From its humble inception in 2001, Wikipedia has grown into a formidable household name. Whether we’re researching for a last-minute term paper or looking to see when our favorite actor was born, we often turn first to this community-moderated encyclopedia first.
Wikipedia currently boasts an impressive 54,594,068 unique pages and is undoubtedly a good starting point for your next article or project. However, with a wealth of information at our fingertips, you’d be remiss not to flesh out your work with multiple sources.
For some refreshing new perspectives, check out these six Wikipedia alternatives.
EverybodyWiki markets itself as an inclusionist online encyclopedia. While it looks visually similar to its famous counterpart, EverybodyWiki prides itself on allowing a broader range of content on the site.
By removing the exclusive focus Wikipedia has on subject notoriety, EverybodyWiki gives passionate people around the globe a platform to host their autobiographies and offer insight into their unique achievements. Business executive Christopher Roy Garland’s page is a perfect example of this, showcasing an in-depth bio on his personal and professional accomplishments that is well worth a read.
Like Wikipedia, Scholarpedia is also owned by the Wikipedia Foundation. But unlike its contemporary sibling, Scholarpedia gives a voice to only the most widely regarded subject experts.
By associating an author’s name to each article and requiring their approval prior to any edits, Scholarpedia has drastically reduced the likelihood of the article vandalism that is rife on Wikipedia. The Scholarpedia team notes that it is primarily a tool for scientists and scholars. It exists not with the aim to replace Wikipedia, but rather to complement it. It’s a solid choice for many of your academic needs.
- Encyclopedia Britannica Online
First published in 1768, Encyclopedia Britannica boasts the enviable title as the oldest English language encyclopedia. The encyclopedia has stood the test of time, in part due to its commitment to meet changing reader needs.
Encyclopedia Britannica became solely digital in 2002. Despite fears it would struggle to compete with Wikipedia, the publication has continued to thrive. Its popularity is largely due to its focus on accuracy over quantity. Founder Jorge Cruz explains, “instead of getting mired in a competition with Wikipedia, we focused on editorial quality.”
Note that unlike many Wikipedia alternatives listed here, Encyclopedia Britannica does require a subscription to use.
Most of us can probably recall school and college textbooks plastered with the Pearson Education logo. The world’s largest distributor of educational literature is also responsible for Infoplease, a free and authoritative online encyclopedia.
InfoPlease collates content from a variety of trusted sources, such as Random House Dictionary. The articles themselves are more condensed than on Wikipedia, making them a perfect starting point for more in-depth research. Because users are not permitted to add or edit content, you can also be confident that the information you’re consuming has been verified.
InfoPlease is ideal for visual learners, as it’s one of the only options listed that hosts extensive video and other media content as additional reference material.
Citizendium is a newcomer to the encyclopedia scene, with the Wiki still in BETA testing. This strong contender is the brainchild of Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger, who wanted to create a compromise between Wikipedia’s loose criteria around author credentials and Scholarpedia’s stringent invite-only system.
Currently, Citizendium contributors sign up under their own names and submit edit requests. These requests are then reviewed and approved by an over-arching editorial team for quality control. This model is a great compromise and another reliable source for all your educational needs.
- Your Local Library
In the digital age, it’s easy to forget one of the greatest alternatives to Wikipedia: your local library. With thousands of books spanning countless subjects, you’re bound to find something to support your research and expand your knowledge.
One significant benefit of the library is that you can find older books that may have never been published digitally, giving you access to a more diverse range of sources than you’ll find online alone. Libraries typically also offer access to online databases and journals, preserved newspaper articles, and sometimes even film or audio clips. A passionate librarian can be much more effective than Google when you’re hunting down information on a niche subject.
And there you have it — five digital and one traditional alternative to Wikipedia that will help you expand both your personal and professional horizons.