Progress on Paulys Realencyclopadie at German Wikisource

Via AWOL I learn that the project to digitise the old (but comprehensive) Realencyclopadie is going very well indeed.  Ten thousand articles have now been completed.  The press release is here, and using Google Translate, we get something like this:

For five years, there has been a project at Wikisource for Pauly’s Realencyclopädie of the study of classical antiquity (RE), with the aim to make the public domain articles from this available online in full text form. Although only a few volunteers are working on it, their constant work has recently reached an impressive milestone: with the article “Herod (King of Judaea)” they have transcribed 10,000 items.

The advantage of such a project is obvious.  Many articles in the RE still offer the best starting point, and most of the details, for each topic. However, they are only accessible in public libraries, for hardly any private individuals can afford such an expensive Lexicon.  It was published from 1893 to 1980 in Stuttgart by Metzler and is still sold by this company. The articles from the RE on the Internet are not only searchable by keyword, but available to everyone for free.  Of course the RE project can only upload articles which are now in the public domain.  These are usually those whose author died more than 70 years ago. And in the RE this applies to many authors already.

Among the most significant items that are already available on Wikisource, we may include the articles on the epic poet Hesiod, the tragedians Aeschylus, [13], and Euripides [4], the comic poet Eupolis [3] and Aristophanes [12], the scholar of the same name, [14] the philosopher Aristotle [18], the rhetoricians Anaximenes of Lampsacus [3], Annaeus [17] Seneca and Libanius, the Archbishop Eustathius [18], of Thessalonica, but also the products agriculture, Athenai [1a], signboards, Basilica, libraries, beekeeping, beer, soil science, embalming, epistolography, Hermes Trismegistus, didactic poems, mushrooms, roses, stringed instruments, navigation, suicide and Taurus.

Unlike other similar sites on the Internet, Wikisource lays great emphasis on the quality of the provided texts. Each text is proofread at least twice (the respective correction status is displayed on every page) and on the basis of scans of the original, which are checked each time and are stored on Wikimedia Commons. The RE project also uses the hyperlink feature of the world-wide web, by linking keywords to each other, and provides each item with identifiable reference and author abbreviations. One particular aspect of the project is that here the many authors of the RE are systematically collected and identified. The bio-bibliographic index of authors is now one of 1111 entries and is about 70% complete.

This is almost the only open-source initiative in the German language, and is highly praiseworthy.  The RE is hardly known outside of specialists; but the combination of exhaustive references, online access, and Google Translate should increase its reach manyfold.  Well done.

UPDATE: The RE at WikiSource is here.


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