The gold standard for encyclopedias has been Britannica for about 100 years or so. But since they charge money for access, bloggers and casual researchers migrate to the free sites, most notably Wikipedia. Britannica decided they want to be the reference of choice on the internet, and now make that possible with their new WebShare initiative.
Pay for access sites block links to specific pages when referenced online, as did Britannica before. So if I have a subscription to Britannica and link to an article, everyone following that link must also have a subscription to Britannica or they can’t see the link. That made sense back when every content provider on the Web dreamed of getting millions of consumers to sign up “just because” they had to buy the same content for real money in the real world.
The model moved to where content providers like Britannica must tease us with some content, so we’ll know the rest of the content is worth the money. Porn sites, of course, led the way with the tease business model, in more ways than one. But it’s good to see smart companies like Britannica and major newspapers make their content more available.
I’ve applied for my Britannica access. You’ll know if this works if you start seeing regularal links to Britannica. And then you’ll be able to make a better decision of Britannica Online makes sense for you.