FAQ

Find answers to your most common questions.

What is the encyclosphere?

It is a network of encyclopedias—rather, it is the network of encyclopedias, presently existing and future, large and small. Encyclopedia articles are to the encyclosphere what blog posts are to the blogosphere. Bloggers work entirely independently of each other, but because they make their posts available in feeds, “blog readers” make it possible to aggregate all the blogs for the convenience of readers. It’s the sharing economy at its finest.

We want to do the same thing for encyclopedia articles: we are making the universal network of encyclopedias.

Read more here.

Wait, so is the encyclosphere… an encyclopedia?

No, nor does it compete with encyclopedias. It is a network added to, and in support of, encyclopedias, making it easier to find information in them.

Is it a meta-search engine, then?

No, although the network will make meta-search engines easier and more quickly and reliably updated. There are two independent encyclopedia meta-search engine projects participating in the encyclosphere: EncycloReader.org and EncycloSearch.org.

So does the encyclosphere exist yet?

Yes! Today you can visit EncycloReader.org and EncycloSearch.org to search dozens of encyclopedias containing hundreds of thousands of articles that we have added to the encyclosphere. Or install our Encyclosphere Chrome extension. Or visit Encyclopedia Archives or Wikipedia Deathrow.

How are we making this encyclosphere?

The encyclosphere is a network, and it has many independent parts. The work of the Knowledge Standards Foundation (KSF) is essentially to motivate, shepherd, and occasionally to pay for the creation of the various parts.

The KSF has published technical standards for encyclopedia articles and their metadata, according to which they may be freely shared in a decentralized, neutral, and uncensored fashion. We envision the standards evolving further to describe how the general public can rate articles. See docs.encyclosphere.org.

Our community continues the work to develop the standards for the encyclosphere. Join us on Mattermost!

By “standards,” you mean editorial standards, right?

No, this is a misunderstanding. We are not writing editorial standards. We are writing technical standards for an encyclopedia network, the purpose of which is to make encyclopedia articles available on a distributed network. We want the network to be as independent and neutral of editorial standards as possible. We want people to be able to participate without having to agree to any particular editorial standards at all, which might be very difficult. 

How do I reach out to the community? Can I post to the Slack group? The blog? The forum?

Yes. Different avenues have different purposes:

  • We are active every day in the Mattermost server. It is for more passing, “evanescent,” short-form discussion. Relatively undeep thoughts. This is a good place to ask basic questions as well as to engage in some discussion of development nitty-gritty, etc.
  • The forum is for discussion that is of perennial interest (i.e., we’ll want to keep coming back to the questions). Good for discussions of long-term policy.
  • The blog is for official KSF announcements and long-form proposals and discussion from guests (maybe you).
  • We also host groups on Matrix (#ksf:matrix.org), Discord, and Reddit, if that’s your preference.

Is this project active? I looked on X, and not much seems to be happening there.

Yes, it’s active. Join us on Mattermost. Other channels of communication might seem less active to you, but be assured that the KSF is busy, and a lot is happening behind the scenes.

Why do both Encycloreader and Encyclosearch exist? Won’t having multiple sites with different content selections confuse people?

The two projects are created separately and managed by different individuals. The purpose of this is to show how the network can be fully decentralized yet still connected. The files are being shared between both sites through the encyclosphere network but there are some editorial decisions about which are included on each site. Similar disparities may exist and are allowed for other sites that will exist in the future. The KSF is not intending to make its own site because the purpose is to launch a decentralized network based on a standard implementation – the ZWI file format is one such standard and the protocols established via encycloshare and others enable the network to push and pull files from this distributed technology.

Is there an app for this?

The short answer: it’s coming, eventually. It’s possible to use the browser to save the icon for web to make a PWA for your mobile device and it functions well now, if you’d like a quick-use app for mobile. Again, the KSF is primarily concerned with developing the standards to enable such a network to exist and wants developers to generate their own interfaces, readers, apps, websites and more to connect to the network and select which content the site would like to display or aggregate.

Does the encyclosphere support languages that are not English? How will you handle content that’s not originally written in English?

We do support foreign languages and settled on an ISO standard after some internal discussions. The two live sites should have some form of translation available soon and original content from non-english languages is being uploaded sporadically as we continue to work through the content backlog. We’re hoping we can get many more volunteers to assist with the content uploads and such, and request your feedback and concerns as we move forward. Again, KSF is primarily focused on developing the standards for this network so it will be up to the community of developers and editors to push most of this forward, we’ve just developed a few of these concepts to give people a working example of what it may look like in principle.