Celebrating

20 years of

Wikipedia

Wikipedia started as an ambitious idea

…to create a free encyclopedia, written by volunteers, for everyone in the world. It seemed impossible.

Over 20 years, Wikipedia has become the largest collection of open knowledge in history. How did it happen? People, like you.

Made and sustained by humans.

Meet the movement.

For Wikipedia’s 20th birthday, we are celebrating the power of human collaboration, creativity, and curiosity.

We are celebrating the humans, our volunteers and supporters, who make Wikipedia possible.

Netha Hussain

Location: Gothenburg, Sweden

Volunteer start year: 2010

Netha, a medical doctor, wrote, updated, and translated dozens of Wikipedia articles during COVID-19 to ensure reliable information about the pandemic is available for everyone. Recently, she launched a project to improve information about vaccine safety topics on Wikipedia, helping combat misinformation. Learn more about Netha’s story.

In emergency situations like this, it is not possible for traditional encyclopedias, or even some governments, to access, filter, analyse, and summarize massive loads of information coming from around the world every day and make it available in roughly 300 languages. This is only possible with a large global network of volunteers and a platform such as Wikipedia.

— Netha Hussain

Nkem Osuigwe (User: AfricanLibrarian)

Location: Nigeria

Volunteer start year: 2020

Dr. Nkem Osuigwe creates powerful connections between the African librarian community and Wikipedia. In 2020, she organized the first African Librarians Week as part of the Wikimedia Foundation’s bi-annual #1Lib1Ref (One Librarian, One Reference) campaign. More than 800 editors participated, making 27,800 updates to improve information on Wikipedia.

Getting African librarians to believe in the power of telling the true African story through adding citations and editing articles about Africans was amazing. It was a call to action for librarians to go beyond being disseminators of information to information leaders in their different countries, telling the stories of their communities on a global platform.

— Nkem Osuigwe

Jess Wade

Location: London, United Kingdom

Volunteer start year: 2018

Dr. Jess Wade, a physicist by day, started editing Wikipedia in 2018 after learning about the site’s knowledge gaps. Since then, she has written nearly 1,200 Wikipedia biographies about women, people of color and LGBTQ+ scientists, helping increase their representation online and beyond. Learn more about Jess’s story.

I knew Wikipedia was important – although I think I only realised how important lately. The world needs honest and impartial information more than ever before – and Wikipedia is the most powerful, collaborative platform we can write and share that on.

— Jess Wade

Tulsi Bhagat

Location: Janakpurdham, Nepal

Volunteer start year: 2014

With the desire to promote and preserve his mother tongue, the Maithili language, Tulsi helped launch Maithili Wikipedia in 2014. He has since authored more than 500 Wikipedia articles in the language. Tulsi has also created and participated in campaigns such as the Wiki Awareness Campaign in Nepal, Wiki Loves Folklore, and Wikipedia Pages Wanting Photos, which help fill content gaps on Wikipedia.

I realised that there are a lot of ways to contribute to the Wikimedia movement beyond only writing articles. I have been involved in combating vandalism, trolls, and spam. I am also active in Wikimedia outreach events and activities. Continuous learning and being able to share what I have learned makes me happy and eager to continue volunteering.

— Tulsi Bhagat

Graham Pearce (User: Graham87)

Location: Busselton, Western Australia, Australia

Volunteer start year: 2005

As a volunteer, Graham most enjoys doing “wikiarchaeology” — which means he checks the edit histories of Wikipedia pages to ensure all the past edits have been properly attributed. If there is an issue, he tries to fix it. As a blind Wikipedia user, Graham also helps to advocate for accessibility on the platform and guide other users on best practices. Learn more about Graham’s story.

Wikipedia has made it much easier to find a starting place for information about all sorts of topics. It’s been particularly beneficial for blind people like me because access to books has historically been very difficult for us. With Wikipedia, we can now have an encyclopedia that we can use on a close-to-equal footing with sighted people.

