free multilingual online encyclopedia

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia website in 336 languages of the world. 324 languages are currently active and 13 are closed.

The Wikipedia logo, a globe showing puzzle pieces with glyphs from several writing systems
Main page of the Wikipedia's multilingual screenshot
Wikipedia portal showing the different languages sorted by article count
Type of site
Online encyclopedia
Available in334 languages
OwnerWikimedia Foundation
Created byJimmy Wales
Larry Sanger[1]
RegistrationOptional[notes 1]
Users>270,939 active users[notes 2] and >114,778,213 registered users 1,067 administrators (English)
LaunchedJanuary 15, 2001; 23 years ago (2001-01-15)
Current statusActive
Content license
CC Attribution / Share-Alike 3.0
Most text is also dual-licensed under GFDL; media licensing varies
Written inLAMP platform[2]
OCLC number52075003

People can freely use it, share it, and change it, without having to pay. It is also one of the biggest wiki organizations. People can choose to give money to the Wikimedia Foundation to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects. It is an open content website. This means anyone can copy or edit it and make changes to it if they follow the rules for copying or editing.

Wikipedia is owned by an American organization, the Wikimedia Foundation, which is in San Francisco, California.

Wikipedia's name is a combination of two words, wiki and encyclopedia.[3]

Wikipedia was started on January 9, 2001, by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger as part of an earlier online encyclopedia named Nupedia. On January 15, 2001, Wikipedia became a separate website of its own. It is a wiki that uses the software MediaWiki (like all other Wikimedia Foundation projects).

Anyone who wishes to can change the pages on Wikipedia, or even make new ones. Wikipedia has a standard page layout for all pages in the encyclopedia.

As of September 2011, Wikipedia had about 18 million pages in about 300 languages and more than 3.50 billion words across all Wikipedias. The regular English Wikipedia is the largest Wikipedia edition.

Main Page of the English Wikipedia on February 3, 2023



Wikipedia began as a related project for Nupedia. Nupedia was a free English-language online encyclopedia project. Nupedia's articles were written and owned by Bomis, Inc which was a web portal company. The important people of the company were Jimmy Wales, the person in charge of Bomis, and Larry Sanger, the editor-in-chief of Nupedia. Nupedia was first licensed under the Nupedia Open Content License which was changed to the GNU Free Documentation License before Wikipedia was founded and made their first article when Richard Stallman requested them.[4]

Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales are the ones who started Wikipedia.[5][6] Wales is credited with defining the goals of the project.[7][8] Sanger created the strategy of using a wiki to reach Wales' goal.[9] On January 10, 2001, Larry Sanger proposed on the Nupedia mailing list to create a wiki as a "feeder" project for Nupedia.[10] Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001. It was launched as an English-language edition at,[11] and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list.[7] Wikipedia's policy of "neutral point-of-view"[12] was enforced in its initial months and was similar to Nupedia's earlier "nonbiased" policy. Otherwise, there weren't very many rules initially, and Wikipedia operated independently of Nupedia.[7]

Wikipedia gained early contributors from Nupedia, Slashdot, and from people who looked it up. It grew to about 20,000 articles and 18 languages by the end of 2001. By late 2002 it had 26 languages, 46 by the end of 2003, and 161 by the end of 2004.[13] Nupedia and Wikipedia both existed until Nupedia's servers were stopped in 2003. After this, its text was incorporated into Wikipedia. The English Wikipedia reached 2 million articles on September 9, 2007, making it the largest encyclopedia ever. It is even larger than the Yongle Encyclopedia (1407), which had held the record for exactly 600 years.[14]

The English Wikipedia reached 3 million articles in August 2009. The number of articles and contributors appeared to be growing less quickly around the spring of 2007.[15]

In October 2014, the Wikipedia Monument was unveiled to the public in Poland to honor all the contributors of Wikipedia. [16]

According to the TechCrunch website, on 23 January 2020, Wikipedia reached more than 6 million articles on the English Wikipedia.[17]

On 13 January 2021, the English Wikipedia reached one billion edits, where the billionth edit was made by Steven Pruitt.[18]

MIT Press published an open access book of essays Wikipedia @ 20: Stories of an Unfinished Revolution, edited by Joseph Reagle and Jackie Koerner with contributions from prominent Wikipedians, Wikimedians, researchers, journalists, librarians and other experts reflecting on particular histories and themes.[19]

By November 2021, Wikipedia had fallen to the thirteenth-placed website in the world for global internet engagement.[20]

20th anniversary


In January 2021, Wikipedia's 20th anniversary was noted in the media.[21][22][23][24]

  1. Registration is required for certain tasks such as editing protected pages, creating pages in the English Wikipedia, and uploading files.
  2. To be considered active, a user must make at least one edit or other action in a given month.


