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Wikipedia: 50 languages, 1/2 million articles

February 25, 2004 (The Internet):: Wikipedia (Wikipedia.org), a volunteer-created multi-language encyclopedia, announced today that the project has reached a milestone of 500,000 articles under development, spread across 50 different languages. This is up from 137,000 articles across 22 different languages in January 2003, making Wikipedia the world’s largest and fastest-growing open-content encyclopedia (nearly two thousand new articles are added to the project daily).

The greatest increase in growth was in the non-English language versions, demonstrating the increasingly multilingual nature of the undertaking. In fact, since October 2003 there have been more articles in other languages combined than there are in English. Ten Wikipedia versions now have over 10,000 articles each (rounded to the nearest thousand):

An additional eighteen have more than 1,000 articles (rounded to the nearest hundred):


This surge in growth also has, according to Alexa.com, resulted in Wikipedia.org passing Britannica.com, Infoplease.com and Encyclopedia.com in terms of its Internet traffic rank and has placed Wikipedia.org firmly within the top 1,000 websites that Alexa tracks.

Some Wikipedia versions may consider omitting this paragraph
Wikipedia is also announcing, that on June 20th 2003, the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation (wikimediafoundation.org) was created to manage and fund the operations of Wikipedia, its sister project Wiktionary (a multilingual dictionary and thesaurus at wiktionary.org), and its new siblings Wikiquote, (a compendium of famous quotations at wikiquote.org), Wikibooks, (a collection of e-book resources, aimed at the needs of students, at wikibooks.org), and Wikisource (a repository of public domain historical documents and books at wikisource.org). Since Wikimedia Foundation's creation, it has raised over US$50,000 to support these projects. Please visit wikimediafoundation.org/fundraising for more information.

Wikipedia is a public WikiWikiWeb, where anyone can edit nearly any page at any time (wiki means 'quick' in Hawaiian). Users build upon one another's edits, working together even on sensitive issues by using a neutral point of view. Incorrectly edited pages are quickly repaired by others. This press release was also created collaboratively using a WikiWikiWeb.

The Wikipedia project was founded in January 2001 by Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosopher Larry Sanger. Bomis (bomis.com), an Internet web portal owned by Wales, supplied the financial backing and other support, while Sanger led the Wikipedia project during its first year, as a full-time paid editor. Since then it has operated mostly on consensus, using policies refined over time by its contributors. More recently the project has been transferred from Bomis to the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation (wikimediafoundation.org) although Bomis still provides free bandwidth and basic server maintenance to Wikimedia.

Jimmy Wales comments that "Wikipedia owes its 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 civility, quality and neutrality." Explaining one of the mechanisms to ensure that the article quality remains high, he said, "Participants all keep a watchful eye over the 'Recent Changes' page. They edit each others' work constantly." Even articles covering controversial topics can be worked on using this process. Presently, fewer than one hundred articles in the English version of Wikipedia have their neutrality disputed by other participants in the project.

Non-English Wikipedias may consider omitting this paragraph
Wikipedia has been the subject of articles in the news media, among them, The New York Times, MIT's Technology Review, and TIME magazine, as well as high-profile technology websites such as Slashdot, Wired, and Kuro5hin. More recently, Wikipedia has been featured on radio news programs, such as National Public Radio's All Things Considered, and CNN's television program TechWatch. It is also increasingly being used as a reference source by students, journalists, or anyone who needs a starting point for doing Internet research.

All Wikimedia content is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, which permits anyone to reuse Wikimedia content in any way they wish, including commercially, as long as they, too, pass on that right to others and credit the editors of the particular Wikimedia project as the source. MediaWiki (mediawiki.org), the software that runs the various Wikimedia projects, is similarly available for free, but under terms of the GNU General Public License (the same license used by the GNU project and Linux).

With edits being made every minute of every day, it is impossible to predict where Wikipedia and its sister projects will be one year from now. Thanks to the GNU licenses, however, one thing is certain: the content, and the software that serves it, will remain free.

Additional information

For questions and interviews, please contact:

{Wikipedia press contact's name}, {Language and/or region} Wikipedia press contact coordinator
Phone:
Email:

Jimmy Wales, President, Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (English only)
Phone: (+1)-727-527-9776
Email: jwales@bomis.com

Non-English Wikipedias should replace these links with versions in their own language (where available)

For further background information, please see:


This press release was collaboratively written within a WikiWikiWeb here. Before its release it was edited 259 times by 37 different volunteer authors, and written in 18 languages.

Unlike the rest of Wikimedia's content, the text of this press release is placed into the public domain.