Forum Talk:Technical Issues/Archive 2

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Current discussion

Let's deliberately shut down

It's clear that Citizendium is simply not going to be a viable project as an encyclopedia. There is a monumental amount of work to make this a usable resource and there are virtually no active editors and the money has been dwindling for a long time. Whatever the intentions or best case scenarios, this has failed. I recommend we deliberately wrap up this project by exporting any useful content to Wikipedia, closing the wiki to editing, posting an archived copy to the Internet Archive and directing possible readers there, and use remaining funds to secure the domain name for a long time with some small hosting overhead for a single landing page. Thoughts? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 02:01, 2 January 2020 (UTC)

Sounds reasonable to me. It all depends on how active we have to be to post articles to WP. I am doing SOME of mine, but is anyone else? I'll definitely email Larry, however, and see if HE has a means of saving us -- just to salvage his OWN reputation. Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:08, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Larry has several failed projects. I don't think this will impact his reputation negatively. I respect him giving this a go but it's clearly not going to happen. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 03:26, 2 January 2020 (UTC)
Any luck? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 09:03, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
Didn't hear back from him, but what with the Holidays, who knows? I write him again in just a moment. Hayford Peirce (talk) 15:30, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
I think that's worth doing and admirable but we should also have a contingency plan if he doesn't answer or have any way to make this site viable. For the very small audience who pay attention here: do we want to go out with a whimper or even more of a whimper? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 19:34, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
That's true, of course, and I agree with you. I just this moment sent another email to him. Let's give him a week to reply, and then decide what to do next. Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:36, 20 January 2020 (UTC)
It's been a week. The en.wp Signpost mentioned this thread. What do we want to do folks? Go out with a whimper or a bigger whimper? Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 07:54, 1 February 2020 (UTC)
I just this moment came back to report that I haven't heard anything from Larry since sending him my second email on January 20th. I sent it to TWO different email addresses that I have for him -- one was returned with a "Failure to deliver" message but the other one apparently went through. So it looks as if Larry has washed his hands of this affair. As for what we do next, I don't know. I'll leave it for others to decide. But let's assume that we *did* shut it down, oh, six months from now. In that case there would be about $1,400 in the Treasury. What would happen to THAT money? A minor question, but a very specific one. Since *I'm* the Treasurer, I really ought to know! Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:18, 1 February 2020 (UTC)
That kind of says it all. That money could pay for domain name registration and hosting for several years. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 08:17, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
I'd say you should ideally consult the wishes of those who donated the money. Peter Jackson (talk) 13:46, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
I don't know how you could do the books on something like that. Right now, in the last year, there have been maybe TWO donations of $100. And a steady $5 donation every month from one person. And there was someone who stopped about six months ago who donated $20 every month for several years. And *I* donated $25 every month for MANY years. And Anthony Sebastian donated $100 a month for several years. And then one month about a year ago he donated $1,000! And then he died a couple of months later, I'm pretty sure. If you had ten CPAs, you'd have ten different ways of calculating the balance. And Anthony, who donated far more than anyone else, is gone. As the CPAs say, "First in, first out"? or they also say, "Last in, first out"? Etc. etc. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:18, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
Oftentimes, when you donate money, you give it away so that the recipient can best decide how to use it. The recipient is the community and I'm trying to get a consensus. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:02, 2 February 2020 (UTC)
As an occasional donor, I am not too bothered about the money. If CZ were based in Britain there would be a clear duty for those controlling the money (who I suppose are the remaining few of us, or just Hayford) to give it to an organisation with similar objectives.--Martin Wyatt (talk) 18:46, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
If everyone else here clearly came to a consensus as to what to do with the funds, I would follow that consensus, whether I agreed with it or not. Absent that, I suppose that as Treasurer it is up to me to make the necessary decisions. I *do*, however, agree with Martin that it clearly ought to go to an organization with similar objectives. But *which* organization would that be? I would be most reluctant to give it to Wikipedia, but that is, of course, the obvious one. Hayford Peirce (talk) 22:09, 3 February 2020 (UTC)
I suppose you might say, as we were set up specifically as an alternative to WP, "similar" might mean another alternative. Wikinfo and the English branch of Wikisage have maybe even lower activity levels. Not sure what's happening with Everipedia. Of course, the money wouldn't have to go to just one recipient. I think Martin's right about British law, but the relevant law here would presumably be the state where you and/or the bank account is/are located. (That is, I don't think CZ as an abstract organization was ever officially registered with any relevant authorities.) Peter Jackson (talk) 10:56, 4 February 2020 (UTC)
I, the Treasurer, am a legal resident of the State of Arizona, and the bank account I use is also in Arizona. However, it is in my name and not CZ's. Back when Larry organized CZ he apparently didn't bother to go to the trouble to register it as a non-profit organization or whatever else it might have been registered as. Several years later, after Larry had left, some of us looked into registering it. It was, as I recall, far more complicated (and expensive) than any of us had thought, so we just put it off until some future date. Which never eventuated. If I were to drop dead today (heaven forbid!) my will specifically directs my executor (Personal Representative) to close out the bank account with the CZ funds and to distribute them as CZ tells him to. That's the situation as it stands today -- and you can check the latest financial report to see how much money we have at the moment. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:27, 4 February 2020 (UTC)

