots of different reasons, often quite mundane reasons rather than a big blowup or philosophical disagreement. I would bet that the most common reason is that people simply got bored and faded away, since the site didn't grow enough for there to be much interaction with those having similar interests.

It's probably possible to model these things as dynamical systems with positive feedbacks (e.g., content attracting readers who become authors and create content) and damping terms (e.g., natural attrition). Yeah, I'm a hopeless nerd... Doctor Dark (talk) 20:13, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

I think the "tripping point" was when Larry Sanger approved the role of constables, giving them sweeping powers to police real names policy, screen and ban users. If you look at the edits graph supplied by LArron, there is a sudden drop in contributions directly after this event in late February 2007, just after when editing was spiking and the site was looking good for explosive growth. This was the first big stumble and the site hasn't been able to recapture that growth. Revan (talk) 08:12, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
It is not possible to isolate a single-variable explanation. Various things happened more or less simultaneously -- e.g. the cancellation of automatic self-registration, the previous spike in interest in CZ was not sustained in the media, various internal disputes about what CZ was about, and who was in control... etc etc. (talk) 18:08, 8 April 2011 (UTC)
True, but the Paul Graham quote above comes closer to explaining CZ's woes than any other one-sentence summary I have seen. Of course, it is likely the place would not exist at all without Larry's single-mindedness and it would not be worthwhile without some principles, but some flexibility is desperately needed as well. Pashley (talk) 02:44, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
That's true, but Sanger through creating the idea behind Citizendium was also largely responsible for its failure. The bottom line is the project was created out of spite for Wikipedia. Everything about it was anti-wikipedia without offering a viable or creative difference to make it stand out and grow. Real names was marketed as a plus for the project but as the internet has shown most people would rather post freely anonymously or under a pseudonym. And who wants to jump through hoops and submit CVs for an editing job that doesnt pay? Sanger totally misread the internet public. Revan (talk) 04:56, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Note that he started totally misreading the Wikipedia editor base and left in a huff when he couldn't kick out those who didn't fit his image of an editor. So he decided to go find a better public - David Gerard (talk) 10:57, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
I'm not sure "huff" is necessarily the right term. While he had long made suggestions he would turn power over to a democratic governance process, it was more a matter that he stopped participating. The Charter process, by and large, was organized without any involvement on his part. Nevertheless, he reappeared when it was close to launch? Could we have done better with a better "charter of the charter committee"? I don't know; I'll only say that the startup lacked some procedural things that didn't help it.
Incidentally, I came to CZ in May 2008, and I saw it then as presenting some reasonable alternatives, still being developed, to what were problems at WP. I didn't see it as much as an anti-WP as an attempt to try alternatives. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 13:23, 10 April 2011 (UTC)
Howard, I believe David is referring to Sanger leaving Wikipedia in a huff.or in a minute and a huff He left CZ fairly gracefully and on the 2-3 year time frame he had committed to, though his failure to warn the CZ community of their financial crisis did not reflect well on him. Doctor Dark (talk) 13:40, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

(undent) Thank you, Doctor, for the clarification. I'd have to say, though, that the leaving CZ was more an abandonment, and under increasing pressure. There had been many requests to form a transition planning function, and he did not actively assist. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 14:48, 10 April 2011 (UTC)

Compare that to this dump. Trent is actively involved in trying to get us to run it ourselves. ħumanUser talk:Human 04:01, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

"byzantine governance"[edit]

what does that mean?--Brxbrx (talk) 02:54, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

See here, sense 5 (some would say 6 applies as well). Doctor Dark (talk) 03:22, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
"Rational Wiki: Expanding the vocabulary of ED members since 2011."--ZooGuard (talk) 06:44, 11 April 2011 (UTC)
Lol! ħumanUser talk:Human 03:28, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Tides, and general history[edit]

I only skimmed, but the history should be covered, then remarked that things have changed, rather than removing the info. Hope the edit I barely skimmed did that. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:44, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

I'll go back to an old version and compare. Anything you were particularly interested in? Although I edit this article probably more than anyone, I don't feel like it's "mine." So please go ahead if you want to add anything, or undo any of my changes. Doctor Dark (talk) 03:09, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Aw, thanks. I just didn't want you to "remove" stuff rather than past tense it, if at all possible. I appreciate your response. It's tricky to do this work when the subject keeps changing. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:25, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Sure. I'll keep this in mind going forward. Doctor Dark (talk) 16:36, 30 May 2011 (UTC)

Lemma articles[edit]

Let me comment on the original intended use of lemma articles. Assuming they are properly used, pure word count isn't the only way in which they should be evaluated. Remember that CZ uses Related Articles subpages, not WP-style "see also". Lemmas were intended for two main purposes: establishing structure into which further articles could go, and, making linkable definitions. I will note that at the time they were introduced by Chris Day and myself, it was much more awkward to create metadata for a cluster. Chris Keys' introduction of a form for metadata made it much easier to create a true stub when that was the goal. Before I was banned (an uncertain status, in fairness), I mixed stub and lemmas more than I once did.

The term lemma was chosen because, in mathematics, lemmas are auxiliary proofs used to create major proofs. The intended purpose of lemmas was to help in the creation of articles, even though they themselves might be no more definition. Unquestionably, some lemmas will eventually become full articles.

