February 27, 2008

New Encyclopedia of Life Goes Public, Then Crashes

A new online Encyclopedia of Life debuted yesterday, but quickly crashed on its first day of operation after its servers were overwhelmed by the high numbers of visitors to the site.  

Scientists at the Encyclopedia of Life, which will ultimately contain over 1 million pages devoted to different species of life on Earth, sought advice from experts from the popular Web site Wikipedia, the leading free-content encyclopedia on the Internet.  

"We've been overwhelmed by traffic," Encyclopedia of Life founding chairman Jesse Ausubel said in an Associated Press report.  "We're thrilled."

The encyclopedia's Web site logged over 11.5 million hits during 5 1/2 hours, including two hours of down time, according to company officials.

Tuesday's launch of the new Web site included limited pages for 30,000 species, with additional "exemplar pages" containing more in-depth information such as photos, video, scientific references, maps and text of 25 species ranging from the potato to the falcon to a newly discovered single-celled marine organism called Cafeteria roenbergensis.

All of the Encyclopedia of Life Web pages have been made by scientists, but in a few months the encyclopedia will begin accepting submissions from the public, similar to Wikipedia.

Eventually, company organizers hope to have 1.8 million species included in the online encyclopedia, and have already set up over 1 million placeholder pages.

The most searched for species on the new Web site is for the poisonous death cap mushroom, which Ausubel jokingly said might say something about people's homicidal intentions.


On the Net:

Encyclopedia of Life