Here Comes Everybody*

Thanks to a post on the A-list blog TechCrunch late Friday night, Britannica’s WebShare program is getting a lot of attention this weekend.  We’ve been swamped with requests for free subscriptions, and we’re processing them as quickly as we can.  We do look at each one, so the screening process is not entirely programmatic, but no one should have to wait more than about 24 hours (3-4 business days; please see update below) between applying for a free sub at our registration page and receiving an answer from us. 

The majority of the people who have applied so far, by the way, have qualified and are receiving subscriptions. 

If you have any problems with or questions about your subscription or the registration process, please send us an e-mail about it.  (Update: Please also write to us if you’ve applied for a subscription and haven’t heard back from us in 36 hours a week or longer.)

Many people have noticed and commented on our widgets.  We only have a few posted here right now, but many more are on the way, and we’ll get them up here as quickly as we can.  Please come back.   

NB: One issue I’ve noticed with some of our widgets is that under some circumstances they may not display properly in Internet Explorer 6.  (Okay, “issue” is a euphemism; problem is the right word.).  We’re looking into this and would welcome any reports about your own experience. Thanks.

* Apologies to Clay Shirky.

Update (4/25): I may have overpromised about the 24-hour turnarond.  We’re getting a lot of applications, and since they go through some screening by human beings, it’s taking time.  In general we will try to respond to applicants within two business days, though right now, while we’re getting a surge of applications, it may take a bit longer.  Please be patient; we’ll get to you.  Thanks.


16 Responses to “Here Comes Everybody*”

  1. Steve Says:

    Surely the footnote should read: “Apologies to James Joyce” ?

    Or has Britannica, in an attempt to compete with the proponents of the Hive Mind like Shirky, performed a self-lobotomy? While this would put the two adversaries on level terms, in terms of cultural awareness, few of us would welcome the debate that results.

  2. Tom Says:


    Point taken. Apologies also to Joyce and for that matter to Anthony Burgess as well.

    As for our putative self-lobotomy, I beg your patience and ask that you stick with us here for a bit. I think you’ll find out frontal lobe is still attached and fully functioning.


  3. Mit Content-Strategien zum Erfolg - Crossmediale Kommunikation Says:

    [...] Encyclopædia Britannica im Web auf jeden Fall erregt: Nach einem Beitrag auf TechCrunch wurde man mit Registrierungsanfragen überschwemmt. Mehr zum Thema Content auf Crossmediale Kommunikation Wird Content wieder [...]

  4. Aleem Says:

    Surely opening things up to the web is a welcome move, though some would say Britannica is late to the party and should have done a phased rollout some time ago.

    I wonder why Britannica didn’t ever partner with information giants like Google etc much like the other universities and libraries are doing. Surely, a book search in Britannica would be brilliant and a sponsored ad-based model would lead to more revenues than a subscription based one (NYTimes, et al).

    Widgets are great, but why not have RSS feeds? It makes publishing on the web much easier thank clunk widgets and a link to “read more” at the end of each post can generate quality clickthroughs from users genuinely interested in learning more.

    There’s is so much value in Britannica–it’s a shame to let it all go to waste.

  5. Kunal Sen Says:

    Hi Aleem, We do have a number of RSS feeds, which can be found at However, they do not include the topic based widgets. It probably would not be very useful to create RSS feeds for topics with very large number of articles. However, we could make a RSS feed that sends out a small number of random articles on a certain topic each day. Thanks for the suggestion. – Kunal (Britannica)

  6. G.M. Grena Says:

    When I attempt to view this page using IE 6.0 (under W2K), the page fills with content, but then freezes, & I have to CTRL-ALT-DEL it. I registered & posted this comment using Firefox 0.9. I haven’t visited any other page on the Internet that crashes consistently like this, but thanks for the free registration opportunity!

  7. Bob Meade Says:

    Sheesh. You guys!

    I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth, I’m going to apply for the programme and be happy about it

  8. Richi Jennings Says:

    When I submit the form, it redirects to — which is presumably a typo. It’s not clear whether the form contents have been submitted.

  9. Tom Says:


    Thanks. We’ll take a look at that.


  10. Tom Says:

    G.M. Grena,

    I use IE 6 all the time and haven’t had any trouble with the site, but I’ll e-mail you for details, if there are anymore.


  11. Gert Says:

    I was surprised that the links in the email bore no relation to where they eventually ended up. Thunderbird thought it was scam; the thought had already occurred to me. It took me a while to decide that it was genuine. But with so many spam mails containing links which aren’t what they seem to be, it struck me as a bit amateurish. I decided all I had to lose was an email address that’s already at loose on the internet. But I think it’s potentially a great idea!

  12. Vu Says:

    I kept getting a 404 Not Found after submission, but I can see from Richi’s statement that it is actually a typo that sends me to

  13. seekground Says:

    Has the expected response time exceeded 36 hours?

  14. Davis Freeberg Says:

    It’s been over a week since I applied for the program and I still haven’t heard back yet. Does this mean that my application was denied or should I keep waiting for approval?

  15. Tom Says:


    No, you’re approved, and you should now have what you need for your free subscription.

    It is taking a bit longer than expected to get to everyone, since we’ve had thousands of applications, but you should certainly hear from us within the week. People who are borderline may take a bit longer. Anyone who has been waiting for an unseemly amount of time may write to Thanks.

  16. Davis Freeberg Says:

    Thanks for the help Tom. I’ll keep my eye out for the subscription info. I’m looking forward to playing around with it.

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