Online encyclopedias, also called Internet encyclopedias, are digital encyclopedias accessible through the Internet. Examples include Wikipedia, the Encyclopædia Britannica since 2016, and Encyclopedia.com.
Digitization of old content
This section needs additional citations for verification. (May 2021)
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. Project Gutenberg later[when?] restarted work on digitising and proofreading this encyclopedia. Project Gutenberg has published volumes in alphabetic order; the most recent publication is Volume 17 Slice 8: Matter–Mecklenburg published on 7 April 2013.[needs update] The latest Britannica was digitized by its publishers, and sold first as a CD-ROM, and later as an online service.
Other websites provide online encyclopedias, some of which are also available on Wikisource, but which may be more complete than those on Wikisource, or maybe different editions (see List of online encyclopedias).
Creation of new content
Another related branch of activity is the creation of new, free content on a volunteer basis. In 1991, the participants of the Usenet newsgroup alt.fan.douglas-adams 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, the 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.
The 1993 Interpedia proposal 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.
Another early online encyclopedia was called the Global Encyclopedia. In November 1995, a review of it was presented by James Rettig (Assistant Dean of University Libraries for Reference and Information Services) College of William & Mary at the 15th Annual Charleston Conference on library acquisitions and related issues. He said of the Global Encyclopedia:
This is a volunteer effort to compile an encyclopedia and distribute it for free on the World Wide Web. If you have ever yearned to be the author of an encyclopedia article, yearn no longer. Take a minute (or even two or three if you are feeling scholarly) to write an article on a topic of your choosing and [e]mail it off to the unnamed "editors". These editors (to use that title very loosely) have generated a list of approximately 1,300 topics they want to include; to date, perhaps a quarter of them have been treated; to date, perhaps a quarter of them have been treated. ... This so-called encyclopedia gives amateurism a bad name. It is being compiled without standards or guidelines for article structure, content, or reading level. It makes no apparent effort to check the qualifications and authority of the volunteer authors. Its claim that "Submitted articles are fact-checked, corrected for spelling, and then formatted" is at best an exaggeration.
He then gives several examples of article entries such as Iowa City:
Wikipedia is a free content, multilingual online encyclopedia written and maintained by a community of volunteer contributors, known as Wikipedians, through a model of open collaboration. It is the largest and most-read reference work in history, Wikipedia originally developed from another encyclopedia project called Nupedia.
- Various (7 April 2013), Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, "Matter" to "Mecklenburg", Project Gutenberg, archived from the original on 6 November 2021, retrieved 15 January 2019
- Now on DVD — "Store software". Britannica Encyclopædia. Archived from the original on 4 November 2021. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
- "Main page". Britannica Encyclopædia. Archived from the original on 25 January 2018. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
- "LoveToKnow Classic Encyclopedia". Archived from the original on 27 September 2001. Retrieved 8 August 2005.
- "Easton's Bible Dictionary by Easton". Archived from the original on 3 August 2003. Retrieved 18 June 2003.
- "Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001". Archived from the original on 5 February 2002. Retrieved 5 February 2002.
- "alt.fan.douglas-adams". Archived from the original on 11 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013.
- "Putting the Squeeze on the Information Firehose: The Need for 'Neteditors and 'Netreviewers". swem.wm.edu. 11 January 2005. Archived from the original on 11 January 2005. Retrieved 15 January 2020.
- "Wikipedia is 20, and its reputation has never been higher". The Economist. 9 January 2021. Archived from the original on 31 December 2022. Retrieved 25 February 2021.
- Kock, Ned; Jung, Yusun; Syn, Thant (2016). "Wikipedia and e-Collaboration Research: Opportunities and Challenges" (PDF). International Journal of e-Collaboration. IGI Global. 12 (2): 1–8. doi:10.4018/IJeC.2016040101. ISSN 1548-3681. Archived (PDF) from the original on 27 September 2016.