Encyclopaedia Brittanica goes wiki

January 23, 2009 | 10:00

Tags: #encyclopaedia #encyclopedia #user-generated-content #web-20 #wiki #wikipedia

Companies: #encyclopaedia-brittanica

While Wikipedia might come under criticism for the quality and impartiality of some of its user-generated articles, it looks like the big boys have noted its success with interest – and the Encyclopaedia Britannica fancies a bit of that for itself.

In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald – via CNet - Encyclopaedia Britannica's president, Jorge Cauz, let slip that the web-based edition of the popular information source would be introducing the ability for users to edit, amend, and add to existing entries.

The plan is for the Encyclopaedia to allow web users to register on the site and suggest corrections, additions, and even entirely new subjects for the site. Unlike Wikipedia – which is almost entirely anarchic, relying on users themselves to maintain the quality of entries – these changes will be reviewed by a team of editors working for the company, and anything which doesn't make the grade will be rejected outright.

Cauz has promised that the use of staff to review suggestions won't introduce unacceptable delays – while the system won't be as responsive as a wiki, he's claiming a turnaround time from edit to publish (or reject) of twenty minutes. How much traffic the system could cope with before that figure starts to creep – or rocket – up remains to be seen.

Interestingly, Cuaz has also said that changes made by users of the website are also likely to be integrated into the print edition over time, although the main purpose – aside from getting all hip and down with the Web 2.0 kids – is to improve the site's ranking in search engines.

Would you be tempted to edit the Encyclopaedia Britannica for free, or is the project destined to turn the encyclopaedia into nothing more than a Wikipedia rip-off? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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