One path to them is to start with an existing, substantial article, which has inadequate linkage on the Related Articles subpage. A knowledgeable person can go through that page and brain-dump concepts that may or may not exist as articles. Those concepts go into what we call R-templates. On that first pass, things not defined at all will show up as red article names with gray definition fields, things in lemmas or redirects as black article names, and full clusters as blue article names. The next step, creating lemmas, is to fill in just definitions for red links, and, once the lemma is created, to fill in a linked Related Articles page for the lemma.

I can give examples, and also note that the lemma won't be fully useful -- or might be replaced -- if the Wikimedia software is supplemented with a data base into which, for example, the basic biographies of everyone in a legislature or organizational board can be dumped, wikilinking every recognized terms. By repeated use of the "what links here" on a lemma, one can often extend its Related Articles until there is meat for article creation. For example, I've started by putting in the lists of board members for policy influencers in politics, and, with this method, discovered their social networks. Knowing their social networks can make the created article much richer. Eventually, this might be done with a semantic database. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 12:59, 24 May 2011 (UTC)

Wow, and we wonder why CZ is a dead end. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:27, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
Belated reply to Howard. R-templates, metadata for clusters... er, whatever. I can't be bothered to figure all that jazz out, and our readers wouldn't care about such minutiae. So I've reworded the point about decreasing article length to avoid mentioning lemma articles. Doctor Dark (talk) 19:52, 5 June 2011 (UTC)
The good Doctor is being very fair. I wouldn't have brought this up, except that some of the work was being deprecated due to article length alone. Human, this is an authoring tool some people find very useful, and is not required. Simply because you have not taken the admittedly substantial time to learn how it works doesn't mean it isn't useful. I have to learn some things about the MediaWiki API to do some things I want to do, which is not really something I'd prefer to several days of continuous sexual ecstasy. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 21:41, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

The experts' choice: Wikipedia[edit]

It turns out that if you're the encyclopedia that everyone actually reads, the experts will go to some effort to get their field properly documented. This is a solution to the expert problem I wasn't actually expecting, but it does seem to dissolve the question elegantly: the mountain has in fact come to Wikipedia - David Gerard (talk) 22:26, 28 May 2011 (UTC)

Some of us have been there all along. In my "big" class I reach about 300 students per semester. If I edit the main Wikipedia article in my field, I know that about 500,000 people will read it in any given month. Doctor Dark (talk) 23:38, 28 May 2011 (UTC)
When I was an undergraduate, one of my lecturers actually gave the class a print out of a Wikipedia article but with any mention of it being from Wikipedia left out. —Tom Morris (talk) 09:28, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
It's been the case for several years, but academia in general is finally getting with the programme, after sections of it have very noticeably taken over maintenance of their areas (computer technologists, mathematicians, physicists, chemists). Psychologists coming along is excellent news, as it's a much softer topic - David Gerard (talk) 15:50, 29 May 2011 (UTC)
David, I stopped contributing to WP, in network engineering, for two reasons. First, it was necessary, about every two weeks, to correct an error propagated from one of the more widely used textbooks. Secondly, I was told, by several people, that I was misinterpreting a peer-reviewed article (an IETF RFC) of which I was the primary author. Are there now mechanisms that would avoid this sort of thing? Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 21:46, 6 June 2011 (UTC)
Nope. Wikipedia still can't keep idiots out of experts' faces. Hell, Wikipedia can't keep idiots out of anyone's faces. The interesting thing I'm noting is that roving gangs of experts are showing up there anyway. So obviously you need a university-affiliated posse, preferably working in WMF-blogged liaison with WMF, that usually keeps the howler monkeys below 100dB - David Gerard (talk) 22:17, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Authorship of the "Biology" article[edit]

From "this article was largely written by Nancy Sculerati who aimed it very much at the level of secondary schoolchildren, and that's the level others who joined in tried to follow. So it tried to avoid jargon - so the critique finds putting inverted commas around "fitted" strange - in fact that's exactly the right thing to do, the word is not being used in its natural language sense and the inverted commas flag exactly that. There's always the danger in introducing errors when an article is simlified to that level, but I thought it did a pretty good job of avoiding those, and I don't think there aren't any errors in it that I can see. Of course things can sometimes be read in ways that make them seem wrong, as the critic has done. But those are rather easy and cheap shots. It's also the case and always was that an article like this always excludes some things that I think are important, emphasises some things that I think are trivial etc etc - there's always a voice to an article. In this case the voice of the original article (the present approved version is an evolved version of that) was mainly Nancy's and most people thought it was an outstanding example of clear, fluent, highly accessible science writing."

And I indeed suspect that there is something wrong with , since Sanger's first edit dates back to 2 november 2005, before Citizendium was even announced, and then there are no edits for 2006. My opinion is that Sanger posted text (on 2 november 2006, not 2005) which had been written by someone else (probably mainly by Dr. Sculerati ) maybe in an embryonic version of the wiki, whose edit history hasn't been ported. Is anybody in touch with some biology editor to adjudicate this matter?