— Graham Pearce

Ota Takashi (User: Takot)

Location: Ishikawa, Japan

Volunteer start year: 2005

Takashi, a native Japanese speaker, volunteers as a Wikimedia translator. He helps interpret events, translate articles, and more. In fact, Takashi says the most impactful thing he has done as a volunteer is translate the user interface text of the Wikipedia app (for Android/iOS) into Japanese. Every time you launch the app in Japanese, you are reading his translation.

My hope for Wikipedia’s 40th birthday is that automatic machine translation will reach native speaker level for every language. That way, all the knowledge across Wikimedia projects would be available to readers in every language as soon as it is written. At that time, human translators will no longer be needed. It would make me, as a translator, somewhat sad, but it’s okay in the universal aspect.

— Ota Takashi

Sherry Antoine

Location: New York City, New York, USA

Volunteer start year: 2015

Sherry is on a mission to improve representation on Wikipedia for people of African descent. She is the Executive Director of AfroCROWD, an initiative to create and improve information about black culture and history on Wikipedia, and the lead organizer of the Wikimedians of the Caribbean Usergroup. She is also motivated by a sense of community. So, during the pandemic in 2020, Sherry planned a 24-hour virtual event in which Wikimedia volunteers around the world uploaded pictures and shared updates that represented their experiences in the unique time. Learn more about Sherry’s story.

Connection had become ever more valuable, and I felt it could be therapeutic. So with help from organizing partners, at noon local time, from New Zealand to India, Italy to Nigeria, and from New York where I stood to Oregon and California, Wikipedians came together. We edited about the pandemic, shared our experiences in our own languages, and left messages of encouragement for one another.

— Sherry Antoine

Syed Muzammiluddin (User: Hindustanilanguage)

Location: India

Volunteer start year: 2004

Muzammiluddin, who goes by Muzammil, is a living historian of the Wikimedia movement. For more than half a decade, he has highlighted the work of fellow volunteers through countless interviews and blog posts. An accomplished Wikipedia editor and community organizer himself, Muzammil has participated in conferences, established a growing volunteer community in India, and made more than 100,000 edits across Wikimedia projects.

Although people from all walks of life use Wikipedia for knowledge and information, many are either unaware or unmindful of the fact that they too can help in creating or expanding the content in their area of interest and in their own language.

— Syed Muzammiluddin

Bobby Shabangu

Location: South Africa

Volunteer start year: 2011

Bobby speaks five languages fluently. It is a skill he puts to use regularly in editing several language versions of Wikipedia, with a focus on promoting smaller languages such as Swati. In addition to editing, Bobby also supports community engagement activities, which includes sharing input on a new Universal Code of Conduct for all Wikimedia projects. Learn more about Bobby’s story.

The strength of Wikimedia lies in its ability to crowdsource content and its quest to share that content freely. I think this has made a huge impact on the world.

— Bobby Shabangu

Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight

Location: Nevada City, California, USA

Volunteer start year: 2007

Rosie’s work to close the gender gap on Wikipedia is so notable that there is a Wikipedia article about it. In 2015, Rosie co-founded Women in Red, a project focused on creating Wikipedia articles about women’s biographies, works, and topics. At the time, only 15% of Wikipedia biographies were about women, and there is still more work to do. Rosie has created 5,000 new articles on Wikipedia, an activity that she says is her great passion in life. Learn more about Rosie’s story.

Wikipedia changes people’s lives. It is shifting people’s understanding of the world in a way that nothing has before it.

— Rosie Stephenson-Goodknight

Wilfredo Rodríguez

Location: Canada

Volunteer start year: 2005

Before he was forced to flee Venezuela, photographer Wilfredo risked his safety on several occasions to take and share photos of his home country. He once went three days without food on a journey to capture the melting glaciers on some of Venezuela’s highest mountains. In total, he has uploaded more than 46,000 images to Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository. And, unlike many other contributors, he releases most of his photos into the public domain, giving up the right to be credited when his work is shared. Learn more about Wilfredo’s story.

