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Wikimedia press releases/One million Wikipedia articles (int'l)

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Wikipedia Reaches One Million Articles

20 September, 2004 (Tampa, Florida):

The Wikimedia Foundation announced today the creation of the one millionth article in Wikipedia, its project to create a free, open-content, online encyclopaedia (Wikipedia.org). Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is currently both the world's largest encyclopaedia and the fastest-growing, with articles under active development in over 100 languages. Nearly 2,500 new articles are added to Wikipedia each day, along with ten times as many updates to existing articles.

Wikipedia is created entirely by volunteers who contribute, update, and revise articles in a collaborative process. "The idea of sharing knowledge is powerful," said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia's founder.

Wikipedia's process is governed by Wikipedia's official neutral point of view (NPOV) policy, which requires that contributors work to avoid bias in writing articles. Even articles covering controversial topics can be developed using this process. Contributors build upon each other's changes and flawed edits are quickly repaired. "Everything is peer-reviewed in real time," said Wales.

Wikipedia now ranks as one of the ten most popular reference sites on the Internet, according to Alexa.com. It is increasingly used as a resource by students, journalists, and everyday researchers. Wikipedia has also been cited thousands of times in a diverse array of documents and publications, including news reports, books, academic studies, and even legal documents.

With its dedicated community of volunteers, Wikipedia has also gained recognition as a website for community interaction. This has led to Wikipedia winning two international prizes in 2004, the Prix Ars Electronica for "Digital Communities" and a Webby Award for "Best Community."

Wikipedia runs on a wiki software platform called MediaWiki, which allows anyone to edit a page at any time and have one's changes visible instantly (wiki means 'quick' in Hawaiian). Visitors can also examine older versions of pages to see how an article has developed.

In addition, static versions of Wikipedia are being prepared for release on CD or DVD. Soon to be available is a German-language version distributed by Directmedia Publishing. Wikipedia is working on a bilingual French/English DVD release of the encylopedia in collaboration with Mandrakesoft, publisher of the Mandrakelinux OS, which will be included as part of an upcoming distribution.

All Wikipedia text is published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL), which lets contributors enhance and modify each other's work based on a principle known as "copyleft." This means the licence allows third parties the right to reuse Wikipedia articles as long as they pass on that right to others. The MediaWiki software is available under a similar licence designed for software.

Wikipedia is becoming increasingly multilingual; for the past year, it has experienced most of its growth in languages other than English. Out of the more than 100 Wikipedia languages, 14 currently have over 10,000 articles (English: 348,000, German: 141,000, Japanese: 72,000, French: 52,000, Swedish: 40,000, Polish: 38,000, Dutch: 35,000, Spanish: 29,000, Italian: 24,000, Danish: 20,000, Portuguese: 16,000, Esperanto: 15,000, Chinese: 13,000, and Hebrew: 10,000).

In addition to Wikipedia, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation (wikimediafoundation.org) supports several multilingual sister projects, including Wiktionary (a dictionary and thesaurus at wiktionary.org), Wikiquote (a compendium of famous quotations at wikiquote.org), Wikibooks (a collection of manuals and textbooks at wikibooks.org), and Wikisource (a repository of public domain documents at wikisource.org). All of these projects are published under the same licence and run on MediaWiki software. To support these projects, the Foundation has raised over US$100,000 (£55,000 or €80,000) since its creation and is holding a fundraising drive from September 20 to October 3 with the aim of raising an additional $50,000. More information is available and donations can be made at http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Fundraising.

With changes being made every minute of every day, it is impossible to predict where Wikipedia and its sister projects will be one year from now. But Wikipedia's rate of growth has continued to increase in recent months, and at its current pace Wikipedia would double in size again by next spring.

Additional information

For questions and interviews, please contact (in English only):

Jimmy Wales, Chair, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
Phone: (+1)-727-644-3565
Email: jwales@wikimedia.org

Angela Beesley, Executive Secretary, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
Phone: (+44)-7796-305-786
Email: angela@wikimedia.org

For further background information, please see: