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Encyclopedia Britannica to Take User Contributions 82

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the just-not-how-we'd-expect dept.
Barence writes "Britannica has long been a vocal critic of Wikipedia's user-generated content, and has repeatedly attacked the accuracy of its articles. Surprisingly, then, it is rolling out a new system allowing readers to potentially contribute to articles, Wiki-style. But Britannica is keen to stress that its new website will not be following the Wiki-model, describing it 'as a collaborative process but not a democratic one.' You can try out the new Britannica beta site."
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Encyclopedia Britannica to Take User Contributions

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  • by Azathfeld (725855) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:49AM (#23708327)
    Because the only thing that could be better than pure oligarchy or pure anarchy is a blend of the two.
    • by sm62704 (957197) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:23AM (#23708831) Journal
      That's why I prefer to do my research using either uncyclopeia [uncyclopedia.org], or even more preferably an infinite number of monkeys with typewriters (if I can find enough monkeys).

      For my news I prefer either UnNews (Today's on-topic headline "Society collapses, Anarchy reigns") [uncyclopedia.org] or the Onion (today's Onion headline is also on-topic, Terrible Idea Committed To Paper [theonion.com].

      The UNcyclopedia has this [uncyclopedia.org] to say about the Encyclopædia Britannica:

      Encyclopædia Britannica
      From Uncyclopedia, the content-free encyclopedia.
      Jump to: navigation, search

        Encyclopædia Britannica
      The Encyclopædia Britannica is the only official compilation of the vast scholarly wisdom of Britannica Spears with her latest creation, the Encyclopaedia BrittanicaThe Encyclopædia Britannica is the only official compilation of the vast scholarly wisdom of internationally-renowned scholar Britannica "Britney" Spears. Covering every imaginable topic from Aardvarks to ZZ Top, the Brittanica is respected worldwide both for the substantial academic weight that its prose contains and for the number of encyclopædia salespeople who have broken their backs travelling door-to-door with a complete set of these fine volumes.

      Originally, Ms. Spears had set out simply to write a short essay on the Aardvark population of Australia and Austria but somehow she got carried away. In less time than it takes to say Oops, I did it again! the entire 41-volume set was a reality, revolutionising the academic community at the stroke of a pen.

      [edit] The Encyclopædia
      The first edition of the encyclopædia has sold out long ago; copies are very rare indeed and fetch upwards of 1 million at exclusive Sotheby's auctions among the moneyed and lettered elite of Great Britain.

      A second edition, the exclusive Baby One More Time box set is still available but copies are becoming very scarce indeed and dealers in rare books are doing their utmost to lay their hands on a copy before all are gone.

      Noted fikiwiddler Andrew Orlowski says that the Briteyannica is much better than Uncyclopedia.

      [edit] See also
      Albert Einstein
      Oxford University
      Oxford English Dictionary
      Sorbonne of Paris
      NASA
      Retrieved from "http://uncyclopedia.org/wiki/Encyclop%C3%A6dia_Britannica"
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:49AM (#23708329)
    You become what you hate
    • by Joe the Lesser (533425) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:55AM (#23708401) Homepage Journal
      Or as Yosemite Sam says: "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em."
      • Re:Kafka said it (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Slimee (1246598) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:15AM (#23708701) Journal
        Aw man, now THAT is a flashback...Yosemite Sam...ahhh Bugs Bunny. But honestly, I think there's way too much focus on the accuracy of Wiki Articles...Everyone attacks their validity, but let's face it, 90% of the things on there are cited and true...Sure, I wouldn't use Wiki to find out information of political figures or celebrities for a paper, but it's frustrating to be denied use of a wiki article when it comes to things like music and art, because such specific things just don't get the same attention on the net, and the best resource for finding information out about your favourite 80's cartoon is Wikipedia. When someone enters in a BS entry, it gets pulled so fast that the intended joke of the entry is seen by only a small handful of people.

        People are just too afraid of change, and too afraid of not being able to 100% control the information that flows.

        Information wants to be free, yo.
        • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:31AM (#23709033) Journal
          I've always wondered what the deal is with not being allowed to use wikipedia for school etc. If you learned to research anything with some efficacy you would know that you CAN go to wikipedia and use the cited references there to write your own information. You are also not allowed to use someone else's paper from last semester.

