The Encyclopedia Britannica has launched a new online version where users can contribute and edit content with the benefit of having their name attached to the submission.
Britannica’s president, Jorge Cauz has made it clear that they are a not trying to be a “wiki” so won’t allow users to write anything and have it published. They will ensure that each contribution is checked and verified by their editors.
The Britannica site only attracts about 1.5 million people daily compared to Wikipedia’s approx 6 million visitors. Britannica has been around for 240 years and is very popular in the academic market with many of the world’s top universities having access to it.
Britannica say they are not interested in attracting in spreading information in the same style of Wikipedia. Britannica will continue to rely on its 2500 – 4500 regular experts but are hoping the Internet will allow them to tap into more potential contributors.
Contribution from non-academic users will sit in a separate section to the expert-generated Britannica content. In addition to this each article will have a robust history with details of the changes made along with details of who made them.
There are many more features that Britannica will roll out over the next six months including an article rating system, a comprehensive list of contributors by subject area and the ability of users to post questions to contributors.