Any further thoughts?

There were fourteen edits in the past month, including starting pages like Goods and Services. There is really no prospect of this project ever being a functional encyclopedia. It's okay to admit that. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 05:33, 20 June 2020 (UTC)

Right now we have $1,700 in the bank. Unless further donations come in, we will have two more months in which $100 are debited, then, when the balance slides below $1,500, the bank will start taking a $12 monthly service charge, so the monthly debit will be $112. That will allow another 13 months of operation. So, as things now stand, in 15 months we will simply shut down. I suggest that we try to find some way to SAVE all of the material that has so far been created before being thrown into the void. Any suggestions? Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:36, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
That puts a pretty fine point on it. I'd recommend this:
  1. Remove the notice for donations on Welcome to Citizendium immediately.
  2. Choose a final date for editing and then lock the wiki at that point. This can really be whenever we want but maybe November 1, since I believe that is the 15th anniversary.
  3. Put up a sitewide notice that the project is ending.
  4. On November 1, lock the wiki from editing and create a database dump that can be hosted at Internet Archive or possibly exported to another wiki farm.
  5. Around January 1, turn the domain into a notice that says, "Thanks but we're done. Find our work at [link to Internet Archive] and if you want to contribute to a wiki..." or whatever kinds of calls to action and appreciative language we'd like to draft.
  6. Allow whomever owns the disposition of assets like the trademark on the name "Citizendium" and ownership of the domain name to do whatever he wants with them. My guess would be this is Larry but he hasn't even been here in eight years and won't respond to emails, so I think they will just lapse.
If you want me to help with any of this, I'm happy to do it. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 20:49, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
All of the above sounds very reasonable to me, especially if someone else, such as YOU, hehe, is willing to do most of the work involved. Two questions arise: 1.) How shall we try to notify whoever else remains and get their input on it? 2.) What do we do with the remaining funds in the bank? I could easily abscond with them, of course, but I really don't think that I will. Thanks for any input! Hayford Peirce (talk) 21:20, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
For 1.) it would be nice if Special:ActiveUsers worked but since it doesn't, I looked at every person who has edited this year:
I'd recommend posting to all of their talk pages (minus us two) and directing them to this conversation and giving them a week to respond. As for 2.), I made some recommendations above. The money pays for domain name registration and hosting for a little while. Eventually, no one will support it and those will lapse. As far as how to do the things I suggested, some of the on-wiki work can be done by an admin (I'm not one but if you'll make me one, I'll do it), some of it will have to be done by someone with server access to change MediaWiki settings (e.g. locking the wiki or creating a database dump) and I'm willing to do that but I've never done it before, and some of it is totally external to the wiki (e.g. uploading to Internet Archive) and I'm willing to do those things that I can do. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 23:04, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Good suggestions -- I'll get to work on it. Perhaps someone else can make you administrator, I myself have no idea how to do it. There are, I think, I couple of other important individuals who are going to have to be brought into this who have not made EDITS this years, who who are not on the above list. They have worked behind the scenes (off and on) for years now, and know far more about all of the actual mechanics of CZ than I do. (Tony Muldane, does that name ring a bell? I will look through all of my personal email archives to see what I can come up with.) Hayford Peirce (talk) 23:26, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Any of these users could do it. John Stephenson is the only one recently active. Justin Anthony Knapp (talk) 23:32, 20 June 2020 (UTC)
Yes, some of those are the ones I wuz thinking of. Thanks. I'll take another look at this tomorrow. Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:23, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
If you look at All Recent Changes,you will see that I have left brief messages on the Talk/Discussion pages of the 12 people that you listed who have either made recent edits or who are administrators. There are a couple of other old-timers that I will find in my email archives and to whom I will try to convey the same message. Hayford Peirce (talk) 16:30, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
Have sent out an additional three or four emails, including a couple of people who have been important to the project. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:32, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
I haven't been an active editor here in many years (I probably got on your list when I blanked my user page). Citizendium was an interesting idea, but clearly hasn't worked out as planned. And, if finances are really as dire as mentioned, then this does seem like the best option. Joshua Sadule (talk) 19:02, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
