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Wikipedia celebrates 20 years of free, trusted information for the world

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By Wikimedia Foundation launches to commemorate Wikipedia's birthday, look back at the past 20 years, and meet the humans behind the platform.
This article was originally published by the Wikimedia Foundation on January 14, 2021 to mark Wikipedia's 20th birthday, at Wikimedia Foundation News. It is licensed CC-BY SA 3.0.

Wikipedia, the world's largest free online encyclopedia, turned 20 years old on 15 January. This birthday commemorates two decades of global efforts to support free knowledge, open collaboration, and trust on the internet. In a time when disinformation and polarization challenge our trust in information and institutions, Wikipedia is more relevant than ever. Wikipedia celebrates its past and looks ahead to how it will meet the challenges of tomorrow to grow into a more resilient, equitable knowledge resource.

"Wikipedia has evolved from a seemingly impossible idea into a sprawling testament to humanity—a place where we can collaborate, share, and learn about anything and everything," said Katherine Maher, CEO of the Wikimedia Foundation. "It is a global effort of volunteers who elevate knowledge and cooperation over conflict and self-interest. We are committed to preserving the integrity and value of information at a time when the world needs it most."

Today, Wikipedia's more than 55 million articles can be accessed in over 300 languages, for free, and without advertisements, all created by volunteers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wikipedia saw record-breaking increases in daily traffic with a growing community of medical professionals contributing knowledge about COVID-19 to the platform. Studies have shown that Wikipedia is one of the most-viewed sources for health information, and its role in providing trusted access to information about COVID-19 in the pandemic led to a milestone collaboration with the World Health Organization in October 2020.

"In a world where information is increasingly commoditized, Wikipedia's model has always been based on the belief that knowledge belongs to all humans," said Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. "Wikipedia forces us to step outside of our echo chambers and contend with what a shared understanding of the world could really look like. After all, a Wikipedia article is the same no matter who or where you are in the world, and if something isn't right in the article, you can change it."

An Art+Feminism edit-a-thon at the Royal Armoury in Stockholm, 2017

Wikipedia aspires to reflect the sum of all human knowledge. As it celebrates 20 years and looks to the future, the people who contribute to Wikipedia also acknowledge that there are deep knowledge gaps that must be addressed. Initiatives such as WikiProject Women in Red, WikiGap, and AfroCROWD, among many others, aim to ensure that Wikipedia more fully represents the diversity of the world. The Wikimedia movement's 2030 strategic direction also reflects this commitment. In addition, the Foundation recently developed a $4.5 million Equity Fund that will offer grants to advance more equitable, inclusive representation in Wikimedia projects, including Wikipedia.

The Wikimedia Foundation and Wikipedia's volunteer communities are actively evolving to face the challenges of our time, including by:

The Wikimedia Foundation held a virtual event, hosted by Katherine Maher, Wikimedia Foundation CEO, and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, to showcase the contributions of Wikipedia's global volunteer communities. The event kicked-off a year-long celebration themed "20 Years Human," a nod to the humans who make Wikipedia possible—including regular contributors, donors, and readers. Viewers can tune in via the livestream link.

To learn more about Wikipedia's growth over the last two decades visit

To attend Wikipedia virtual celebrations hosted by volunteers around the world, please visit the events page.

Share your favorite Wikipedia story on social media using #Wikipedia20, and tag @Wikipedia in your posts.

To make a donation and continue to sustain Wikipedia's future, visit

Wikipedia facts and figures

About Wikipedia

Wikipedia is the world's free knowledge resource. It is a collaborative creation that has been added to and edited by millions of people from around the globe since it was created in 2001: everyone can edit it, at any time. Wikipedia is offered in more than 300 languages containing a total of more than 55 million articles. It is the largest, collaborative collection of free knowledge in human history, and today its content is contributed and edited by a community of more than 280,000 volunteer editors each month.

About the Wikimedia Foundation

The Wikimedia Foundation is the nonprofit organization that operates Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia free knowledge projects. Our vision is a world in which every single human can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. We believe that everyone has the potential to contribute something to our shared knowledge, and that everyone should be able to access that knowledge freely. We host Wikipedia and the Wikimedia projects, build software experiences for reading, contributing, and sharing Wikimedia content, support the volunteer communities and partners who make Wikimedia possible, and advocate for policies that enable Wikimedia and free knowledge to thrive.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a charitable, not-for-profit organization that relies on donations. We receive donations from millions of individuals around the world, with an average donation of about $15. We also receive donations through institutional grants and gifts. The Wikimedia Foundation is a United States 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization with offices in San Francisco, California, USA.

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Interesting stats but I have noticed increasing emphasis on languages other than English in the recent WMF celebratations. While I fully support accessibility in as many languages as possible, I wonder how many of the 55 million articles in 300 languages have no equivalent in English? And what proportion of the 350 edits per minute are for languages other than English? That might provide more perspective.--Ipigott (talk) 18:59, 1 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]

ISTR someone did a survey of that very phenomena in the last 6 months. However, I don't remember if it was covered in The Signpost or announced over at Wikidata. (Wikidata was involved since the results were based on a query of all items linked to an article, but excluding any item with an article on en.wikipedia.) -- llywrch (talk) 23:10, 2 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]
Also worth wondering how many of those are simply machine-translated verions of English articles, like the Cebuano ones. -Indy beetle (talk) 11:39, 4 February 2021 (UTC)[reply]

I think that a desire for Wikipedia to be "trusted" is misled. The facts should speak for themselves; Wikipedia can contain incorrect information, as can anything. Our desire should be to ensure that Wikipedia contains as much accurate information as possible, and as little inaccurate information as possible. Such a thing does not require any trust. If trust is not required, it should not be asked for. DesertPipeline (talk) 13:03, 24 June 2021 (UTC)[reply]


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