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April 5, 2007, 12:44 PM ET

Citizendium's Creator in His Own Words

Why does Citizendium, the peer-reviewed alternative to Wikipedia that went public just about a week ago, require contributors to use their real names when they post to the site? According to Larry Sanger, the site’s founder, it’s about civility and perception.

“Anonymity tends to make people into jerks if they have any tendencies in that direction,” he told CNET News in an interview. Mr. Sanger has long criticized Wikipedia, which he helped found, for being too accommodating to trolls and vandals, but he says there are other benefits to removing the veil of anonymity.

“If I look at the page history for an article and I see nothing but real names, I have some confidence that if someone has put in a really egregious error, they’re going to be reined in,” he says. “I don’t have any such assurance if there are a bunch of pseudonyms and mere IP addresses.” Whether scholars and other Web surfers agree will determine the success of Mr. Sanger’s encyclopedia. —Brock Read

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