You will surely think that I am being annoyingly nitpicky, but since "Biology" was their first approved article, I am afraid we owe at least this degree of accuracy to future historians of Citizendium, who I am sure will be legion. --Analytikone (talk) 11:29, 8 June 2011 (UTC)

I found confirmation of my above hypothesis at,331.msg2707.html#msg2707 . So, Larry Sanger didn't write the article, he just enthused over it:

"The first article approved according to this process is the "Biology" article:

The nomination was by Nancy Sculerati, with Gareth Leng and David Tribe concurring. My understanding is that Dr. Sculerati did much of the writing, and it is really an excellent article, a wonderful replacement for the relatively unreadable and pedantic Wikipedia article. As I told the contributors on the talk page:

"This is an amazingly well-written article. It does not attempt to introduce every aspect of biology equally, but by being selective--focusing on the definition and scope of biology, and then surveying its main areas via its history--it does provide exactly what is wanted from an encyclopedia article about biology, namely, a general introduction that conveys a rough general understanding. A survey of the main areas--alphabetically, say--would convey more information about those areas, but would very probably not do nearly as good a job at introducing biology as a whole. So, thanks, folks, for helping prove the viability of the general premise behind CZ."" --Analytikone (talk) 15:48, 11 June 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for the sleuthing and comments. I think you're right, and Sanger's remarks pretty much settle it. Regarding the article history I've seen other articles that had messed-up edit histories from near the project's start. You also bring up in passing that there was originally a server called "" which I had also noticed in digging around. Maybe things got fouled up when those articles were ported over to their production servers. Who knows. Anyway I'll correct the text in our article (you could do it too, you know). Doctor Dark (talk) 04:07, 12 June 2011 (UTC)

Monday morning quarterback[edit]

I've had my go-rounds with Citizendium and the effects of "expert gentle guidance," which I am not a great fan of, but those who constantly criticize and complain should also try to help. Go join Citizendium and work to make changes rather than being the "Monday Morning Quarterback" about it. In others words put your words into action by helping. I can't guarantee the outcome but at least you can then write you tried. Of course it's always easier to be the "Monday Morning Quarterback."LittleRedWriter (talk) 05:06, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

those who constantly criticize and complain should also try to help. Why? ThunderkatzHo! 05:10, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Because it's always easier to quarterback i.e. comment than it is to help. I am sure Citizendium could use all the expert assistance that RW has to offer.LittleRedWriter (talk) 05:37, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Why would anyone (anywhere, not only at RW) want to rescue a crowd of authoritarian, bureaucracy mad, narcissistic so-called experts from the results of their own incompetence? They have digged their own grave and dig further with every day. The graphs provided by LArron show how the project has failed. Re-admitting Sanger is the ultimate upcock. Pippa (talk) 05:50, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
You must be right, LittleRedWriter. I never tried to help. Paul Wormer never tried to help. I could go on. Now, I do remember your frequent lectures on how everyone should change, and your objections to any criticism of certain of your statements and sources. Certainly, you constantly challenged anything I said, and then claimed you were being bullied. You claimed I was the first to ask to have you banned, but it was actually Milt, who mentioned that you created the first situations, in two years, where he actually made Editor Rulings you were wrong. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 16:07, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Hi Howard, good to see you're alive. I was afraid one of your cats ate you.--P. Wormer (talk) 16:28, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
They wouldn't do that, I don't think. Rhonda has a distinct sequence when she hears me awaken: headbump, get petted, lick my nose, and THEN demand food.
Things won't be firm for about a week more, but I may become the research director for a U.S. political organization, not one of the parties but dedicated to improving the system. If that happens, we will have an internal wiki for objective material that backs up public positions. A good deal of my politicomilitary work at CZ is good background. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 18:44, 13 August 2011 (UTC)
Given that I reject the principles of Citizendium that make it differ from wikipedia there is little reason for me to get involved. Seeing exactly how it is failing is however of some interest. In part in terms of things wikipedia would be best avoiding.Geni (talk) 00:26, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

The genesis of the glorious "Healing Arts" workgroup[edit]

[1] (As it seems, Dr. Sculerati is the main author of the "Biology" article) — Unsigned, by: Analytikone / talk / contribs

" Acupuncture is an art, for example. There is skill and theory behind it, but it is not based on science. That doesn't mean it doesn't work." Ha! Pippa (talk) 01:02, 17 August 2011 (UTC)
She's actually correct. The fact that it's not a science doesn't mean it doesn't work. It's the fact that it doesn't work that means it doesn't work. Doctor Dark (talk) 01:35, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

Discounting some uncanny coincidence, it seems that the following thread at Citizendium forums took the cue from this topic: [2] Two other healing-artistry-related threads: [3] and [4]

Larry Sanger (who seems to miss the point raised by Tom Morris in the same thread (a similar point was made by myself in the previous thread))[5] : "Hand-wringing to the effect "Somebody has made an article that advocates a nut theory that no real Wonkologist takes seriously" elicits "So what?" from me. We want good articles about astrology, tea leaf reading, Scientology, spiritual healing, and various other sorts of (to me) dodgy stuff. The mere fact that somebody writes an article about a subject, or raises an issue that most people disagree with, means absolutely nothing to me. And, in saying this, I believe I am saying something that everybody here, at least, can agree with--because in order to join CZ, you had to agree to support our Statement of Fundamental Policies, which includes the Neutrality Policy."

Allow me to quote myself [6]:

"Would a well-known "psychic surgeon" qualify as a healing arts editor?

And what about an astrology workgroup among "Natural disciplines"?

I chose psychic surgery ( ) because it is clearly an example of bad faith quackery. I think (or at least I hope) that most Citizendium editors would be against admitting a "psychic surgeon" among their ranks, but since the healing arts workgroup "is open to editors who are expert in non-scientific means of therapy" (quote from ) I think that a criterion should be worked out to sort out the "acceptable" non-scientific "arts" (if there should be any) from the "unacceptable" in a principled way.

