Wikipedia's English language site will blackout on Wednesday, joined by Reddit and Boing Boing, to protest two online anti-piracy acts--SOPA and PIPA-- being pushed by Congress. But where can one go when the world's largest free online encyclopedia goes dark?
Here are 5 alternatives:
Scholarpedia: The site uses the same software as Wikipedia, but the content is written by scholars. To be able to write for the site you must first be invited or elected by a committee. People can edit the posts, like on Wikipedia, but they must also be approved before they are made final. This ensures the site is accurate-- a preferred source to use by academics.
Infoplease: Although many of the entries are shorter than those on Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia comes from trusted sources such as Columbia Encyclopaedia and Random House unabridged Dictionary. It is run by Pearson, owners of the Financial Times.
Citizendium: This is where Wikipedia meets Scholarpedia. The mix between strict censored scholarly entries and a free-for-all, posted by everyday citizens. The site was launched by one of Wikipedia's founders Larry Sanger, and while posts need to be approved, those pending approval are still published, but with a disclaimer to alert people that some of the information could be inaccurate. Contributors to the site are only allowed to use their real name, unlike Wikipedia.
Encyclopedia Britannica Online: It may not be free, but it's one of the most trusted sources of our time. The Encyclopedia Britannica has every volume in web format for $69.95 a year. The contents of the Encyclopedia Britannica is one of the most trusted and unbiased sources of fact in our time.
Wikipedia's Founder, Jimmy Wales, has announced that his site will be blacking out on Wednesday in protest of two bills: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA) currently being debated by Congress.
While the bill aims to put a stop to illegal copying and sharing of movies and music on the internet, large internet organizations, such as Wikipedia, say the move will leave them no alternative but to police the online activity on their sites.
This is going to be wow, Wales tweeted on Monday. I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!
Wales told the BBC that the bill is written so badly that it is going to impact so many things that have very little to do with stopping piracy.
Proponents of SOPA have characterized the opposition as being people who want to enable piracy or defend piracy, but that's not really the point, he said.
On Saturday the White House issued a statement that appeared to be taking into consideration the worries of the bill's critics.
The Statement read:
Any effective legislation should reflect a wide range of stakeholders, including everyone from content creators to the engineers that build and maintain the infrastructure of the Internet.
While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response, we will not support legislation that reduces freedom of expression, increases cyber security risk, or undermines the dynamic, innovative global Internet.
This is by far the largest level of participation in a community discussion ever seen on Wikipedia, which illustrates the level of concern that Wikipedians feel about this proposed legislation. The overwhelming majority of participants support community action to encourage greater public action in response to these two bills. Of the proposals considered by Wikipedians, those that would result in a blackout of the English Wikipedia, in concert with similar blackouts on other websites opposed to SOPA and PIPA, received the strongest support.
The English version of Wikipedia will blackout for 24 hours on Jan.18