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Erasmus Prize recognizes the global Wikipedia community

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By The ed17
Max Sparreboom of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation and Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, shake hands after the official announcement.

On the fourteenth anniversary of the founding of the English Wikipedia, the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation has announced that its prestigious annual Erasmus Prize will be awarded to the worldwide community that has built Wikipedia.

Desiderius Erasmus was a Dutch Catholic theologian who lived during the Reformation. While critical of the Catholic Church, he did not join the nascent Lutheran movement, instead committing himself to reforming it from within. He is remembered today as a preeminent humanist and scholar, author of many works including The Praise of Folly.

According to the foundation:

Lila Tretikov, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), stated that "I am proud that Wikipedia is being recognized for the incredible collective impact it has had to date. As we look to the future of free knowledge, we will continue to be guided by the principles the Erasmus Prize today honors." An official ceremony will occur in autumn 2015.

Of note is the seeming purposeful singling out of the Wikipedia, rather than Wikimedia, community. This distinction appears to have been noted by the WMF, which presciently attempted to expand the scope of the award in the opening lines of its press release. The organization called attention to this being a first time a "collaborative community" has won the award—the qualifier needed to distinguish it from the 1958 prize, which was given to the Austrian people for having "become the shining example of a positive mentality, of courage, energy and confidence in the future of Europe, by the way in which as a minorité créatrice it opened paths for the free nations of Europe to follow."

The €150,000 in prize funds for the 2015 award will be given to the Wikimedia Foundation, which has already declared that it will be given back to the community in the form of individual grants or similar support. Given the short amount of time between the announcement and our date of publication, the WMF was unable to provide further specificity at this time.

Further coverage is available in this week's "In the media" section.

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