It looks sensible (though most regrettable). Martin Wyatt (talk) 20:16, 21 June 2020 (UTC)
The entity CZ has lived on for 15 years, there should be attempts to keep it going as this is certainly a worthwhile effort, Hayford has managed the Financial side competently and kept it going thus far. I would suggest that the $100 per month which is required to keep it going be maintained in an individual account once the minimum balance threshold is reached for the CZ account, perhaps that could be Hayfords individual account and he could have a clear line of a list of succession for maintaining the financial monthly spend. By this I mean that the original founding members should be listed in a sequence after which more recent editors/atricle contributors who have an interest in keeping it going can be included. Since the requirement is only $100 per month - this could be raised from this core group and may be around $5 to $10 per month per head which may be manageable by most. In the meantime there should be an effort to further develop the addition of content, funding and readership by the core group and volunteers. There could be a brainstorming effort and co-ordination towards these ends. I would like to extend my best wishes and appreciation to all who contributed to developing CZ.--N Rajendra Raju (talk) 01:37, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Not really all that familiar with how to comment.. hope this is the right way.. There is something which I don't see mentioned and is the need for serious, extensive, need of technical work on this project. I am a system administrator and DBA and would gladly continue working on this, but what this project most needs is a developer. We don't even have https working and there are a number of other issues (old code base, parts of the site not working) which likely will be a lot of work. To try and get someone to work on all the technical debt with payment likely would be in the thousands... even if we got a developer in a country with significantly cheaper rate. And someone in US / Europe likely is not even an option. Therefore, given the lack of editors, the technical debt, the fact we don't have a developer volunteer.. not sure this can move forward. - Francisco
Ironically, I (who am a developer, programmer, sysadmin) am finally almost fully retired, enough that I probably could start working on CZ as a volunteer. However, I do not have Mediawiki experience, so it would be a learning curve. I do administer other wikis though (based on Pmwiki) so I'm pretty sure I could do it. I am okay with shutting down, though if we do, I'd very much like to acquire a copy of all the files on the system in case we want to restore it somewhere, someday. OTOH, there are some very nice articles on here, and I'd love to see it stay afloat somehow, in which case, I will donate some more money and time. Keep me posted on what you all decide.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:38, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
In fact, I just sent another $100 via Paypal to Hayford, which will add another month to the time we have either way.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:45, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Next, I'm going to go search my email archives. I *think* someone gave me admin rights to this wiki awhile back but I never had time to do anything. I might be able to now. I could at least look into the https issue and make sure I can at least get at the server. I am currently clueless about everything, who the hoster is, etc. Who has been doing sysadmin on this lately? (talk) 15:45, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I think we should probably just go out and try running a GoFundMe to raise enough money to keep CZ going for, say, 3 years. It's been the target of derision from folks over at WIkipedia--and I can understand some of that--but Wikipedia is so screwed up in its own right that I refuse to write anything there. CZ has been a thousand times better since we stopped trying to run it as a democracy and just kicked out some of the trouble makers who were exhausting everyone. If we don't want just to shut down, let's try to raise $$ for 2 or 3 years and relax.Pat Palmer (talk) 16:33, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Interesting thoughts, but the trouble as I see it is that we are now in a vicious downwards spiral: funds are drying up and one consequence is that editorial contributors have stopped creating articles, and then the almost total lack of activity leads to funding drying up. I myself stopped making my long-time monthly contributions after it seemed clear to me that we were in a death spiral. Without Anthony Sebastian, who died a year or so ago, we would have run out of funds long ago and already been shut down. More important to me than the $1700 we have in the bank, is the total lack of new members and writers. We're tried various strategies over the years to attract new members but none of them worked. (Remember an academic member who encouraged his/her students to join and write initial articles?) If we could start a *virtuous* circle of new members, new articles, and new funding, then I would be enthusiastically for it. But right now I'm very discouraged about it. I certainly thank Pat for the $100, and will apply it to the bank account as soon as I finish writing this, but right now I think we need writers more than anything else. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:12, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

