Wikipedia: (place) by AxelBoldt
Sun Jan 27 2002 at 20:02:47
Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia, collaboratively being constructed at the web site http://www.wikipedia.org using the Wiki metaphor.
There are four main differences between Wikipedia and E2:
- Editing: Nobody owns a node; everything can be edited by everybody, even without logging in. Complete histories of all articles as well as records of all changes are kept and can be accessed by everybody, so that changes can be undone if necessary. No voting or ranking occurs. No editors exist, or rather: anybody can be an editor.
- Copyright: Every contributor licenses their articles under the copyleft GNU Free Documentation License which ensures that the material will stay free forever. If the website goes down, somebody else can take the data and start over.
- Subject matter: The goal of Wikipedia is to build an encyclopedia; as such, personal opinions, jokes, diaries, literature and poetry are not included. Controversial topics are covered from a "Neutral Point of View", a characterization of the debate that people on all sides of the controversy can accept as "fair". Many articles have an associated "Talk" page where discussion aimed at improving the article can take place.
- Features: Wikipedia does not have softlinks. It allows external links and the uploading of images. Full-text search is possible. All articles are indexed by Google. There is no chatterbox feature, only an irc channel. Messaging is done by editing other user's home pages.
The project was started in January 2001 by Larry Sanger, a philosophy Ph.D., and Jimbo Wales, an internet entrepreneur. Initially, it was intended as a companion for Nupedia, a slow-moving peer-reviewed copyleft encyclopedia which has since all but died. Wales provides the server space and, until February 1, 2002, employed Sanger as Nupedia's and Wikipedia's coordinator.
Several hundred writers contribute on a regular basis. About two dozen daughter projects in other languages have been created, the most active being the German, Esperanto, Spanish and Polish Wikipedias.
In 2001, RMS endorsed Wikipedia as the embodiment of GNUpedia, a project of constructing a free encyclopedia and learning resource which he had envisioned earlier. In January 2002, the website switched from the perl-based Usemod wiki script using a flat text database to a custom PHP system on top of a MySQL database. This allowed to implement many new features but initially lead to some site slowdowns as problems were ironed out. The software was again rewritten from scratch in July 2002 and a new server was purchased; performance is now excellent.
When the project was initially started, Wales had some plans of recovering his investments in the distant future. Occasionly the specter of banner ads has been raised. This prospect led to a fork of the very active Spanish Wikipedia in February 2002; the forked version is called "Enciclopedia Libre" and is hosted at the University of Sevilla.
Jimbo Wales has now repeatedly stated that Wikipedia is his hobby and that he does not intend to make or recover any money from it; plans of creating a non-profit organization to further develop Wikipedia have been voiced. In August 2002, the main URL for the site was changed from wikipedia.com to wikipedia.org.
As of August 2002, Wikipedia has produced more than 37,000 genuine articles and has been the subject of coverage in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and MIT's Technology Review.
This writeup is in the public domain