Biological Encyclopedia website too popular on first day, crashes

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Screenshot of a demonstration page for Kiwa hirsuta.

While it has taken almost a year, the non-profit Encyclopedia of Life project launched yesterday. It gained so much attention, that the site quickly crashed. It went back online Tuesday afternoon (EST), but went down again the next morning.

During five-and-a-half hours, the site logged 11.5 million hits, including visitors who reached the "503 error".

EOL is estimated to have cost US$110.5 million so far.

The site has limited information on 30,000 species, and full profiles of 25 species. These fleshed-out profiles include an article with scientific references, maps of where the species are found, and are illustrated with photos and video. One million placeholder pages have been set up so far, and the plan is to eventually catalog all 1.8 million species.

The Wikimedia Foundation launched a similar project in August 2004, Wikispecies. Perhaps the least known of Wikimedia projects, it "was created to provide an open source forum for taxonomic and biological information." It has logged 120,247 species, under a free license. The US government runs an Integrated Taxonomic Information System, with 464,081 scientific names. It is created in partnership with similar Canadian and Mexican databases.

There is also a Tree of Life Web Project, and a Catalogue of Life, the latter being the most successful; it is a compilation of 1,008,965 species, from 47 taxonomical databases. ZipcodeZoo offers descriptions of over 3 million species of plants and animals, with 250,000 photos, maps, pronunciations, and definitions in 13 languages. ARKive collects media of species, and the All Species Foundation was a failed early attempt at a web catalog.

This article mentions the Wikimedia Foundation, one of its projects, or people related to it. Wikinews is a project of the Wikimedia Foundation.