Online encyclopedia

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

An online encyclopedia, also called an Internet encyclopedia, is a digital encyclopedia accessible through the Internet. Examples include Encarta from 2000 to 2009, Wikipedia since 2001, the Encyclopædia Britannica since 2016, and since 1998.

Digitization of old content[edit]

In January 1995, Project Gutenberg started to publish the ASCII text of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), but disagreements about the method halted the work after the first volume. For trademark reasons, the text had been published as the Gutenberg Encyclopedia.[1] Since then, Project Gutenberg digitized and proofread the encyclopedia, until the last update in September 2018. Project Gutenberg published volumes in alphabetical order; the most recent publication is Volume 17 Slice 1: "Lord Chamberlain" to "Luqman", published on August 9, 2013.[2] The latest Britannica was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM,[3] and later as an online service.[4]

In 2001, ASCII text of all 28 volumes was published on Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition[5] by source; a copyright claim was added to the materials included. The website no longer exists.

Other digitization projects have made progress in other titles; one example is Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) digitized by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.[6]

A successful digitization of an encyclopedia was the Bartleby Project's online adaptation of the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition,[7] in early 2000 and is updated periodically.

Other websites provide online encyclopedias, some of which are also available on Wikisource. However, some may be more complete than those on Wikisource, or may be from different editions.

Creation of new content[edit]

Screenshot of the Wikipedia page "Lists of programming languages".
Wikipedia is an example of an online encyclopedia.

Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free content on a volunteer basis. In 1991, participants of the Usenet newsgroup[8] started Project Galactic Guide to produce a real version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a fictional encyclopedia used in the works of Douglas Adams. Although it originally aimed to contain only real, factual articles, the policy was changed to allow and encourage semi-real and unreal articles as well. Project Galactic Guide contains over 1700 articles, but no new articles have been added since 2000, which was a year after the foundation of h2g2.

The 1993 Interpedia proposal was planned as an encyclopedia on the Internet to which everyone could contribute materials. The project never left the planning stage and was overtaken by a key branch[clarification needed] of old printed encyclopedias.

Another early online encyclopedia was called the Global Encyclopedia. In November 1995, James Rettig, Assistant Dean of University Libraries for Reference and Information Services at College of William & Mary, presented an unfavorable review at the 15th Annual Charleston Conference on library acquisitions and related issues. He said of the Global Encyclopedia:[9]

This is a volunteer effort to compile an encyclopedia and distribute it for free on the World Wide Web. If you have ever yearned to be the author of an encyclopedia article, yearn no longer. Take a minute (or even two or three if you are feeling scholarly) to write an article on a topic of your choosing and [e]mail it off to the unnamed "editors". These editors (to use that title very loosely) have generated a list of approximately 1,300 topics they want to include; to date, perhaps a quarter of them have been treated. ... This so-called encyclopedia gives amateurism a bad name. It is being compiled without standards or guidelines for article structure, content, or reading level. It makes no apparent effort to check the qualifications and authority of the volunteer authors. Its claim that "Submitted articles are fact-checked, corrected for spelling, and then formatted" is at best an exaggeration.[9]

Examples of article entries included Iowa City:

A city of approximately 60,000 people, Iowa City lies in the eastern half of Iowa. It is also the home of the University of Iowa ([9]

Wikipedia is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia written and maintained by a community of volunteer contributors, known as Wikipedians, through a model of open collaboration. It is the largest and most-read reference work in history.[10] Wikipedia originally developed from another encyclopedia project called Nupedia.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Project Gutenberg Encyclopedia". Project Gutenberg. 1 January 1995. Archived from the original on 19 December 2023. Retrieved 19 December 2023.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, "Lord Chamberlain" to "Luqman", 9 August 2013, archived from the original on 19 December 2023, retrieved 19 December 2023
  3. ^ "Software". The Britannica Store. Britannica Encyclopædia. Archived from the original on 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  4. ^ "Encyclopedia Britannica | Britannica". Britannica Encyclopædia. Archived from the original on 25 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  5. ^ "The 1911 edition of Encyclopedia Britannica". Archived from the original on 27 September 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2005.
  6. ^ "Easton's Bible Dictionary by Easton". Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Archived from the original on 3 August 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2003.
  7. ^ "Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001". Archived from the original on 5 February 2002. Retrieved 5 February 2002.
  8. ^ "". Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
  9. ^ a b c "Putting the Squeeze on the Information Firehose: The Need for 'Neteditors and 'Netreviewers". 11 January 2005. Archived from the original on 11 January 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
  10. ^ "Wikipedia is 20, and its reputation has never been higher". The Economist. 9 January 2021. Archived from the original on 31 December 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
  11. ^ Kock, Ned; Jung, Yusun; Syn, Thant (2016). "Wikipedia and e-Collaboration Research: Opportunities and Challenges" (PDF). International Journal of e-Collaboration. 12 (2). IGI Global: 1–8. doi:10.4018/IJeC.2016040101. ISSN 1548-3681. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2016.

External links[edit]