I always thought that what I was trying to show was more important than my life, because what I was doing was going to remain for future generations.

— Wilfredo Rodríguez

Emna Mizouni

Location: Tunisia

Volunteer start year: 2013

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Emna was startled by the lack of information available about the history of her home country, Tunisia. She saw an opportunity to close the content gap with Wikipedia. Since then, there is not much Emna has not done in the Wikimedia movement. The 2019 Wikimedian of the Year organizes workshops; recruits new volunteers; and edits articles on women, African people and culture, and human rights topics. Learn more about Emna’s story.

Wikipedia is for everyone to read and edit. Many people use it as an informative website, if they spot a mistake while reading it, I hope they edit it instead of ignoring it.

— Emna Mizouni

Greta Doçi

Location: Berlin, Germany

Volunteer start year: 2013

Greta’s volunteering journey started with translating articles from English and Italian Wikipedia into Albanian Wikipedia. From there, she began training other new contributors and hosting workshops in partnership with universities and cultural institutions. In 2017, Greta co-organized an event called WikiDiversity, which led to the creation of the first articles about LGBTQ+ topics on Albanian Wikipedia.

Wikipedia helps the world to be more free and educated. I want people to know that doing little things on the website can culminate in a great impact on other people.

— Greta Doçi

Hrishikes Sen

Location: India

Volunteer start year: 2007

Hrishikes is an active volunteer on one of Wikipedia’s sister projects, Wikisource, also known as the free library. There, he proofreads documents and uploads freely-licensed books. One of Hrishikes’ most recent projects was adding the original calligraphed Constitution of India to English Wikisource, where he proofread the entire manuscript of the constitution, identified its signatories, and for the first time listed all of the artists involved. This daunting task was made even more challenging because all of the text was handwritten. Learn more about Hrishikes’ story.

Wikipedia has made knowledge freely and readily accessible to the masses. Instead of information scattered around in multiple websites and offline libraries, now all of it is under one umbrella, which makes our real life endeavours that much easier and knowledge-based.

— Hrishikes Sen

Sam Oyeyele

Location: Ilorin, Nigeria

Volunteer start year: 2011

Thanks to Sam and his brainchild, the Afrocine Project, more than 3,000 articles about African cinema have been added to Wikipedia. The project is just the latest success for Sam, a co-founder of Wikimedia Nigeria. In 2017, he helped produce two Wikipedia informational videos that went viral and dramatically increased awareness of the website in Nigeria. Learn more about Sam’s story.

In Africa, I would love for people to realize that what they read on Wikipedia is written and added by other internet users like them, and we desperately need them to also join in contributing to this huge knowledge base.

— Sam Oyeyele

Mónica Paola Bonilla-Parra

Location: Bogotá, Colombia

Volunteer start year: 2018

Mónica is a linguist and researcher who sees Wikipedia’s value as a tool for social development. She works with fellow volunteers to add articles to the website in indigneous languages — helping preserve and promote the culture and histories of native communities in Latin America.

It motivates me to know that Wikipedia and the movement are built day by day, with each individual contribution, and that we still have much to learn from new voices. There are no limits to participating and contributing. If you don’t do it, who will?

— Mónica Paola Bonilla-Parra

Sandister Tei

Location: Accra, Ghana

Volunteer start year: 2012

Sandister is the 2020 Wikimedian of the Year, an annual award granted by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to recognize one of our movement’s most exceptional contributors. As one of the founding members of the Wikimedia Ghana User Group, Sandister helped pioneer the development of Wikipedia’s volunteer communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Learn more about Sandister’s story.

Wikipedia is more than an encyclopedia. It extends into sister projects, global editor and volunteer communities; a foundation; multidisciplinary and multicultural project opportunities; it can be plugged into various partnerships; it gives basis for advocacy – it’s a galaxy.

— Sandister Tei

Susan Garrett Weiss

Frederick, Maryland, U.S.

First donation: No idea — my husband and I have been contributing for a while!

