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Wikipedia black-out: Five alternatives to the online encyclopaedia

Don't panic, there are other useful sites on the web

Wikipedia is in the middle of a black-out for 24 hours as part of a protest against proposed anti-piracy legislation in the US.

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect-IP Act (PIPA) are currently going through congress in the US. If these become law, copyright holders and US Judges will have to right to shut-down websites if they believe they offer illegal access to copyrighted material such as music and movies. At present, under existing US law, a website owner must simply remove illegal content when they are notified by the copyright holder. However, the new acts put the onus on the website itself to check material does not infringe copyright.

"If passed, this legislation will harm the free and open internet and bring about new tools for censorship of international websites inside the United States," the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia, said on its website.

As a result, the English language version of the site along with other sites such as Reddit, will be unavailable until 5am tomorrow (Thursday January 19). But what happens if you've got a presentation or an urgent piece of homework due in that you just need to research online?

Don't panic, cause we've got five free alternatives to Wikipedia that will ensure the protest doesn't remove in the information you need. It's also worth checking out our How to bypass the Wikipedia blackout feature if you just can't live without the site for 24 hours.

Encyclopaedia Britannica Online

Before we had the internet and online encyclopaedias, there were hard-back book versions. The most well-known of which is probably the Encyclopaedia Britannica. The knowledge giant has its own website that allows web users to search for article, which they can subsequently read and share or even upload images/videos or URLs that could be added to the article. It's worth noting you need to become a member but there is a month's free trial available, so it doesn't have to cost you anything.

Encyclopedia.com

This website acts as a search engine for over 100 different encyclopaedias and allows you to search for a specific word or phrase. The website trawls various different knowledge sources and then offers you various different articles in full. Simply click the tab at the top featuring the encyclopaedia's name to read the article.

Infoplease

Infoplease started as a quiz show back in the 1930's before evolving into a yearly almanac. Educational publisher Pearson Education has taken over the management of the site, which boasts thousands of articles and plenty of multimedia content along with quizzes, crosswords and even a daily spelling test.

Scholarpedia

Scholarpedia may use MediaWiki, the same software as Wikipedia, but instead it relies on experts to write the articles, which are then peer-reviewed and validated by two independent curators. Reregistered web users can edit these articles, but the changes need to be approved by a team of article contributors.

Citizendium

With more than 16,000 articles on the site Citizendium isn't a match for the quantity of knowledge on Wikipedia, but it aims to offer a better quality of article. Combining both contributions from 'authors' or the general public and 'experts' but also requiring everyone to use their real names or be banned from future editing.

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