Archive:Why I contribute to CZ

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Here is a collection of personal explanations of why we contribute to the Citizendium (CZ).

Please place testimonials in alphabetical order. Don't worry about repeating what others say; write what you think.


Milton Beychok

I joined Wikipedia because I wanted to give back some of my experience and knowledge of Chemical Engineering. I left Wikipedia to join Citizendium primarily because of the rampant vandalism by children and others on Wikipedia, and because I grew tired of the revisions of my contributions by people who thought they were knowledgeable of a subject when they were patently not knowledgeable and who refused to be reasonable in their discussions. It reached the point where almost all of my time was being spent on reverting vandalism and with trying to maintain the integrity of what I had written. It became abundantly clear to me me that most of the people in Wikipedia had absolutely no respect for experience and for expertise. At that point, I left Wikipedia and joined Citizendium.

Nick Gardner

A long-retired economic adviser, I stumbled upon Citizendium, started tinkering with one of its articles, and became absorbed with the task of conveying the meaning of a maze of mathematics and charts to intelligent people who were familiar with neither. Finding myself in largely unoccupied territory, I then rambled around, starting an article here and there and waiting expectantly for expressions of dissent or agreement from the dozen or two people listed as economics authors. Getting no response from them or anyone else, I think I would have given up had it not been for some words of interest and encouragement from Martin Baldwin-Edwards. (By this time I had already come to believe –for reasons that I shall explain - that I had been writing stuff that people who read it would find interesting and useful.) Martin had proposed a prioritised programme of work to fill in the gaps in CZs coverage of economics, and I set myself to work on that programme. I then found that there had been many advances in economics since I had last tried to keep abreast of it , and I started getting a lot of satisfaction from a fresh learning experience. I still am. But all of this is perhaps too personal to me to be of interest to others, so I shall turn to my reason for believing in the value of citizendium.

Like many another working economist, I had become aware of the view among intelligent and well-educated “laymen” that economists were incapable of agreeing upon anything, had lost contact with reality, and were given to delusions of superior understanding of questions that were really only a matter of commonsense. I had also become aware that, although there was more than a grain of truth in that view of the practice of economics, much of the commonsense DIY economics of those intelligent laymen was sadly mistaken – with sometimes damaging consequences to them and others. So there – I thought – was a task worth undertaking: to find, understand and explain those developments of economic theory that were firmly connected to reality by good empirical evidence, as well as explaining some of the apparently promising ideas that had not yet attained that status. I was convinced that it had to be done without using the charts and higher mathematics which are the tools of the academic economist’s trade (and which the academics are prone to display to impress their readers), and without burdening the reader with a lot of inessential intellectual history, so I adopted the practice of consigning all of that stuff to subpages (where it might help economics students to impress their tutors). In that way I hoped to avoid some of the manifest shortcomings of the Wikipedia treatment of economics.

So I value Citizendium for letting me do those things, but mainly because I see others taking the same approach to other subjects – often to very impressive effect. It is a matter of great regret to me that I have not been able to provoke lively discussions with fellow-economists, and I still yearn for the development of a collegiate process of generating articles - but maybe that will come in time.

Sandy Harris

I wandered in more-or-less accidentally. I've been fairly heavily involved in the travel guide wiki Wikitravel for some time and sometimes contribute to Sensei's Library [1] the Wiki about the game of Go, and on Wikigogy [2], the Wiki for English language teachers.

As for WP, I read it moderately often, usually either because a web search turned up a WP page or someone cited one in email. I almost never go there directly to look for something, and almost never contribute there, though I've had an account for some years. Part of that is because I'm in China and the Great Firewall often blocks WP. Part of it is that I just never feel inspired there. On Wikitravel I feel I understand the policies and know where I can contribute something unique. On WP, I've never felt that.

I heard about CZ somewhere, perhaps Slashdot?, and some of the ideas seemed interesting. I wandered over to have a look, saw things I could fix and gaps that needed filling, so here I am. I'm not certain I understand all the policies or all the mechanisms (like Related pages) yet, but I am getting things done and the discussions, if sometimes heated, are usually both civil and productive and fairly often interesting.

