Wikipedia's first press release--draft for comment

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The press release is out![edit]

View it at http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/020115/latu099_1.html or see our local copy at w:en:Wikipedia:Press releases/January 2002.

As you can see, the press release went through some more significant development after being posted here, but we tried to use as many of your suggestions as we could. --Larry and Jimbo


The following is a draft of a press release that we're working on. Please comment and/or edit. The release date will be, approximately, January 12. Thanks. --Larry_Sanger

A community-created encyclopedia project, Wikipedia ( http://www.wikipedia.com ), is celebrating its first anniversary ("Wikipedia Day," January 15) by announcing that it has created over 20,000 articles. Remarkably, the articles are reasonably well-written and concise. The quality of older articles continues to benefit as new writers join and contribute to this free, and freely-distributable, database of knowledge.

The founders of Wikipedia are Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosopher Larry Sanger. Wales' Bomis.com search engine has supplied the financial backing and other support for the project, and Sanger, who earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Ohio State in 2000, has led the project. Sanger and Wales attribute Wikipedia's success to the presence of a strong core group of well-educated, articulate contributors from around the world who together maintain community standards of quality and neutrality. "Participants all keep a watchful eye over the 'Recent Changes' page," Wales said. "They edit each others' work constantly. It seems surprising that it works very well, but it does."

The project began life as an offshoot of its more academic sister project, Nupedia ( http://www.nupedia.com ), but has long since overtaken it in terms of size. After a modest, quiet beginning in January 2001, Wikipedia announced 10,000 articles the following September and claims to have doubled that number in the past four months. This growth and the project dynamics have been the subject of articles in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and MIT's highly-respected Technology Review, as well as technology news websites such as Slashdot and Kuro5hin.

At present, nearly 200 people are working on the project daily, from all around the world. Everything, even this, has been through the wiki project, edited by the community. But how can so many people with so many different backgrounds collaborate with no oversight? From the beginning, Wales and Sanger believed that it was absolutely necessary that all participants be committed to what they call "neutral point of view": rather than taking stands on issues of controversy, participants work together to prepare descriptions of the controversy that are fair to all points of view. Sanger explains: "If we were to permit Wikipedia to take controversial stands, it would be virtually impossible for people of many different viewpoints to collaborate. Because of the neutrality policy, we have partisans working together on the same articles. It's quite remarkable."

What motivates a scholar to participate in such a wide-open project? [Name here], of [position], explains: "we need a good quote here from somebody like Michael Tinkler, Axel Boldt, Ruth Ifcher, JHK, LDC etc."

The software that currently powers the project, Clifford Adams' UseModWiki, is based on the "WikiWiki" concept invented by Ward Cunningham, which allows anyone with an Internet connection to edit any article.

Wikipedia is released under the GNU Free Documentation License, which ensures that anyone may reuse the entries on the site in any way they wish, including commercially, as long as they too preserve that right in their own versions.

Sanger has been invited to speak about Wikipedia at the Stanford University Computer Systems Laboratory colloquium on January 16; the press is invited to attend or to view the talk via the Internet. Please see http://www.stanford.edu/class/ee380/ for details. Sanger may also be reached (until Jan. 20) at 702-631-7301 or by e-mail at lsanger@nupedia.com . Wales can be contacted at 858-274-8344 or by e-mail at jwales@bomis.com .