          As far as political figures and celebreties, wikipedia is about as accurate as ANYTHING else in the world. You can't trust MSM about them, can't trust fan magazines, can't trust any information you get about political figures unless it's backed up by multiple other sources.

          So, really, why is it such a pain to not be allowed to cite wikipedia?
          • Re:Kafka said it (Score:2, Insightful)

            by owlnation (858981) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:06AM (#23709673)

            I've always wondered what the deal is with not being allowed to use wikipedia for school etc. If you learned to research anything with some efficacy you would know that you CAN go to wikipedia and use the cited references there to write your own information. You are also not allowed to use someone else's paper from last semester.
            You are terrifying. If you are the future of our race, we're screwed. You need to try to see the wood for the trees more.

            In the unlikely event you find a Wikipedia article with a primary source. Then why not quote the primary source? You need to understand that many, if not most Wikipedia articles are written by people who are NOT experts on a subject, but believe themselves to be experts. If you are an expert on a subject, go to that Wikipedia entry and you will find errors. If you are lucky it will be a page that isn't protected by a cabal, and you'll be able to correct the errors. If it is protected, you can forget it. Wikipedia articles have nothing to do with real truth, only the truth the admins want you to accept.

            Most articles sources are NOT valid sources -- random web pages, tabloid magazine articles, some guy's blog etc. aren't peer review, or accountable journalism. Things like your post, and the and the earlier story about "why do we need scientific journals anymore" are conclusive proof that the FoxNews/Wikiality generation is in some way brainwashed. Homo Sapiens is doomed if you guys get into power.

            Trust your teachers and their ban on Wikipedia, you teachers are much wiser than you are!
            • Re:Kafka said it (Score:4, Insightful)

              by zappepcs (820751) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:17AM (#23709883) Journal
              Slow down, take the lens cap off for a bit.

              I said "If you learned to research anything with some efficacy you would know that you CAN go to wikipedia and use the cited references there to write your own information."

              So, lets say this, if you find me terrifying, perhaps you should rethink your opinion of yourself. If you go to wikipedia and find the cited references are not any good (circular, tabloid, etc.) then keep searching, unless of course you want to cite such references, but don't blame me or wikipedia, or anyone because you did not do YOUR part in researching the information that you need. DAMN!

              I heartily reject the idea, and your assertion that my teacher are wiser than I am. They may well be more educated, but that does NOT make them wiser. meh
              • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:55PM (#23714539) Homepage Journal
                I think he was also straw-maning a teachers opinion to be your teachers opinion.
              • by RockDoctor (15477) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:59AM (#23720729) Journal

                I heartily reject the idea, and your assertion that my teacher are wiser than I am. They may well be more educated, but that does NOT make them wiser.
                This is logically true. But if placing bets, it is a sound and likely-to-be-correct basis for betting.
                • by zappepcs (820751) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @08:39AM (#23723709) Journal
                  This is logically true. But if placing bets, it is a sound and likely-to-be-correct basis for betting, for some definition of wise.

                  You seem to have forgotten that not all students are acne faced 17 year olds. Not all places of learning are called classrooms, and all teachers did NOT graduate at the top of their class. There are bad teachers, bad policemen, bad doctors, bad fireman.
                  • by Reziac (43301) * on Saturday June 14, 2008 @03:25AM (#23789747) Homepage Journal
                    Don't confuse knowledge and wisdom.

                    Knowledge can be accumulated at any age, and kids are generally better at collecting it than adults, because kids are still curious about everything. But wisdom comes only with sufficient realworld experience, which VERY few 17 year olds have, not even the best and brightest (indeed, their book learning often interferes with their ability to learn wisdom). Wisdom takes TIME and EXPERIENCE, and doesn't necessarily have anything to do with education (tho a broad education can help).

                    Myself, I've know altogether too many well-educated, highly-intelligent people who lack all wisdom and can't seem to learn any (perhaps because wisdom cannot be represented by mere facts, and they don't consider anything that's not represented by facts), and I've also known people with little or no education who are nonetheless wise with long experience.

