[WikiEN-l] Announcing "Epistemia", a new wiki encyclopedia

Thomas Larsen larsen.thomas.h at gmail.com
Fri Jan 16 00:16:21 UTC 2009

Hi all,

I, with Richard Austin, would like to announce the public launch of
"Epistemia", a new Internet-wiki-based encyclopedia project which may
be found on the Web at http://epistemia.org/. Some of the project's
distinguishing features include:

- users are required to log in before being permitted to edit;
- civil and polite conduct is required, and no tolerance is shown for
those people whose intention is to cause disruption or damage;
- people with administrative privileges are required to use their real
names as their account names, with few exceptions;
- the project places a high emphasis on developing and maintaining
content according to established scholarly standards; and
- policy (content, community, and project standards), which is still
in development, is outlined clearly and simply on a single page.

Wikipedia has undoubtedly proved the value of the wiki content
production model, but it suffers from a number of damning flaws. Most
serious is the negativity of the participatory culture that has
developed on Wikipedia—incivility is rampant in discussions, logical,
reasoned arguments are commonly ignored, and people acting maliciously
or disruptively are tolerated far in excess of common sense.
Governance is another issue, with the project led, not by the most
knowledgeable people, but by the people with the most spare time and
the loudest voices. Also of much concern, especially to academia, is
the lack of consistent adherence to the conventional quality
expectations associated with professional scholarship—indeed, many
contributors reject established scholarly standards in favour of their
own conception of what an encyclopedia should be like. These problems
can be traced to two primary causes: firstly, an unprofessional
culture, and, secondly, overly complex and inconsistently enforced
rules. Epistemia aims to correct both these issues, without
implementing the overly-restrictive mechanisms that Citizendium has.

Raymond Arritt once summed it all up neatly—"[Citizendium] ... would
be great if it were more similar to Wikipedia (easier to contribute,
less bureaucratic) and ... [Wikipedia] ... would be great if it were
more similar to Citizendium (less hostile to competence, more willing
to act against troublemakers and those with an agenda)." Epistemia
aims to be easy to contribute to, unbureaucratic, welcoming of
competence, and intolerant of disruptive and malicious people.

Well, Richard Austin and I would like to invite you to check it out
yourself and formulate your own opinions—see http://epistemia.org/.

Best and friendly regards,

—Thomas Larsen

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