Britannica opened up online Encyclopedia for Web Publishers for free access and article sharing.
Founded in 1768, Britannica is a reputed and trustworthy General Encyclopaedia, edited with the help of few editors and many Expert Contributors. Few of the Contributors are Noble Prize Winners. Britannica’s model has been challenged by Wikipedia, which can be edited and read by anybody. Britannica can be edited by only a closed group of editors and contributors and follows a subscription based business model.
Web Publishers (Bloggers, Webmasters – Anybody who publishes online on regular basis) can apply for the free annual subscription account. Guidelines are fairly easy and most publishers are approved in 24 hrs. Once approved, you can access the Britannica Online and share articles in your blog and website. Interestingly, readers don’t need subscription account to read articles clicked from your website. For example, check this article on Britannica. You should be able to read article even if you don’t have subscription. This doesn't seem to be working though, as it is asking for Logon credentials for accessing the article.
You can also embed widget on your website or blog to display Britannica articles related to Blog focus. The widget Categories are quite limited at this time, but Britannica has promised to include many more. For example, here is a Widget on Geometry.
According to Britannica Blog post on Widget, when you click on the article in the widget (Explore Topic Button), it should bring whole article (Similar to Webshare Links). But during the testing, I found that was not the case. In the Geometry Widget above, after clicking on the Topology article (All Articles -> Topology), I got only Short Summary of the article (75 of 17730 words).
These are great initiatives from Britannica and should really help Online Community. There seems to be few bugs in both Webshare and Widget programs currently. Hopefully, these will be fixed soon.
Thanks, Techcrunch for sharing the news. Techcrunch article covers many great things. But I disagree with the idea that Britannica should become Wiki style website. Wikipedia is a great resource, but we don’t need another Wikipedia. We need both kind of Encyclopedias to coexist.
Update 22-Apr-2008 - Issues as mentioned above are resolved now.