Wikipedia is targeting 'the next billion' internet users as it celebrates its 15th birthday
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has targeted becoming the “sum of all human knowledge” as the online guide celebrates its 15th anniversary on Friday.
Mr Wales said the aim of the open-source encyclopaedia, where anyone can contribute and edit articles, was to “build a high quality record” of human history that “opens up a world of knowledge” to users.
The internet entrepreneur said sharing knowledge remained the core principle of the website, which is one of the world’s most visited.
“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,” said Mr Wales, who also outlined some of the site’s plans for the future.
“It’s important that we sustain Wikipedia for the world, it’s a community project,” he said.
“There are billions more people coming online for the first time and we need to meet their needs. Many of them will do so using a mobile device, so we are investing in mobile because we need to be there for them.”
Wikipedia remains a non-profit organisation and is run by public donations and around 80,000 volunteers who edit articles that appear on the site. There have been controversies surrounding changes made to articles and in 2014 a British civil servant was sacked over offensive changes made to pages relating to the Hillsborough disaster.
However, the site’s founder maintains that the “majority” of edits are useful, and says he does still take a hands-on role himself.
“My role is more of a symbolic one, I have very little power,” said Mr Wales when describing his leadership of the site. He added that Wikipedia was a democracy and “more like a modern-day city than a company in the way it self-organises.”
Wikipedia began in January 2001, operating only in English, but growing to 18 language versions by the end of its first year. It now has content in 290 languages. The site has five million articles in English, but 85% of the content is in other languages. The Wikimedia Foundation – of which Wikipedia is a part – said that 7,000 new articles are created every day.
The site has expanded into 11 different projects as part of the Wikimedia Foundation, including the Wikimedia Commons free image and media repository, and the Wikiversity of free learning materials.
Mr Wales also revealed his own favourite Wikipedia page: an article called Inherently Funny Word which discusses the use of random words in humour, adding “plenty of people will tell you I’m not funny myself, but I like humour”.