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Wikipedia — Still The Best in The Business?
Wikipedia is an open-sourced bibliographical information resource contributed to and edited by a community of volunteers. Based on a model of user-generated content contributions, it can be edited by anyone at any time in good faith to help maintain information accuracy and objectivity.
The website is free and easy to access, supports numerous global languages, and has a full database of arcane information that is constantly evolving. The enormous collection of Wikipedia articles and media can also work in any browser with the information updated frequently.
Unfortunately, Wikipedia is not always a reliable source of information, whether in ordinary situations or for academic citation. Being a user-generated source, it can be edited by anyone at any time, and any information it contains at a particular time could be vandalism, a work in progress, or simply incorrect.
Best Wikipedia alternatives
Wikipedia is a sea of information contributed by readers present in all parts of the world, and the content on the site is growing by the minute. By contrast, most of the other encyclopedic resources are literary works that are definitive and authoritative, which cannot be said about Wikipedia. So, here are the best Wikipedia alternatives to consider:
- Encyclopedia Britannica Online
- Fact Monster
- World Book Online
1. Encyclopedia Britannica Online
The online, digital version of Encyclopedia Britannica is a brilliant alternative resource to Wikipedia. It is an excellent reference resource for accessing biographical information on varied subjects and a very good starting point for building an information bank on your chosen subject or person. It is useful for the whole family thanks to its easy onboarding process.
The Encyclopedia Britannica wiki contains carefully selected and properly edited articles on numerous major subjects, which fits in with the ideal purpose of a universal reference work as a place to get started, or to refer back to as you read and write. The articles in Britannica are written by authors both identifiable and credible, and its open-sourced editing improves subject-matter authenticity.
Since going online in 1999, Encyclopedia Britannica has continued offering its vast wealth of information databases to online users free of charge, making its credible information accessible to more people than before. Encyclopedia Britannica Online is reputed as the most reliable and respected online encyclopedia but requires a subscription to unlock additional features.
To access the information you want, a user must type in a relevant term in the search box at the top of the page to launch the search function.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online Pros
- Helpful, educational information
- Detailed information on many subjects
- Easy to access remotely
- Highly interconnected, deep content
Encyclopedia Britannica Online Cons
- Predatory pricing with forced subscription renewal
- Severely reduced features
Scholarpedia is an English-language wiki-based online encyclopedia with features commonly associated with open-access online academic journals, which aims to have quality content in science and medicine.
Unlike Wikipedia, Scholarpedia is an encyclopedic site for peer-reviewed open-access content curated by a community of invite-only subject-matter experts. It is a decent alternative site for Wikipedia, the world’s leading free encyclopedia, but with a lot more credibility in its content.
Scholarpedia article authors, curators, and editors are required to reveal and list their full real names and institutional affiliations. Also, an article can only be published after a thorough peer-review process that can suggest changes, including additions and or deletions.
With a narrow focus on science and related subjects, Scholarpedia has just over 1 million words from about 1000 experts in different scientific fields. These contain a variety of credible information about said topics, however, with the review process very integral in making the encyclopedia trustworthy.
Scholarpedia users can also save their favorite information and share it on social media easily, helping scientists and other researchers to communicate their discoveries more efficiently. The platform has a vast collection of information on a small group of topics, making it a useful research source for these topics.
- Peer-reviewed and reliable content
- Free, open-access information
- Suitable for academic research
- Available in multiple languages around the world
- Easy to access
- Limited content compared to other free encyclopedias
- Science and related subjects only
- Best for users with a scientific background
Citizendium is a Wikipedia-like free online encyclopedia that hosts close to 20,000 articles about different topics. It is also a collaborative project like Wikipedia and invites volunteers to share their knowledge and update the available information regularly by creating and or editing articles on the platform.
The main difference, however, is that Citizendium takes conscious actions to create and make available reliable content on its numerous topics. Thus, while Citizendium is a free online encyclopedia, its core focus is to provide reliable information rather than being open to everyone as does Wikipedia.
All of the written content on Citizendium is available under the Creative Commons-Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, allowing users to access, consume, and share this information for free.
Incidentally, Citizendium was founded by Larry Sanger, Wikipedia co-founder, who introduced similar open-access editing principles. However, topic experts have the final and enforceable authority to direct Citizendium content updates and “resolve” any related controversy. They also handle compromised editing propagated by similar trolls that often plague Wikipedia.
Citizendium gives users an easy and efficient way to access and manage information in a sharing-friendly environment.
- Support is excellent and useful
- Expert contributors
- Great for education and research
- Supports Windows, iOS, and Android
- Limited scope with sparse content
Like Wikipedia, Encyclopedia.com is a free online encyclopedic website that provides users with thousands of frequently updated entries. However, subject matter entries on Encyclopedia.com are mostly imported from other online sources, with the most prevalent content on the website being from Columbia Encyclopedia, its offline equivalent.
Usually, Encyclopedia.com aggregates its information from published dictionaries, encyclopedias, and other reference works and holds varied forms of content from text to pictures and videos.
Users on Encyclopedia.com have access to detailed information on any particular subject. This information is derived from multiple encyclopedias and dictionary sources, collating this information into one easy-to-find online source for its user community.
