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Russian alternative to Wikipedia to be fully launched by summer of 2022, says publisher

According to the executive editor, creators plan to translate Russian alternative to Wikipedia into other languages

MOSCOW, November 21. /TASS/. An online project that is being created based on the Great Russian Encyclopedia will be fully launched by the summer of 2022, Executive Editor of the Great Russian Encyclopedia and scholarly publisher Sergei Kravets said in an interview with TASS.

"The project, which began in July, is anticipated to take 33 months. It will be completed by the spring or summer of 2022," he specified.

According to Kravets, the online encyclopedia does not have a name yet, but its creators would like its name to refer to the Great Russian Encyclopedia.

When choosing name options, the creators looked into the results of public opinion polls conducted in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg. They sought to figure out what the Great Russian Encyclopedia was associated with in people’s minds. "As many as 35% of students are aware of its existence, they consider it to be reliable but a bit outdated. As for professors, nearly 100% are acquainted with the encyclopedia and believe it to be fundamental and reliable. If we create something new, we need to maintain continuity, credibility, depth and reliability, but at the same time, we should eliminate its antiquatedness and reach out to new areas," the executive editor pointed out.

"This is why the name should probably be preserved," he added.

Translation into other languages

The Wikipedia-style Russian online encyclopedia may be translated into other languages in the future, Sergei Kravets said in an interview with TASS. According to him, BRICS countries — Brazil, India, China and South Africa — are particularly interested in it.

"Our colleagues in BRICS countries have a great need for an encyclopedia, because they are unwilling to use Britannica. Universal encyclopedias are a very rare thing. There are national ones, and in fact, there are three huge reputable encyclopedias at the moment, which include Britannica, the [German-language] Brockhaus Enzyklopadie and us. A thing to note is that we have the least number of readers because the Russian language is not widely used nowadays," Kravets emphasized.

According to the executive editor, there are researchers and editors who can translate the GRE web portal into other languages but it will require significant expenditures. "In theory, we have such a task on our hands because many countries are interested in our encyclopedia content. About 22-23% of our information is Russia-related, while everything else is general content," Kravets added.

Initiation ceremony

The Great Russian Encyclopedia web portal will be presented at a conference in Ufa on November 21. "It will involve our regional colleagues, encyclopedia experts, because we plan to actively cooperate with regional experts, going even as far as creating regional encyclopedias on our web portal," Kravets explained. According to him, about 270 people are currently working on the project. Besides, users who succeed in proving their competence will participate in drafting some of the encyclopedia’s articles.

Its launch is scheduled for late spring in 2022. Apart from including information and research content, the web portal will also offer controversial articles and host debates.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a meeting of the Russian Language Council on November 5 that unlike Wikipedia, a digital version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia could become a source of reliable information.

Kravets added that apart from the web portal, work was also underway on a digital version of the Great Russian Encyclopedia, which had been published in 2004-2017 and needs to be updated.