If you weren’t already aware, January 15th is Wikipedia Day! On this day in 2001, entrepreneurs Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales created the famous “free online encyclopedia” that sneaky students and curious information-seekers alike have come to love. Due to the large amount of people constantly editing content, many people consider the website’s reliability controversial. Many academic environments don’t condone Wiki as a valid resource, but just like any other online information, it’s always a good idea to cross check information across multiple sources.
If you google any sort of factual information, Wikipedia is usually one of the first sites to appear in the search results. Why is this the case if it can’t guarantee factual information? Well, it comes down to accessibility. The site is a place to start looking for answers before diving deeper into the internet, medical journals, or other scholarly resources.
Since today marks the 18th birthday of Wikipedia, here are 10 interesting facts about this often misunderstood online resource.
1. General Statistics
Believe it or not, more than 35 million people are able to edit Wikipedia’s pages. There are over 5 million articles on the site, and the average pageview count is 18 billion. The site also supports 299 different languages -talk about user friendly!
2. Ending The Expert Editors
Sanger and Wales originally created Wikipedia as a side project for the main online encyclopedia they were developing, Nupedia. However, due to its “expert-only” development approach, this initial site was limited and slow to publish. The website quickly gained momentum, and the general public loved having access to editing the site and creating content.
3. Highly Influential
In 2017, TIME Magazine’s list of “The 15 Most Influential Websites” ranked Wikipedia at #3. Only surpassed by Amazon and Google, the online encyclopedia even topped social media favorite Facebook (which clenched 4th place.
4. What’s Up With DAFT?
Wikipedia administrators have a sense of humor, too! One of the more most fun places in the wide world of Wiki is the “Deleted Articles with Freaky Titles” page (DAFT). Some of my favorite findings were “Do elephants lay eggs,” “Dopigslayeggs,” “List of every bloody person in the whole damned world,” and “Harambe mcharambeface.” If you are bored or looking for a good laugh, check this page out.
5. Forcing Out “Fake News”
Wikipedia editors can report vandalism for suspected spam articles. This act of Purposely spreading false information is “Sockpuppetry,” and you can report it here.
To keep everyone informed of the current “Wiki troublemakers,” Wikipedia features their blocked users on a unique page.
To further spread reliable information, sometimes Wikipedia will block any edits coming from the IP address “.gov” because politicians may try to rewrite their political and/or personal history or spread false information about their opponents.
6. Fueled By Donations
The reason Wikipedia is free to use is because generous donors support it and efficient volunteers edit it with the goal of spreading valuable information worldwide.
7. “Hotel Wikipedia”
To be honest, I didn’t know that Wikipedia has its own theme song until I researched it, but it’s not too surprising, considering how much we all love a good Wiki search.Wikipedia’s theme song is a parody of The Eagles’ “Hotel California” It’s called “Hotel Wikipedia.”
8. Liberal Bias?
Some US conservatives believe that Wikipedia has a liberal bias, so they decided to create their own free online encyclopedia. It’s called Conservapedia.com. If you want to see real bias, I highly recommend viewing this site. It’s almost satirical.
The Wikimedia Foundation is what keeps this online encyclopedia thriving, but it also has sister projects. One of these projects is “Wikiversity.” While attending Wikiversity can’t earn you a degree or college credits, you can access materials and teachers from around the world on a wide array of subjects.
10. Editor Status
Most people believe that Wikipedia allows anyone to edit the site’s content. The process, though, is a bit more complicated. To become an editor, you must first add useful, factual information to a certain number of articles..
I think we can all agree that Wikipedia has become a major Internet name and a huge part of our modern culture. Next time you take advantage of our worldwide “free online encyclopedia,” I hope that you do so with greater awareness and respect for the website’s history (and its lesser-known facts). Happy Wikipedia Day!
Photo by Corinne Kutz