In 8 years the people’s encyclopaedia, Wikipedia, has changed collective reference and how we collaboratively edit and manage complex works such as encyclopaedias. Gone are the large sets of tomes bought by parents in the hope that their children may benefit. Now Wikipedia is one click away, free and with over 10 million registered members, 17 million pages, a network of over 13 million articles in hundreds of different languages, it truly is the people’s reference work.
Understandably, the number of articles being added has reduced from an average of 2,200 a day in July 2007 to around 1,300 today but it continues to grow organically. Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales’s, recent call for additional funds to help keep the non-profit organisation encyclopaedia going, resulted in $6 million in donations from its benefactors.
Now an article on Norwegian actress and film director Beate Eriksen has become the 3 millionth English language article on the site.
The English version of Wikipedia remains the largest, with the German Wikipedia having close to 1 million articles, the French some 800,000 articles and the Japanese, Polish and Italian sites have around 600,000 each.
Science journal Nature in 2005 said it was about as accurate as the Encyclopaedia Brittanica,.
Despite its issues, Wikipedia remains one of the most popular sites on the web and has proved a source of knowledge and inspiration to other projects hoping to harness the collaborative knowledge of large groups of people.
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