updated 1/18/2012 5:49:47 PM ET 2012-01-18T22:49:47




Encyclopedia Britannica

  1. Citizendium  is written by contributors (called "citizens") and overseen by experts, such as tenured professors and career professionals. Unlike Wikipedia, citizens must work under their real names and adhere to a 55-point charter overseen by a “constabulary” that governs community behavior such as banning the use of objectionable language. Currently, Citizendium's 16,000 articles cover a quirky range of topics, from the Caterpillar Club to the Great Society.
  2. Scholarpedia  consists of articles written and reviewed by professors and researchers. It is more reliable than Wikipedia, but far narrower in scope. This is the place to go for help with differential equations and fluid dynamics, but offers a void when it comes to the capital of the Congo.
  3. Everything2  hosts a smaller collection of user submitted factual articles like Wikipedia, along with fiction and poetry. Here, authors are called "noders" and the articles are nodes. Each node is hyperlinked to others, encouraging users to follow the paths of previous readers. Nodes can only be edited by their noders, which results in chains of articles on the same topic as one author corrects another.


  1. Start building circles on alternative social network  Google+. Send invites to your contacts with their email addresses. Even if they don’t join the network, your contacts will still receive your Google+ posts via email. Chat and real-time video conferencing groups — called Hangouts — are also available within Google+.
  2. Twitter could also be a backup. Like Facebook users,  Twitter  members must follow one another to send messages. But once the people you follow, decide to "follow back," you can exchange private messages.  Further, you can designate followers as mobile contacts, so that their tweets are sent as text messages to your phone, in addition to using the Twitter mobile app that would include the entire Twitter stream.
  3. Pinterest has taken the Internet by storm since its launch in 2009. Pinterest became one of the Web's top 10 social networks, according to tracking firm Hitwise. Think of Pinterest as an infinite bulletin board where a community of millions share mostly photos of their favorite things from across the Web. In Pinterest language, a pin is a photo. Pins can be uploaded from your computer or linked to from a website. Pins can be repinned, similar to a retweet on Twitter.  Pinterest  is still invitation-only, but invites seem to be granted within a day or two.
  1. Amazon Payments  let members send money to an email address or a phone number. Like PayPal, customers must set up an Amazon Payments account. Like PayPal, Amazon does not charge a fee for sending money between individuals.
  2. American Express Serve  works in a similar way. Serve customers link their account to their bank or a credit card. Users can transfer money and shop online. Fees are only charged if the Serve account is tied to a credit card.
  3. PopMoney  is offered through 200 participating financial institutions and works like PayPal, Amazon and Serve. With each of these services, users should be aware that it can take up to 5 days for funds to clear.
  1. Microsoft would welcome Google fans to  “Search Plus Your World”  with personalized results culled from its social networking site Google+, Bing integrates social information from Facebook and real-time results from Twitter. Facebook “likes” are shown below search result listings, while Twitter posts are searchable from Bing’s mini-Twitter search engine.
  2. If your search involves numbers of any kind, try  Wolfram Alpha  Unlike a semantic or word-based search engine such as Google that provides text links, Wolfram Alpha calculates answers. For instance, it can calculate prices for soybeans futures and name the Oscar-winning actress in 1987. Wolfram Alpha is also available as an app for iPhone, iPad, iPod, Android devices and the Barnes & Noble Nook e-reader.
  3. Another question-and-answer engine,  Quora, was created by two former Facebook employees. Like Wikipedia, anyone can answer questions, but Quora contributors must use their real names. Users vote answers “up” and “down” and can link Quora to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Searching by topic results in a list of answers that Quora has ordered using its own algorithm designed to place the best at the top.

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