Will Britannica 2.0 Provide a Platform for Anti-Semitism 2.0?

by Maskil on 8 Feb 2009

In a previous post, I looked at whether Google’s then recently launched Knol (“unit of knowledge”) would provide fertile ground for Anti-Semitism 2.0. The conclusion at that stage was that the new platform would need to be carefully monitored to ensure it wasn’t hijacked by haters. It’s now apparent that Google Knol (with +/-100,000 articles) is not the Wikipedia killer some of us thought it might be, at least not at this stage.

In a move that will create further competition for Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica recently announced that users will have the facility to edit, enhance and contribute to its online version. Any such changes or additions made to Britannica entries would have to be vetted by one of the company’s staff or freelance editors before the changes go “live”.

To my mind, this is closer to how Wikipedia’s editing model or process should look, and would limit much of the abuse that currently plagues the free encyclopaedia.

Whether this step will help Encyclopedia Britannica to regain some of the ground it lost to Wikipedia is another matter. Although Britannica retains the reputation and perception that its content has greater credibility than that of Wikipedia, that content is neither as broad nor as deep in many cases, and is certainly more difficult to access.

As a blogger (“Web publisher”), I was able to obtain complimentary access to Britannica Online (a free one-year subscription to the Web site). Despite this, however, (and despite my misgivings about Wikipedia) I continue to rely on it as a “good enough” tool for online research and reference. (Hey, I’m not writing a thesis here.)

My threat assessment on the Anti-Semitism 2.0 front for Britannica 2.0? Negligible risk.


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