Reasons behind Catholic Answers' release of The Catholic Encyclopedia (TCE) of 1914 as the Original Catholic Encyclopedia (OCE) web site:
1 - Preserve An Important Historical/Cultural Source
The Catholic Encyclopedia of 1914 is a monumental work. It contains authoritative information on the entire spectrum of Catholic interests, history, and doctrine at the start of the 20th century. No other source provides such sweeping coverage of all things Catholic. It is no wonder that it was so highly-regarded. Even now, TCE continues to provide valuable information to new generations.
2 - Document Our Paper Trail
The encyclopedia content we are publishing was generated digitally from the original print version (and as such, it represents the work product and substantial financial investment of Catholic Answers). With an established paper trail, the source and reliability of ALL the encyclopedia content we provide is now well documented.
3 - Provide Accurate Content
Other TCE web sites, because they relied on transcribers to generate article content, contain additions and omissions. Some of these changes--a misspelled word, a missing sentence, a bad date--were introduced accidentally by transcribers. Other changes were made purposefully to "improve" the content. Worse, some of these changes have altered the meaning of the original article.
Many have decried these "improvements" if the site claims that it is a faithful reproduction. Others have been confused by the changes, erroneously concluding that all article content was updated.
The content on Catholic Answers's OCE site was digitally generated from page scans using optical character recognition (OCR) software. No 3rd-party transcribers were involved. As such, there was no possibility for human transcribers to inject personal bias in preparation of the article content. Moreover, Catholic Answers provides the actual page scans so that the rendering of the article can be verified against a true master copy.
ONLY Catholic Answers provides a 100% GUARANTEE on the accurate rendering of its articles!
4 - Provide A Complete Article Set
The Catholic Encyclopedia contains 11,460 articles. Our OCE site contains those same 11,460 articles.
All other sites that relied on the aforementioned transcription process are missing articles. Anywhere from 1-60% of the original articles are simply missing from these sites.
Now some of these other sites have artificially boosted their article counts by splitting large articles into smaller ones. While this makes these other sites seem more complete, it also masks the fact that they are missing a large number of articles, an artifact of their manual transcription effort.
This site has ALL the articles, 100% GUARANTEED!
5 - Provide Timely Corrections
When a site visitor encounters a content display problem, they would like to see it corrected in a timely fashion. Virtually all of the inaccuracies found on other TCE sites (as noted above) have gone uncorrected for a very long time. By hosting encyclopedia content ourselves, we are able to assure timely updates to any content issues that may be uncovered.
6 - Set The Pace Of Enhancements
Other sites with TCE content are quite static. While this isn't necessarily bad, a rich feature set could be developed from the wealth of information found in TCE. By hosting our own version of TCE content, we can set the pace and direction of new feature development.
7 - Assure Continuous Long-term Access
Internet sites come and go. Several sites hosting content from The Catholic Encyclopedia have disappeared. Even if there is no reason to suspect that a particular site with TCE content will disappear or otherwise restrict access, who knows what the case may be tomorrow. By hosting our own encyclopedia site, we are assured of continuous access.
8 - Avoid Potential Copyright Infringement
While there are real and legitimate questions about the validity of a claimed "copyright" for other TCE sites, Catholic Answers does want to respect the workproduct of others. By releasing its own version, Catholic Answers does not have to worry about ownership disputes with other owners/users of transcribed versions of TCE.
9 - Avoid Advertising Clutter
Other TCE sites have heavy ad placement which is not only an aesthetic concern but also adds confusion, negatively impacting the overall usability of those sites.
10 - Avoid Inappropriate Advertising
The heavy ad activity on other TCE sites is also a content concern. At least one advertiser's material has generated substantive complaints. Worse still, some of these advertisers represent interests that run counter to the Catholic Church. We do not want to provide such advertisers with additional viewers by referring seekers to indiscreet TCE sites.
11 - Garner Sponsorship Revenues
Catholic Answers is a non-profit apostolate. A good revenue stream from its own quality sponsors would help underwrite the cost of this effort and would be most welcome.
12 - Reach More People
By adding quality content to an already popular Internet domain, Catholic Answers hopes to garner even more visitor traffic to the catholic.com family of sites.
13 - Keep Referrals In-house
Catholic Answers makes use of the material found in TCE, frequently referring readers to articles in this work. By referring readers to this content on our own site, Catholic Answers hopes to retain these site visitors.
14 - Avoid Unintended Endorsements
Referring readers to supplemental information found on private, 3rd-party Internet sites has always been problematic. Readers might naturally assume that this constitutes an endorsement of that site when, in fact, that is not our intent.
15 - Introduce Seekers To Catholic Answers
By its very nature, TCE is seen as a reliable source for those seeking to know more about the faith. Hosting this material will provide Catholic Answers with an opportunity to introduce itself to more people interested in the faith.
16 - Create A Foundational Building Block
The digitized TCE content will provide a key building block for future projects here at Catholic Answers.