Huntington Beach, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 01/05/2007 -- Every month, about 150 million different Internet users visit Wikipedia to obtain information. At least a million of them have taken that next step, created an account, and edited the content within the world’s largest encyclopedia. And that's when the trouble starts.
As everyday users (including businesses) get accustomed to reading and editing Wikipedia, a good portion of them quickly become frustrated by two things:
1. Their own personal opinion -– even expert opinion -– about a topic can be overruled by just one or two other users (who may even be children) who have no expertise on the subject.
2. An individual or a company is profoundly discouraged from writing anything about itself -– even to correct erroneous information in the article about its very self.
If you have noticed this yourself, take comfort -– there's a new wiki in town called Centiare. Its founders contend that it shouldn’t be so difficult to express one's self in community-edited Internet space. Thus, by becoming what some industry observers are calling the "anti-Wikipedia", Centiare will be all things to all people. How is Centiare.com going to be different than Wikipedia?
First, users may not contribute to Centiare until they register and verify a non-throwaway e-mail address, so there is a higher degree of authenticity among contributors. This borrows a key operating tenet from the new Citizendium.org, which is a "fork" of Wikipedia headed by former Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, but has still not launched.
Second, contributors are encouraged to take ownership of Directory articles about themselves or their enterprises. They may write as opinionated advocates in the Directory -– neutrality is not required. They can sell products, promote YouTube videos, upload documents, even make money off Google ads they are allowed to host. Almost anything goes in the Centiare Directory space!
Third, (and this is the real kicker) "semantic web" technology is installed on Centiare. This means registered users can perform amazing searches on Centiare that just wouldn’t be possible on Google, MySpace, or Wikipedia. Imagine multi-level searches for very specific things, like:
* Are there any white males, over 6 feet tall, with a Masters degree, in Pennsylvania?
* Locate all home heating oil companies, at least 50 years in business, in New Jersey.
* Find all Centiare Directory entities situated between the 39th and 40th parallels.
These searches would be practically impossible in a wiki database without semantic web enabled. It's no wonder that the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, has literally written a roadmap for semantic web -– he knows it's that important. And Internet prognosticators are finally agreeing that in 2007, semantic web will usher in the "Web 3.0" era.
Right now, Centiare is up and running, waiting for more contributors to claim their Directory space and own it. At this time, users are even allowed to create Directory space articles about entities which they do not own or have a legal interest in. They can keep that space until the time when the rightful owner of the topic wakes up and claims it. For example, one Centiare user going by the screen name "OmniMediaGroup" has already grabbed some premium Centiare turf -– all 50 U.S. state names, as well as a couple dozen pharmaceutical companies. These pages must contain useful information about the topic, and of course, not libel the legal entity in any way; but, in the meantime, the author can monetize the space with Google ads or sale of products and services. Centiare's founders predict that this policy of "ownership" will beget quality, in terms of depth and accuracy of commercial and personal subject content.
A recent analysis of Wikipedia shows that more than half the companies that reside between the Fortune 501 and 1000 are utterly missing from Wikipedia, nearly six years after the encyclopedia's genesis. There is no motivating incentive for the typical Wikipedia volunteer to create these corporate pages; and if the large corporation tries to create an article about itself, Wikipedia editors spend more time bashing and chasing away the commercial effort than it would have taken them to write the article on their own. Centiare, by contrast, will embrace corporate participation in its Directory space.
Centiare's co-developer, Gregory Kohs, has been asked how Centiare is any different from MySpace, Wikia, or Wikipedia. He responds that Centiare is much like MySpace or Wikia for individuals, but contributors keep all the ad revenues, instead of News Corporation's Rupert Murdoch or Wikia's head Jimmy Wales. "We think they have enough money," he jokes. He also concedes that Centiare is a lot like Wikipedia, "but mainly because we use that same elegant, robust open-source software called MediaWiki that Wikipedia uses. We very much look like Wikipedia. Beyond that, we really are the libertarian opposite of Wikipedia."
Indeed, the MediaWiki software is the real muscle that has supported the success of Wikipedia and will drive Centiare. Its code developers -– the folks like Magnus Manske, Rob Church, Brion Vibber, and others -– are the thankless and tireless heroes who have made MediaWiki's stylistic appearance, navigation, and infobox templates things that make even "average" web surfers feel comfortably at home.
Centiare's founder, Karl Nagel, genuinely feels that the world is on the verge of an enormous breakthrough in MediaWiki applications. He says, "What Microsoft Office has been for the past 15 years, MediaWiki will be for the next fifteen." And Centiare will employ the most robust extension of that software, Semantic MediaWiki.
Indeed, Centiare is on to something. According to Alexaholic.com, on the final day of 2006, Centiare.com recorded more page views than the combined traffic of four of its wiki rivals: Yellowikis.com, Wikicompany.org, Citizendium.org, and Openserving.com (a yet-to-be-launched product of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales).
Centiare home page:
Idea Grove review of Centiare:
Podcast discussing Centiare as "anti-Wikipedia":
Prediction of the demise of Wikipedia:
Coming soon -- Semantic web:
Alexaholic traffic stats: