October 17, 2021

Wikipedia is a multilingual internet encyclopedia written by volunteer authors. Wikipedia is published under a free license, which means that the content can be reused elsewhere for free if the source is acknowledged. The website is owned by the American Wikimedia Foundation. It is the organization's oldest and best-known project. Wikipedia is set up in the form of a wiki, so that every content page can in principle be edited by any visitor. A separate computer program has been designed for Wikipedia. This software, MediaWiki, is open source software that is also used by the other projects of the Wikimedia Foundation and by many other projects and companies.

Five pillars

There are five principles on Wikipedia, called pillars: Wikipedia combines properties of specialized encyclopedias, almanacs and geographical dictionaries (books with alphabetical descriptions of places). Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view. Wikipedia strives for articles that explain the various relevant points of view, in an unbiased manner. It must be possible to check the content in reliable sources. Wikipedia contains free content that anyone can use, edit and distribute. In addition to these three pillars about content, two other pillars apply to the work on Wikipedia: Wikipedia editors should treat each other with courtesy and respect. There are no hard and fast rules, but there are policies and guidelines.

The name Wikipedia

The name Wikipedia is a contraction of wiki, which means fast in Hawaiian, and the English word encyclopedia.


Features of the project

Wikipedia was the first serious, general, digital encyclopedia to work with the wiki concept. As a result, current information is often processed quickly on Wikipedia. The word wiki (fast) also refers to that. The project and its success are also characterized by the fact that the content falls under a free license. All text and other media, such as images and sound, are released and made available to the public by Wikipedia under the GFDL (and since 2008) CC BY-SA license. Each author retains ownership of his contribution, but others can build on individual contributions. The release of contributions under the CC BY-SA license is final and cannot be revoked. Everyone is therefore entitled to distribute and/or change the content free of charge, while no one can be denied access to content taken from Wikipedia and possibly changed. Wikipedia expressly presents itself as an encyclopedia and not as, for example, a dictionary, discussion forum or web portal. For lexicographical information the sister project Wiktionary (in Dutch Wiktionary) has been created. Special apps are also available for mobile devices.


The documentation of human knowledge has been considered for many years. Among others, the bibliographer Paul Otlet, creator of the Universal Decimal Classification (UDC), devoted his life to the question of how data and knowledge can be made accessible in a Universal Book or an ingenious card system using a machine system. Later, Herbert George Wells aspired to a World Brain, a summary of all knowledge on microfilm. Vannevar Bush also believed that the future of full documentation lay in a microfilmed system: Memex. In 1960, Ted Nelson started his Project Xanadu using hypertext. The Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia from Philips' CDI (1992) and Encarta (1993) from Microsoft were the first CD-ROM encyclopedias to use hyperlinks. Wikipedia is a modern answer, leveraging the new capabilities of www, the Internet, and collaboration software.


Wikipedia was published in 2001

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