Can Encyclopedia Britannica compete with Wikipedia?

Wed 14 March 2012 14:45, Tamara Yadvichuk

Can Encyclopedia Britannica compete with Wikipedia?

Encyclopedia Britannica, the most renowned encyclopedia of the ‘paper age’, has announced that they will stop publishing their 32-volume print edition and devote their undivided attention to digital products. 

Britannica has been on the internet since 1994, which makes it the first encyclopedia available online – first to institutions and then to consumers all over the world.

Wikipedia was launched only in 2001, but it didn’t take long for the site to become the world’s favorite reference point. In fact, today is number 6 on Alexa’s list of world’s top websites preceded only by Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! and Baidu.

Let’s look at what Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia have to offer from the user’s point of view. A few main points:

Encyclopedia Britannica




written by experts

written by amateurs and enthusiasts

largely outdated

up-to-date information

clear, concise articles

articles with extensive detail


reflecting the views of the contributors


Encyclopedia Britannica claims to be a reliable source of information produced by experts and free of any social or political bias. Wikipedia can be edited by virtually anyone, so in theory you can write anything you want about yourself or your company, but the exaggerations you make will eventually be edited away by your enemies or competitors.

Unlike Wikipedia, Britannica offers some educational programs for children and students, which can make the vast amount of information contained in the encyclopedia more accessible and useful (paid, of course).


For now, Britannica Online will be available for free for a week starting March 13th. It is a bit disappointing though that when I tried clicking on the bright orange banner offering to try Britannica Online Premium for free it sent me to ‘Error 404’.

Here’s a video with more information about Encyclopedia Britannica’s digital services – enjoy!


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