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Wikipedia: Knowledge as a group effort.

Coming up, an encyclopedia of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Jimmy Wales was an early internet entrepreneur with a dream: Build a free encyclopedia for the web.

In 2000, he founded Nupedia, an ad-supported encyclopedia on the web, written and edited by experts.  Nupedia had a stringent seven-stage peer review process. While it made for good content, it didn’t make for a lot of it!

After six months, Nupedia’s team of scholars and experts had only finished 2 articles!

That’s when Wales was introduced to the concept of the Wiki.  A Wiki is a repository of information written, edited, and run by its users.

It seemed worth a try. In 2001, Wales quietly launched Wikipedia. It was the democracy to Nupedia’s oligarchy. And it quickly outshone its predecessor.

As an open platform, anyone with a computer could not only access Wikipedia, they could edit it. Goodbye bottleneck. Hello free, user-generated content.  In one year—the amount of time it took Nupedia to generate 21 articles–Wikipedia had 20,000.

Wales had something special on his hands.  It was an ideal worth protecting. Among other things, he vowed never to allow advertising on the site.  So In 2002 he set up the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization, to oversee Wikipedia.

Wikipedia has continued to grow. Today, it’s one of the most visited websites on the internet. It contains more than 23 million articles in 285 languages.  It’s still free to use and free of advertising, relying on users for donations as much as content.  Interestingly, it turns out that audience is overwhelmingly male.

How much male? In a recent interview with the Telegraph of London, Wales put it about 85 per cent, adding, “one of the things we want to do is double the participation of women to 25 per cent.” Adding, “There are a lot of geeks who aren’t computer geeks and we want those people to contribute (too) …That’s high on our list of things to fix.”

Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, exemplifies two axioms featured on our website: Pursue Your Passion and Go with the Flow.

Wikipedia: A free encyclopedia written by the people of the world.

Now Why Didn’t I Think of That?

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