By the way, there is a WT page Cooperating with Citizendium. Sandy Harris 08:37, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Dmitrii Kouznetsov

I contribute because it is way to establish the definitions of the terms we are use. All the deductions and pics may be considered as justifications of the definitions. Unfortunately, right now I see the serious problem with images: even the formulas do not load. I hope it is temporally. Dmitrii Kouznetsov 07:17, 8 January 2009 (UTC)

Gareth Leng

I contribute to Citizendium mainly because, as a public funded scientist, I consider it important that I do my bit to contribute to the public understanding of science. But it's a two-way thing, while I try to get across the way that scientists think, engaging in collaborative writing like this helps me think more clearly and express myself more clearly. It's also an opportunity to pursue "hobby" subjects in a focussed way - since I started on Citizendium, I've found developing articles on Edinburgh a lot of fun -learning things I'm glad I've learnt. It's a good community - it's good to work with people who want to do this, rather than people who have to do this.Gareth Leng 09:14, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Daniel Mietchen

Being a scientist, I use Citizendium mainly to keep track of the literature and other interesting links relevant to my research, and I appreciate doing so in concert with other people with overlapping interests who use their real names and identifiy their areas of expertise. Though I do not see Citizendium as an online encyclopedia yet (due to lack of coverage), I think it is well-structured to become one, and thus it has the potential to provide what most other social bookmarking tools lack: context. More details on my view of Citizendium's place in the world of scholarly communcation can be found in an essay I recently wrote. --Daniel Mietchen 13:46, 2 January 2009 (UTC)


One of the things I like about Citizendium is learning the identities and backgrounds of the people with whom I’m collaborating during the course of developing an article. Because all of our authors have registered with their real names, and have provided a short biography of themselves, I never have the feeling that I’m working with strangers wearing masks, hiding their identities for reasons unknown. They are real people. Soon you get to know them as colleagues with their particular talents and passions.

I find it difficult to imagine how I could develop a sense of community, of common goals, with a group of anonymous entities. Yes, ‘entities’, machines, say, ghosts of some kind.

Collaborative writing inevitably takes on a social aspect, warming the project, a little family, usually happy, and if not, always uniquely so. What a lonely cyberworld it would otherwise be.

Another thing I like about writing or editing for Citizendium is the availability of ‘subpages’, complementary pages attached to the Main Article. The subpages give you the opportunity to extend the content of the Main Article without unduly interrupting the narrative flow of the article.


A ‘Bibliography’ subpage lets you extend the references to the in-text citations of the Main Article with a list of annotated further reading items—books, articles, etc. Your annotation of a book, say, could take form of a mini book report, or a discussion of how the book relates to the issues discussed in the Main Article.

A ‘Related Articles’ subpage lets you list, and link to, articles in Citizendium that relate to the topic of the Main Article. It integrates the topics of the encyclopedia that widen the scope of the Main Article.

An ‘External Links’ subpage lets you list and link to Webpages related to the topic. You can arrange them by category, and annotate.

A ‘Talk’ subpage is a page for authors and Editors to discuss the contents and composition of the Main Article and its other subpages, including questions, suggestions, and critiques.

Those four subpage types are generated by default when the Main Article is inaugurated and are reached for viewing and editing by clicking on tabs in a horizontal menu bar just under the title of the Main Article.

It should not be difficult to appreciate how those default subpages extend the Main Article’s value without disrupting it narrative flow or rendering it unduly long. But Citizendium does not stop there. It offers the author a wide variety of optional subpage types to employ for special purposes related to the topic of the Main Article.

Guess what the optional subpage ‘Filmography’ would add to the topic of an appropriate Main Article. Or a ‘Timelines’ subpage, or ‘Videos’, or ‘Tutorials’, or ‘Addendum’, or ‘Advanced’.

So, as an author or collaborative group of authors, your Main Article takes the form of what Citizendium calls a “cluster”. The cluster renders the topic multidimensional, and gives the reader a multidimensional learning experience.