            • by Phorion (963169) on Monday June 09, 2008 @02:40PM (#23713163)

              If you are an expert on a subject, go to that Wikipedia entry and you will find errors. If you are lucky it will be a page that isn't protected by a cabal, and you'll be able to correct the errors. If it is protected, you can forget it. Wikipedia articles have nothing to do with real truth, only the truth the admins want you to accept.
              It's funny that you mention this, because real academic research has shown the opposite. Chesney (2006) [firstmonday.org] demonstrated that experts in a domain were more likely to rate a Wikipedia article dealing with their area of expertise as credible, meaning that the problem is not with the content but with Wikipedia's reputation as being assembled from grunts from the unwashed masses.
            • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:52PM (#23714455) Homepage Journal
              Britanica is not a primary source either. A good paper should NOT quote any encyclopedia or dictionary for EXACTLY THE SAME REASON! Teachers that "ban" wikipedia are just lazy, just as students that try to call Wikipedia a primary source lazy. A newspaper or magazine is rarely a primary source, while a academic journals ARE primary sources. Teachers need to stop telling students what NOT to do, and start telling them what TO do.

              There is no reason for an explicit ban on what has already been banned by default, and teachers that can't explain to students the purpose of using primary sources to justify their grading policy should not be teachers.

              If you trust your teachers, you will question everything, especially things you disagree with. Also, the wikipedia ban is news hype and FAR from any kind of majority opinion among teachers. Not to mention the answer you get from teachers regarding their opinion of many subjects varies greatly with the person asking the question, and how they ask it :)
              • by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:58AM (#23720711) Homepage
                What is becoming popular now is to say wikipedia is a good place to start your research as it far more often than not has quality information as well as useful links to primary sources but just don't reference it and definitely extend your research beyond it.

                As for Britannica seeking public contributions, obviously falling sales are having a significant affect, so the temptation to seek 'free' contributions which they will then claim as theirs and then sell them will be pretty high ;).

                Having gone back to university, I can tell you that I have found wikipedia to be the best source for quick answers, on every topic I have looked up. So after absorbing the quick easy answer, wikipedia also more often than not provided links to a primary source where more in depth answers could be obtained and suitable references obtained, so is Britannica in trouble, definitely, such is life. I love books but I would never consider buying a dead tree version of an encyclopaedia any more, as for a digital version, well, the reality is wikipedia is the best regardless of price, so congratulations and thank you :).

            • by RealGrouchy (943109) on Monday June 09, 2008 @05:01PM (#23715571)

              If you are the future of our race, we're screwed.
              Your choice of words--while tangential to the argument at hand--seems to indicate that your response is more of a hasty alarmist response than a well-considered argument.

              - RG>
          • Re:Kafka said it (Score:2, Informative)

            by Skrapion (955066) <skorpion&firefang,com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:12PM (#23710863) Homepage

            I've always wondered what the deal is with not being allowed to use wikipedia for school etc.
            Generally, you're not supposed to use any tertiary sources (e.g. encyclopedias) in research papers. However, you can use them to find primary and secondary sources, and Wikipedia is no different in this regard.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:50AM (#23708343) Homepage Journal
    I shall submit an article on the 'electronic encyclopedia, which anyone can edit.'
  • by PC and Sony Fanboy (1248258) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:56AM (#23708407) Journal
    Let me get this straight. The encyclopedia Britannica will now be powered through user generated (but not user selected) articles... To me, it sounds like they're getting free work for a paid product.

    1. Make encyclopedia
    2. Get a lot of people to submit articles for free
    3. Pay a few people to edit and select the best articles
    4. ???????
    5. Profit!
  • by analog_line (465182) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:56AM (#23708417)
    From the terms of service on the linked Britannica site:

    By sending information or material, you automatically grant to Britannica, a royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable, non-exclusive license to use, reproduce, modify, publish, edit, translate, distribute, perform, and display it alone or as part of other works in any form, media, or technology whether now known or hereafter developed, and to sublicense such rights through multiple tiers of sublicensees.