Encyclopedia.com was monetized with programmatic advertising. The problem, however, is that the website is littered with these advertisements that distract users and cause the page content to move around whenever the ads pop up. These excessive ads are very intrusive and distracting. They also impact the reader experience as every time one pops and the text jumps around, the user is forced to go looking again for where they were in reading said page.
- Expansive information on varied subjects
- Free to use for everyone
- Easy to access across multiple languages
- Most accurate information among free encyclopedias
- Poor user experience with the site jumping around
- Too many, regular ads distract users
Infoplease is a website that offers a vast collection of different articles for high school and college students. It provides concise information about various topics, including science, math, entertainment, sports, etc. In addition, you can use Infoplease as a quick reference guide to find out definitions, historical events, and statistical data among others.
The platform's content is organized in tabs accessible from a primary menu just below the header, with advanced search functionality built into the website. The main content tabs include dictionary, thesaurus, atlas, features, timelines, and more, while other additional content categories help deepen the coverage on Infoplease.
Between these primary tabs and the additional content categorization, Infoplease has built a widely interconnected information repository to rival Wikipedia and Britannica Online. This includes both historical and modern world events, political, biographical, sports, and other key information to modern society.
Infoplease is thus a better resource for beginners than Wikipedia. Despite the robust internal search engine of the latter, the fact Infoplease information is already organized makes research more convenient. It's also the reason Infoplease has a huge audience among younger users.
Infoplease has a very expansive content coverage that includes numerous topics across disciplines. It is easy to use and the information provided is comprehensive and concise. It would be worth recommending to students or putting up on a classroom portal if you have one. If your students are working on any type of research project, this site would be a good starting point.
- Expansive subject and topic base
- Free to use
- Better-organized, interconnected content
- Best suited for kids' use
6. Fact Monster
Fact Monster is an amazing informational resource for both teachers and students, where young learners can find just about any information they need on a variety of topics. Its expansive knowledge bank is especially great for research and contains fairly accurate information on its subject topics.
The platform contains well-organized, kid-friendly mega information resources in one place for easy access, uses the kids’ favorite fun facts to improve their willingness to learn, and also incorporates homework help for better learning review.
The platform is maintained and updated by approved educational professionals, ensuring all content is both accurate and reliable. Also, the website makes it easy for Kids to find just about any information they need with ease, as the website has a great design and is fairly easy to navigate.
The Fact Monster platform is sponsored by the Family Education Network, an online education provider with a deep understanding of dozens of topics. These topics are made available for Fact Monster users and include science, math, and U.S. history among others.
Clear instructions teach kids new math and other skills, the homework help section offers periodic tables and other tools, while users can also access an atlas, a dictionary, and other essential learning resources.
Fact Monster Pros
- Tons of fun info on topics from math to history to sports
- Easy to find just about any information
- Wide selection of topics
- Contents have clear instructions
- Includes fun content like quizzes and games
Fact Monster Cons
- The website displays multiple ads per page
Deletionpedia is a free Wikipedia-like alternative site with a twist: this online encyclopedia only lists articles deleted from Wikipedia for a variety of reasons. While Wikipedia’s qualifying rules are steep and hard to always comply with, the platform is also plagued with trolls, subjective editing, and paid edits that often result in conflicts.
In most other cases, however, Wikipedia administrators delete articles that do not meet its qualifying threshold. Further, because of Wikipedia’s prominence, amateur marketers regularly try to use the platform for cheap publicity, resulting in plenty of articles being deleted every month.
Not all such articles are garbage, and so Deletionpedia has been a great avenue for those interested in exploring Wikipedia articles that are no longer available on the primary site. In this regard, Deletionpedia is one of the truest Wikipedia alternative sites, importing all of its content from deleted Wikipedia entries.
In turn, Deletionpedia has built an impressive catalog of deep, expansive, and free-to-access content. In fact, it can also correct apparent errors by Wikipedia editors.
Studies show certain subjects suffer more deletions than others, with Geek lore, Scientology, and related topics especially impacted. This makes Deletionpedia a rich research ground for modern sociology interests, with suggestions rife that Wikipedia editors' decision-making is sometimes impaired by groupthink.
- Huge catalog of entries
- Safeguards information that would’ve been lost
- Links to the Wikipedia deletion discussion
- Some entries are trashy, vanity articles
- Poor interface design
8. World Book Online
The World Book Online is an American encyclopedia designed to cover major areas of knowledge uniformly. However, it has grown to show particular strength in scientific, technical, and medical subjects, with its reading and interest level especially suited for middle-grade readers and other young adults.
World Book Online is the online version of the widely known World Book encyclopedia that includes information on thousands of topics and provides supplemental links, videos, and other resources to deepen reader understanding.
Like other free online encyclopedias, the World Book Online encyclopedia is easy to access through its website online and covers material on hundreds of diverse topics. The online encyclopedia boasts an in-depth, student-centered encyclopedic content base made of text, diagrams, and videos among others.
The World Book Online website features a robust internal search functionality at the top of the homepage, while the “Read Aloud” feature allows users to listen to entries rather than read them. It has essentially made the encyclopedia easy to use, while users are prompted to access additional information after reading any entry on the platform.
World Book Online Pros
- Large catalog of materials on different subjects
- Good for students and other young readers
- Content available in multiple formats
- Free, easy to access information
World Book Online Cons
- Some content is of poor quality
© 2022 Rahul Pandey