Susan, a college professor, has a son who is an avid animal and zoo enthusiast and uses Wikipedia every day to find new and fascinating facts. They donate to Wikipedia in support of his continued curiosity and love of knowledge.

He discovered Wikipedia while looking for information on endangered animals a few years back, and now, nearly every day, he asks to use his screen time to read biographies or read about animals or the world’s zoos on Wikipedia. What a gift your website is – it lets him explore new subjects daily. Nearly every dinnertime conversation includes new information gleaned from Wikipedia.

— Susan Garrett Weiss

Volunteers around the world are contributing every minute.

Over 280,000 people edit Wikipedia every month

If you read or donate to Wikipedia, you are part of a global movement of volunteers, projects, and campaigns contributing to free knowledge around the world.

Key moments in Wikipedia’s history

Illustration for year 2001

The first edit

Thanks to the power of human imagination, on January 15, Wikipedia is born.

Illustration for year 2003 with Wikimedia Foundation logo

Wikipedia becomes a nonprofit

Wikimedia Foundation, a group of people dedicated to supporting Wikipedia and other Wikimedia projects, is formed.

Illustration for year 2006 with a few Wikipedia articles

1,000,000 topics of knowledge in English

English Wikipedia celebrates the creation of its millionth article: the Jordanhill railway station.

Illustration for year 2007 with 5 people

The movement grows

The number of human beings helping to document the sum of all human knowledge grows to over five million.

Illustration for year 2008 with Wikipedia articles

Volunteers share more knowledge in more languages

Wikipedia editors celebrate 10 million articles across 251 languages.

Illustration for year 2012, everything is black

Wikipedia goes dark

The humans of Wikipedia vote to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act with a 24-hour blackout.

Illustration for year 2017 with laurel wreath

Wikipedia is in the top five

Wikipedia is listed as the world’s fifth most popular website according to Alexa Internet, a web traffic analysis company.

Illustration for year 2019 with a lot of Wikipedia articles

Wikipedia reaches 50 million articles around the world

Wikipedia’s editors achieve 50 million topics of knowledge across more than 300 language editions.

Illustration for year 2020 with the Turkey's flag

Welcome back, Turkey

After a more than two and a half year block imposed by the Turkish government, access to Wikipedia is restored to the 82 million humans in Turkey.

Illustration for year 2021 with confetti

Wikipedia turns 20

Happy birthday, Wikipedia! Cheers to the humans around the world who make Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects possible!

You, Wikipedia, and the world

Humans around the world look to Wikipedia around 21 billion times every month for information on everything from politics, to music, sports, and beyond. Have you ever wondered what the most popular articles on Wikipedia were in the last 20 years?

Explore

How to celebrate Wikipedia’s 20th birthday

Party

Party for one? For 10? 100? It doesn’t matter, as long as you are celebrating #Wikipedia20. Download our swag items, including social media stickers, gifs, and video call backgrounds for virtual events, and find out what virtual/physical events are happening in the world.

Download digital swag pack

Attend an event

Get Wikipedia merchandise

Illustrated human figure

Illustrated cake

Send a birthday gift

Do you know what we would really like for our 20th birthday? To keep the sum of all human knowledge free for every human being in the world to share in it. Here is how to help us:

Donate

Learn about making a leadership gift

Join the movement

Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects are made by volunteers — people like you. Everyone is invited to join our global community. You can help improve Wikipedia articles, join local or virtual events, write code, and so much more. Share your knowledge and interests with the world.

Get involved

Definitely on porpoise

Did you know? On the Wikipedia page listing cetaceans, boxes with missing pictures read… ‘cetacean needed.

Fun fact #1

Wikipedia in tourism

Did you know? Improvements to Wikipedia pages about places can have an impact on tourism, potentially increasing the number of nights tourists choose to stay in a city by nine percent.

Fun fact #2

How much is free knowledge worth?

“The median value that U.S. consumers place on Wikipedia is about $150 a year—but the cost is $0.” Read more in the Harvard Business Review.

