Founder letter/Founder letter Sept 2004

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By Jimbo Wales - september 2004

Letter from the Founder

 

Jimbo Wales in France.jpg
In Focus & In Love

Our mission is to give freely the sum of the world's knowledge to every single person on the planet in the language of their choice, under a free license, so that they can modify, adapt, reuse, or redistribute it, at will. And, by "every single person on the planet," I mean exactly that, so we have to remember that much of our target audience is not yet able to access the Internet reliably, if at all.

We are an astounding global project that continues to grow at a staggering pace. Some statistics already widely known in the community are worth repeating: we see 2,000 new Wikipedians each month; 2,000 new articles and 40,000 article edits every day -- almost twice as many pages and page-edits if you include discussion and meta-pages -- and this is only counting Wikipedia.

As we continue to grow at this rate, we will face some challenges of scaling. Old ways of doing things sometimes begin to break down as we become a community with ever larger numbers of people. We want to maintain and improve our quality standards, while at the same time remaining open, friendly, and welcoming as a community. This is a challenge.

To meet that challenge will require a lot of analysis and thoughtfulness. I also always like to talk about another ingredient that is absolutely essential: love. It's not so common in technological, academic, and scientific circles to talk about love within a community, but for us it is, and has to be, common and explicit.

Our community already comes from a huge variety of backgrounds, and over time the variety will only increase. The only way we can coordinate our efforts in an efficient manner to achieve the goals we have set for ourselves, is to love our work and to love each other, even when we disagree. Mutual respect and a reasonable approach to disagreement are essential, and both of those are helped along enormously when we feel favorably towards each other just as a natural result of being volunteers together on this incredible ridiculous crazy fun project to change the world.

None of us is perfect in these matters; such is the human condition. But each of us can try each day, in our editing, in our mailing list posts, in our irc chats, and in our private emails, to reach for a higher standard than the Internet usually encourages, a standard of rational benevolence and love.

We've come a long way already, and to really achieve our goals, we have to remain in focus and in love.