    Wikipedia may have serious accuracy problems in a lot of areas (not all of coruse, but it's not hard to find them) but at least they aren't using me as unpaid labor to save them from having to hire researchers.
    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:12PM (#23710875)

      Wikipedia may have serious accuracy problems in a lot of areas (not all of coruse, but it's not hard to find them) but at least they aren't using me as unpaid labor to save them from having to hire researchers.
      Sure they are, and that is not a bug, it is a feature.
      • You're right, but there's a big difference. People who contribute to Wikipedia and free software projects volunteer their efforts because they believe in the project and want to support it. Since the contributers are also users, they are rewarded with a better product.

        With Britannica and non-free open source projects, the clueless suits see the above examples and take away the impression that nerds like to work for free.

        -B
        • by laddiebuck (868690) on Monday June 09, 2008 @05:29PM (#23715957)
          "People who contribute to Wikipedia and free software projects volunteer their efforts because they believe in the project and want to support it. Since the contributers are also users, they are rewarded with a better product."

          As I said a few posts above, there is nothing exclusive here. Though I fully believe in OSS, and do not believe in proprietary software (and refuse to use it), I can and do believe in the cause of Britannica and do want to support it. I am a user, I would like to be a contributor, and I would be rewarded with a better product. There is no contradiction.

          As a disclaimer, I read Wikipedia far more than I read Britannica; I find it to be more complete and verbose and thorough. I believe in Wikipedia too and contribute to it often.

          What I don't believe in is the rivalry between the two. Wikipedia may supplant Britannica and Britannica may die, but I would still have liked and supported both.
    • by laddiebuck (868690) on Monday June 09, 2008 @05:26PM (#23715913)
      Yeah, in stark opposition to all the hours of paid labour you put in on Wikipedia.

      All the material you submit to Wikipedia is no longer yours either. It is under a permissive licence, and if this is what you want, then great, you put in volunteer work for a cause you like.

      I would venture that many people also believe in the cause of Britannica enough to put in volunteer work for it, a cause they like, licence and all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:57AM (#23708439)

    Britannica is keen to stress that its new website will not be following the Wiki-model, describing it "as a collaborative process but not a democratic one."
    Wikipedia is not a democracy [wikipedia.org].
  • by zsouthboy (1136757) on Monday June 09, 2008 @09:59AM (#23708449)
    To help them, for free.
  • Brilliant strategy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:01AM (#23708481)
    1 - Capitalize on the buzz created by Wikipedia, falsely open Britannica to contributions
    2 - Keep hand on content, unlike Wikipedia, edit contributed content and sell as own
    3 - Profit

    I know there's truth in their beef against the wiki process, but really what I mostly see is a great way for Britannica to get raw material faster without having to pay anybody.
  • spit (Score:0, Troll)

    by greven6400 (1304475) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:01AM (#23708485)
    brittanica licks its own spit off the ground, that's what happens. also somebody will contribute and brittanica will earn from that? what a naive idea they have.
  • by sammyo (166904) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:01AM (#23708489) Journal
    Could be serious, can't you just see some poor grad student needing a intervention after a long weekend following circular references...
  • by TCP-mHz (606294) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#23708525)
    Ok, I had a teacher tell me that Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for information due to the fact that anyone can edit the information on there. With Britannica going the same route, I wonder how long before that will not be a valid source as well? Despite them claiming they are not going to be "wiki" like, if your average Joe can submit information, I wonder how long it will go before people start attacking their credibility the way they have Wikipedia?
    • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:29AM (#23710071)
      Encyclopedia Britannica is not really a valid source of information for a research paper anyway. Quite often the articles are out-of-date or represent the most conservative views in a given field. Your high school might allow you to quote EB (especially if all the original sources are in journals that the school can't afford to buy) but you shouldn't get into that habit, as after high school, you'll get your ass kicked if you try to quote EB as a primary source.
    • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @04:18PM (#23714891) Homepage Journal

      Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for information due to the fact that anyone can edit the information on there.
      Plenty of books have wrong information in them too. Wikipedia is the only place where corrections can be made AFTER publication. This makes Wikipedia MORE credible. Wikipedia is unacceptable as a source because it is an encyclopedia / summary of information and not a primary source. Many teachers won't grade you down for using secondary sources, like they should, because teachers NEVER check sources. Wikipedia is just the most common secondary source used by students that will be easily identifiable by teachers.

