January 21, 2003 (The Internet): Wikipedia ( ), a community-built multilingual encyclopedia, is announcing that the English edition of the project has reached a milestone of 100,000 articles in development. In addition, the project itself has celebrated its two-year anniversary on January 15. But not just the English version has grown impressively: More than 37,000 articles are now being worked on in the non-English editions of Wikipedia. On December 12 last year, the Wikipedia team also launched a sister project called Wiktionary ( http://www.wiktionary.org ), a free multilingual dictionary and thesaurus.
Wikipedia is a public WikiWikiWeb, a website where anyone can edit any article at any time. Users build upon each other's edits, and vandalized articles are quickly repaired by restoring an older version. In Wikipedia's second year, thousands of volunteer editors from around the world have added 80,000 entries to the English version and 33,000 more to the other language editions of Wikipedia. This surge in growth has made Wikipedia the world's largest and fastest growing open content encyclopedia and the largest WikiWikiWeb. "What got me hooked was probably the ease of joining and contributing to the project, without having to register as a user," notes Wikipedian "Mic", who joined the project in late 2002.
Wikipedia has 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 high profile technology news websites such as Slashdot and Kuro5hin. But most new authors join the project after stumbling upon an article in a search engine, and suddenly noticing that it is editable.
The project was founded by 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 led the project during its first year as a full-time paid editor of Wikipedia. They both attribute Wikipedia's success to the presence of a strong core group of well-educated and 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."
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."
Wikipedia content is available under the terms of 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 and credit Wikipedia as the source.
With edits being made 24 hours a day, seven days a week, it is impossible to predict where the project will be one year from now. Thanks to the GNU license, one thing is certain: The content will remain free.
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