[unindent] At a hundred bucks a month, I don't see really why we should shut down just now, though that may become an option soon. There is still interest out there (e.g. subscribers to the non-member forum). But no mistake, there is a mountain to climb. John Stephenson (talk) 17:30, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

Well, we certainly don't need to! And I'm glad to see that there are still optimistic souls around. Just to make my *own* contribution, I will bring in an article from Wikipedia about Ross Thomas that I have made many, many edits to in the last couple of months, and I may even feel inspired by this to start and flesh about a couple of articles about his individual books. Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:52, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
What would people think of getting rid of the cumbersome business about approving articles? Could we just have articles again, not "Approved" articles? Simplicity is a virtue in this context. I've long valued CZ as a place where some of what I have written can be referenced, and it won't have been mangled beyond all recognition in the meantime, albeit mainly because we're such a small project.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:07, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
How would we differ from wikipedia at that point? Also, sadly, this would be yet another TODO in the long list of technical asks. Although perhaps may be just a config setting. In my mind, approvals / review is the differentiator for this project; without it, don't see why anyone would consider using it or volunteering their time. --Francisco Reyes (talk) 19:09, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I think we see it quite oppositely, and this discussion is probably too involved to go into much here, but Wikipedia is uselessly impossible for certain kinds of information. For example, the article on Buchenwald (town in Germany) is being trolled by town officials, who constantly and instantly remove any claims of connection to the horrendous death camp which is located like one mile from its town center. Here, using our real names, we would be unlikely to tolerate that kind of painting over of the facts. That's just one example. The very first edit I made in Wikipedia, years ago, was to show that white oak leaves are often pink in spring (I included a photo). It was removed immediately. I reposted several times; it was always removed, and I never could identify the person or their reasoning. Enough said. In the Computers workgroup here, IMO, none of the articles that were Approved ever should have been. Because they were incomplete. It is impossible to complete an article on computers, and freeze it in time, and have it be useful as a general reference, because things change so rapidly.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:18, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
I was always baffled by the Approval process that Larry set up years ago, an incredibly Rube Goldberg-like system that even his original Chief Constable at the time was 100% baffled by. I spent an horrible two hours on the phone with her once trying to walk her through the process and even then she never really got it. As long as we had a large cadre of nerds and gearheads, so to speak, on call, it was doable. But probably NOT worth doing. Then after the great Exodus, it became simplified, yes. But even so. Right now I agree with Pat on this -- given our present resources, we should get rid of any future approval stuff. And may see if, one by one, slowly slowly, we can get right of the present Approvals and their concrete-like ways. As the years have gone by, WP is much less inflicted by the "vandals and cretins" that were my bane during my years there. I think Larry's system, IN THEORY, when first started, was fine -- but it was cumbersome then, almost impossible, in fact, and now it is completely outdated, like the computer articles that Pat mentions above. Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:36, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

Hello, I have had a small level of involvement with Citizendium since nearly the day it was founded, and particularly I have donated a large sum of money over the time to support the project, so I'm here today to weigh in. Darren Duncan 22 June 2020