      I believe Wikipedia even has as part of its guideline / policy, do not publish primary source data on Wikipedia because that is not the purpose of an encyclopedia. There was some controversy over this for a short while, but people agreed it is much easier to get published elsewhere on the web, then cross reference it in wiki. By the same note, follow the source links on the bottom of the page and check the source for yourself. Britannica has no such credibility in that sense. Britannica does not give you the tools to check the accuracy of the information in the book the way wiki does, if not at least because Britannica uses more references from out of print, in copyright references that lack web publication.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:04AM (#23708531)
    Corpse turN3d over
  • Encarta tried it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:07AM (#23708577)
    Encarta already tried it. [slashdot.org]

    It didn't work because it doesn't feel like you're collaborating and "owning" the submission, it feels like you're giving your time and effort to some large entity which has control over the content.

    Clay Shirky explains it better in Here Comes Everybody [amazon.com] but the basic idea is that WikiPedia belongs to the people who submit, in a way, which means people are more likely to.
    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:04AM (#23709639)
      More importantly citzendium tried it and even let you keep the copyright, but there is only space for one wikipedia, all attempted improvements have failed because they simply dont have the numbers.
      • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @04:38PM (#23715251) Homepage Journal
        Also, the whole system and the bots that now work Wikipedia are very advanced. It could happen, but if someone were to come up with a system better than Wikipedia, it could take over, though unlikely. I think it would be more likely for Wikipedia to fork, which it already has done in some ways for certain subjects. Like F/OSS, someone could come up with another Kernel with exactly the same governmental system as Linux, but it wouldn't take, even if it was better for a variety of reasons. HURD had some great advantages over Linux, but that didn't make it good enough.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @01:43PM (#23712329)

      It didn't work because it doesn't feel like you're collaborating and "owning" the submission, it feels like you're giving your time and effort to some large entity which has control over the content.
      The reason it feels like that, by the way, is because you are giving your time and effort to some large entity which has control over the content, and who will profit from your work without returning value to you or others.
  • by nharmon (97591) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:07AM (#23708579) Homepage

    But Britannica is keen to stress that its new website will not be following the Wiki-model, describing it "as a collaborative process but not a democratic one."
    First, Wikipedia is not a democracy [wikipedia.org].

    Second, facts are not democratic. You can't VOTE on what will be true. Trust me, it's been tried [youtube.com].
    • by maxume (22995) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23708665)
      Wikipedia is a horrible place to link to in order to describe Wikipedia. Among other things, the page you link makes this preposterous claim:

      "Wikipedia is not a bureaucracy"
    • by bsDaemon (87307) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:25AM (#23708863)

      Second, facts are not democratic. You can't VOTE on what will be true. Trust me, it's been tried [youtube.com].
      That may be true for maths and science articles, however anything remotely political is going to be biased as hell in one way or another, and those that agree with the bias will say its a "fact" and those that don't will say its lies.

      For instance, in the article about Benito Mussolini, they go out of their way to talk about how he was violent and evil right up front.

      In the article on Che Guevara, there is only a passing mention about how some people find his methods controversial, and its buried half way down.

      Was Mussolini heavy-handed? Yes. But Guevara killed hundreds of people with his own gun, sentenced kids to prison for sassing their parents, etc. He exported violent revolution from Cuba to Africa and the rest of Latin America which lead to the deaths of tens of thousands, if not more.

      Che Guevara was NOT a nice guy who gave candy to kids. However, clearly Wikipedians love him.

      This is an example of "facts" being "voted on," and an example of why reliance on wikipedia for anything other than science or maths is a bad idea.

      hell, be wary even of that, no matter what sort of good news that it espouses for African elephants.

      • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:58AM (#23709531)
        No go to a peer reviewed history book and read up on the same people .... look familiar? yes they are biased as well ....

        As Henry Ford said "History is more or less bunk"

        Mussolini was not a particularly nice person, but must have done some things people approved of or he would have not been in power .... the same goes for Che Guevara

        History is not decided democratically it is decided by the winners, and by peoples bad memories ...
    • by the_humeister (922869) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:26AM (#23708907)

      You can't VOTE on what will be true.
      Sure you can. However, depending on the parameters, the result may or may not be correct. For example, if a group of people vote to change the sky to yellow, they'll need to change the definition of yellow, or they could be completely color-blind.
    • by Durova (1088517) on Monday June 09, 2008 @03:31PM (#23714087)
      You'd think in all these years of bashing Wikipedia they would have checked Wikipedia's core policies before writing the press release.
    • by azgard (461476) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:28AM (#23720497)
      Actually, this notion is a bit false. It was misinterpreted over the years. The original quote was "Wikipedia is not an experiment in democracy", which meant, it's an encyclopedia, but not a primary vehicle to test democratic methods. But it didn't predicate for it _not_ to be democracy in any way.

      In fact, I believe (and I am not alone) that unless Wikipedia doesn't accept more democratic decision-making processes, it will fail. There is really no third way - either you have democracy (rule of the majority), or you have some form of authoritative system (rule of minority).

      This all of course doesn't mean that facts can be decided by democracy - the democratization of Wikipedia is concerned of governance (things like how to decide who has power, what articles should be accepted and things like that), not specific articles (like what should be in the specific article).
  • by alen (225700) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#23708627)
    shocking, who still uses it?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:36AM (#23709145)
      The Encyclopaedia Brittanica is nearly dead in the online world but it still has application in the real one. Libraries still buy it and students too because it's a good starting point when you're researching something you know absolutely nothing about.

      At uni we're specifically told NOT to research using Wikipedia, mostly because a lot of students don't know how to check what's been changed recently and what 'facts' are actually crap. Wikipedia's come a long way but it still has psuedoscience on a lot of articles.

      The other thing is that EB provides entry level info in articles, Wikipedia's articles tend to cover beginner to advanced stuff and it's not always the best way to learn about something if you're a newbie.

      I think this is more an education flaw (not teaching students how to research, check resources etc) than a failing on Wikipedia's behalf but at the moment, EB still carries more weight in the academic world.
      • by pbhj (607776) on Monday June 09, 2008 @01:37PM (#23712239) Homepage Journal

        Libraries still buy it and students too
        Which students can afford to buy Enc.Brit and why would they when you can read it at the library for free?

        At uni we're specifically told NOT to research using Wikipedia, mostly because a lot of students don't know how to check what's been changed recently and what 'facts' are actually crap.
        Perhaps they should try educating you as to what is regarded as plagiarising wikipedia and what is research? Moreover, are you really taught to just trust a book because it's printed (or perhaps because it costs a lot)?

        To my mind wikipedia is great in that you can often see the thoughts of different factions battling for supremacy. Many of the pages I've viewed do provide good citations.

      • by thtrgremlin (1158085) on Monday June 09, 2008 @04:47PM (#23715367) Homepage Journal

        I think this is more an education flaw (not teaching students how to research, check resources etc) than a failing on Wikipedia's behalf
        EXACTLY!

        Teachers need to spend more time teaching students exactly how to write good papers. Possibly walk them through writing a good paper rather than just telling them what not to do. Also, since Wikipedia is such an important tool for so many, academic and otherwise, teachers should educate students on how to use it appropriately, not just censor it.
    • by RiotingPacifist (1228016) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:01AM (#23709579)
      yeah.
      "The articles in the Britannica are aimed at educated adult readers, and written by a staff of 19 full-time editors and over 4,000 expert contributors. It is widely perceived as the most scholarly of encyclopaedias"[1] [wikipedia.org]
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:30PM (#23711147)
      Ironically, wikipedia references it fairly heavily.

      Many articles are flagged as being initially lifted straight from the 1904 edition (public domain) and then edited and revised from there.

