From Open Energy Information

This page contains answers for frequently asked questions about using and contributing to OpenEI.

How does OpenEI differ from Wikipedia?

OpenEI uses the same core wiki software (MediaWiki) that Wikipedia uses. Further, OpenEI leverages many best practices and principles that were pioneered in Wikipedia. Still, there are several differences between the projects. Namely:

  • OpenEI is a semantic wiki (using the Semantic MediaWiki software to extend MediaWiki). This means that its wiki markup syntax can be used not just to define text and formatting that control how content will be displayed to human readers, it can also be used to specify structured information that can easily be consumed by computer programs, spreadsheets, etc. This also makes it possible to produce dynamic graphs and tables of OpenEI data within its wiki pages.
  • The OpenEI and Wikipedia projects have different scopes and goals. The Wikipedia project aims to create the world's most comprehensive and accurate online encyclopedia. Energy-related information is one of many important areas in that encyclopedia. Conversely, energy-related information makes up the entirely of the OpenEI project's scope. Thus, we hope that over time, OpenEI will be able to delve deeper into certain energy topics and information than would be appropriate within Wikipedia.
  • OpenEI is more than just a wiki. Although the semantic wiki was the first major piece of OpenEI to be deployed, it has since been joined by the bulk datasets mechanism. The latter is geared towards raw data files where a wiki-style world-writable collaboration model is not desirable. Further, we expect to increase the integration between the OpenEI wiki and datasets areas over time (so that, for example, one could dynamically query one or more OpenEI datasets to produce a graph within an OpenEI wiki page).
  • The default license used in OpenEI (Creative Commons Zero) is different than the default licenses used in Wikipedia (the default licenses used in Wikipedia (Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 and the GNU Free Documentation License).

Should I contribute energy-related content to OpenEI or Wikipedia?

Obviously, we hope that you will contribute to OpenEI. Being a newer project than Wikipedia, we have a much smaller contributor base. Thus, new contributors are particular important to us. That being said, we are big fans of Wikipedia too. So if you have content that you believe is applicable in both systems, we recommend contributing it in both projects. Since we both use the same underlying MediaWiki software, it can be particularly easy to share wiki content between the systems. However, we must be clear that this kind of sharing is only appropriate for your own work--due to our differing licenses, please do not copy Wikipedia content into OpenEI (unless it is specifically marked as being public domain content in Wikipedia).