  1. I fully agree that Citizendium has long since failed as a standalone encyclopedia project. Citizendium has lasted 15 years now, about 3/4 of the 20 years that Wikipedia has been around, which is something to be proud of in a sense, even if Citizendium has just been a zombie for most of that time.
  2. Its good to see that even the most ardent supporters seem to agree its time to formally put Citizendium to rest and shut it down as its own encyclopedia.
  3. I feel that the best thing to do now is salvage anything of value and copy it to where it would do the most good. Some of the existing funds can be used to maintain the existing server for a few months to help facilitate copying things in an orderly manner.
  4. I propose that any articles Citizendium has that are of value would be recreated on Wikipedia. Compare articles Citizendium has that have actually been maintained with their Wikipedia counterparts, and make edits to the Wikipedia versions to add in anything that is better about the Citizendium version. Sources that Citizendium cited are then used as the cited sources on Wikipedia for the edits. Anything that is genuinely better should not be challenged by other Wikipedia editors. If anything is challenged or reverted, the work you copied there will still live on in Wikipedia's edit history. Optionally content could be copied to other web resources, say if there's something Wikipedia wouldn't accept but others would.
  5. As for the money, I wholeheartedly endorse giving anything leftover to the Internet Archive. I feel that the Internet Archive is one of the most deserving of all nonprofits to be supported and they provide a huge amount of unique value, particularly their Wayback Machine of the web that goes back to 1996, 5 years older than Wikipedia. It is even more appropriate considering the proposals here that the Internet Archive hold a copy of Citizendium for posterity. Well they are a non-profit. I see no benefit of giving the Citizendium money to anything except the Internet Archive.
  6. Citizendium should immediately take down any appeals for more donations. Change the heading banner to say the site is winding down and any requests for help can be directed at physical labour to migrate any content of value to other sites.
  7. I strongly oppose any efforts to solicit more funds or anything else to try and revive Citizendium in its own form as some have suggested. There is no benefit to this.
Very interesting suggestions, and many thanks for them. I had really never paid any attention to the Internet Archive. From what you say, it is a MOST worthy place to send any leftover funds to. But first, of course, we have to reach a consensus of what to do: Wind down? Or stay the course? And HOW will we ever decide WHICH is the appropriate action? Listen to he/she who shouts the loudest, or what? Hayford Peirce (talk) 03:31, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
There is no need for a consensus at all, though it would be nice. What gets done is what whomever actually takes action does. Those who agree with my proposal and actually take action to copy anything useful from Citizendium to Wikipedia or other appropriate places will have accomplished something helpful. This site will soon run out of money and die either way. If no one copies anything out before that happen, it will mean no one considered that anything was worth preserving. Darren Duncan 23 June 2020
As I've said before, as of this moment we have enough funds for another 15 months of operation. You suggest we use that time to move worthwhile articles over to Wikipedia. As far as I know, all, or at least MOST, of the articles I originated here I have ported over to WP in one form or another. Some of them have been left pretty much alone, others have been hacked around by the usual vandals and cretins but not at much as they would have been 15 years ago. I suppose there are thousands of articles here that could be profitably moved to WP, but WHO is going to do it? I only have so much energy, and it wanes every day. Also, MOST of the articles we have here already EXIST at WP in one form or other. It is going to take a LOT of energy to bring a CZ article on, say Magnetism and port it over to WP and then engage in edit wars for the next month with Wikipedians to reconcile the two versions. I can look through my OWN list of articles and see if any of them have been overlooked in being ported to WP, but that's the most I can do. Although as Treasurer, of course, I could simply clear out the balance at the Chase bank, put it into my pocket, and watch CZ go belly up in the next month or so because of lack of payments to the server. THAT would be action without a consensus, but I'm not quite ready to go that route yet! Hayford Peirce (talk) 19:30, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
I am just now getting back to this matter, and have read Duncan's helpful comments. Yes, anyone concerned about saving their info from CZ to WK should def be doing that now, because no matter what any of us do, this project may still go offline in the near future. But the kind of information that is on here, that I personally value, will not survive ten minutes on Wikipedia without being wrecked by some anonymous idiot. This includes not only certain computers articles, but also the wonderful Pali Canon work (by Peter J., I think) and many other contributions by some of those taking about this now. So to me, and to some of us, the ability to work more peacefully here still has value. I am working on a set of suggestions for how to address the current situation without shutting down. To be published within a few days. I need to do some research first, and I've just started this work today.Pat Palmer (talk) 15:14, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

