Encyclopedia of Earth

Last updated
Encyclopedia of Earth
Screenshot of eoearth.org home page
Available inEnglish
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Owner Environmental Information Coalition and the National Council for Science and the Environment
Website eoearth Main Page
Alexa rankIncrease Negative.svg 22,426 (May 2016) [1]

The Encyclopedia of Earth (abbreviated EoE) is an electronic reference about the Earth, its natural environments, and their interaction with society. The Encyclopedia is described as a free, fully searchable collection of articles written by scholars, professionals, educators, and other approved experts, who collaborate and review each other's work. The articles are written in non-technical language and are intended to be useful to students, educators, scholars, and professionals, as well as to the general public. The authors, editors, and even copy editors are attributed on the articles with links to biographical pages on those individuals. [2]

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, which is Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.

Society Group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction

A society is a group of individuals involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations. Societies are characterized by patterns of relationships between individuals who share a distinctive culture and institutions; a given society may be described as the sum total of such relationships among its constituent of members. In the social sciences, a larger society often exhibits stratification or dominance patterns in subgroups.


The Encyclopedia of Earth is a component of the larger Earth Portal (part of the Digital Universe project), which is a constellation of subject-specific information portals that contain news services, structured metadata, a federated environmental search engine, and other information resources. The technology platform for the Encyclopedia of Earth is a modified version of MediaWiki, which is closed to all but approved users. Once an article is reviewed and approved it is published to a public site. The EoE was launched in September 2006 with about 360 articles, and as of November 30, 2010 had 7,678 articles.

Digital Universe was a free online information service founded in 2006. The project aimed to create a "network of portals designed to provide high-quality information and services to the public". Subject matter experts were to have been responsible for reviewing and approving content; contributors were to have been both experts and the public.

MediaWiki Wiki software

MediaWiki is a free and open-source wiki engine. It was developed for use on Wikipedia in 2002, and given the name "MediaWiki" in 2003. It remains in use on Wikipedia and almost all other Wikimedia websites, including Wiktionary, Wikimedia Commons and Wikidata; these sites continue to define a large part of the requirement set for MediaWiki. MediaWiki was originally developed by Magnus Manske and improved by Lee Daniel Crocker. Its development has since then been coordinated by the Wikimedia Foundation.

Authoring and publishing process

Contributors to the Encyclopedia of Earth are made up of scientists, educators, and professionals within the environmental field. Contributors are vetted by the Environmental Information Coalition (EIC) Stewardship Committee, the governing body of the Encyclopedia of Earth, before they are given access to the author's wiki. Within the wiki, where they operate under their real names and are given attribution for the published articles.

Wiki type of website that visitors can edit

A wiki is a knowledge base website on which users collaboratively modify content and structure directly from the web browser. In a typical wiki, text is written using a simplified markup language and often edited with the help of a rich-text editor.

Articles are written, edited, and published in a two-step process:

  1. Content for the Encyclopedia is created, maintained, and governed by group of experts via a restricted-access wiki that uses a modified version of MediaWiki.
  2. Upon completion, content is reviewed and approved by Topic Editors, and then published to the free public site.

Content may be continuously revised and updated on the authors' wiki, but revised articles require review and re-approval before revisions are displayed on the public site.

Contributors are designated as "Authors" or "Topic Editors." Contributors can create, write and edit freely on all content within the Encyclopedia. Topic Editors act as reviewers of articles on topics upon which they are judged to have a high level of expertise. Articles, when written, are assigned by Encyclopedia staff to Topic Editors for review and, if appropriate, approval and automatic publication to the public site. As of early 2009, EoE staff were reporting that there were approximately 1,200 contributors from 60 different countries on the Encyclopedia.

The EoE has about 70 (as of late 2010) Content Partners, organizations that have a written agreement to provide their content to the Encyclopedia. Content Partners include organizations like the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and American Meteorological Society.

Conservation International nonprofit environmental organization

Conservation International (CI) is an American nonprofit environmental organization headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its goal is to protect nature as a source of food, fresh water, livelihoods and a stable climate.

American Meteorological Society

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is the premier scientific and professional organization in the United States promoting and disseminating information about the atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences. Its mission is to advance the atmospheric and related sciences, technologies, applications, and services for the benefit of society.

