[WikiEN-l] Germany's Brockhaus Encyclopedia goes online

Gregory Maxwell gmaxwell at gmail.com
Wed Feb 13 22:27:51 UTC 2008

On Feb 13, 2008 5:16 PM, Steven Walling <steven.walling at gmail.com> wrote:
> Another one bites the dust!
> If traditional encyclopedia's are going to start placing all their content
> free to access online, then Wikipedia has already won (even if this might
> hurt the German version in web traffic).

Well.. Thats one way of thinking about it.. but I'm not so sure.

Wikipedia is much more than just an encyclopedia available at no cost
to people with internet access.   Wikipedia is free content. You can
take the content, transform it into other things, put it in other
mediums.. change it... etc.

Other people might make arguments about the importance of the
transparency that Wikipedia's revision control offers, or the benefits
of accepting input from a broad audience.

.. So even if all existent encyclopedias were always available for
reading at no cost on the web there would still be a lot of reasons
for Wikipedia to exist.

However, a lot of people emphasize Wikipedia as a "no cost online
encyclopedia" and events like this highlight why advertising Wikipedia
in this way is a mistake:  If people only think of Wikipedia as a "no
cost online encyclopedia" then incremental steps like Brockhaus' may
be misunderstood as something the reduces the value provided by

Of course, Brockhaus is not the first commercial encyclopedia to allow
online access at no cost. So really that hasn't been something that
made Wikipedia unique for a long time.


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