Britannica gets the Last Laugh

A few people ruin it for others. This is always the case in life. I think about this all the time. For example, the massive security increases in airports, spam, viruses, etc. In all these cases a small percentage of the population makes life much more difficult for others. The entire airline and insurance industries were brought to their knees by only a few people. Spam makes e-mail a much less effective communications mechanism. Spyware and identity theft are just a few of the reasons people are choosing to do less online purchasing.

Whenever there is an open system devoted to the common good there is abuse. The Internet rather than an exception seems to be where this problem is worst. Although there are a variety of filters on my blog and a myriad of other features designed to thwart people from posting spam, people still post junk. This forces me to police my blog and waste valuable time doing so. Forums are also another area where this problem exists.

So it seems it was only a matter of time before Wikipedia was infected with the same disease the rest of the open Internet has. Rampant junk posts. This article details the lengths the 600 volunteer editors are going through to ensure this problem is minimized.

In my opinion it may be too late as the cat is out of the bag and now that the Seigenthaler debacle became so well-publicized. A fellow editor here at TMC tells me that Wikipedia is his favorite site. I am sure others share his passion for what Wikipedia stands for. I just wonder if we are at the peak of this site’s accuracy.


Perhaps one company stands to benefit most from this controversy… The encyclopedia many of us grew up on – Britannica. I did a comparison to see how much traffic each site gets and it isn’t even close. Britannica ranks in at 2,547 out of all sites in the world according to Alexa awhile Wikipedia ranks at 35.

Furthermore Alexa shows Britannica gets about 0.3% of web surfers visiting its site each day while the number for Wikipedia is 2%. These numbers were calculated using Alexa’s reach values.

The above chart is logarithmic so it really doesn’t show those unfamiliar with such graphs how much more traffic Wikipedia gets. What it does show is how much more popular Wikipedia is and how its rank is still rising. If Britannica has any good marketing people at the company, they will quickly seize this opportunity to increase the awareness of its alternative to Wikipedia.

  • Al Bredenberg
    December 15, 2005 at 2:59 pm

    Interesting thought that this could benefit a more old-world reference like Britannica and help users to recognize the vulnerabilities of Wikipedia.
    On the other hand, it could just increase the visibility and use of Wikipedia. And I’m not sure how concerned most people are with factual accuracy anyway — sometimes it seems as if many are more interested in sources that confirm their own prejudices and biases.
    BTW, I found an interesting article that showed how the Wikipedia fraudster got tracked down:
    http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2005/dec/1224916.htm
    Al B.

  • VoIP Blog - Tehrani.com
    December 19, 2005 at 10:31 am

    More Bad Wikipedia News

    This article in the Toronto Star details continued credibility problems with Wikipedia and cites egos and people’s need to rewrite history to their liking as reasons the online encyclopedia is seriously flawed. Excerpt:These questions reportedly prompt…

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