Mary Ash

I contribute as I've always supported competition. While Citizendium maybe be the little guy at least it has a heart and soul. I've met some really nice, professional people who have dedicated their volunteer time to share reviewed information. I contribute as I do like to research and write and Citizendium gives me that opportunity. Mary Ash 01:21, 15 March 2011 (UTC)

Eric Clevinger

I began some off and on contributing to Wikipedia in 2005, and was initially enthusiastic about the project and it's potential. Soon WP was a household name and an excellent portal for information and assisting with research. The way the project has been managed since then is horrible. I have, on many occasions, seen articles, and legitimate contributions to them, be removed by "admins" in the name of "notability". Seriously, what is notability? How do you define notability in a universal way that every single user will accept? What one person sees at "notable" may not be seen the same way by another person. I have also seen instances where groups of users "squat" articles to make them reflect their specific biases. For a perfect example of the problems with WP, see this story on, which outlines a battle that was fought over a particular article in the area of video games, and the illogical, self-serving administrative policies that were used by WP's so-called "admins" when deciding to delete the article. Growing ever more frustrated with WP, I stumbled upon Citizendium in 2007, and I am proud to call CZ my online wiki home. People on this project treat each other with respect, and the administrative personnel have a clear understanding of what an online encyclopaedia should be. I can contribute to articles here, and not have to worry about someone deleting them in the name of "notability", as CZ has much more relaxed, realistic rules. I can also propose suggestions to articles and policies without being attacked. We have a good, well-rounded community here that is easy to collaborate with. One of the best CZ policies is that we are encouraged to write "lively prose, not encyclopediaese". I look forward to continued contribution to Citizendium and helping the project grow any way I can. Someday, I think CZ will be one of two things: a household name like Wikipedia, or one of the internet's best kept secrets.

In all fairness, I still think WP is a great resource for searching and finding information (when the article you are looking at hasn't been gutted by the overlords), but I will spare myself the frustration of ever trying to contribute there again. I know many would laugh at me for working on a project that seems so small when compared to WP in terms of content. However, in some ways I think CZ is already better than WP in content. Citizendium currently has 155 articles that are expert-approved, and encyclopedia quality, Wikipedia has ZERO. Eric Clevinger 21:37, 14 March 2011 (UTC)

UPDATE: Sad to see this project never gained more momentum, but it seems to be hanging on by a thread. At least for those who haven't forgotten about it. --Eric Clevinger (talk) 21:11, 29 February 2016 (UTC)

Peter Jackson

I contribute to make information available, particularly on points where people are often misinformed, and particularly on Buddhism. I left Wikipedia because it has no effective procedure for enforcing its neutrality policy. I'm new here so it remains to be seen whether this is better. Peter Jackson 09:44, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Larry Sanger

I started the Citizendium partly in order to give the world a better alternative to Wikipedia, but to put it positively, because I saw an enormous and unexploited opportunity to bring everyone together to create a truly high-quality free reference resource. (For more in this vein, see CZ:Why Citizendium?)

But why do I continue to lead and contribute to CZ? I believe in this project. We are approaching 10,000 articles, which I believe will be a psychologically important milestone. Our articles tend to be substantial, well-written, and, when not actually authoritative, well on their way to being so. We have a robust community of self-starting intellectuals, independent thinkers who are "early adopters." I am especially proud of the fact that, with a few exceptions aside, we are able to work together as colleagues, and this in spite of the fact that no one invited us specifically; we personally chose to learn about the website and then participate. It is a testiment to what is possible, that we can work together, experts and the general public working shoulder-to-shoulder, as well as we do. But CZ is what it is not because I or anyone planned it, but because of the very laudable individual initiative of over a thousand contributors, and hundreds of regular contributors. It fills me with pride to think that we have shown the world that Web 2.0 with "gentle expert guidance," with "village elders wandering the bazaar," can actually be made to work, visionless naysayers aside.

