Happy Birthday, Wikipedia!

, Thursday, January 17th, 2008

This week, Wikipedia commemorates its seventh birthday:

Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001, as a single English-language edition at www.wikipedia.com, and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list. Wikipedia’s policy of "neutral point-of-view" was codified in its initial months, and was similar to Nupedia’s earlier "nonbiased" policy. Otherwise, there were relatively few rules initially and Wikipedia operated independently of Nupedia. Wikipedia gained early contributors from Nupedia, Slashdot postings, and search engine indexing. It grew to approximately 20,000 articles, and 18 language editions, by the end of 2001. By late 2002 it had reached 26 language editions, 46 by the end of 2003, and 161 by the closing stages 2004. Nupedia and Wikipedia coexisted until the former’s servers went down permanently in 2003, and its text was incorporated into Wikipedia.

Of course, it’s up to you whether or not you believe this – we’ve written several posts debating the general veracity of Wikipedia. But regardless of whether you view it as a tool for serious research or not, it’s undeniable that Wikipedia has made a splash. Its entries are among the top Google results for multinational corporations and presidential candidates, become so popular that it had to ban Congress from editing their own entries, and, according to Alexa, was the eight most visited website in the world (as well as the only non-profit in the top ten).

It’s spawned countless spinoffs, from the purposely amusing Uncyclopedia to the unintentionally funny Conservapedia. It’s even been "honored" by Stephan Colbert as the root of wikiality.

So happy seventh birthday, Wikipedia – may you continue on for another seven years to help us win trivia bets, laugh at Onion headlines, and edit our own entries to gloss over our flaws.

One Response to “Happy Birthday, Wikipedia!”

  1. Ana Says:

    Great post. Wikipedia is the lazy person’s research heaven. Sometimes unreliable, sometimes downright wrong, as you said, it is a great tool to help us with trivial bets.