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Sunday, February 24, 2019

Alternatives to Wikipedia

     Wikipedia is a nonprofit organization that began in January 2001 and is a repository of knowledge, maintained on servers in various countries and built by anyone in the world with a computer and an Internet connection who wants to share knowledge about a subject. Literally hundreds of thousands of people have written Wikipedia entries. 
     Wikipedia describes itself as “the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit” and so it’s no wonder that it has garnered so much bad press because how can millions of anonymous contributors be completely factual and unbiased?
     Supposedly studies show Wikipedia is 99.5 percent accurate, but are only bout 84 percent complete and show that it nine out of 10 of its health entries, and should be treated with caution. Scientists in the US compared entries about conditions such as heart disease, lung cancer, depression and diabetes with peer-reviewed medical research. Journalists consulting Wikipedia have occasionally been embarrassed by repeating mistaken or fake information. On the plus side, a study in the journal Nature said that in 2005, Wikipedia's scientific articles came close to the level of accuracy in Encyclopedia Britannica.
     There are alternative sources of information that can be used independently or for crosschecking information contained in Wikipedia. 

Scholarpedia is written by scholars. Experts must be either invited or elected before they are assigned certain topics and, although the site is still editable by anyone like a wiki, updates must first be approved before they are made final. Articles are peer reviewed. 

With what the site refers to as “gentle oversight”, all articles are subject to approval by the site’s editorial team. Articles that haven’t been approved will have an accompanying disclaimer, which helps to prevent people from taking potentially false information to heart. Also, you must register under your real name to become a contributor, unlike Wikipedia. 

Encyclopedia Britannica Online 
This is probably the best option. The Encyclopedia Brittanica has been transferred to Web format, in addition to multimedia features and an easy search tool. Updates to the site’s entries are made by professionals. Full access isn’t free, a subscription fee costs $69.95 a year. Major universities will accept the site as a reliable source when citing information in a research paper, something Wikipedia can’t claim. 

Infoplease is a free online encyclopedia that is a part of Pearson Education, the largest educational book distributor in the world. All of the information found on the site is gathered from trusted sources. Entries may be limited in size when compared to Wikipedia, but you can be sure that all the information is accurate and incapable of being edited by outside users. 

Some may want to view this site with caution because it is a conservative, Christian-influenced wiki encyclopedia that was created as a response to Wikipedia’s alleged left-wing bias. The information found on this site is free of foul language, sexual topics and anything else deemed offensive by the site’s editorial staff. If you feel that Wikipedia shows a strong bias toward liberal views, then Conservapedia may well present the opposite side. 
     An interesting feature is the site’s free resource for conservative courses. You do not need permission to use and copy these materials for educational purposes. Course are: 
American Government and the Constitution 
World History 
American History 
Government and Politics 
     These courses are complete, with lectures, homework assignments, model answers and exams, ut you do not have to sign up or obtain approval to use these materials for educational purposes. Home school groups are particularly welcome to use and distribute these materials.

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