Wikipedia: the Big, Free Internet Encyclopedia
Searching online for a person, place or thing may lead you to a Wikipedia page before anything else. Wikipedia is not only the Internet’s best-known free encyclopedia, it is probably also the biggest of all encyclopedias. To date there are 3,092,259 articles consisting of some 1 billion words in Wikipedia in its English language site alone. There are another 10 million articles made up of 1.75 billion words in about 250 other languages.
Wikipedia Size Comparisons
In the past, Wikipedia’s size has been compared with other encyclopedias in terms of number of articles and words. At one time, Wikipedia had 1.4 million articles with a total of 340 million words. Microsoft Encarta had only 63,000 articles of 40 million words. Encyclopedia Britannica had 85,000 articles worth 55 million words.
As of present, Wikipedia is 25 times bigger than the next largest English encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is also bigger than the European-American Illustrated Universal Encyclopedia.
Wikipedia owes its success to a dedicated core team and a worldwide base of volunteers. To date 282,887 people have contributed to the encyclopedia. Of these, 151,937 are contributors to the English language site. Content is frequently updated, with 8.2 million edits total and 3.8 million in English.
Anyone can edit an existing Wikipedia article. But only registered users can create new ones. Some users are granted administrative rights after approval from the Wikipedia community.
Registered Wikipedia users are identified by their member names. They can create new articles, edit and rename existing ones. Unregistered users are identified with their IP addresses. It is recommended that one registers as a Wikipedia contributor rather than edit anonymously. Becoming a Wikipedia contributor has benefits to the user, including hiding his or her IP address from public, easier communication with other Wikipedia users and developing a reputation as an unbiased authority.
Wikipedia gains new contributions each year. It appears to have reached its peak in 2006. But while addition of new articles may have slowed, there is no end in sight to it. Wikipedia welcomes entries on practically anything. Each year that new events and new celebrities come to be known, there’s new material to add. Existing articles can be updated by new developments also, for example, biographies of living, famous persons.
Related Wiki Projects
Wikipedia has inspired several sister projects. All are based on the same principle of making information freely available. These projects include Wiktionary, a free online dictionary; Wikisource for source texts; Wikibooks; Wikinews; Wikicommons for free multimedia; and Wikiversity for learning resources.