is the free wiki encyclopedia edited by volunteers

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Wikipedia is a wiki encyclopedia, meaning that it is an encyclopedia with content created and maintained by its users. Wikipedia currently has over 7 million articles in over 200 different languages.


Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001 as spin off “feeder project” by Nupedia, a free internet encyclopedia. Nupedia became defunct and left the internet in 2003, but Wikipedia continued. The Wikimedia Foundation, a non profit organization, was founded on June 20, 2003 from Nupedia and the Wikipedia project, to oversee the Wikipedia Project.

The term Wikipedia was granted a U.S. Trademark on January 10, 2006. The European Union and Japan have also approved a trademark for the term.

How It Works

Wikipedia operates as a wiki, which is a site created and maintained by the site users. Anyone may edit articles on Wikipedia. Only registered users may create, delete, or merge articles. Registered users have certain of these permissions, as well as admin permissions, based on their level. The higher level users are elected, then they may appoint lower level users.

All edits are retained in the database, and users may view and compare older versions to the current article version to help them continually work together to improve the article. Edits are made live immediately, without a review process. The system relies on ongoing collaboration and editing to keep the articles accurate and up to date. In the case of a user who is abusing the system, the user can be banned.

Wikipedia uses the MediaWiki software, a custom made application using PHP & MySQL.


One of the primary advantages Wikipedia holds over other encyclopedias is its up to date nature. Many articles on Wikipedia are updated within hours of a news break affecting the article. On the contrary, most normal encyclopedias take decades or at least years to get an update.

Wikipedia is also the world's largest encyclopedia ever compiled. It includes articles on many technical, specialized, or fluid topics other encyclopedias do not cover.

Debates and discussions are common on the accuracy and reliability of Wikipedia. The primary argument against the reliability of Wikipedia centers around the fact that Wikipedia articles are largely based on consensus rather than credentials. Several studies show Wikipedia is roughly as accurate as other encyclopedias. Wikipedia does require facts and statements be referenced for an article to meet its editorial standards. Adding the references is an ongoing work for the editors of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has those who do not like it as well. Several sites discuss problems with the site including The Wikipedia Review and Wikipedia Problems. Complaints abound with anonymous editing, attacks by administrators, paid editing, and a lack of authority and fairness in actions by administrators, editors, and those in other positions working on the "encyclopedia."


Wikimedia Foundation, the organization that runs Wikipedia, covers the costs of operating Wikipedia primarily through private donations and fundraisers. Their January 2007 fundraiser netted over $1 million.


Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.
Located in San Francisco. See the contact page for more information

Additional Information



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