Here's where I think we are

My suggestions for the immediate future, based on all the helpful suggestions above:

  • Through September 30, 2020, let's work towards shutting down Citizendium as a public project that anyone can participate in.
    • Let's attempt to push a copy into the Internet Archive before the proposed "shut down" date.
    • Let's advise anyone who may care to save or copy their work elsewhere before that date, as there are no guarantees that it won't go lost otherwise.
    • Let's request those who gave money since the beginning of 2019 to allow us to keep the remaining funds and rebrand the project after the above date, as proposed below.
    • Let's begin keeping a list of who would like to keep using the servers with a new paradigm, described below.Pat Palmer (talk) 20:11, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

As of October 1, 2020, let's keep the server running with a new goal, TBD, something like: "To provide an online, collaborative writing oasis among collegial folks with expertise of all kinds, writing under their actual names."

  • Keep the real-name and resume policy.
  • Caveats: Not a media website, not a blog compendium, not some kind of complete encyclopedia. Not allowing the normal baddies such as selling, opinion pieces, liable, political vitriol, etc. [NOTE: We can come up with verbiage for what it IS later].
  • Kick off inactive and non-contributing users and continue on a subscription basis with only those who choose to opt in.
    • Participants required to contribute a minimum sum monthly or annually, or less with board approval.
  • The "board" (core group doing the transition work--Hayford, John S., me, maybe a few others) would have absolute control. Not a democrary, but hopefully, a benevolent dictatorship.
    • would hold future discussion off the wiki, out of public view
    • would be able to remove any user; for example, someone who exhausts others with too much negotiation or causes any of the kinds of problems that we all now know people can cause
  • Get rid of Authors, make each use an Editor in whatever Workgroups they request, to generally make everything as easy as possible
  • Get rid of Approved articles as a policy, and unlock any Approved articles someone wants to improve
  • Revamp the landing page, and Donations page, to reflect the death of the OLD Citizendium, and the coming "new" subscription-based wiki. Financial reports page would possibly:
    • Archive all the older contributions past, say, 2019 (providing a link at bottom to the full, older list of contribs) - DONE 6/26/2020
    • Reorder the contributions so the most recent month is at the top, rather than at the bottom - DONE 6/26/2020
    • Separate out the minimum balance of $1500 needed to avoid bank fees (put it in a footnote, maybe), showing only the balance we can use for monthly server payments and not get charged bank fees - FOOTNOTED INSTEAD 6/26/2020
    • Note that after the "shut down" date, the money will be used to keep servers running (as now), but with a different governing structure and purpose.
  • Technical leads to include, initially John S. and Pat P. and possible others, who will also do their deliberations offline and in private
  • List articles people are working on, and wish to share, on the landing page; also the new, limited goals and policies (to be written), plus mention how other may ask to join (subject to board approval) if they'd like a place to do their own writing without harassment.Pat Palmer (talk) 20:10, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
The question is, would anyone besides me really want to try and continue after we archive the site? Or, should we just shut down anyway? Maybe I'm trying to swim upstream here.Pat Palmer (talk) 23:53, 25 June 2020 (UTC)

I support the principle of saving Citizendium as its own entity by making huge changes, loosely along the lines explained above; I specifically propose this:

  • Convert Citizendium into an ordinary privately-owned website with a relatively small number of stakeholders who are solely responsible for maintaining its content and its technical infrastructure and its funding; while others can join, doing so isn't the norm.
  • Don't try to be a general encyclopedia that does everything, just have focused articles that the stakeholders want to write / manage / stand-behind, and that's it, in some ways like a blog.
  • Do NOT solicit donations from the public, AT ALL. Financial reports should just be removed and be private stakeholder info, and that history isn't needed for the public.
  • Funding the website is 100% by the private stakeholders, like maintenance fees for condos they live in. There is absolutely no reason anyone else should pay for this. (I run a bunch of my own websites and I pay for their hosting myself, I don't ask the public for money ever, and the same should go for you.)
  • A $100/month is ridiculously expensive for hosting; you should be able to get by for maybe $10-20/month for what this project needs.
  • Get rid of all the bureaucracy, the small group of stakeholders can work things out among themselves informally.
  • It sounds like Pat Palmer has volunteered to run the technical aspects to enable what needs doing.
  • I personally am not one of the stakeholders/owners-to-be; I am offering some free advice to be helpful, that is all.

