It won’t work.
Here’s the problem: In order to preserve Britannica as a professionally-edited resource, user submissions will have to be vetted by Britannica staff or a freelance editor. And the company has set a 20-minute turnaround benchmark for itself to review submissions.
It’s not hard to see the problem here: Assuming the idea of Britannica as a viable Wikipedia alternative ever takes off, edits to the site will doubtlessly outpace traffic. So the cost of hiring 24-7 editors to maintain the site will rise faster than extra ad revenue from pageviews, meaning the more Britannica grows the more money it will lose.
And then there’s the problem of editing user submissions within 20 minutes. Vandalism has long been a known problem Wikipedia has learned how to deal with — Certain pages like Barack Obama’s, Ryan Seacrest’s, or anything related to Jews or the Holocaust are magnets for griefers out to spread misinformation, sometimes in subtle ways. “Neutral point of view” is hard enough to accomplish in an open source environment, let alone by overworked freelance editors on tight time deadlines.
We do think there’s room on the Web for a central depository of knowledge that’s more reliable than Wikipedia. But this isn’t the way to do it.
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