Britannica’s New Site

More Participation and Collaboration from Experts and Readers

Encyclopaedia Britannica is about to launch a new initiative that we’re very enthusiastic about. The main thrust of this initiative is to promote greater participation by both our expert contributors and readers. Both groups will be invited to play a larger role in expanding, improving, and maintaining the information we publish on the Web under the Encyclopaedia Britannica name as well as in sharing content they create with other Britannica visitors. A complete redesign, editing tools, and incentive programs will give expert contributors and users the means to take part in the further improvement of Encyclopaedia Britannica and in the creation and publication of their own work.

These efforts not only will improve the scope and quality of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but they’ll also allow expert contributors and readers to supplement this content with their own. The result will be a place with broader and more relevant coverage for information seekers and a welcoming community for scholars, experts, and lay contributors.

The planning of this service is almost finished, and we’ve been working on its implementation for a few months now. We are far enough along in the process to tell you about it today and invite your comments. Here are its main features. (We’ve also included thumbnail images of select features from the new site. Click to enlarge them if you’d like to get an idea of what each feature will look like.)

The Britannica Online site will become the hub of a new online community that will welcome and engage thousands of scholars and experts with whom we already have relationships. Encyclopaedia Britannica has long been written by a community of scholars from all over the world, and this distinguished group of people has always been one of our greatest assets. Today it is possible to increase the strength and size of this community online and to provide its members with incentives to become involved with Britannica on a more sustained and consistent basis.

To elicit their participation in our new online community of scholars, we will provide our contributors with a reward system and a rich online home that will enable them to promote themselves, their work, and their services; allow them to showcase and publish their various works-in-progress in front of the Britannica audience; and help them find and interact with colleagues around the world. In this way our online community of scholars not only will be able to interact with our editors and content in a more effective manner; they will also be able to share directly with Britannica’s visitors content that they may have created outside Encyclopaedia Britannica and will allow those visitors to suggest changes and additions to that content.

As part of our longstanding tradition, engaging a prominent community of scholars will continue to be a key requirement. With this new site and initiatives we will be able to recruit new members beyond our current contributor base, through recommendations from existing contributors, applications from expert communities, and by inviting select members of our user community.

Readers and users will also be invited into an online community where they can work and publish at Britannica’s site under their own names. Interested users will be able to prepare articles, essays, and multimedia presentations on subjects in which they’re interested. Britannica will help them with research and publishing tools and by allowing them to easily use text and non-text material from Encyclopaedia Britannica in their work. We will publish the final products on our site for the benefit of all readers, with all due attribution and credit to the people who created them. The authors will have the option of collaborating with others on their work, but each author will retain control of his or her own work.

Encyclopaedia Britannica will continue to form the core base of knowledge and information on the site, though the material created by contributors and the user community, which each member will control and be credited for, will be published alongside the encyclopedia. Encyclopaedia Britannica itself will continue to be edited according to the most rigorous standards and will bear the imprimatur “Britannica Checked” to distinguish it from material on the site for which Britannica editors are not responsible.

However, our new editing tools, user interface and reward system will facilitate and motivate expert contributors and readers alike to suggest text changes, updates, photos, videos, bibliographies, Web links and other reference materials and improvements to Encyclopaedia Britannica itself. All such suggestions will be considered by editors, and if they’re found to have merit they’ll be fact-checked and vetted before they’re published. Anyone whose contributions are accepted for publication will be credited in detailed article-history pages in the encyclopedia.

Two things we believe distinguish this effort from other projects of online collaboration are (1) the active involvement of the expert contributors with whom we already have relationships; and (2) the fact that all contributions to Encyclopaedia Britannica’s core content will continue to be checked and vetted by our expert editorial staff before they’re published.

ebs21.pngIn this way we aim to leverage the power of the Internet to integrate the work of many people in a common project and on a large scale, but without relinquishing the editorial oversight that makes Britannica’s content trustworthy.

The Britannica Online Web site has been redesigned to prepare for the introduction of these new features, and while the redesigned site is not finished, we would like to give you a glimpse of it now and invite your thoughts and feedback. You can preview the new site, which is still in beta testing, at http://www.britannica.com/bps/home. A portion of the people who visit Britannica Online today are being routed to this site and are using it now; soon it will replace our current site at www.britannica.com entirely, and the new features we have described above will be introduced in the weeks and months ahead.

[Please see comments related to this post by Jorge Cauz, president of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.]

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27 Responses to “Britannica’s New Site”

  1. Phil Bradley's weblog: Britannica surrenders to Wikipedia model Says:

    [...] surrenders to Wikipedia model britannicanet.com » Blog Archive » Britannicaâ??s New Site. I think we can post this one under ‘it was always going to happen’. According to the britannicanet [...]

  2. Encyclopedia Britannica Goes - Gasp! - Wiki « SAASLibrary Weblog Says:

    [...] a standard reference source for scholarship, largely because of its tightly controlled editing, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this week it was throwing open its elegantly-bound covers to the masses. It will allow the “user [...]

  3. La Britannica se pasa al wiki < otro blog m Says:

    [...] del todo, naturalmente, pero mucho, tal y como cuentan ellos mismos. Si no puedes vencer a tu enemigo… adopta sus m?todos. Y es que en breve Britannica va a [...]

  4. Citizendium Blog » Britannica opens up a little Says:

    [...] here and here and here and here.  I’ll have to assess this later.  It looks like a welcome [...]

  5. ha ha ha ha ha ha ha « barbara fister’s place Says:

    [...] ha ha ha ha ha ha ha Sorry for the unseemly and raucous laughter. This just totally cracks me up. [...]