Besides, since experts of non-scientific disciplines are admitted as editors in the health field, a more general criterion should be devised to justify the fact that , say, professional astrologers and pseudoscientists of other fields (experts of disciplines regarded as pseudoscientific by most scientists and philosophers of science) wouldn't qualify as editors (if this is the policy to be adopted by Citizendium, as I hope)." --Analytikone (talk) 09:51, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

By the way, I have to add that the point 2) of my proposal in that thread was meant as a compromise ("Expertise of a "healing art" might entitle a CZ user to editorship if this "art" is shown to be more efficacious than the placebo by some scientific study, even if most health scientists wouldn't subscribe to the explanation of its efficacy provided by its practitioners."), but my view is that, even granting for the sake of argument that some non-scientific therapy is more efficacious than the placebo, only someone capable of assessing the clinical trials about it, that is, a medical scientist (who might be at the same time a practitioner of that therapy) should be allowed to become an editor (in Citizendium's sense) of the articles concerning that therapy, and that there shouldn't be health-related workgroups other than the "health sciences" one.

The statement that once we admit homeopathists as editors of Citizendium we should admit even astrologers should be taken as a reductio ad absurdum of the healing arts workgroups. Besides, the fact that astrologists, numerologists, etc. (recognized by their peers as experts) aren't currently admitted as editors at Citizendium and don't have their parallel workgroups shows that Citizendium already doesn't observe complete neutrality in its choice of editors; and indeed, I think that it shouldn't be otherwise (hence my proposal at [7] : "A conventional but objective criterion could be the following: the discipline in which a prospective editor claims expertise should be among the subjects taught (by teachers who endorse it) at at least some university among the top 10 (or some other figure) of, say, the THES or Jiao Tong university rankings." ). --Analytikone (talk) 10:50, 17 August 2011 (UTC)

You're out of date. The workgroup was abolished last year: [8]. Peter Jackson 17:07, 1 September 2011 (UTC)


There is 'a rule' that any country with the word 'democratic' in its long name is not. (Microstates and micronations are probably included) Does the same apply to wikis and other websites with similar propensities? (talk) 16:51, 30 August 2011 (UTC)

Has Citizendium abandoned "expert approval"?[edit]

Last month the Editorial Council passed a motion that revised the approval process.[9] A close reading of the revised process shows that there's no requirement for an Editor (subject matter expert) to be involved. Synopsis:

  • "Any Citizen in good standing may propose an article for Approval."
  • "Any Editor or Approval Manager may start the Approval process for an article." (emphasis added)
  • "Any article nominated for Approval shall be thoroughly evaluated during its Review period. To this end, any Editor, and any Author who has made significant contributions to the article, may add a brief referee's (or author's, respectively) report..." (emphasis added)
  • "After a review period of at least one week, an Approval Manager shall decide"

I can't see any requirement that an Editor (presumed subject matter expert) be involved. In the stated procedure an ordinary member can nominate an article; the Approvals Manager can start the process; various ordinary members could make recommendations; and then the Approvals Manager could make the decision to approve. (There's no requirement for the Approval Manager to be a subject matter expert; given that it's a project-wide position, that would be infeasible anyway.) This procedure is totally different from the one given at CZ:Approval Process, where only Editors can nominate articles for approval. One assumes the latter has not yet been updated to reflect the new process. One also wonders whether they will stop using the "expert approved" byline with the new procedure in place. Doctor Dark (talk) 20:44, 13 August 2011 (UTC)

