Wikipedia, how you’ve grown!
Happy birthday Larry Sanger! Its 46 years since the co-founder of Wikipedia, one of the world’s best known websites, was born and its clear to all that technology has revolutionised numerous aspects of human life in that time. Some believe that the advent of the internet and the newfound ability for people to share information globally is one of the greatest achievements of our age; Larry Sanger, who has widely studied epistemology (the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge) would probably agree. Although its Sanger’s birthday, now is as good a time as any to examine how Wikipedia itself has grown over the course of its life, in this case using snapshot days from each year:
Not long after its launch on January 15th 2001, Wikipedia is boasting more than 6,000 articles and states that the team’s ambition is to achieve over 100,000.
A year and two months later, Wikipedia is beginning to catch on – word is spreading and there are now 48,152 articles, with new information being added and articles altered (possibly improved!) all the time. Proud of their work so far, the creators have included links to press coverage of the site in respected publications.
Press coverage and an increasingly global contributor base are making their mark on Wikipedia in its third year. With 146,007 articles in English, the collaborative project has exceeded its target by almost half again and says it is now working on becoming multilingual. At this time, it is inviting graphic artists to participate in its international logo contest, which will eventually result in the jigsaw globe now known by all.
Now more user friendly, Wikipedia invites new users to try its sandbox and has started showing a featured article of the day and news items with links to pages. With 336,710 articles in its English version alone, it is clear that the site has nowhere near finished growing!
Incredibly, the English version of Wikipedia has again more than doubled in size in the space of a year. 684,316 articles now exist, with the home page displaying facts linked to recent articles and selected anniversaries. Languages including German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish now have more than 50,000 pages, with numbers in other languages continuing to grow.
An ‘On This Day’ section linking to articles and a featured picture have been added to the Wikipedia homepage, as have easy links to more technical areas such as the ‘Reference Desk’ and ‘Village Pump’. The site now offers 1,293,055 articles in English.
With a staggering 1,950,245 articles in English, Wikipedia has grown but not changed much, with layout and features offered very similar to that of 2006.
Still following the same general format, Wikipedia is continuing to grow. It now has 2,506,061 English articles and over 250,000 articles each in German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese and Russian, with tens of other languages having thousands of their own. The site is a global phenomenon.
Although it has got larger, Wikipedia is still in the twos of millions in terms of English articles, with 2,998,189. Numbers in other languages also continue to grow and the monster-sized free encyclopaedia truly is a household name, though it’s potential for inaccuracy meant it was never intended as an authoritative academic source, much to the chagrin of students the world over!
With 3,378,034 articles in English, Wikipedia marches into the twenty-tens, with more languages and new topics of interest. The logo is changed, with the text abandoned to allow for a larger, clearer ‘jigsaw globe’ (reflecting the multilingual nature of the site) and updated navigation tools are made available.
Users the world over celebrate Wikipedia’s tenth ‘birthday’ in January this year. As of August the site has 3,709,940 English articles and is continuing to expand in countries such as India. In another effort to reach as many people as possible, the site is introduced as a free for mobiles version (Wikipedia Zero) in developing countries.
At the end of an interesting year for Wikipedia, the site has reached 4,120,028 articles in English. Just two months ago in October, Richard Jensen said he feels the encyclopaedia is nearing completion based upon the amount of editorial activity. This month, the site is ranked fifth most popular worldwide by Dow Jones (it was ranked sixth by Alexa Internet in November).
The globally familiar Wikipedia has now reached 4,317,948 English articles and is continuing to expand in numerous other languages (this year, Italian Wikipedia became the fifth to exceed one million articles). With new features (including the user friendly VisualEditor and initial stages of Wikidata) complete, the site is set to become more useful and accessible than ever before.
As of the creation of this post, Wikipedia’s English version has 4,557,883 articles – a number its creators would have been unable to believe back in 2001 when they humbly aimed only to exceed 100,000! It is currently still ranked sixth most popular website worldwide by Alexa, attracting millions of users worldwide daily. With 286 editions of Wikipedia available, founders including Larry Sanger must be truly proud – and amazed – that their brainchild has reached such incredible proportions and has come to demonstrate the community spirit of people from all cultures and societies.