Veropedia was a free, advertising-supported Internet encyclopedia project launched in late October 2007. It was taken down in January 2009, pending creation of a new version. As of this date, there has been no report of a new version.
Veropedia editors chose Wikipedia articles that met the site's reliability standards; information was then scraped, or chosen by an automatic process, and thereafter a stable version of the article was posted on Veropedia.
Any improvements required for articles to reach a standard suitable for Veropedia had to be done on Wikipedia itself. This model was intended to provide benefits to both projects: Wikipedia's open nature and large volume, and Veropedia's stability and perpetuity.
As of October 2008 the site, still in beta, had checked and imported more than 5,800 articles from the English Wikipedia into its public database. Although Veropedia intended to eventually support itself completely through advertising, the project was mainly financed by those involved in the project, and in January 2009 it disabled articles and advertisements and announced a coming "Beta2". The "Beta2" never arrived and the articles were not restored.
Veropedia was started by a group of experienced Wikipedia editors, including founder Daniel Wool, who had prior experience editing a variety of reference works including Encyclopedia of the Peoples of the World and was an employee of the Wikimedia Foundation until spring 2007. By November 2007, roughly 100 Wikipedia editors were involved in the project. The help of academics who had worked on Wikipedia was also being sought.
An explanatory page on the site stated that similar projects in languages other than English might be launched; it distinguished Veropedia from "expert-driven" wikis such as Citizendium.
In January 2009, the encyclopedia contents were removed and replaced with a message stating that "The original version of Veropedia has been taken down for now while we work on a new Veropedia. This new Veropedia will have a superior method of handling articles and introduces an improved interface."
Veropedia was operated by Veropedia, Inc., a for-profit corporation registered in Florida, and founded by Wool, a former co-ordinator at the Wikimedia Foundation, the parent organization of Wikipedia.
As required by its use of Wikipedia material, all Veropedia content was licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
The Veropedia editorial community was far smaller than Wikipedia's, and was intended to be geared towards quality article writing, seeing involvement in Veropedia as a means to return to the roots of knowledge building by focusing upon articles rather than editorial difficulties. Other notable differences included:Articles were uploaded when they met Veropedia's criteria. Articles were not edited once uploaded.
Veropedia used only experienced article editors, and also operated an automated system for uploading which checked proposed articles for a wide range of issues, and refused to accept them if any were present. Independent human expert review of articles was planned for the final site, but was not implemented. In Veropedia's own words: "Each article will be given to recognized academics and experts to review. These experts can either provide their stamp of approval or make suggestions as to how the article can be improved further. In that way, users will know that the article is reliable. Our material is written by Wikipedia contributors. The role of experts and academics will be to check it and, ideally, approve it. Their comments will be given back to our contributors to incorporate back into the articles to make them even better."
In contrast to Wikipedia, which allows almost anyone to edit, contributing to Veropedia was by approval (following a request) or invitation only.
Veropedia's content covered a smaller range than Wikipedia: at its height it had some 5800 articles vs. 3 million for Wikipedia. The focus was explicitly upon articles that are likely to be widely useful, and are improved to a high quality standard. As of December 2007, Veropedia's growth rate was around 300 articles per month.
Another difference from the English Wikipedia was a number of tighter restrictions, for example, exclusion of fair use images and other content. The Veropedia FAQ stated: "We have decided to... go back to the core principles of the project by focusing on free content. Only by insisting on free content can we revert the current trend of extending copyright and encourage people to release their content to the public."
In contrast with Wikipedia's donation-based model, Veropedia's business model used paid advertising. Daniel Wool commented: "I was in charge of fundraising for Wikipedia, and I feel a lot more comfortable taking ads from Amazon than the donations of high school students."
Veropedia, founded in 2007, was still in its beta stage. In August 2008, it had an Alexa traffic rank of over 1.5 million – indicating it was significantly less popular than Wikipedia, (Traffic rank 6) Citizendium, (Traffic rank of 273,939) and Scholarpedia. (Traffic rank of 171,753)
Nicholas Carr, a critic of Web 2.0 in general and Wikipedia in particular, criticized Veropedia as trying to "scrape" the "cream" of Wikipedia. Carr has also stated that Veropedia had an unclear interface with clicks bouncing one back and forth between Wikipedia and Veropedia.
Tim Blackmore, an associate professor at the Faculty of Information and Media Studies of the University of Western Ontario, expressed scepticism toward the project, since there are already encyclopedias in existence where "content is checked and articles are reviewed". The main lure of the internet, according to him, is "free information" and Wikipedia has already emerged as a pioneer in open content information resources.
A different evaluation in The Australian said Veropedia "seems more likely to succeed" than Citizendium, another then-recently founded online encyclopedia, because "it is less directly competitive" with Wikipedia. The story opined that both Veropedia and Citizendium "should in theory help improve the fairness and accuracy of available online information about many contentious topics although the academic bent to each raises questions over what, exactly, they will construe as fair when it comes to coverage of corporations and their actions."
A story in Wired News discussed whether Veropedia (and Citizendium) could avoid some of the same problems that Wikipedia has supposedly encountered: "Though office politics and internecine bickering abound at the Wikimedia Foundation – one former insider described the atmosphere as "MySpace meets 'As the World Turns' for geeks" – both Wool and Sanger deny that internal squabbles were why they started their own encyclopedias. Whether their ventures fall prey to the same turf wars, bureaucratic quagmires and academic catfights as the site that spawned them remains to be seen."
In a review of various Wikipedia alternatives, TechNewsWorld argued that Veropedia's estimation of 5000 articles was not credible, as "many of these articles are small and insignificant almanac-type entries that serve mainly as filler". It thus argued that like Citizendium, Veropedia avoided "the tough challenge of handling controversial and time-sensitive subjects" that Wikipedia had taken on. The article also stated that most Veropedia articles were identical to their Wikipedia counterpart.
In January 2008, the St. Petersburg Times, a well known Florida newspaper based in the town from which Daniel Wool operated Veropedia, listed Wool and Terry Foote, a Veropedia investor, as "people to watch in 2008".