Wikipedia is another of the many web-based resources that have already changed the world. For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, you know I believe strongly that Thomas Friedman's views of education and the future are critical to the success of the United States in Friedman's flat world. Wikipedia has extremely thorough postings on Mr. Friedman here and The World is Flat here.
Wikipedia is a multilingual Web-based free-content encyclopedia. It is written collaboratively by volunteers, allowing articles to be added or changed by anyone with an internet connection. The project began on January 15, 2001 as a complement to the expert-written Nupedia, and is now operated by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. The English-language version of Wikipedia
currently has more than 835,000 articles. Wikipedia has steadily risen in popularity, and has spawned several sister projects, such as Wiktionary, Wikibooks, and Wikinews. Wikipedia is widely considered as the alternative to commercial encyclopedias.
Articles in the Wikipedia are regularly cited by the mass media and academia, who generally praise it for its free distribution, editing, and diverse range of coverage. Editors are encouraged to uphold a policy of "neutral point of view" under which notable perspectives are summarized without an attempt to determine an objective truth. But Wikipedia's status as a reference work has been controversial. Its open nature allows vandalism, inaccuracy, and opinion. It has also been criticised for systemic bias, preference of consensus to credentials, and a perceived lack of accountability and authority when compared with traditional encyclopedias.
There are about 200 language editions of Wikipedia (about 100 of which are active). Ten editions have more than 50,000 articles each: English, German, French, Japanese, Polish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish. Its German-language edition has been distributed on compact discs, and many of its other editions are mirrored or have been forked by websites.