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NEH Reference materials grant application/Statement of significance and impact

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Principal activities of the project[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is asking for a grant of $500,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities in order to develop Wikipedia, an online, free encyclopedia licensed under the GNU-FDL, and other associated projects, including Wikibooks, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, and Wikisource. These projects constitute a vast international volunteer effort to produce high quality information that is accessible online free of charge.

The English-language Wikipedia, the first of approximately three hundred related projects, was launched in January 2001. Since then, it has grown, solely on the basis of committed volunteer effort to over 300 thousand articles, and has been the basis for similar projects of varying sizes in over fifty languages. These include very large projects like the German-language Wikipedia, with over 100,000 articles, to the Cherokee-language Wikipedia, which is just getting started.

The NEH Reference Materials Grant will be used to allow Wikipedia and the associated projects to continue to grow at an exponential rate by providing much-needed funding for servers and other hardware. At the same time, it will allow the Foundation to relocate itself from cyberspace to the real world by acquiring an office and basic hired staff to handle the routine details of running an international organization. It will allow for the implementation of a quality control system to ensure that Wikimedia materials meet the highest academic standards, so that they are a reliable source, and will provide the impetus for collaborative projects with other, like-minded projects intent on providing free, high quality information and learning tools to anyone with access to the Internet. While these are all longterm goals, a grant of this size will provide the seed money necessary to allow the Wikimedia to grow and reach millions of people who will both benefit from the knowledge it provides and contribute from their own learning to this growing corpus of open content information that is free for anyone to copy and distribute.

Project's importance to the humanities[edit]

The major strength of the Wikimedia Foundation is its effectiveness in creating resources to serve the general public.

Compared to other projects in the humanities, the development of Wikimedia Foundation projects is a highly effective way to contribute to the humanities for two major reasons. All material is released under a license that allows others to use it ways that regular copyrighted works may not be used. This ensures, for example, that libraries, schools, and other research and educational institutions, as well as the general public, are more likely to have access to a legitimate copy. They are also free to create derivative works based on the material. This freedom creates a ripple effect in the distribution of information. Furthermore, all of the material is published online at a very popular website, receiving ___ page views daily on average.

In addition, this project intends to fully tap into Wikipedia's major resource: its vast volunteer force. In a given day, Wikipedia receives ____ contributions, large and small, administrative and substantive combined. The articles for the project will be drafted through the site, and day-to-day project management will also be supported by volunteers. This enables the grant money to be spent elsewhere rather than be focused on content creation, making a bigger difference overall. Another benefit of volunteer participation is the accessibility of the resulting material. The intensive reader feedback enabled by Wikipedia's site structure is highly effective in ensuring clear, readable, and accurate articles.

Expected results of the project[edit]

During the period of this grant, the English language Wikipedia is expected to grow to more than 600 thousand articles, and the total content at all the Wikipedias is expected to exceed 1.2 million articles. Combined with the other Wikimedia projects, Wikipedia will be the most comprehensive online reference material site in the world. Given the nature of the wiki software, it will also be the most up to date, as Wikipedia articles are often updated within minutes of a major event.