I think the idea is that the approval manager (peace be upon him!) uses his discretion and they are hoping that in practice the approval manager won't approve things unless there is either an expert saying "aye" on the talk page or presumably the Editorial Council giving them the go ahead. But given how everything else is run as a bureaucracy, it is strange that the unique selling point of Citizendium ("we get experts to check!") is so hands-off and 'ignore all rules'. It's almost like someone in the MC/EC has realised that it's a wiki and adding more rules doesn't make for a better wiki when the number of active contributors actually writing content can be more than adequately counted on one's fingers. —Tom Morris (talk) 10:04, 15 August 2011 (UTC)
Part of the problem came with the steady cutting away of the authority of Editors before the final round of Approval. I was the most visible, but hardly the only, target of this. This is one reason I consider Mary Ash the beginning of what I personally regarded as the end, as she would respond with attacks and manipulation to any Editor attempt to guide her, or would give rather slimy thanks after she had been nailed. For example, she wrote an article about air pollution at one area in California.
Milt Beychok is not, by the rules, qualified to be an Editor, since he only has a bachelor's degree. He has contributed much content, one way to judge him, and is the author of a multi-edition standard text. Gently at first, he raised points about it, getting "I can't check with the relevant government agency because I am no longer a journalist", until he requested and received extensive documentation from the agencies. At that point, she stopped contributing to the article. Milt was the first to call for her banning for refusing to accept Editor guidance, which Matt rejected because we weren't being nice enough to poor victimized Mary. He and I, at the time, were the Engineering Editors, whom she rejected as having qualifications to judge her assertions in the UFO article. Poor me; I had pointed out that radar simply does not work the way her press release source claimed it does.
It's rather ironic that in stripping my Editor credentials, each motion was careful to say that the accuracy of my articles in those subjects could not be questioned. Can you have it both ways? If there has been no claim of substantive accuracy in sometimes thousands of articles, can this be consistent? Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 22:48, 30 August 2011 (UTC)
You fail to mention that Milton Beychok did not even know about Owens Lake lack of attainment nor did he extend the professional courtesy of letting me know in advance that he had updated information. Instead, dear Milt let me add the updated the information to the article before attempting to embarrass me by quickly adding his new information. You also forgot to mention that I told Milt he was free to contact his contemporaries but I did not feel comfortable doing so. As a volunteer I am not required to call or email the EPA, CARB or anyone else. Them's the facts that you forgot to mention. LittleRedWriter (talk) 01:19, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
I fail to mention your innumerable lectures, on the Forums, that everyone should be utterly nice to everyone else, and save sloppy researchers from embarrassment. That started with your very first article, UFO, when you insisted on having your draft complete, and having control over the scope of the article, before you would consent to collaborative editing.
What professional courtesy? I thought you were a volunteer? Now, I might get email notices about errors, but only with people with whom I had established a reputation for accuracy. I give no courtesy to people who spend more words in Forum whining and talk page tirades than in creating useful content.
I fail to mention your innumerable whines about your being a volunteer, or what you didn't feel comfortable doing, as an excuse for bad articles. As opposed to you, I expect intellectual rigor, and suggest that if you aren't comfortable with a topic, don't start. I make no distinction between what I take on professionally and as a volunteer, other than than I don't consider taking on, as a volunteer, tasks to which I can't do justice.
No, those aren't facts I forgot to mention. They are the rationalizations I chose not to mention, because I feel in need of a shower whenever I review them.
I say to you, Madam, what Goetz von Berlichengen said to the Bishop of Bamberg. Go do your highly skilled journalistic research, honed at the Obscure Desert Shopping Center. Anytime you want to match experience, do tell me about your books from major academic publishers, or your peer-reviewed professional articles. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 03:47, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Gee! Howard I didn't know it was a criminal offense to wish people could be a bit nicer to each other. After all we are all volunteers supposedly working in a friendly environment (collegial I think is how Citizenium's welcome phrased it) so I've done nothing wrong. No matter as I am now a non-Citizen. I left after some Citizendium members wanted to include Wiki Leaks classified information in CZ articles.

As to my academic qualifications: I was an Author, not Editor, so I was not required to offer any peer reviewed articles. And unlike you I at least I earned my BA and was a paid journalist.

Now Howard I would sincerely like to work with you, not against you, as us conservatives should stick together. LittleRedWriter (talk) 04:25, 31 August 2011 (UTC)

Zeroth, you can't get the markup language straight here, either. {{unindent}}, indeed. First, I do not call myself a conservative. Second, even if I did, I would sooner stick together with a culture of Treponema pallidum. (For the record, I prefer T. pallidum to Mycobacteria tuberculosis. It's easier to cure and you usually have more fun getting it.)
As far as your BA, and your citations of your hubby, as demonstrated intellectual capability. I freeze, shatter into a million jangling shards, which fall into the churning sea. Faced with the hot breath of your self-righteousness, my body boils, and the vapors drift away on in the gentle breezes. I am overwhelmed by swarms of biting insects and reduced to pieces to small for Howardburger.
It amazes me that you suggest we work together. Let me be explicit. I despise you, LittleRedWriter. I call down the ancient curse of OS/360 upon you: may you have 1000 major releases, may each release have 1000 minor releases, may each release have 1000 hex patches, and may your patches grow scar tissue. I call down my best Yinglish curse, "may whenever in your life that you suffer injustice, may you always be in the right."
From NANOG, "you have no clue. You couldn't get a clue if you stripped naked, smeared yourself with clue musk, and hurled yourself into a herd full of horny clues during clue mating season." To borrow from Winston Churchill, "If the devil should start banishing LittleRedWriters, I should find it within myself to say, to the House of Commons, something pleasant about Satan." From the found of wisdom, "I don't want to talk to you no more, you empty headed animal food trough wiper. I fart in your general direction. Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries." Le mot cambronne. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 08:44, 31 August 2011 (UTC)
Oh here we go. Mary Ash, not satisfied with wasting Citizendiums time by resigning every day for a week until they called her a jingoist bitch and showed her the door, now does the same at RationalWiki. Didn't you resign already? Yet like the proverbial bad smell here you are. Haven't you worked out yet that wherever you go you will be the village idiot? M.B.E (talk) 23:28, 7 September 2011 (UTC)

Gold (again)[edit]

  1. It's already been on the front page
  2. The mass of editing to it seems to have died down
  3. Cz is pretty moribund.

Any comments? Tytalk 23:27, 18 October 2011 (UTC)

