Happy 20th Birthday Wikipedia!

wikipedia birthday

Wikipedia... the world’s largest free online encyclopedia, turns 20 years old on 15 January!

Wikipedia has become the largest collection of open knowledge in history. How did it happen? The people are the ones who built the site! 

Over 280,000 people edit Wikipedia every month.

“Wikipedia has evolved from a seemingly impossible idea into a sprawling testament to humanity—a place where we can collaborate, share, and learn about anything and everything,” said Katherine Maher, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation. “It is a global effort of volunteers who elevate knowledge and cooperation over conflict and self-interest. We are committed to preserving the integrity and value of information at a time when the world needs it most.”

Today, Wikipedia’s more than 55 million articles can be accessed in over 300 languages, for free, and without advertisements, all created by volunteers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wikipedia saw record-breaking increases in daily traffic with a growing community of medical professionals contributing knowledge about COVID-19 to the platform. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is one of the most-viewed sources for health information, and its role in providing trusted access to information about COVID-19 in the pandemic led to a milestone collaboration with the World Health Organization in October 2020.

“In a world where information is increasingly commoditized, Wikipedia’s model has always been based on the belief that knowledge belongs to all humans,” said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. “Wikipedia forces us to step outside of our echo chambers and contend with what a shared understanding of the world could really look like. After all, a Wikipedia article is the same no matter who or where you are in the world, and if something isn’t right in the article, you can change it.”

Wikipedia aspires to reflect the sum of all human knowledge. As it celebrates 20 years and looks to the future, the people who contribute to Wikipedia also acknowledge that there are deep knowledge gaps that must be addressed. Initiatives such as WikiProject Women in RedWikiGap, and AfroCROWD, among many others, aim to ensure that Wikipedia more fully represents the diversity of the world. The Wikimedia movement’s 2030 strategic direction also reflects this commitment. In addition, the Foundation recently developed a $4.5 million Equity Fund that will offer grants to advance more equitable, inclusive representation in Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia’s volunteer communities are actively evolving to face the challenges of our time, including by:

  • Investing in the overall health and diversity of volunteer communities to be more inclusive and globally representative
  • Developing tools and programs to expand the quantity and diversity of Wikipedia content
  • Modernizing Wikipedia’s technology to meet the needs of the future
  • Advocating for policies that preserve user privacy, free expression, and the free exchange of knowledge online
  • Enhancing volunteers’ ability to combat disinformation with better resources and insights

The Wikimedia Foundation will hold a virtual event, hosted by Katherine Maher, Wikimedia Foundation CEO, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, to showcase the contributions of Wikipedia’s global volunteer communities. The event will kick-off a year-long celebration themed “20 Years Human,” a nod to the humans who make Wikipedia possible—including regular contributors, donors, and readers. Viewers can tune in via the livestream link on Friday, 15 January, from 16:00 – 17:00 UTC.

To learn more about Wikipedia’s growth over the last two decades visit 20.wikipedia.org.

To attend Wikipedia virtual celebrations hosted by volunteers around the world, please visit the events page.

Share your favorite Wikipedia story on social media using #Wikipedia20, and tag @Wikipedia in your posts.

To make a donation and continue to sustain Wikipedia’s future, visit donate.wikimedia.org.

 

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