The tremendous success of Wikipedia has resulted in the creation of numerous specialized offshoots and imitators, ranging from websites like Congresspedia that cover Washington politics to Howtopedia, a website where people can contribute to a self-described "practical knowledge library."
Keeping in the spirit of Carl Linnaeus, the Swedish naturalist who established the original foundation for scientific naming, several scientists have also gotten into the act of creating databases, albeit ones that seek to record the names of Earth's many species. The Encyclopedia of Life, the brainchild of Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is perhaps the most ambitious effort of the bunch: launched recently with $12.5 million in seed money from the MacArthur Foundation and the Sloan Foundation, it will have a Web page for every species known to man.
But it is far from the only one attempting to break new ground in the encyclopedia game.ZooBank, an online registry managed by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature, already lists the official animal names (i.e. scientific names) of 1,600,575 species discovered so far. The Tree of Life, a collaborative effort by several biologists, seeks to also classify Earth's organisms.
While the Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life hopes to become the definitive catalog of all known animal species on Earth, having already recorded 1,008,965 species names (still just a little more than half of the world's known species) since its inception in 2000, the scientists behind Fishbase have decided to focus solely on the taxonomy of 30,000 fish species.