Wikipedia turns eighteen.

Eighteen years ago, on 15 January 2001, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made the first edit to Wikipedia, writing “Hello, World!” on the article HomePage.

Today the English version of Wikipedia alone has over eight hundred and seventy three million edits from hundreds of thousands of contributors. The size of the project is enormous, with 3.3 billion words on close to six million pages. It would take 80 years to read it all, and it is being added to every day by as many as twenty thousand active contributors.

Globally, Wikipedia has over 3.6 billion edits. You can check out the live counter to see the number increase in real time.

Wikipedia is available in 285 languages, the most translated articles are Barack Obama, Jesus Christ, and … Corbin Bleu? Huh… that guy has international appeal.

The power of Wikipedia is that it is written by volunteers, the thousands of people who edit Wikipedia can write about anything, provided they can prove the accuracy of their contribution with citations to reliable sources.

Dr Jess Wade writes an article about a notable female scientist every day.

New articles are still needed, analysis shows that Wikipedia is only 5% complete. With around a hundred million topic left to write, according to a survey of All Human Knowledge maintained by Wikipedia.

Systemic bias exist, as only 17% of Wikipedia’s biographies are about women, due primarily to the fact that as many as 91% of Wikipedia contributors are men. European and American topics are also far better represented than topics of interest in developing countries. Over half of Wikipedia contributors live in Europe, and another quarter live in North America.

Wikimedia Servers, photo credit; RobH [CC BY-SA 3.0], from Wikimedia Commons.

Wikipedia is written for free by volunteers, but the website is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a US based non-profit founded on 20 June 2003.

Wikimedia exists on donations of around $75 million a year made by readers, with the occasional donation by businesses.

In recognition of their reliance on Wikipedia data in their own services, notably their Echo home assistant, Amazon gave Wikimedia $1 million this year.

Wikipedia’s birthday was celebrated with free cake. 🙂

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