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Wikipedia is a multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project supported by the Wikimedia Foundation and based on an openly editable model. The name "Wikipedia" is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a technology for creating collaborative websites, fro m the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick") and encyclopedia. Wikipedia's articles provide links designed to guide the user to related pages with additional information.

Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity.

Wikipedia was founded as an offshoot of Nupedia, a now-abandoned project to produce a free encyclopedia. Nupedia had an elaborate system of peer review and required highly qualified contributors, but the writing of articles was slow. During 2000, Jimmy Wales, founder of Nupedia, and Larry Sanger, whom Wales had employed to work on the project, discussed ways of supplementing Nupedia with a more open, complementary project. Multiple sources suggested that a wiki might allow members of the public to contribute material, and Nupedia's first wiki went online on January 10, 2001.

There was considerable resistance on the part of Nupedia's editors and reviewers to the idea of associating Nupedia with a website in the wiki format, so the new project was given the name "Wikipedia" and launched on its own domain,, on January 15 (now called "Wikipedia Day" by some users). The bandwidth and server (in San Diego) were donated by Wales. Other current and past Bomis employees who have worked on the project include Tim Shell, one of the cofounders of Bomis and its current CEO, and programmer Jason Richey. The domain was eventually changed to the present when the not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation was launched as its new parent organization, with the ".org" top-level domain denoting its non-commercial nature.

In May 2001, a large number of non-English Wikipedias were launched — in Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, Esperanto, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. These were soon joined by Arabic and Hungarian. In September, Polish was added, and further commitment to the multilingual provision of Wikipedia was made. At the end of the year, Afrikaans, Norwegian, and Serbo-Croatian versions were announced.

The fundamental principles by which Wikipedia operates are the five pillars. The Wikipedia community has developed many policies and guidelines to improve the encyclopedia; however, it is not a formal requirement to be familiar with them before contributing.

Since its creation in 2001, Wikipedia has grown rapidly into one of the largest reference websites, attracting 470 million unique visitors monthly as of February 2012. There are more than 76,000 active contributors working on more than 31,000,000 articles in 285 languages. As of today, there are 4,515,134 articles in English. Every day, hundreds of thousands of visitors fro m around the world collectively make tens of thousands of edits and create thousands of new articles to augment the knowledge held by the Wikipedia encyclopedia. (See the statistics page for more information.)

People of all ages, cultures and backgrounds can add or edit article prose, references, images and other media here. What is contributed is more important than the expertise or qualifications of the contributor. What will remain depends upon whether the content is free of copyright restrictions and contentious material about living people, and whether it fits within Wikipedia's policies, including being verifiable against a published reliable source, thereby excluding editors' opinions and beliefs and unreviewed research. Contributions cannot damage Wikipedia because the software allows easy reversal of mistakes and many experienced editors are watching to help ensure that edits are cumulative improvements. Begin by simply clicking the Edit link at the top of any editable page!

Wikipedia is a live collaboration differing fro m paper-based reference sources in important ways. Unlike printed encyclopedias, Wikipedia is continually created and updated, with articles on historic events appearing within minutes, rather than months or years. Older articles tend to be more comprehensive and balanced; newer articles may contain misinformation and/or unencyclopedic content. Any article may contain undetected vandalism. Awareness of this helps the reader to obtain valid information and avoid recently added misinformation (see Wikipedia:Researching with Wikipedia).

Global languages

This Wikipedia is written in English. Started in 2001 (2001), it currently contains 4,515,134 articles. Many other Wikipedias are available; some of the largest are listed below.

More than 1,000,000 articles: ·English ·Deutsch · español · français · italiano · Nederlands · polski · русский · svenska
More than 400,000 articles: català · 日本語 · norsk bokmål · português · Tiếng Việt · українська · 中文
More than 200,000 articles: العربية · Bahasa Indonesia · Bahasa Melayu · čeština · српски / srpski · فارسی · 한국어 · magyar · română · suomi · Türkçe
More than 50,000 articles: български · dansk · eesti · Ελληνικά · English (simple) · Esperanto · euskara · galego · עברית · हिन्दी · hrvatski · latviešu · lietuvių · norsk nynorsk · slovenčina · slovenščina · srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски · ไทย · اردو
Complete list of Wikipedias

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