Encyclopedia or Wikipedia?

At a recent garage sale, I found some volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. Nobody wanted it because they get information online.  First published in 1768 it was the premier reference work, before giving up print in 2010. The online version competes with the larger and more popular Wikipedia, which is generally considered less reliable.

The key difference is that the entries in the Encyclopedia Britannica are written by acknowledged experts in their fields with a professional editor.  The author is noted on each article. Wikipedia is written and edited by anyone. Wikipedia states that it cannot guarantee the validity of the information, whilst noting that other encyclopaedias also carry disclaimers. It also attempts to remove inaccurate data, as I can vouch for.

I once had an entry on Wikipedia, following a contribution to a Doctor Who anthology. The link directed to a very different Paul Williams. I therefore set myself up as an editor and wrote an accurate introduction to myself. A short while later I was informed that this was a conflict of interest. The article was deleted, and the incorrect link not reinstated.

Paul Williams is a writer of fiction and non-fiction, best known for his encyclopedia of the Jack the Ripper suspects. If anyone wants to write his entry on Wikipedia, he will credit them in his next blog.


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