Wikipedia and Nupedia
The home page of Wikipedia says “We’re writing a complete encyclopedia from scratch, collaboratively. We started work in January 2001. We’ve got over 6,000 pages already. We want to make over 100,000. So, let’s get to work! Write a little (or a lot) about what you know.” Wikipedia is implemented via WikiWiki, which allows anyone to post content. Every page has the link “You can edit this page right now!“, and they mean it. Some are detailed and extensive, while others are just comments or bare outlines waiting for someone to expand them. This is a fascinating site—you really should check it out. Set your Wikipedia preferences to enable the Random Page[new window] link. I’ve put it on my browser’s Links bar so I can jump right into it.
If that’s too wild for you, check out Nupedia, whose home page says “We are building the world’s largest international, peer-reviewed encyclopedia. It is free.” The about page goes on to say “Nupedia is a new online encyclopedia. It will be searchable, and also organized hierarchically and alphabetically. Nupedia is “open content”; we want the contents of the encyclopedia to receive the widest possible distribution. Reading Nupedia.com will always be free of charge.”
fixed link rot; Nupedia (defunct) link now goes to Wikipedia article [2005-03-27]
fixed link rot; Wikipedia changed underlying software [2002-02-28]
2008-05-29: disabled comments and pings/trackbacks because 90% of my spam comments are for this post