Wikipedia Looks Outward to The Next 10 Years, First Stop India

ByMolly Hunter
January 17, 2011, 7:37 AM

Jan. 17, 2011— -- In 2001, Jimmy Wales wrote "hello world," in his first edit to the now famous online encyclopedia, Wikipedia. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back.

On Saturday Wikipedia marked its 10th birthday and today the San Francisco-based site opened its first overseas office in India.

From Gaza to Glasgow and Bogota to Beijing, millions of Wikipedia contributors answered the call of founder Wales to share ideas both online and in person that will shape Wikipedia's future.

About 450 events were held across the globe, 97 of which were in India.

Wikipedia is the fifth most visited website, claiming over 400 million unique visits per month.

More than 13.5 million registered users have contributed a staggering 438,660,528 edits in the last decade.

The site's 3.5 million articles are primarily maintained by 15,000 reliable editors who contribute at least 100 times per month.

Editors are unpaid volunteers, the site takes no advertising and is operated by the non-profit Wikimedia. The site operated on $8 million in 2010 and raised over $16 million in its most recent fundraising campaign.

Over the last decade, the site has not been without financial woes and Wales often writes personal letters on the homepage to the Wikipedia community, the majority of which currently reside in the industrialized nations.

Today, 20 percent of the site's content is in English but in the next decade Wikipedia plans to increase the diversity of its contributors, range of topics and languages offered.

Currently, the free website is available in over 270 languages and the new Bangalore office hopes to add at least 20 additional Indian languages.

In an interview with The Press Trust of India, Sue Gardner, chief of Wikimedia, said that India was chosen because its "fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate."

Gardner added that Wikipedia plans to make a push in Brazil, then to the Middle East and Africa to reach editors from different backgrounds.

Wikipedia has also partnered with 16 universities, hoping to engage students and professors alike.

According to Wales, the site is weaker in the humanities and public policy realms but he hopes participation by schools including Harvard and Georgetown will shift the balance.

The average Wikipedia user in 2011 is an educated, 20-something male but Gardner expects that profile will look much different in 2021.

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