Volunteers at the English Wikipedia and SOS Children UK have today launched the Wikipedia Selection for Schools. The Selection is about the size of a 15 volume encyclopaedia, with 24,000 pictures, 14 million words and articles on 4625 topics. It includes the best of Wikipedia, and many thousands of pages of extra material specifically selected to be of interest to children who follow the UK National Curriculum and similar curricula elsewhere in the world.
There has been recent public discussion on the suitability of Wikipedia for UK schools. Many articles on the live Wikipedia website are of acceptable accuracy. This Selection aims to correct the remaining criticisms made of Wikipedia as a school resource:
Florence Devouard, chair of the Wikimedia Foundation, said: "The Wikimedia Foundation aims to encourage the development and distribution of reference content to the public free of charge: this project is an excellent example of free resources being offered to a particular audience which we warmly encourage, and are proud to support."
Dr. Andrew Cates, CEO of SOS Children (and himself a Wikipedia administrator) said: "Wikipedia offers a fantastic learning resource. We are delighted to have been able to play a part in increasing the number of children who will be able to benefit from it. We are indebted to the volunteers in our offices and on Wikipedia who helped check articles and to the Wikipedia community for their help with this project."
The Selection can easily be run on school intranets or in remote locations in the developing world where Internet access is a problem. A pilot version of this release has already been distributed to schools in South Africa by the Shuttleworth Foundation. It is intended to extend and update the Selection periodically.
Just a few days after the death of Norwegian journalist Tron Øgrim (see related story), a Belarusian editor passed away this week. Uladzimir Katkouski, a well-known and award-winning Belarusian blogger who also made more than 1,300 edits to the English Wikipedia and nearly 900 edits to the Normative Belarusian Wikipedia between 2004 and 2006 as User:Rydel, passed away on May 26, 2007. Katkouski mostly edited articles about Belarus; among the articles he edited were Orsha, White Russia, and Belarusian language. He was evidently hit by a fire truck, and died after being in a coma.
Wikipedia reached the 3-month Alexa rank of 9 this week, passing Tencent QQ, the website of a Chinese instant-messaging program. Wikipedia generally hovers at rank 9 on most days, falling to rank 10 or 11 on Fridays and Saturdays. Wikipedia still has a long way to go to pass the number 8 site, Orkut; on only one occasion, in February, has Wikipedia reached a daily rank of 8; this rise was probably due to the Chinese New Year, as this usually produces spikes in Wikipedia's ranking, as traffic to the main Chinese-language sites falls sharply at this time each year.
Notably, Alexa statistics also show that about 6.3% of internet users visit Wikipedia, and that as of late, Wikipedia accounts for nearly 0.5% of internet traffic, about 1 in 200 page views. Additionally, Wikipedia reaches more users than Orkut, 7th-ranked Baidu, and 6th-ranked MySpace; however, Wikipedia ranks lower due to the low number of pages visited by each user (5.0) compared to the other sites (38.7, 12.5, and 37.0, respectively).
Jimbo Wales appeared on The Colbert Report, a satirical television program hosted by comedian Stephen Colbert. Stephen's character of the same name interviewed Wales, talking about the project and joking about a previous segment of the show where Colbert encouraged viewers to edit articles to state "the number of elephants has tripled in the last six months." (see archived story). Colbert again encouraged various vandalous additions, including the phrase "librarians are hiding something". After a comment by Colbert's character that Spanish users should learn English, Wales joked that he'd have to protect the entire Spanish Wikipedia. The full interview can be seen at Comedy Central here.
The volunteers who will serve on the Board Election Steering Committee for the upcoming Board of Trustees election were announced by Wikimedia Volunteer Coordinator Cary Bass. They include Aphaia and Jon Harald Søby, both of whom were election officials last year, along with Tim Starling as technical adviser. Joining the group this year are Benjamin Mako Hill, Newyorkbrad, and Philippe Beaudette.