When you want basic information about someone or something, try plugging your query into Answers.com's general search field, or browse the ever-expanding Directory of reference material. The information you pull up will include dictionary definitions and encyclopedia articles culled from resources licensed from a variety of publishers. The site draws heavily from Wikipedia, a free online encyclopedia written entirely by volunteersanybody can contribute or edit articles, and some 16,000 have (there are 500,000 entries in English; the 2005 Encyclopaedia Brittanica has 65,000). See here for more on the wiki phenomenon. Answers.com also provides free plug-ins you can download to your desktop for even quicker access to these fast facts.
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