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Citizendium chooses CC-BY-SA December 24, 2007

Posted by keito in : News, Websites , trackback

Citizendium, the fledgling semi-user editable online encyclopedia that aims to unseat Wikipedia from its cyber-throne by enforcing strict editorial guidelines, has chosen to license its articles under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (CC-BY-SA) license, according to a press release.

This doesn’t come as much of a surprise — Citizendium has some articles that are forks (copies that are subsequently modified) of their counterparts on Wikipedia, which is licensed under the GFDL. Since the Wikimedia Foundation has announced plans to work with the Free Software Foundation and the Creative Commons to make the GFDL compatible with the CC-BY-SA license, it’s only natural that Citizendium should go ahead and make their content available under the Creative Commons license. (For the time being, though, they are required to keep the originally Wikipedia-based articles licensed under the GFDL due to the viral provisions of the license.)

Apparently, however, there was a huge discussion among Citizendium editors on whether to use a non-commercial license (in this case it would be CC-BY-SA-NC) or not. The discussion (available in paraphrased form on Citizendium) seems to revolve around the practical reasons to choose one license over the other, such as distribution to those without Internet access.

What’s notable is that one of the major reasons against the GFDL/CC-BY-SA seems to be “we don’t want Wikipedia to reuse our articles,” along with a general feeling of hostility towards allowing other websites to redistribute Citizendium content. This seems to say a lot about Citizendium and its real thoughts on Open Source and free licensing — are they really out there to share a good encyclopedia, or are they just doing it to spite Wikipedia?

While I applaud Citizendium editors for ultimately choosing the CC-BY-SA approach, and thus allowing greater redistribution and reuse of its content, there seems to be a troubling sense of exclusivity among the Citizendium community. I can’t help but compare this with the Wikipedia community, whose foundations are built on selflessness and creating an encyclopedia for the (actual) better good.

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