Most Darwin texts on the internet exclude essential bibliographical information such as edition, publisher, place of publication, etc. Page numbers are nowhere to be seen. These factors vastly reduce the usefulness of these texts as they cannot be easily cited. It is impossible to know if one is reading a first or sixth edition. An example are the many online 'first editions' of Darwin's Origin of Species. Often these cannot be correct as the text contains the phrase 'survival of the fittest'—famously coined by Herbert Spencer and first included in the 5th edition of 1869. Many other online copies of the Origin purport to be the first edition yet contain the 'Historical Sketch', first found in Britain in the 3rd edition of 1861.
The Writings of Charles Darwin on the Web, edited by Dr. John van Wyhe, is an effort to publish in original format all of Charles Darwin's writings. The site already contains almost all of Darwin's writings as well as an extensive bibliography, images, and a biographical essay. While many of these materials are available elsewhere on the web, according to the authors, many online sources confuse editions, make errors in footnotes, and do a poor job of rendering transcriptions of scholarly quality. The texts here are not available in facsimile, but the authors have employed painstaking care to preserve the text of the originals all the way down to the characters, formatting, and page breaks. Line breaks have been altered in the case of hyphenation in order to allow better accuracy when searching.