Collaborative encyclopedias’ convergence ?

While Wikipedia continues to be the leader on the market of collaborative encyclopedias, it is no longer unchallenged. Other initiatives have emerged, like Citizendium and more recently Knol. In some ways, the fact that these new projects have been unable so far to compete significantly with Wikipedia is an additional clue that WP’s model is a success. Several reasons can explain why Wikipedia remains number one:

  • it can benefit from years of experience and content accumulation
  • it is very well indexed by Google
  • the media have covered Wikipedia extensively for years
  • Wikipedia is fun and enjoyable to use

In my opinion, the “fun factor” is the main reason why Wikipedia leads. No other project so far has managed to create the same excitement and sense of community. Yet, what I have found striking during the past few weeks is that the ideological divide between the various collaborative projects has shrunk . While Britannica has opened the door to user participation, Wikipedia is discussing the possibility of moderation on some articles edited by non-registered users (flagged revisions). The production and sharing of knowledge using wikis decidedly remains a very exciting subject. Larry Sanger’s recent post about this lists numerous areas of research on wiki knowledge and governance¬† and provides an interesting basis for discussion.

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