+1 - David Gerard (talk) 08:30, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Agree.--ADtalkModerator 08:39, 19 October 2011 (UTC)
Anyone else? Tytalk 16:04, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
I'm in the "while there's life, there's hope" camp. Obviously CZ has some problems; it has never even come close to achieving it goals and recent trends are not encouraging. On the other hand, the goals remain worthy, there are some good people there and even Larry is proposing "radical ideas" to get it out of the doldrums, so perhaps it can be salvaged. Pashley (talk) 00:36, 26 October 2011 (UTC)
In this case, where theres life there is a founder with a guilty conscience promising to keep the ship afloat so long as there is life. That isn't hope, it is desperation.
Larry did indeed propose some radical ideas - like dropping the ridiculously top-heavy management structure for a looser, more informal style. His ideas were soon shot down though, by the management themselves. They worked damn hard to get Citizendium to where it is today, they said. And then they said if anyone else had any bright ideas to try them out personally and not bother the management with them any more, as things are clearly on the up.
If even Larry can see just how fucking delusional that is then there is something seriously wrong over there, but like as not he will continue to fund the place rather than risk the embarrassment of seeing it close, so Citizendium is unlikely ever to simply disappear.
The other spectacular display of denial by the combined Councils is their attempt to say that Citizendium died because of Howard and Martin bickering, and they even put a date on it. Trouble is that date coincides with their election. Citizendium, for a very long time, was thrilled with the notion that everything would get better when the Charter got passed and the Councils elected. Instead the Councils have done precisely fuck all to further Citizendium as a going concern, and have confined themselves to regulating each other. Now that the regulating period is done they are still doing fuck all except for deleting articles. The handful of Council types who even show up on a weekly basis have never once passed a motion designed to draw in a single contributor. Their regulation done, the Councils have settled into nothingness. The bit where it says they are responsible to coordinate and supervise the Editors, encourage and supervise development and organization of the Citizendium's content, establish and maintain public awareness of the Citizendium and invite and establish collaboration with external partners on any matters relevant to the Citizendium's mission has been forgotten.
They have done fuck all of that, which is what they were elected to do, and every bit of Citizendiums current failure is down to their unwillingness to do so. That, their lack of attendance and their general belligerence is what has killed Citizendium. Everyone expected change and what they got was intransigence, secrecy, and nothing of substance. They have only themselves to blame, all the more so now that almost every "contributor" is on one or other of the Councils.
If the volunteers who are supposed to write their project for them look at the management, who can't be bothered turning up, who don't do anything to promote or further the site at all, why on earth would they do any volunteering? And if they hadn't heard of the place because it isn't being promoted, how would they even know? And if they realize that there isn't anyone organizing the workgroups or doing anything much like what was expected of "Editors" then why would they stay at all? Its a joke, but unless Larry pulls the plug on them it is a joke they just won't get, and Citizendium will stay exactly where it is. M.B.E (talk) 23:02, 7 November 2011 (UTC)

So... Тytalk 16:13, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Readded due to overwhelming lack of dissent - David Gerard (talk) 16:27, 14 November 2011 (UTC)
WAIT WAIT I PROTEST!!!!!!!! (ok, i really don't, cause it seems good enough to me, but someone had to say "no". Just on principal). Pink mowse.pngGodotI smell roasted chestnuts. droollllllll. 16:33, 14 November 2011 (UTC)

Citizendium charter doesn't define a quorum?[edit]

Am I the only one who noticed that the citizendium charter doesn't define what constitutes a quorum? In at least one case it even seems to contradict itself, Article 51 requires that the editor-in-chief lose his position every time the charter is ratified(odd), but Article 54 does not require election of a new editor in chief, and Article 55 seems to require that the editor in chief remain in office. Aside from the contradiction, this makes it impossible to ratify a new charter until an editor-in-chief is selected. Maybe they meant to eliminate the position, but just created a paradox? --Wackyvorlon (talk) 06:12, 17 March 2012 (UTC)

Articles around #50 were intended only for the transition from Larry. Howard C. Berkowitz (talk) 02:36, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Don't they need to state that in the charter itself, though? There's nothing to indicate that those articles are no longer in force. --Wackyvorlon (talk) 12:13, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Does it matter? There's nothing going on over there. Doctor Dark (talk) 00:49, 23 March 2012 (UTC)

Cold fusion[edit]

Great example of wiki quality, or non-quality. The citizendium article on cold fusion

  • Was only a draft article. Any registered editor could edit it.
  • Jed Rothwell did write the original article. He's a writer and translator, highly familiar with the field, he's funded some of the research. He hardly ever gets it wrong. Abrasive and opinionated.
  • Cold fusion was accused of being pseudoscience on Wikipedia, that was always rejected. It isn't pseudoscience, it's either fringe science (the consensus position on wikipedia) or emerging science -- which is the position in the scientific journals. And, no, I'm not talking about specialized journals like the Journal of Condensed Matter Nuclear Science. I'm talking about a whole series of mainstream journals, such as Naturwissenschaften, European Physical Journal - Applied Physics, the journals that cover electrochemistry, about 16 reviews of the field in the last eight years, plus continuing experimental and theoretical reports, and support by the largest scientific society in the world, the American Chemical Society. The idea that cold fusion is pseudoscience is generally promoted by physicists who don't want to undertake messy experiments, they understandably prefer the clean, simple, stripped environment of plasma physics, the realm of hot fusion. Cold fusion has been well-covered in the academic press as a turf war between chemists and physicists.
  • Rothwell was never banned on Wikipedia. That he was banned is a position taken by the crowd that sat on the Wikipedia article for years, ejecting everyone who knowledgeably disagreed with them. Rothwell never used sock puppets. He did edit IP, but always signed his edits. In fact, his web site,, was blacklisted by JzG, and that's how I got involved with cold fusion, I saw a comment about the blacklisting and thought it was weird. I looked at JzG's edits in the field and he was very clearly involved, with a strong, fixed, and admittedly ignorant point of view. He was depending on his shallow understanding of the opinion of a friend, years before. One of the arguments (and the only argument possibly relevant to blacklisting) was that Jed signed his edits as "Jed Rothwell, librarian," That was claimed to be "spamming." Even though it wasn't a link! But another admin could look at the diffs and not notice the lacking http tag. JzG was trout-slapped by ArbComm for his actions, at my request, but Wikipedia almost never undoes mistakes. I was topic-banned on cold fusion the second time by "the community" at the request of JzG, and the reason given for the banning was my request at meta for the de-listing of JzG opposed it and some arguments were given. In answering the bogus arguments, I presented evidence of what had happened, and the Wikipedia administrator who closed the topic ban discussion looked at that and said "wall of text." Topic banned. On Wikipedia, for writing on *meta*. If you know Wikipedia, you know how unusual that was. The delisting request was granted. The meta administrators read the arguments.
  • Basically, the Citizendium article on cold fusion is presently substantially better than what's on Wikipedia and here. It's still got a lot of errors. The article as edited by Rothwell. The current version.
  • The current version represents a decline in quality. For example, the Rothwell version notes, correctly, that the U.S. DoE reports both recommended further research, with limited funding, and that this recommendation was not implemented. The current version has removed that. It's easily verifiable, and relevant, except it does not fit with the "pseudoscience" meme.
  • Rothwell made a number of conclusions in the article that have been removed. They have since been published under peer review; they also exist in many independent sources. Citizendium was designed for expert review and articles could make original claims, if the reviewing experts allow them, so these were not improper on Citizendium in a draft. (Claims and conclusions should always be attributed. Rothwell did source them, but was not an "encyclopedic" writer. Still, the article was close.) --Abd (talk) 13:34, 10 August 2012 (UTC)


