• Nitten Gokhaley

Wikipedia defeated Britannica in its own game

Updated: Jan 15

At times, Wiki makes it in the list of the top five most visited sites worldwide. Britannica is nowhere near.


Britannica was slower since beginning


Several surveys have pointed out that Wikipedia is right in-front of Encyclopedia Britannica online when it comes to competition. At times, Wiki makes it in the list of the top five most visited sites worldwide. Britannica is nowhere near. “Is Britannica a reliable website?” Unbelievably, this is one of the most asked questions by internet users.


Britannica’s former executive editor, Michael Levy, interacted with journalists and suggested that Britannica is slow in the race. Their content is written by scholars, Nobel laureates and is edited by professionals. While on the other hand, Wikipedia’s content is crowdsourced and written by several editors.


Michael pointed out that Britannica works very slowly, and making even small changes in its online content takes a considerable amount of time. Levy also pointed out that Britannica has been online since 1994, but it always lagged due to antique technology that was being used. He highlighted that the British Encyclopedia’s editors were only allowed to update content once in seven to eight days instead of updating it daily.


According to Michael, in 2005, Britannica’s President Jorge Cauz did take several steps like increasing editorial staff to compete with Wiki and others. But still, that was not enough to compete.


Despite all the observations, Britannica’s director of communications, Tom Panelas, suggests that most of the surveys comparing Wikipedia with the British Encyclopedia are in-correct and in-favor of Wikipedia.


Britannica online cannot be compared with Wiki


During one of his recent interactions with journalists, Tom Panelas was asked to share his opinion about Wikipedia becoming more popular than their organization. Tom stressed the point that Wiki and Britannica’s aims and goals are uncommon. The UK based organization focuses only on providing digital learning solutions for teachers and students. On the other hand, Wiki serves users from several backgrounds and is not just meant for kids and teachers.


Teachers in the US are accessing Wiki, but not Britannica?


The Pew Research Center surveyed around 2,500 teachers under their Internet and American Life project. The initiative was designed to study the impact of technology on learning. This research pointed out that approximately 87 percent of teachers surveyed used Wikipedia as their source of information. They said that they use Wiki to create lessons for their students. Google search is also used to find answers, but overall, no one specified anything about using Britannica. This shows that Wikipedia plays an essential role in online learning and knowledge sharing.


Information accuracy


Online Britannica’s content is published after following a rigorous editorial process. On the other hand, Wiki’s content accuracy is highly questionable as it is based on user-provided data.


Britannica has lost the race?


Buying expensive encyclopedia sets from Britannica was a dream for many during the 90s. But, that's history. The organization stopped publishing the print edition in May 2012.


Wikipedia has recently turned 20, and the site is considered one of the top ten most visited portals worldwide. Wiki plays a crucial role in the learning and knowledge gathering industry. It has also overtaken Britannica as far as numbers of daily visitors to the site are concerned.


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