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Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Encyclopædia Britannica reaches Wikipedia's main page

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August 8, 2007

The Encyclopædia Britannica today appeared on the main page of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia as it became the day's featured article. This may be considered to be ironic, considering that the Encyclopædia Britannica has recently been critical of Wikipedia in terms of the website's openness and accuracy.

The Encyclopædia Britannica, first published in Scotland in 1768, has attacked Wikipedia in the past due to the way it is written. Whilst the Encyclopædia Britannica is written by a team of identified contributors, Wikipedia can be written by anyone who has access to an internet connection. As a result, the Encyclopædia Britannica claims to be more accurate.

However, according to one study carried out by the scientific journal Nature, a study of 42 random articles showed that Wikipedia had 162 errors, whilst the Encyclopædia Britannica had 123. The Encyclopædia Britannica responded by saying that the study was misleading due to certain articles were not taken from the Encyclopædia, some articles were combinations of several articles, others were simply excerpts.

Wikipedia's featured articles are to be examples of the site's finest work. Out of over 1.9 million articles that exist as of writing, there are only 1,535 featured articles. These are indicated with a bronze star in the top-right hand corner of the article.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The comparisons between Encyclopaedia Britannica and Wikipedia are very interesting.

From a corporate perspective, Encyclopaedia Britannica is in serious trouble. Britannica never thought that an open source product like Wikipedia would seriously challenge the credibility of its brand. They were wrong and Encyclopaedia Britannica's staff seriously misread the global market. They are now very concerned about the widespread use of a free Wikipedia vs their paid subscription model. Industry analysis shows that the accuracy of both encyclopedic databases is similar.

It is interesting that Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is developing a new search engine. It is the combination of a) improved search engines and b) the success of Wikipedia that has put financial pressure on Encyclopedia Britannica over recent years. Many libraries and schools are questioning the need to pay to subscribe to Encyclopaedia Britannica when the content is free on the internet. Google even has free direct links to Encyclopaedia Britannica's main database!!