On January 15, 2011, Wikipedia, the biggest multi-lingual free encyclopedia celebrated its 10th anniversary.
A decade after its inception, the site built collaboratively using wiki software, is ranked eighth in the world as per Alexa traffic ranking and six in the US. The statistics very clearly indicates the success level of the site built mainly by independent volunteers on the net.
On its 10th anniversary, founder Jimmy Wales addressed readers, editors and donators from across the globe. He said, Today we have millions of articles in hundreds of languages. These days about four hundred million people a month visit the website and that is an astounding thing to happen...And it's all thanks to you. I want to thank everybody who helped, people who edited, people who donated.
There are over 91,000 active contributors working on more than 17,000,000 articles in more than 270 languages.
However, despite the increasing numbers and high popularity, an interesting fact is that Wikipedia never tries to generate any revenue of the site.
As compared to other multi-billion dollar online sites like Facebook and Google, Wikipedia is run by a not-for-profit organization called Wikimedia Foundation which works on the principles of utopian idealism.
Wikipedians, as those contributing to the site prefer to call themselves, works for absolutely nothing.
To a lay man, the idea about working for free might sound a little overwhelming. But the fact remains that the site has evolved progressively throughout the years becoming a major online reference site for almost any form of query. Moreover, the contributors focus on certain set standards to maintain the proper functioning of the site.
In fact, the organization has certain fundamental principles summarized in the form of five pillars. A major pillar among them, civility, asks every Wikipedians to be respectful and polite to their fellow contributors and prevent any kind of edit-wars that might hamper the quality of the site.
However, this does not imply that the online encyclopedia was free from any kind of controversy or criticism. The user-edited Wikipedia page gives description to the many criticisms that the association had to face throughout the years.
It states, Although the policies of Wikipedia strongly espouse verifiability and a neutral point of view, critics of Wikipedia accuse it of systemic bias and inconsistencies (including undue weight given to popular culture), and allege that it favors consensus over credentials in its editorial processes. Its reliability and accuracy are also targeted. Other criticisms center on its susceptibility to vandalism and the addition of spurious or unverified information, though scholarly work suggests that vandalism is generally short-lived, and an investigation in Nature found that the science articles they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopedia Britannica and had a similar rate of serious errors.
Wikipedia has definitely changed the way we surf the net but the question remains that till what point the association can adhere to its idealistic principles and utopian cultures.