  6. Marie-Jose Klaver » Encyclopaedia Britannica wordt wiki Says:

    [...] bijdragen van internetgebruikers. Dat maakte de uitgever van het gerenommeerde naslagwerk deze week bekend op het weblog van de Britannica. De Britannica hoopt dat het wiki-achtige initiatief zorgt voor [...]

  7. Huygens weblog elektronisch publiceren - De Britannica verandert mee Says:

    [...] De Britannica verandert mee [...]

  8. What I Learned Today… » Blog Archive » Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes — Gasp! — Wiki Says:

    [...] a standard reference source for scholarship, largely because of its tightly controlled editing, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this week it was throwing open its elegantly-bound covers to the masses. It will allow the “user [...]

  9. academhack » Blog Archive » Wikipedia Victory Says:

    [...] “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win.” [...]

  10. » Britannica follows in Wikipedia’s footsteps Says:

    [...] the new web site will reveal a complete redesign, editing tools, and incentive programs. On the Britannica blog, it says: These efforts not only will improve the scope and quality of Encyclopaedia Britannica, but [...]

  11. Mike N Says:

    I don’t know Brittanica. I think I would focus less on trying to compete with Wikipedia and more on shifting your business model completely. How could you better monetize all the research you do? Who could you partner with on the web to give them value-added projects? Maybe you’re already working along these lines, but I haven’t heard about it. Big name, high profile partnership is what I’m thinking of for you guys.

  12. Encyclopedia Britannica Goes Wiki! « LibeRaCe’s Library Blog Says:

    [...] never thought it would happen – but the Encyclopedia Britannica is opening its pages to everyone [...]

  13. Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes … Wiki | Blogging Librarian Says:

    [...] read on the Encyclopaedia Britannica blog that they have decided to move their entire works into a wiki [...]

  14. Britannica opens to users « The Chatty Librarian Says:

    [...] Britannica press release emphasizes how they are not Wikipedia (which isn’t named, of course): Two things we believe [...]

  15. Ken Leebow Says:

    A sad day in Britannica-ville: “Resolve to be a master of change, not a victim of it.” — Brian Tracy

  16. ? Britannica to launch collaborative site at Snell Snippets - Snell Snippets Says:

    [...] Britannica has just announced that it’s developing what seems to be a parallel site in which end-users can contribute content to the Encyclopedia as they do in Wikipedia. It looks like the user-contributed content will appear side by side with their original content (which will be marked “Britannica checked” to distinguish it from the flotsam and jetsam of the hoi polloi). A beta version of the new Britannical Online is available. [...]

  17. Tom Panelas Says:

    Mike N,

    Thanks for your thoughts. We’re always on the lookout for worthwhile partnerships, and I don’t think any of the things you proprose are incompatible with what we’re doing today with the new site. Please stay tuned. Though a number of people see this as an effort to compete with Wikipedia, in many ways it’s the opposite of the wiki model in that everyone gets personal credit for his or her own contributions, and you control the future of the work you publish on the site. You can solicit the help of others and take their advice and suggestions (or not) to the extent you want to, but no one will be able to undo your work without your blessing.

  18. Encyclopaedia Britannica Goes — Gasp! — Wiki « University of Melbourne Library Intelligencer Says:

    [...] a standard reference source for scholarship, largely because of its tightly controlled editing, the Encyclopaedia Britannica announced this week it was throwing open its elegantly-bound covers to the masses. It will allow the “user [...]

  19. Efeito Wikipédia: Enciclopédia Britannica quer criar comunidade online « Este é o blog do Paulo Francisco Slomp Says:

    [...] O anúncio no blog: http://britannicanet.com/?p=86 [...]

  20. asennadas » Enciclopedia Britannica quere parecerse á Wikipedia Says:

    [...] blog da Enciclopedia Britannica (Britannicanet) anunciou que pretende investir na creación dunha comunidade online para compartir información na Web. Para [...]

  21. L’enciclopedia Britannica ora parla con l’accento “wiki” » Panorama.it - Cultura e societa Says:

    [...] cognome, foto e l’eventuale titolo che certifichi la competenza in una determinata materia. Secondo il blog di Britannica, gli studiosi potranno usufruire di un sistema di remunerazione, promuovere il loro [...]

  22. Efeito Wikipédia: Enciclopédia Britannica quer criar comunidade online Says:

    [...] Britannica quer criar comunidade online “O blog da Enciclopédia Britannica (Britannicanet) anunciou que pretende investir na criação de uma comunidade online de especialistas e leitores para o [...]

  23. Episode 46 tonight | Uncontrolled Vocabulary Says:

    [...] Britannica’s New Site [...]

  24. Encyclopedieën gaan de wiki-toer op « Universiteitsbibliotheek K.U.Leuven Says:

    [...] Vanuit Engeland bereikte ons vorige week het bericht dat de Encyclopedia Britannica ook vergevorderde plannen heeft voor een interactieve website waar internetgebruikers de [...]

  25. Anne deFuria Says:

    Hello,
    What will happen to subscribers to the EB database? Will this new website be free? The answers may have been in the press releases etc, but I didn’t quite catch it if they were, so I would appreciate clarification. thanks,
    a reference librarian whose library subscribes to EB.

  26. » Blog Archive » Wiki Wow! Says:

    [...] the Wiki won? The greybeard of encylopaedias Encyclopaedia Britannica has gone the way of Wikipedia. But if you read EB’s press release announcing it would begin [...]

  27. Chris Says:

    Klasse!

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