Happy Birthday, Wikipedia!

Wikipedia has revolutionised the concept of gathering and sharing knowledge online.  

At the turn of the decade, many busied themselves drawing up lists of top tech marvels that defined the decade that was. Amid a plethora of smart phones, tablet PCs and glitzy gadget that got us into a tizzy, with every upgrade and social networking sites that went micro towards the end of the decade is one that has grown consistently and collaboratively over the decade. So much so that many can barely imagine the Internet without Wikipedia, their ‘know-it-all' buddy.

On January 15, Wikipedia turns 10. While it may not let you share your party pictures or curb your thoughts to 140 characters, compared with other younger success stories of the Internet, this massive encyclopaedia has revolutionised the concept of gathering and sharing knowledge online.

Today, the site that ‘anyone can edit' has 17 million articles in more than 270 languages. This, of course, has been made possible by an army of Wiki foot-soldiers from around the world — the site has a staggering 1.3 crore registered editors.

This week, the Wikimedia Foundation — the 50-staffed office that pulls the strings from behind the scenes — completed its most successful fund-raiser to date, amassing $16.55 million in over a month.

Besides the fact that Jimmy Wales (and his request for contributions) will not take up your Wiki screen space now, it means that the Foundation can continue to deliver pages that are advertisement-free. Wikipedians, who are all about the “love of the community,” proudly point out that the average contribution remains $22.

Says Bhishakha Dutta, member of the Wikimedia Foundation: “It is important that we don't have ads because for Wikipedia what is critical is our promise of a ‘neutral point of view.' So we need the money to maintain servers or software upgrades, but it's important that this too comes from the community. This goes with our larger philosophy.”

Contributions were received from 140 countries this year. “We think of ourselves as a movement,” she says.

Close on the heels of Facebook opening an office in Hyderabad, Wikipedia too announced plans to set up its first off-shore office outside the U.S, in India. While the buzz is that either Mumbai or Hyderabad will host Wiki's India home, the Wiki community does not really care, for it knows that Wikipedia's true offices are on the computers of thousands of volunteers who work ‘overtime' to enrich the encyclopaedia.

In India too, the enthusiastic community of Wiki volunteers is holding offline meet-ups and public functions to mark the 10th year of Wikipedia. The list of cities where these programmes are being conducted is itself a testament to how far the Wiki word has spread, and why Indian language Wikipedias — there are more than 20 today — have been growing substantially in the past two years. While the major cities are well represented, smaller towns and cities such as Rohtak, Bhilai, Jamnagar, Jammu and Kurukshetra are also hosting events.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 6:24:47 AM |

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