Wikipedia celebrates 15 years of free knowledge
Wikipedians around the world host a global party with events on six continents for Wikipedia’s 15th birthday
Cape Town, South Africa, January 15, 2016 -- Today marks the 15th anniversary of Wikipedia, the world’s free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. This week, editors and readers around the world celebrate free knowledge and the joy it has sparked over the past 15 years. In South Africa we will be marking the anniversary with events in Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Wikipedia launched on January 15, 2001 with a bold vision: a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. At the time, the idea that people around the world would collaborate to build an encyclopedia—for free—seemed unbelievable. Since then, Wikipedia has grown to more than 35 million articles in hundreds of languages, used by hundreds of millions of people all over the world. Wikipedia is still built by volunteers around the world: each month, 80,000 volunteer editors contribute to the site.
As of this fifteenth anniversary, 28 percent of the those alive today have never known a world without Wikipedia. While much of the internet has evolved into a private space, Wikipedia serves everyone on Earth, of all backgrounds and ages.
January 15 marks not just the birth of Wikipedia, but the beginning of a movement. Wikipedia is much more than a website. Wikipedia and its sister Wikimedia projects represent a global, ever-expanding resource and community for free knowledge. Here are just a few examples:
Wikipedia started in January 2001 in English, but soon expanded to other languages—within the first year, it grew to 18 languages, including Afrikaans. Today, it is available in hundreds of languages.
Volunteers constantly edit and improve Wikipedia. Every hour, roughly 15,000 edits are made to Wikipedia. Every day, 7,000 new articles are created. Wikipedia became one of the top 10 websites in the world in 2007, and the only non-profit website anywhere near the top. It’s not just Wikipedia. Wikimedia has 11 other free knowledge projects, including the Wikimedia Commons as well as Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, and more. Wiki Loves Monuments (international) and Wiki Loves Monuments South Africa, a global photo competition, was launched in 2010 to document images of cultural heritage. In 2011, the contest was named the largest photo competition in the world. Companion projects, such as Wiki Loves Earth, Wikivoyage, Wiki Loves Africa, and Wiki Loves Cheese, are global photographic competitions focused on other topics. Volunteers around the world have built hundreds of partnerships with galleries, libraries and museums to make institutional collections more broadly available.
"Wikipedia challenged us to rethink how knowledge can be gathered and shared." said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, "Knowledge is no longer handed down from on high, instead it is freely shared by everyone online. Wikipedia seemed like an impossible idea at the time—an online encyclopaedia that everyone can edit. However, it has surpassed everyone's expectations over the past 15 years, thanks to the hundreds of thousands of volunteers around the world who have made Wikipedia possible."
Today, we celebrate not only Wikipedia, but all of the projects, partnerships, events, and joy it has spurred over the past 15 years, with many still to come. The Wikimedia community of editors around the world are hosting parties, conferences, and other events to bring together community members and celebrate Wikipedia’s 15th birthday. In South Africa we are using this opportunity to encourage more South Africans from all communities and backgrounds to edit Wikipedia.
You can use social media to tell us what Wikipedia means to you by tagging @Wikipedia and using the hashtag #wikipedia15.
About Wikipedia Wikipedia is the largest collection of collaboratively built free knowledge in human history. It is a collaborative creation that has been added to and edited by millions of people from around the globe since it was created in 2001: anyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia is offered in hundreds of languages and contains more than 35 million articles. Each month, it receives more than 15 billion pageviews. Wikipedia’s content is contributed and edited by a community of around 80,000 volunteer editors each month.
Wikimedia ZA is an independent volunteer driven non-profit organisation for Wikimedia project editors in South Africa. It exists to promote and support the editing of Wikimedia projects such as Wikipedia.
Press contact Douglas Scott at +27 079 515 8727 for press enquiries.