CZ is continuing to grow steadily, and I still maintain that there will come a time, in the perhaps not-too-distant future, when we will reach a tipping point, and we will be flooded with a lot of new people who will make us grow much faster indeed. But the project even in its present state is worthwhile. Our articles tend to begin life at a high level of quality, and for the most part they steadily improve. We are approaching a point where we will actually be useful as a general information resource, and difficult for our detractors to ignore. Because we are strongly collaborative and are seriously committed to neutrality, we do have an excellent chance of becoming, after some more years (it is hard to say how long), the most reliable general information resource online, period--outshining Wikipedia, of course, but also Britannica and others as well. --Larry Sanger 18:14, 3 November 2008 (UTC)

Domergue Sumien

I contribute to Citizendium:

  • because quality prevails.
  • because reliable information prevails.
  • because users are friendly and polite: you always work better in a peaceful atmosphere.--Domergue Sumien 15:00, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

Ro Thorpe

When I was a teacher, students were welcome to question my statements, but I didn’t expect them to do so often. Of course I may be lying [citation needed]. Ro Thorpe 00:48, 18 November 2008 (UTC)

Joshua Zambrano

I used to contribute to Wikipedia. I learned the rules, and was enthusiastic about the ideals it sought, of being NPOV, following the sources, etc. The problem was, I found out there was a lot of systemic abuse, and it was perpetuated by admins. While I appreciate Jimmy Wales' efforts to stop a cabal,[3][4] he has unfortunately been unsuccessful.

There is a group of users who remove controversy from pages like the Barack Obama, Global Warming, and Planned Parenthood pages, even when it's been there for years, as soon as the pages are newsworthy. They use a group of editors who, despite being outnumbered 3 or 4 to 1 (the actual ratios), will claim consensus supports them. They will revert those who try to stop the vandalism of removing the controversies, then play musical chairs by having each other revert, so they force other users to violate the 3RR rule to have them banned. This is just one of the tactics. They force their critics into being banned one after another. Scjessey at Wikipedia is just one of their members who has for years suffered slaps on the wrist for these actions, facing topic bans time and again, only to get them commuted for good behavior, and then participate in the activity all over again.

I got myself in trouble the last time trying to stop them from getting yet another person banned, and removing controversy that had been mentioned on the Planned Parenthood page for several years without change. As soon as controversy arose so Planned Parenthood controversy was in the news, they removed the whole section unilaterally, and kept reverting to keep it in place. I didn't even violate the 3RR rule either. I've gotten tired of Wikipedia, needless to say, and the blatant and shameless level of bias that takes over there.

I tried Conservapedia next, and was quickly put off by how much the bias swung the opposite way. Rather than bias from a liberal side, there it is from conservative, except there at least they don't really even make the pretense of free speech or opinion. While the dishonesty of bias was at least a little refreshing, I found I didn't fit too well there either, as I dislike bias for either side, and speak for a balanced, neutral point of view that emphasizes reliable sourcing and equal coverage of both sides for a fair and balanced perspective.

Then I went to SourceWatch. I was closest to settling down there, but they deleted an article of mine. I understand and was in agreement with their right to do so. Unlike the other 2, it was not out of bias, or heavy-handedness, merely that their goal for the site was not to cover all topics, but merely those within a narrow frame of focus. They did not want topics on politicians or politics in general, only on certain issues that fit their mission goals. I had no hard feelings, and respected their site's wishes, but it wasn't what I was looking for, and I didn't feel it would let me contribute to my maximum potential; and that the site stood no chance of being truly comprehensive in such a state.

So I did some research on wiki alternatives, and found Citizendium. By this time I pretty strongly dislike Wikipedia, and wouldn't mind seeing another website take up competition as primary online encyclopedia. Wikipedia's hidden bias makes me dislike them for the same reason I dislike dishonesty in general. I dislike seeing dishonesty reign and flourish; and would love to see an honest site do well instead. So for that goal, I work towards making Citizendium the best it can be, contributing not only myself, but hoping to help the site's structure and traffic so it can one day compete with the dishonest Wikipedia.

Also, I have a deep-seated need to help others and help good causes. Like I said, I really liked Wikipedia's original guidelines, and had it abided by them, would have loved to be a regular contributor. Unfortunately, it has given itself over completely to rampant bias. I like to help others and share my knowledge. I feel it's a gift given to me, and I want to change society and the world for the better. Maybe wikis are a way to do so for a time while I think of ways to spread the information even better. So long as the wiki does what is right though, and shares the information in a right way, I love to be able to help. I also have an innate need to solve problems and fix what's going wrong, so I seem to almost magnetically gravitate towards such situations.

--Joshua Zambrano 01:22, 12 March 2011 (UTC)