Following a link from Peter Suber’s ever-valuable Open Access News I read Larry Sanger’s blog entry We aren’t Wikipedia (Citizendium blog, March 21, 2007) which lists the various ways in which Citizendium differs from Wikipedia. This made interesting reading but my eye was especially caught by these two items:

  1. To be confirmed: Our license disallows unauthorized commercial use. We are using the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial (CC-by-nc) license for our original articles. We use the GFDL for all articles based on Wikipedia articles.

  2. Contributors share their copyright with us. Contributors give to the Citizendium Foundation a nonexclusive right to relicense their work. This allows the Citizendium Foundation to be the sole entity that licenses the entire Citizendium corpus.

If this is so (and the ‘to be confirmed’ caveat holds out some hope that this is not yet permanent decision) this means that Citizendium is not open (in addition to the non-commerical restriction the second item appears to imply that in reality third parties will have very limited rights of reuse).

This would be a massive change compared to Wikipedia and would in my opinion be a very major error because (as I have written extensively in previous posts):

Citizendium is a really interesting project and I really hope, both for the project’s sake and that of the wider community, that it does choose to be fully open.

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Rufus Pollock is Founder and President of Open Knowledge.

3 thoughts on “Is Citizendium Not Open?”

  1. In part due to concerns like this, we have decided to spend more time very carefully studying and discussing the issues. So we won’t have decided on a license by our launch (which will be happening in a matter of days). We’ll be using either GFDL, CC-by-sa, or CC-by-nc for our own content.

  2. Great to hear your are considering the issue carefully and I hope you go for the open option (CC-by-sa or GFDL with CC-by-sa alike preferred) rather than CC-by-nc. There is a listing of ‘open’ (and some ‘closed’) licenses (i.e. licenses that are conformant/non-conformant with the Open Knowledge Definition) at

  3. We’ve been talking about Citizendium over at Highbrid Nation. Personally I use Wikipedia a lot and I don’t see anything knocking it off its top spot. The features that make Citizendium better may just be the features that keep it from having the same sucess as Wikpedia. There can only be one. Who will it be?

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