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Wikipedia Reaches One Million Articles
September 20, 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 encyclopedia (Wikipedia.org). Started in January 2001, Wikipedia is currently the world's largest and fastest growing encyclopedia, with articles under active development in over 100 languages. Nearly 2,500 new articles are added to Wikipedia each day, along with ten times that number of updates to existing articles.
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 anyone who needs a starting point for research. Wikipedia's rate of growth has continued to increase in recent months, and at its current pace it will double in size again by March.
With its dedicated community of volunteers, Wikipedia has also gained recognition as a website for community interaction. This has led to two international prizes in 2004, the Prix Ars Electronica for "Digital Communities" and a Webby Award for "Best Community".
In addition, static versions of Wikipedia are being prepared for release on CD or DVD. Soon to be available are a German language version distributed by Directmedia Publishing, and a bilingual French and English version, included as part of an upcoming Mandrakesoft Linux distribution. More information is available in the Foundation's newsletter.
Wikipedia is created entirely by volunteers who love to contribute, update, and revise articles in a collaborative process. Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, said, "The idea of sharing knowledge is powerful." The 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 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.
All Wikipedia text is published under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL), which lets contributors enhance and modify each other's work based on a principle known as "copyleft". This means the license 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 license 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 10,000 articles or more (English: 353,000, German: 137,000, Japanese: 70,000, French: 51,000, Swedish: 39,000, Polish: 37,000, Dutch: 35,000, Spanish: 29,000, Italian: 23,000, Danish: 20,000, Portuguese: 15,000, Esperanto: 14,000, Chinese: 13,000, and Hebrew: 10,000).
In addition to Wikipedia, 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 license 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.
For questions and interviews, please contact (in English only):
Jimmy Wales, Chair, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
Angela Beesley, Executive Secretary, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation
For further background information, please see:
- Wikipedia's article about itself
- Wikipedia's article about the Wikimedia Foundation
- Wikipedia Statistics
- Selected feature articles from Wikipedia
- Some responses to common criticisms of the wiki concept
- Press coverage about Wikipedia