      I love how the internet ensures we always have the most current information.
    • by laddiebuck (868690) on Monday June 09, 2008 @05:32PM (#23716017)
      Most universities have an online subscription to it, like they do to academic journals. I read it reguarly. I tend to read Wikipedia for science and trivia and Britannica for history or politics. These are not exclusive, but it's a general trend.
  • by lobiusmoop (305328) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:11AM (#23708635) Homepage
    I would add an appendage to their article on 'Alchohol' about the best drink in existence. [wikipedia.org]
  • First impressions (Score:5, Interesting)

    by consonant (896763) <shrikant DOT n AT gmail DOT com> on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:12AM (#23708645) Homepage
    Waaay too much "rich content" for my tastes. When visiting a site for information, I, for one, do NOT want:
    • Videos auto-running
    • Random elements zooming around
    • Mouseover actions that surprise (I still don't think mainstream WWW pages are ready for a http://www.dontclick.it/ [dontclick.it] - like UI)
    This also sounds suspiciously a LOT like Google Knol [wikipedia.org]. Encyclopaedia Britannica is reacting to Wikipedia the way Microsoft reacted to Google/Firefox. Giant established behemoth in its field getting its comeuppance from upstarts due to its inability to adapt to changing times, and trying to pick itself off the ground to play catch-up..
  • by wile_e_wonka (934864) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:13AM (#23708667)
    It sounds like the article is suggesting people can offer whole articles for submission. It seems that Wikipedia works because people can write just bits and pieces. And then, if I see something wrong, or if something changes, I can just make that minor little change myself. So, to fix some minor error in an Encycopedia Britannica article, I have to write a whole article? What if the article has some error within an article, or something has changed making the article no longer up-to-date and I want to just suggest a correction?
  • by bbasgen (165297) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23709213) Homepage

      First, it has taken them 7 years to figure out how to respond to Wikipedia, let alone have any kind of tenable internet strategy? Good for them.

      Second, they are still clueless about wikipedia, and can't even critique it properly. Wikipedia is not a democracy, it is based on consensus decision making, which has a different set of flaws. Their straw-man concept of editor versus the masses is literally stolen from the 20th century.

      Third, have any of you checked out their site? Are you kidding me? It is full of junk! Adds, photos, stupid celebrity information, etc. I mean, this is web design 1990s style, covered with the "modernizing" sheep's clothing of flash. They just don't get it: we don't go to an encyclopedia to get bombarded by useless information and junk. On the contrary!

      Finally, they've got the whole paradigm upside down. You don't build a website by making it closed and proprietary, and then let the "community" trickle in amidst various and sundry rules. You have to start the site completely open, and slowly develop structure in response to your community.

      Britannica, I have no idea who is paying your bills anymore, but do us all a favor: read your entry for evolution then obsolescence, again and again, until you get it.
    • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Monday June 09, 2008 @12:41PM (#23711309)

      Third, have any of you checked out their site? Are you kidding me? It is full of junk! Adds, photos, stupid celebrity information, etc. I mean, this is web design 1990s style, covered with the "modernizing" sheep's clothing of flash. They just don't get it: we don't go to an encyclopedia to get bombarded by useless information and junk. On the contrary!
      Worse, the interface is clumsy, it is really hard to navigate with the keyboard because of the heavy use of frames, the Javascript is buggy with the keyboard focus randomly shifting away from the article text to the outline and scrolling is horribly sluggish, and can run on for 20 - 30 seconds with the interface unresponsive. During that pain I'm getting served with intrusive ads.

      Other problems: the articles are very thinly hyperlinked with typically less than one link per page of text, betraying the print media origin of the material. They tend to be written in a flowery, self absorbed language. In general, I want to be impressed by the content and not the form.

      The Britannica articles are often longer and more informative than Wikipedia ones but generally not to a compelling degree. With Wikipedia evolving much faster I don't see any chance at all for Britannica's current (partial) advantage in content to overcome its huge drawbacks compared to Wikipedia: subscription model and bespoke content.
    • Wikipedia is not a democracy, it is based on consensus decision making, which has a different set of flaws
      There is certainly some democratic element to it, new admins are made through a voting process and some of the board members are also voted for.

      And the procedure they reffer to as "getting a rough consensus" is pretty much voting but the admins can deny votes on a whim.

      There is also a god king element. Wales has stacked the board in his favour and admins must not undo actions taken by him or his underlings or they lose thier admin powers.