Darren Duncan 25 June 2020

Technical side

Francisco's comment above echoes what I've said before, which is that the primary problem at the moment is technical: the wiki has no https, no e-mail inboxes, no working sign-up page, many templates etc. no longer working, no updates to the MediaWiki software, no backups, and no active technical support that I know of. That last one is most important: as far as I know, no-one is maintaining the wiki at all. It's like the Mary Celeste drifting on.

Some time ago, Larry stepped forward as Technical Lead, but I don't know what went on behind the scenes. A while ago, I volunteered to be the primary contact for Steadfast, our host (this was because we had an image takedown request, and Steadfast want someone contactable if there's a complaint). This was the point at which I first got to see information about our hosting set-up. I wasn't given any technical information about the wiki and I don't have any experience of server maintenance, although I can access details about the server hardware (to the point where I know what floor of the building it's on). There's a backup server which, as far as I can see, hasn't been used. I can also access options for shutting the server down or rebooting it. (Larry still owns the domain name, but he's not listed with Steadfast - just me, Hayford, Greg and Darren.)

Francisco: for some reason, you're not listed in the Steadfast contacts, so if I add you, you can go into the account info and have a look around. Likewise, I think it would be an obvious move to add Pat. (Both of you have Bureaucrat rights on the wiki, but that has nothing to do with access to the server: it just means you can add wiki users, change usernames, delete pages, etc.) This will not in itself give you server access, as Steadfast require a VPN, for which you will need another login from them, plus login details for the server. John Stephenson (talk) 17:30, 22 June 2020 (UTC)

For a while there was an email address at Purdue, I think, by which messages could be sent to ALL the Citizens. I tried using this yesterday, as I have done a couple of times in the past, and the message was returned as being undeliverable. It would be useful, I think, if this could be reactivated or some substitute be put in its place -- it was certainly tedious composing and posting individual messages to over a dozen people! Hayford Peirce (talk) 17:56, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
There is a Google Group which was created about a decade ago for general discussion but which was never used. I'll see about restarting it. That would be a Citizens-only forum. (There is another Google Group for members and non-members to interact.)
Was not aware of backup server in the hosting package. I am paying about $30 /month for a backup server outside. Will definitely check what that backup server is as was never mentioned to me. If can do backup on whatever backup server is there can then pay for a Devevelopment environment.--Francisco Reyes (talk) 18:32, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Created slack for tech, or anything else we want, coordination. For anyone interested please provide info at and will create your account in the slack group. --Francisco Reyes (talk) 18:52, 22 June 2020 (UTC)
Is there any particular reason why we need a dedicated server? Usually, any public cloud would be a better idea (not to mention cheaper). For something like Citizendium, shared hosting may even be an option. Let's Encrypt offers free SSL certificates. So this could help to stretch the money, but it doesn't solve the main issue: Citizendium needs more editors. I'll leave that discussion for another day, though. I'm not likely to do any more editing here, but I'd be willing to help on the technical end. Joshua Sadule (talk) 01:13, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
Not sure physical server is needed, but will see what it is we have; in particular site seems pretty slow to me. Should be getting access soon to the hosting provider and will check. Seems there was even a backup server.. while I have been paying myself to backup all the data somewhere else because was unaware of said backup server. For SSL agree letsencrypt will be the way to go. Sent you invite to slack. We can discuss further there. One of the projects hope we tackle early on is the public facing backup. So anyone that would like to get the data can. The backups I am doing are sort of DB + filesystem.. not really easy to share or do much other than a "full restore". --Francisco Reyes (talk) 13:08, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
On the last note, "Backup the content of the wiki" may be worth a read. Joshua Sadule (talk) 14:05, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
Thanks for the input, Joshua! As I've said above, we need both writers AND tech people! Hope you'll be one of them! Hayford Peirce (talk) 01:33, 23 June 2020 (UTC)
The last time I checked, a server on, say, Amazon Web Services would cost $100-$600/mo depending on traffic. I'm sure we'd likely be on the lower end of that, but it's not much cheaper than we're already paying. Given the size of the files, I would be surprised if we can find anything much cheaper. But surprise me.Pat Palmer (talk) 23:59, 25 June 2020 (UTC)
I managed to reach out to Larry Sanger, who has said he will transfer the domain to my control. In my experience, transferring a domain is a cumbersome and slow process, but I'm glad he's going to help us out with that.Pat Palmer (talk) 13:19, 26 June 2020 (UTC)
For Francisco and Joshua, thanks for working on server backups. I am still mulling whether I'm willing to try Slack. I went to Francisco's link to try and sign up, and it began asking me many personal questions that I felt were basically data mining, so I ditched out of it. I'll get back to you soon about that option.Pat Palmer (talk) 13:30, 26 June 2020 (UTC)
Hi Pat. I'll leave others who are more invested in Citizendium to comment on your proposal. As for Slack, I'd recommend joining. We've been discussing technical implementation details that you'll probably want to know. (If you really don't want to join, I could probably copy a transcript to somewhere here, but I make no promises about keeping it updated.) We're currently looking at Digital Ocean, where a roughly equivalent instance goes for $20/month (we may need to pay for more storage, though). AWS is around the same price. Joshua Sadule (talk) 14:07, 26 June 2020 (UTC)