A profile on Sanger and his personal views would be interesting. It seems he falls for the balance fallacy pretty hard.--"Shut up, Brx." 06:24, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

capture tags[edit]

Might be a good idea to put all links to Citizendium into <capture> tags: It looks like Citizendium may go belly-up this year. (talk) 11:20, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Go for it. Might want to add "#20121226" (or whatever the date is) to each URL so Capturebot can distinguish it from any other captures of the same page - David Gerard (talk) 11:59, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

When was Citizendium clearly moribund?[edit]

It was really obviously a goner well before the Charter in late 2010. We've kept the dates updated, but this obscures the important information that it's been hanging by a thread for years. When was it really clear from the numbers? (And is there a concise way to phrase this in the article?) - David Gerard (talk) 12:01, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

Around April 2010. Citizendium has always gone through cycles each year when editing and editor numbers go up and down but around that date, the project hit rock bottom and has been scraping along the bottom numbers since. TorontoKid (talk) 12:25, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
You mean, around the time this article started getting serious revision? ZOMG IT'S OUR FAULT! - David Gerard (talk) 13:43, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

New section[edit]


I suspect someone will come up with a better name for it, but the point is rather important: Wikipedia can pick and choose between what it has and what Citizendium has (and is doing so), whereas Citizendium cannot copy over Wikipedia articles. This means that all the best of Citizendium is already on Wikipedia. (not me, broken code made this)

Actually, they eventually rescinded the rule against copying WP articles. Pashley (talk) 16:36, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

I like it[edit]

This is a great article. It's snarky without being priggish, interesting without being pedantic, and all-around a good example of a RW article. Very fun to read!--ADtalkModerator 12:37, 25 March 2013 (UTC)

It's also very informative. — (talk to) [æn əˈmɛɹɪkən ˈnaiːɪlɪst] 00:41, 18 June 2013 (UTC)

CZ void of vandals?[edit]

See this accusation. --P. Wormer (talk) 06:55, 31 August 2013 (UTC)

Howard Berkowitz is the biggest vandal. In amongst numerous spelling errors, such as for the Philippines and others, we have the gem of Billy the Kid born William Bonham. TorontoKid (talk) 07:45, 31 August 2013 (UTC)
The vandalism is gone and, what surprises me, without a trace in the history of the article. I didn't know history could be erased--P. Wormer (talk) 17:03, 1 September 2013 (UTC)

Fuck the iceberg...[edit]

...get those deckchairs sorted. Scream!! (talk) 01:26, 6 September 2013 (UTC)

Rewriting that paragraph near the end...[edit]

The original in need of rewriting is:

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]

Here's my best attempt at it. Feel free to rewrite it.

Even if these issues can be overcome, the charter itself is deeply flawed, to the point it may actually hinder Citizendium's progress. The document[3] seems to violate every possible principle of parsimony and practicality, comprising 55 Articles (with Article 24 promising "a minimum of bureaucracy"). It makes constitutional the real names policy, but fails to mention Citizendium's objective as an encyclopedia. It shows absolutely no awareness of the problems that killed participation in the first place, and has too many bureaucratic positions for such a small community.[4]

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

— Unsigned, by: Raysenn / talk / contribs

1. Welcome. Glad to have you aboard!
2. This is a wiki, and not so much even a "serious" wiki like Wikipedia. Go ahead and change whatever you like.
3. Please sign your post with four of those tilde thingys, so we can keep track of who we're talking with.
Any questions, just ask. Or don't ask, and forge ahead. Doctor Dark (talk) 20:08, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Go for it - David Gerard (talk) 20:33, 29 September 2013 (UTC)
Going for it, then. --Ray's Super Fun Hellhole! g͘͡r̸̀a̸̶̡n̶̶͜ţ̡ ̀҉̴̨͡m̀͘͜͢e͡ ̸͟҉̷̢ỳ̸̡̀͞ơ̡̢̡ų̧r̴̀͡͝ ̡҉҉̧̛s̵̕͏̡ǫ̀́͢ų́l̵̕҉ 18:12, 30 September 2013 (UTC)