      I suspect there is also a cabel element though only those in a cabel will really know for sure if it exists or not.

      and finally there is simple persistance. If the admin cabel and the foundation board don't get involved the most persistant editors will win through repeatedly compromising and then setting up a new conflict. It helps to have an army of sockpuppets or better still meatpuppets preferablly with different IP addresses (or better still ISPs) and writing styles.

      All in all a bit of a weired mix. Seems to work ok for articles with mostly indisputable content. Not so well for anything political.
  • by BenphemeR (1301865) on Monday June 09, 2008 @10:40AM (#23709223) Homepage
    I just tried using the Beta, waaay too slow. Wikipedia wins!
  • by Spassoklabanias (1295839) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:08AM (#23709697) Journal
    Probably the best action from Wikipedia contributors would be to post an animated lolcat on Britannica's entry with neon blinking lights surrounding the text 'owned', but I have a tingling feeling this would deviate slightly from Wikipedia's NPOV principle.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:09AM (#23709713)
    Wow, it feels *really* encyclopedic to be slapped across the face with banner ads. Looks more like a vacant-domain-page to me. So 90's!

    --
    The most common initial word in a Wikipedia sentence: "However".
  • by denzacar (181829) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:12AM (#23709775) Journal

                (Scene : A front door of a flat. A man walks up to the door and rings bell. He is dressed smartly, like a Salesman.)

                Salesman: Burglar! (longish pause while he waits, he rings again) Burglar! (woman appears at other side of door)

                Woman: Yes?

                Salesman: Burglar, madam.

                Woman: What do you want?

                Salesman: I wart to come in and steal a few firings, madam.

                Woman: Are you an encyclopaedia salesman?

                Salesman: No madam, I'm a burglar, I burgle people.

                Woman: I think you're an encyclopaedia salesman.

                Salesman: Oh I'm not, open the door, let me in please.

                Woman: lf l let you in you'll sell me encyclopaedias.

                Salesman: I won't, madam. I just want to come in and ransack the flat. Honestly.

                Woman: Promise. No encyclopaedias?

                Salesman: None at all.

                Woman: All right. (she opens door) You'd better come in then.

                (Salesman enters trough door.)

                Salesman: Mind you I don't know whether you've really considered the advantages of owning a really fine set of modern encyclopaedias...(he pockets valuable) You know, they can really do you wonders.

                (Cut back to man at desk.)

                Man: That man was a successful encyclopaedia salesman. But not all encyclopaedia salesmen are successful. Here is an unsuccessful encyclopaedia salesman.

                (Cut to very tall building; a body flies out of a high window and plummets. Cut back to man at desk.)

                Man: Now here are two unsuccessful encyclopaedia salesmen.

                (Cut to a different tall building; two bodies fly out of a high window. Cut back to man at desk.)

                Man: I think there's a lesson there for all of us.

  • by intellections (1304563) on Monday June 09, 2008 @11:59AM (#23710655)
    Generally Encyclopedias are not considered valid sources for research papers anyway. They're great for getting a quick handle on what you're supposed to be doing your paper on but there aren't too many circumstances where they are considered okay for that use. I still feel wikipedia is just as good if not a better source than any other encyclopedia, it's amazing how fast those articles are updated. As long as you're careful not to believe every little thing you read you are probably going to get the best and most updated information from wikipedia
  • by Narcocide (102829) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:02PM (#23717103) Homepage
    Hideous. The beta site is absolutely ugly. It makes my eyes hurt.
  • by Random BedHead Ed (602081) on Monday June 09, 2008 @07:35PM (#23717491) Homepage Journal
    Really? An encyclopedia that accepts user submissions? Wow, only on the Internet!
  • by azgard (461476) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:34AM (#23720519)
    .. really saved my day. I mean, this is really dangerous, collective decision-making by _all_ the people!
  • by dugeen (1224138) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:41AM (#23722133) Journal
    Britannica are hardly well placed to criticise the accuracy of Wikipaedia. They've spent decades trading on an unearned folk reputation for accuracy. Einbinder, _The Myth of the Britannica_ is an excellent source on this. Now please excuse me as I have a report due on space.

"I got everybody to pay up front...then I blew up their planet." "Now why didn't I think of that?" -- Post Bros. Comics

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