Hello everyone. I setup this wiki, and I'll be happy to help shut it down as well, if that is the consensus. I'm also open to setting it to "read only" and putting it on a cheaper cloud service, although there are different levels of how functional the wiki remains (even if nobody can edit, it still needs some real server work to create equations, do searches, etc.). Anyway, I will keep watch on this page. Greg Sabino Mullane (talk) 17:17, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Thanks, Greg! If you keep watching this page, I'm sure that eventually you'll see a consensus about what to do. Sad that all that initial effort should come to this! Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:52, 24 June 2020 (UTC)

Seeking shutdown team members, as well as forward planning members

Hi all. I'm proposing an official project end date of Sept. 30, 2020, after which will stay online but will become a different collaboration space (to be determined). I picked that date out of the air, and if people want a shorter transition period, we might be able to do it. Who can help us to:

  • Make a backup or dump of the wiki as it currently exists, available for download to anyone who wants it in the future?
  • Look into archiving contents to the Internet Archive (?)
  • Help advise current and past participants to copy or backup any material that they value, by the above date, or risk it going lost.
  • Keep us all updated with progress on the landing page, so that "the public" (anyone dropping by) will understand what is happening.

I am also proposing a planning group on what will happen with the wiki going forwards. Who wants in on that?

I also propose (in contrast to Duncan's advice) that we continue accepting donations to support the server for now. Going forwards, as far as I'm concerned, anyone who wished to remain writing on Citizendium can do so as long as they adhere to the prevailing policies and are not disruptive. That is all subject to debate, but for now, I say keep the Donations on the front page, and at transition time, I propose that we keep any remaining funds and continue plowing them into support for the server going forwards. In support of this, I have made a substantial financial contribution this month to help keep the ship afloat until the shutdown phase for the "old project" is done.

Who can help with the shutdown of the "old project"? And who wants to be in on planning a next phase from the ground up? Please post here. I want to take the detailed work for both efforts offline here and into a private Google group.Pat Palmer (talk) 19:06, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

I will help in any way possible consistent with my position as Treasurer. And will support whatever the other Citizens decide to do. Just let me know what I can do in my official capacity. And, of course, I'm always ready to throw in my invaluable free advice! Hayford Peirce (talk) 20:05, 28 June 2020 (UTC)

Count me in for Planning for the next phase as well as on advising current and past participants to copy or backup any material that they value--N Rajendra Raju (talk) 02:03, 30 June 2020 (UTC)

I continue to be interested, but am moving house shortly, which greatly reduces my availability for the foreseeable future. --Martin Wyatt (talk) 21:08, 4 July 2020 (UTC)