It is by far the most used encyclopedia on the net and to think of having to surf google looking for any information without first consulting wikipedia is out of question.
It was January 15, 2001 when two entrepreneurs, Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger change the dissemination of knowledge in much of the world, in a very propitious moment, when more and more advanced technology has made us move permanently from analog to digital.
There are millions of contacts who collaborate to the immense encyclopedia open online and countless those who correct the information it contains, making it available every day and at any time.
The project has grown enormously and thanks to the many users who dedicate their time every day to compiling the pages – today there are over 53 million entries in 300 different languages.
In short, there are many of us who use it, but how does Wikipedia really work? Each entry is a page, mostly text, and anyone, without even needing to register on the site, can edit it. And the change, with rare exceptions is published instantly.
The control happens afterwards, and is the work of the same volunteers who take care of the creation and maintenance of the entries.
You have to keep in mind just five rules those sanctioned by the founders and therefore not modifiable (you can read them here). The rest is discussed and decided by the most diligent contributors.
Wikipedia is organized in languages not in states, each language version has its own modus operandi, but all in all the result is quite homogeneous, at least among the big editions like English, German, Italian, French or Spanish, because homogeneous is the spirit that animates them.
The ability of Wikipedia has been to have been able to intercept one of the deepest instincts of the human being, curiosity, and to fulfill the desire to increase one’s own culture and make it shareable. A sort of “cultural volunteering”, as defined by the collaborators of the encyclopaedia themselves.
Today Wikipedia is among the top five most popular sites, its evolution has been so rapid that the founders themselves at the time did not know how they would finance the project. Here is that the request for donations has obtained about thirty thousand dollars in just two weeks, compared to twenty thousand in a month assumed. A business model married in full.
Not all roses and flowers for the encyclopedia, which has fought to be visible even in countries with authoritarian regimes such as China and Turkey.
To celebrate these first 20 years, Wikipedia has a new look, with an update of its website, making it more welcoming and modern.
We wish Wikipedia a happy birthday with a quote from Walles:
“Imagine a world in which everyone could have free access to the entire wealth of human knowledge.”
Now we can stop imagining it!