Online encyclopedia

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An online encyclopedia is an encyclopedia accessible through the internet. The idea to build a free encyclopedia using the Internet can be traced at least to the 1994 Interpedia proposal; it 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 of old printed encyclopedias.

Digitization of old content[edit]

In January 1995, Project Gutenberg started to publish the ASCII text of the Encyclopædia Britannica, 11th edition (1911), but disagreement about the method halted the work after the first volume. For trademark reasons this has been published as the Gutenberg Encyclopedia. In 2002, ASCII text of and 48 sounds of music was published on Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition[1] by source; a copyright claim was added to the materials, but it probably has no legal validity.[original research?] Project Gutenberg has restarted work on digitising and proofreading this encyclopedia; as of June 2005 it had not yet been published. Meanwhile, in the face of competition from rivals such as Encarta, the latest Britannica was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM and later as an online service. Other digitization projects have made progress in other titles. One example is Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897) digitized by the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.[2] Probably the most important and successful digitization of an encyclopedia was the Bartleby Project's online adaptation of the Columbia Encyclopedia, tenth Edition,[3] in early 2000 and is updated periodically.

Creation of new content[edit]

Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free contents on a volunteer basis. In 1991, the participants of the Usenet newsgroup[4] started a project to produce a real version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, a fictional encyclopedia used in the works of Douglas Adams. It became known as Project Galactic Guide. Although it originally aimed to contain only real, factual articles, 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; this is probably partly due to the founding of h2g2, a more official project along similar lines.

Encyclopedias that are no longer online[edit]

  • GNE, an initiative which did not come to fruition. GNE was abandoned in favour of Nupedia once Nupedia adopted the GNU Free Documentation License.[5]
  • Interpedia, 1993
  • Nupedia, a slow-moving project to produce a free peer reviewed encyclopedia. Nupedia shut down on September 26, 2003, and much of its content has since been assimilated by Wikipedia.

Current online encyclopedias[edit]

  • Baidu Baike – a Chinese collaborative online encyclopedia hosted by the major Chinese search engine Baidu
  • Citizendium – opened in March 2007 by Larry Sanger
  • Conservapedia – an encyclopedia written from a viewpoint supportive of Conservative Christianity and Young Earth creationism
  • Enciclopedia Libre – a Spanish fork of the Spanish Wikipedia, using wiki software, released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
  • Encyclopedia Britannica
  • Everything2 – has a wider range and does not exclusively focus on building an encyclopedia; its contents are not available under a copyleft license
  • H2G2 – a collection of sometimes humorous encyclopedia articles, based on an idea from Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Articles are not freely redistributable.
  • Hudong – remains to be the largest single-language encyclopedia in the world As of June 2012 with 6.4 million articles. Uses its own HDWiki software.
  • Metapedia – a white nationalist encyclopedia; multiple languages
  • New World Encyclopedia,[6] sponsored by the Unification Church
  • RationalWiki – a sometimes satirical and sometimes serious wiki website with articles written from a secular, progressive perspective. Created as a response to Conservapedia
  • Scholarpedia – an English-language encyclopedia written by academics
  • Wikipedia – the largest encyclopedia (in overall number of articles written in different languages), and the largest in English

Limited scope[edit]

Several online encyclopedias focus on mathematics:

  • MathWorld — a proprietary system hosted at Wolfram Research.
  • PlanetMath — a free wiki-style mathematical encyclopedia that was originally built to replace MathWorld, a proprietary system hosted at Wolfram Research which was down for some time due to legal difficulties. Since MathWorld has returned, PlanetMath has still thrived.
  • QED Project — was a project to establish a "distributed, computerized repository that rigorously represents all important, established mathematical knowledge."

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The site is no longer available
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Google Groups". Retrieved 2013-09-18. 
  5. ^ The Free Encyclopedia Project
  6. ^ "Info:Main Page". New World Encyclopedia. 2012-12-28. Retrieved 2013-09-18. 

External links[edit]