Recruiting experts[edit]

Why would expert write for free for Wikipedia? It does not give them any credits or help in their career. I do not think that experts would want to write about their field of expertise as a hobby. I mean, this is obvious, why can we state this in the article? Andries (talk) 22:07, 31 December 2013 (UTC)

I can't tell if you're serious, but most of the experts in my field very much enjoy writing about their field of expertise as a hobby. - GrantC (talk) 22:13, 31 December 2013 (UTC)
I was serious and I requested once and expert to contribute to Citizendium. To no avail. I believe it differs very much per person, but my overall impression is that scholars and scientists are not very motivated to contribute to Wikipedia or Citizendium in their field of expertise.
People who write here on this talk page are of course heavily self-selected to write. :)
Andries (talk) 16:47, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
Well I imagine it's certainly true that most scholars and scientists are not motivated to contribute to either. Citizendium is certainly not well known, and a brief perusal of Google is enough to showcase problems with it. As for Wikipedia, many scientists focus outreach elsewhere, and quite a few are (surprisingly) not very tech-savvy. Where Wikipedia also has difficulties is in the scope of its articles. Most areas of advanced scientific research are far too specific to be notable on Wikipedia, and most researchers are going to be interested in their own field of research beyond much else. What I disagreed with in your first statement is the idea that most "experts would [not] want to write about their field of expertise as a hobby". - GrantC (talk) 17:04, 6 January 2014 (UTC)
When I was active on Wikipedia there were lots of scientists and other academics, despite the Wikipedia community being somewhat unfriendly toward academics. A lot of us believe that it's part of our responsibility to make sure that accurate information gets out there. It's true that "most" scholars and scientists will not contribute to Wikipedia but the same could be said of most students, most artists, most businesspeople, etc. Doctor Dark (talk) 00:53, 7 January 2014 (UTC)


This is not me nominating it for cover. It's seeing if anyone else is interested in doing so. I pushed the last two through, someone else should do this one. Anyone? - David Gerard (talk) 14:45, 29 August 2010 (UTC)

I'd be all for it (not that that will carry much weight) MarcusCicero (talk) 15:28, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
Definitely. It is very detailed and even manages to connect to the RW mission. Tetronian you're clueless 15:31, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I'd support it because it exposes what is wrong with this wikipedia wannabe, in a detailed and on-mission way. --Onion Hi! :) 15:35, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
So one of you can do the nomination ;-p - David Gerard (talk) 16:02, 29 August 2010 (UTC)
I am removing any objections I may have had, due to having the missiony parts of it explained to me. Should the first step be to write a really good precis for the cover subpage? ħumanUser talk:Human 20:42, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
Precisly. Doctor Dark (talk) 22:00, 30 August 2010 (UTC)
That intro is arse to synopsise. Here's a first hack. It's too long. Feel free to edit - David Gerard (talk) 13:38, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
Why is it too long? Doesn't well on main page? ħumanUser talk:Human 02:55, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
[10] (tip for future coverifications: look at the code) -- Nx / talk 16:22, 1 September 2010 (UTC)

Cover synopsis (feel free to edit)[edit]

Citizendium's logo as of July 2010.

Citizendium is a pretender to the throne of Wikipedia as a free internet-based encyclopedia project, founded by Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger. Citizendium intended to boost its reliability by having articles vetted by experts and requiring real names for contributions. Articles are divided into "workgroups", including one on "healing arts", Citizendium's term for alternative medicine. Alternative medicine practitioners ended up managing these articles largely on their own terms, removing criticism and cherry picking references. This led to the first sign of serious problems, when a ludicrous puff piece on homeopathy was featured on the main page. The project has been plagued with pseudoscience. Many of the original academic experts have also left, driven away by the site's administrators. Despite lofty ambitions and a hugely publicized launch, participation has declined to about 20 regulars and only 80 people editing in any month. Citizendium is a cautionary tale of top-down management of volunteer projects and the dangers of credentialism.

I copyedited a bit, and the result of my work stupends me. I approve the golding ;) Thanks for the rough draft, Dave. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:54, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Did more to try to shorten. ħumanUser talk:Human 02:58, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
I was working to a 1000 rendered characters limit (which I think is a good idea). I've just changed Sanger's description in the intro to something that doesn't need a footnote (as the article has). I've also finally put {{cover}} at the top of this page, since it's being assumed ;-) Human, feel free to edit the five or six or whatever pages it takes to coverfy this - David Gerard (talk) 13:20, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Done. The only thing I couldn't remember where it is is that file that shows all the synopsis texts in one place. Need to add that to the instructions when I find it again. ħumanUser talk:Human 23:11, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
Apparently the version that is actually rotated for the cover is here. I've edited it to harmonize with the version above. If I screwed up you know what to do. Doctor Dark (talk) 06:14, 2 September 2010 (UTC)

Undoing this[edit]

This article gets edited so much it's never a really stable "gold" article IMO. Silver, sure, but not cover-worthy. Example reason: "He also told participants who expressed a preference for scientific evidence other parts of the "whole dialectical landscape" that they were "not welcome" at Citizendium". Sure, I could try to fix it, but if people keep editing it in a way that needs constant repair and attention, it ain't "gold". It may be precious, but it's not 24k. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:06, 20 April 2011 (UTC)