Though the traditional big encyclopedia have long championed the reliability of their expert authors over the wisdom of Wikipedia’s crowd, they are showing signs of opening up. Brittanica is preparing a relaunch of its web offering (beta test here) that will allow readers to write their own “articles, essays and multimedia presentations on subjects in which they’re interested”. Material will not only be attributed to these new contributors, but authors will also retain control over their work.
And, whilst the likes of Britannica has traditionally locked down its texts in print and advocated its singular truthiness in digital, it will now use a reward system to encourage readers to suggest changes to its articles. One proviso: all suggestions will be checked for merit by editors before texts are altered. And Britannica is still playing up the authority of its “expert” stringers over the mere “readers”.