Wikipedia (pronounced: see below) is a free, collaborative, multilingual and free content online encyclopedia, founded in 2001, supported and hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a US non-profit organization.
Launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger on January 15, 2001, initially in the English language edition, it added editions in numerous other languages in the following months. Sanger suggested the name, a Macedonian word born from the union of the root wiki with the suffix pedia (from encyclopedia).
Etymologically, Wikipedia means "fast culture", from the Hawaiian word wiki (fast), with the addition of the suffix -pedia (from the ancient Greek παιδεία, paideia, training). With more than 55 million entries in over 300 languages, it is the largest encyclopedia ever written, is among the ten most visited websites in the world and is the largest and most consulted generalist reference work on the Internet.
Wikipedia began as a complementary project of Nupedia, a project to create a free online encyclopedia whose entries were written by volunteer experts through a formal review process. Nupedia was founded on March 9, 2000 by the company Bomis, owner of the homonymous search portal. The main figures were Jimmy Wales, then CEO of Bomis, and Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief of Nupedia and later of Wikipedia. For the concept of wiki, Wales and Sanger claimed to have been inspired by the WikiWikiWeb or Portland Pattern Repository sites of Ward Cunningham.
Wikipedia, which had already existed as a Nupedia.com service since January 10, 2001, was formally launched on January 15 on the English-language Wikipedia.com site. Around May, the first registered users arrived and, over the course of the year, editions in French, German, English, Catalan, Spanish, Swedish, Portuguese and, at the end of the year, Italian were developed.
By the end of its first year of existence, the encyclopedia had nearly 20,000 entries in 18 editions in different languages. It reached 26 language editions at the end of 2002, 46 at the end of 2003 and 161 at the end of 2004. Nupedia and Wikipedia coexisted until the servers of the former were permanently closed in 2003 and its texts incorporated into Wikipedia (Nupedia had suffered a growth rate extremely slow, due to complicated review processes, managing to publish only 24 entries); Sanger left the scene and a group of users bifurcated the Spanish Wikipedia to form the Encyclopedia Libre.
From Wikipedia and Nupedia, the Wikimedia Foundation was born in 2003, the non-profit organization that supports Wikipedia and the sister projects (the first of which was In Memoriam: September 11 Wiki) that over time have been added, each of which specializes in a certain area of knowledge. The Wikimedia Foundation has in fact subsequently created complementary projects including: Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, Wikiquote, Wikinews, Wikiversity and Wikivoyage. Wales ceded all rights to the foundation he promoted, which still manages the brands and IT infrastructure, ensuring that content management remained in the hands of the user community.
While in the first two years it was growing at the rate of a few hundred or fewer new entries per day, the English edition of Wikipedia reached the milestone of 100,000 entries in January 2003, while in 2004 it exploded, doubling in size in a year (with an increase from 1 000 to 3 000 entries per day). Wikipedia reached its millionth entry, out of 105 language editions at the time, on September 20, 2004.
Since 2004, a network of national associations connected to the Wikimedia Foundation (called "official chapters") began to be established, including Wikimedia Italia, founded in 2005. In September of the same year, the Italian edition passed the