Fun fact #3

The official treat of Wikimedia

You do not have to wonder how hundreds of volunteers from around the world came to enjoy a very particular Dutch snack, you just have to embrace it. Meet the Association of Stroopwafel Addicts.

Fun fact #4

Edit wars: the battle of T/the Beatles

Should the “T” in “t/The Beatles” be capitalised? In early 2006, this question was debated at such length (roughly 11,000 words worth of debate), it was covered in The Wall Street Journal and Harper’s Magazine.

Fun fact #5

To shave the Wales, or not to shave the Wales?

In 2005, WikiProject “Wikipedians against Jimbo‘s beard” was formed to oppose Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ facial hair. In rebuttal, “Wikipedians for Jimbo’s beard” was born. The battle of the beard included banter, propaganda and, of course, a Soliloquy in favour of Jimbo’s beard.

Fun fact #6

Connect — 連接

Stay up-to-date on our work.

Get email updates

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Contact a human

Questions about the Wikimedia Foundation or our projects? Get in touch with our team.

Contact

Photo credits

Netha_Hussain-925

Adam Novak / Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 3.0

Nkem_Osuigwe_3

AfricanLibrarian

CC BY-SA 4.0

Jess_Wade_-_2017_(cropped)

Dave Guttridge (The Photographic Unit)

CC BY-SA 4.0

Tulsi Bhagat during Maithili Wikimedians 1st meetup in Janakpur

PANKAJ DEO

CC BY-SA 4.0

Graham87_at_Dubai_Museum_(cropped)

Linda Pearce

CC BY-SA 4.0

Takot

Fabrice Florin

CC BY-SA 2.0

Sherry_Antoine,_NYC

Phantomblogger

CC BY-SA 4.0

Standing_user_profile_image_of_Syed_Muzammiluddin

Muzammil

CC BY-SA 4.0

Bobby_Shabangu_-

Neo Ntsoma, Wikimedia Foundation contractor

CC BY-SA 3.0

Rosie_Stephenson-Goodknight_at_WikiConference_North_America_2019

Victor Grigas

CC BY-SA 4.0

The_Photographer_User_in_Humboldt_Peak

Wilfredor

CC0

Ceremonia_de_clausura_Wikimania_2019_-_BugWarp_(46)

BugWarp

CC BY-SA 4.0

greta

Frank Karlitschek

CC BY-SA 4.0

Hrishikes

Hrishikes

CC BY-SA 4.0

Wiki_indaba_2019_-_day_one_19_12_44_550000

Kaizenify

CC BY-SA 4.0

MPBONILLAP_1

Mpbonillap

CC BY-SA 4.0

Sandister_Tei_at_Impact_Hub_Accra_5AAP

Sandister Tei

CC BY-SA 4.0

Elephant_(Loxodonta_Africana)_04

Godot13

CC BY-SA 3.0

Illustration for year 2001

Timeline-01

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2003 with Wikimedia Foundation logo

Timeline-02

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2006 with a few Wikipedia articles

Timeline-03

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2007 with 5 people

Timeline-04

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2008 with Wikipedia articles

Timeline-05

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2012, everything is black

Timeline-06

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2017 with laurel wreath

Timeline-07

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2019 with a lot of Wikipedia articles

Timeline-08

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2020 with the Turkey's flag

Timeline-09

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Illustration for year 2021 with confetti

Timeline-10

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui

CC0

Wikipedia popular articles

Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 4.0

Illustrated human figure

WP20Symbols_HumanFigure1(1)

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Karabo Poppy Moletsane

CC0

Illustrated cake

WP20Symbols_CAKE1

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Karabo Poppy Moletsane

CC0

WP20Symbols_MediaWiki

Illustrated by Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Karabo Poppy Moletsane

CC0

Wikipedia promotional video

Wikipedia promotional video - Superdotada

Wikimedia Mexico, ISLA, NatalyPop, and the Wikimedia Foundation

CC BY-SA 4.0