The EoE also cites Content Sources, organizations that have content in the public domain which is used in the Encyclopedia. In this category are various government agencies and Wikipedia. The Encyclopedia of Earth has a specific policy on use of Wikipedia content which requires authors and editors to carefully review and approve such content before using it and includes the following statement at the bottom of the article:

Note on Wikipedia Content: The authors of the content derived from Wikipedia are not identified. The Encyclopedia of Earth Author(s) and Topic Editor(s) listed at the top of this article may have significantly modified the content derived from Wikipedia with original content or content drawn from other sources. The Encyclopedia of Earth Topic Editor(s) listed at the top of this article has reviewed all of the content, including that derived from Wikipedia, and approved its accuracy for use in the Encyclopedia of Earth. See Encyclopedia of Earth Policy on use of Wikipedia Content for further details.

The Authors, Topic Editors, Copy Editors, Content Partners, and Content Sources, are all attributed on the articles with links to biographical pages on those individuals and institutions. This is part of the EoE's stated policy of transparency.

The Encyclopedia has a stated policy regarding neutrality and fairness [3] that requires articles, when touching upon any issue of controversy, to represent every different view on a subject that attracts a significant portion of adherents, with each such view and its arguments or evidence being expressed as fairly and sympathetically as possible. According to this neutrality policy, the Encyclopedia itself does not advocate positions on environmental issues.


The Encyclopedia includes content somewhat more varied than a traditional encyclopedia or other related efforts like Wikipedia or Citizendium. In addition to traditional articles, the Encyclopedia includes: ebooks, lectures, reports, and speeches. These source documents are locked on the authors' wiki and are therefore fixed. EoE staff report that some college professors are beginning to write up their lecture notes to result in full courses within the Encyclopedia. Two projects that use the EoE as a content repository and resource are the Climate, Adaptation, Mitigation, E-Learning (CAMEL) project [4] and the Online Clearinghouse for Education And Networking - Oil Interdisciplinary Learning (OCEAN-OIL) project. [5]

Citizendium Internet wiki encyclopedia stressing editorial credibility

Citizendium is an English-language wiki-based free encyclopedia project launched by Larry Sanger, who co-founded Nupedia and Wikipedia.

Content is governed by the Creative Commons license known as "Attribution-Share Alike". This license permits anyone to (1) copy, distribute, and display material, (2) revise, edit, remix, tweak, and build upon material, and to make commercial use of material, subject to these conditions:

Organization and people

The Encyclopedia of Earth is being created by the Environmental Information Coalition (EIC), an open membership group of scientists, educators, and organizations. The EIC defines the roles and responsibilities for individuals and institutions involved in the Coalition, as well as the editorial guidelines for the Encyclopedia. An EIC Stewardship Committee functions as the primary working group that develops and enforces policies and guidelines for the Encyclopedia, with input from Topic Editors and Authors.

The Secretariat for the EIC is the National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE), based in Washington D.C., USA. NCSE is a 501(c)(3)non-profit organization with a mission "to improve the scientific basis for environmental decisionmaking" and "specializes in programs that foster collaboration between diverse institutions, communities and individuals. We work closely with those creating and using environmental knowledge, including research, education, environmental, and business organizations, as well as governmental bodies at all levels."

The Stewardship Committee comprises:

The International Advisory Board for the Encyclopedia is listed as Rita Colwell, Robert W. Corell, Robert Costanza, Mohamed H. A. Hassan, Thomas Homer-Dixon, Andrew J. Hoffman, Stephen P. Hubbell, Simon A. Levin, Bonnie J. McCay, David W. Orr, Rajendra K. Pachauri, Frank Sherwood Rowland, and B. L. Turner.

Migration to MediaWiki

On May 5, 2016 the editorial board announced that the encyclopedia would be migrating to the open source MediaWiki platform. [6]

On November 16, 2016 the new web address was announced via email as being http://editors.eol.org/eoearth/wiki/Main_Page.

See also

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  1. "US rank - Eoearth.org Site Info". Alexa Internet . Retrieved May 9, 2016.
  2. The Encyclopedia of Earth, Cutler J. Cleveland, Editor (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment).
  3. "The Encyclopedia of Earth neutrality policy", Cutler J. Cleveland, Editor (Washington, D.C.: Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment).
  4. "Climate Change". eoearth.org.
  5. "OCEAN OIL". eoearth.org.
  6. "Encyclopedia of Earth Temporary Home". May 4, 2016. Retrieved May 9, 2016.