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article imageWikipedia celebrates its 15th birthday

By James Walker     Jan 15, 2016 in Technology
Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia used by millions worldwide every day, is celebrating its 15th birthday today. Its founder thinks the site can keep progressing though and wants to see the famous name become the "sum of all human knowledge."
Founder Jimmy Wales launched Wikipedia on January 15th 2001. Since then, it has grown to include 291 editions in different languages and over 5,000,000 articles in the English version, an achievement only reached in November 2015. The site sees over 18 billion page views and 500 million unique visitors each month.
The encyclopaedia celebrated its birthday by releasing a list of the top 15 articles on its network that have received the most edits since their creation. At the top is former U.S.-president George W. Bush with 45,862 edits, followed by the pages "List of WWE personnel" and "United States" at 42,836 and 35,742 respectively.
Wikipedia itself comes in fourth with 33,958 applied edits. At the other end of the list is The Beatles, in 14th place with 22,399 edits, and India with 22,271 edits. Other pages that make the top 15 include those for Jesus, Barack Obama, Adolf Hitler and World War II.
Wikipedia quickly gained fame for being a free and accessible encyclopaedia relevant to the digital age. It was built on the premise of anyone on Earth being able to edit a page to correct details or add extra information, although that concept has also led to several 'joke' edits along the way.
The encyclopaedia has also attracted criticism at times for its handling of controversial topics or the bias of editors when changing page content. Founder Wales claimed today that the "majority" of edits made to the site have been positive though and the site is still used by millions each day who rely on it for accurate articles.
The site has become a principal source of information for the Internet users of the world. Search engines like Google source the data for their sidebar widgets from its articles, making it the easiest thing to get to when searching for an invention, celebrity or obscure piece of astrophysics theory.
Founder Jimmy Wales said: "Wikipedia challenged us to rethink how knowledge can be gathered and shared. 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."
Wales isn't content with stopping now though. He said today that Wikipedia will become the "sum of all human knowledge" and the gateway to that knowledge for its millions of users.
Wales told Yahoo News: "When you think of the university-aged kids now, they haven't known a world without Wikipedia, to them we are part of the infrastructure of the world. It's important that we sustain Wikipedia for the world, it's a community project."
The Wikimedia Foundation, responsible for the day-to-day running of Wikipedia, today announced the start of a new funding drive to ensure it is possible to keep running the site. It hopes to raise £69 million in voluntary user donations over the next ten years as well as establish a permanent source of reliable income.
Wikipedia is also working to create new content - Wikimedia claims 7,000 new articles are written each day — and improve the accuracy of existing pages, creating a more complete resource for the 500 million users that visit each month.
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