  1. >Sidener, Jonathan (December 6, 2004). "Everyone's Encyclopedia". U-T San Diego. Archived from the original on January 14, 2016. Retrieved October 15, 2006.
  2. Chapman, Roger (September 6, 2011). "Top 40 Website Programming Languages". Archived from the original on September 22, 2013. Retrieved September 6, 2011.
  3. Andreas Kaplan, Haenlein Michael (2014) Collaborative projects (social media application): About Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Business Horizons, Volume 57 Issue 5, pp.617-626
  4. Richard M. Stallman (2007-06-20). "The Free Encyclopedia Project". Free Software Foundation. Retrieved 2008-01-04.
  5. Jonathan Sidener (2004-12-06). "Everyone's Encyclopedia". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 2004-12-15. Retrieved 2006-10-15.
  6. Meyers, Peter (2001-09-20). "Fact-Driven? Collegial? This Site Wants You". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-11-22.  'I can start an article that will consist of one paragraph, and then a real expert will come along and add three paragraphs and clean up my one paragraph,' said Larry Sanger of Las Vegas, who founded Wikipedia with Mr. Wales.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Sanger, Larry (April 18, 2005). "The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir". Slashdot. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  8. Sanger, Larry (January 17, 2001). "Wikipedia Is Up!". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2001-05-06. Retrieved 2008-12-26.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  9. "Wikipedia-l: LinkBacks?". Retrieved 2007-02-20.
  10. Sanger, Larry (2001-01-10). "Let's Make a Wiki". Internet Archive. Archived from the original on 2003-04-14. Retrieved 2008-12-26.
  11. "Wikipedia: HomePage". Archived from the original on 2001-03-31. Retrieved 2001-03-31.
  12. "Wikipedia:Neutral point of view, Wikipedia (January 21, 2007)
  13. ""Multilingual statistics". Wikipedia. March 30, 2005. Retrieved 2008-12-25.
  14. "Encyclopedias and Dictionaries". Encyclopædia Britannica, 15th ed. Vol. 18. Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. pp. 257–286. Encyclopedia Britannica
  15. Bobbie Johnson. "Wikipedia approaches its limits".
  16. "Poland to honor Wikipedia with monument". AP News. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  17. "Wikipedia now has more than 6 million articles in English".
  18. "The English Language Wikipedia Just Had Its Billionth Edit". Vice. 15 January 2021. Archived from the original on 15 January 2021. Retrieved 26 February 2021.
  19. Reagle, Joseph; Koerner, Jackie, eds. (2020-10-13). Wikipedia @ 20: Stories of an Incomplete Revolution. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-53817-6.
  20. "The top 500 sites on the web". Alexa. Archived from the original on February 3, 2021. Retrieved June 13, 2020.
  21. Kelly, Heather (January 15, 2021). "Technology: On its 20th birthday, Wikipedia might be the safest place online". Washington Post. The world's largest online encyclopedia has learned lessons from fighting misinformation for two decades
  22. Kent, German (January 15, 2021). "In a post-truth world, we need Wikipedia more than ever". CNET. Commentary: Wikipedia celebrated its 20th anniversary today. The free encyclopedia may not be exciting, but its neutral, volunteer-driven content is incredibly valuable.
  23. "World in Progress: 20 years of Wikipedia" (Audio). Deutsche Welle. The year marks the 20th anniversary of Wikipedia. Every month, more than 1.7 billion people visit the open-source website in search of information about, well, just about anything! We speak with Dr. Bernie Hogan from the Oxford Internet Institute about Wikipedia's successes, where it fits into the discrimination crisis and the website's future.
  24. Wales, Jimmy (January 14, 2021). "As Wikipedia turns 20 it aims to reach more readers" – via Yahoo!. Wikipedia is the web's seventh-most visited site

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