The Wikipedia Community: Open Source Education and Free Information for All

Wikipedia is an open source education and information resource that has evolved the way we access, share and update information as a resource. We love it as an amazing ethosolution idea because it has literally organized the information of the entire human species into a free online encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation and populated/maintained by the Wikipedia community. It is funded by donations from the public, managed by an all volunteer staff, one of the top 10 most visited websites in the world, gets billions of page views monthly, and is operated under a free license so everyone can use it the way that works best for them.

A Free Encyclopedia for Every

Person on the Planet

The service Wikipedia offers is arguably the most incredible information service the world has ever seen, all for free online, and provided for selfless and helpful reasons without advertising, open source so anyone can contribute, and everyone has access. As one of the leaders for ideas like this, Wikipedia has already created huge positive changes in our world in its contribution to the amount, organization and ease of access, and collaborative interaction with the information we as a species have access to. On top of that, Wikipedia is a true demonstration of what happens when people work together for the good of the whole, creating an on-going, ever evolving and free online source to access all the information any of us could ever need.

Jimmy Wales, wikipedia ethosolution

Wikipedia, on the other hand, begins with a very radical idea: That’s for all of us to imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge, and that is what we are doing.

Jimmy Wales, Founder of the Wikimedia Foundation

The Details of Wikipedia’s Success and Influence

Wikipedia currently has 22 million articles in languages worldwide (3.9 million in English) and is volunteer based. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site, and it has about 100,000 regularly active contributors. It has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet. It is currently ranked sixth globally among all websites on Alexa and has an estimated 365 million readers worldwide.  It is estimated that Wikipedia receives 2.7 billion monthly page views from the United States alone.

Wikipedia maintains the integrity of the site through a “neutrality policy” that requires reporting based on facts versus opinions to avoid a war back and forth between the left and the right on any subject and remove anyone from the Wikipedia community who violate this. In addition, every single change made to Wikipedia goes into the “recent changes page” and feeds into an IRC channel (internet chat channel), RSS feeds, email notifications of changes, and user personal watch lists ALL monitored and supported by volunteers.

These are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Of course it’s my job to say that, but it’s actually true. The type of people that are drawn to writing an encyclopedia for fun tend to be pretty smart people.

Jimmy Wales, Founder of the Wikimedia Foundation

The History of Wikipedia

Wikipedia was founded as an offshoot of Nupedia, a project to produce a free encyclopedia, with an elaborate system of peer review and highly qualified contributors, but the writing of articles was slow. During 2000, Jimmy Wales, founder of Nupedia, and Larry Sanger, whom Wales had employed to work on the project with him, discussed ways of supplementing Nupedia with a more open and complementary project. The idea was presented that a wiki might allow members of the public to contribute material, and Nupedia’s first wiki went online on January 10, 2001. There was considerable resistance on the part of Nupedia’s editors and reviewers to the idea of associating Nupedia with a website in the wiki format, so the new project was given the name “Wikipedia” and launched on its own domain,, on January 15 (now called “Wikipedia Day” by some users). The bandwidth and server (in San Diego) were donated by Wales.

The domain was eventually changed to the present when the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation was launched as its new parent organization, prompting the use of a “.org” domain to denote its non-commercial nature. The fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates are summarized in the form of five “pillars”:

  1. Wikipedia is an encyclopedia
  2. Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view
  3. Wikipedia is free content that anyone can edit, use, modify, and distribute
  4. Editors should interact with each other in a respectful and civil manner
  5. Wikipedia does not have firm rules. In other words, things can change, and “The principles and spirit of Wikipedia’s rules matter more than their literal wording, and sometimes improving Wikipedia requires making an exception to a rule.”
Thank you Wikipedia for changing our world, and the way we share information, for the betterment of all humanity!