Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wikipedia vs Citizendium - pioneer advantage?


Wikipedia - that was launched way back in Jan 2001 by Jimmy Wales, is today the most preferred Internet encyclopedia and has positioned itself with the other Internet giants such as Google and eBay. Wikipedia, is a collaborative effort of volunteers from around the world, each of them adding substantial contribution to the pooled information already with the Wikipedia. The very idea of adapting a system wherein the users themselves are the contributors, and a sense of pride they can relate to having contributed something worthwhile, which million others would read - has always strided toward the growing popularity and reliability of Wikipedia. Wikipedia has been able to create a base of knowledge outside of institutions where the onus of being the right - is decided by the availability of knowledge and reliable sources linking to it, not the pedigree behind one's name. 

But However, Wikipedia being an authorative source of knowledge has always been a question of doubt - at least the people who are researchers and experts in certain fields by themselves, finds it so. But, still that shouldn't stop Wikipedia from being a good place to start with. 

Wikipedia, having been the pioneer of Online encylopedia has with itself the "First Mover" advantage or the "Pioneer advantage", because of which over millions of users refer it on a regular basis for things they are unaware of. 
There are also many Marketing Researches, that supports the fact that market pioneer gains the greatest advantage. Carpenter and Nakamoto, found out that 19 out of 25 companies that were the market leader in 1923 were still the market leader in 1963, 60 years later. Another market study by Robinson and Min found out that in a sample of industrial goods businesses, 66% of pioneers survived at least 10 years, versus 48% of the early followers. 

But Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, who left Wikipedia in 2002 to start his own Online Encyclopedia - "Citizendium" has its own reasons to challenge the hegemony of Wikipedia. Sanger in press release said " Citizendium will soon attempt to unseat Wikipedia as the go-to destination for general information online". He left Wiki with a bad taste, notably for the way things were run in Wikipedia. He wanted Wikipedia to be the portal of credible information, which ultimately would have binded Wikipedia with the Institution experts. In August 2007, he aired his view that " The world needs a more credible free encyclopedia", making it quite clear for what he stood.  

Wikipedia, certainly does have its First Mover advantage but that doesn't stop Citizendium from working upon its Second mover advantage efficiently. And if things works out in favorable way for Sanger's Citizendium, Wikipedia's would soon have to rethink about it's marketing strategy. 

Some of the popular examples of Later entrants over-throwing the market leaders are: IBM over Sperry in mainframe computers, Matsushita over Sony in VCRs, and GE over EMI in CAT scan equipments. 

 Citizendium's aim is to create an "expert culture and community that encourages subject specialists ('editors') to contribute and 'citizens' (to be called "authors") to respect the expert contributions."(from Wikipedia's article on Citizendium)

Being the Second Mover, Citizendium can avoid heavy investment in R&D by replicating or by importing the million+ Wikipedia articles into Citizendium. These articles will them be worked upon by experts and authors in their respective fields. One of the major concern for Wikipedia here is that, the articles are available under the GNU free documentation license, since the project was actually started to create a fork of wikipedia. 

Hence, Citizendium will open up as an exact copy of Wikipedia, which would further save them five years of developement time. And most important of all, Citizendium can learn from Wikipedia's mistakes - No anonymous editing. 



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