Top 15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Wikipedia

You probably use it every day or every week, this incredible site which gives information (not always true) on a countless number of subjects. Finally yes, it is calculable since we can see the number of existing pages but it is constantly evolving. Anyway you may not know some things on this site and we suggest you learn some of them, because it’s always cool to know things, and to know things on the site which knows a lot of things it’s a kind of inception.

1. It’s not the first participatory digital encyclopedia to be created

One of the first creations of the type comes to us from Aaron Swartz, internet genius and hacktivist who fought for the free flow of information on the internet. At the age of 12 he had created the participative site “The info network” which consisted of doing what Wikipedia does. Then he started working on other projects before being harassed by the FBI and committing suicide before his trial due to pressure. We were talking about him with the people who deserve a biopic if you’re interested.

2. It’s been around for over 20 years

The Wikipedia site was created in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, two developers who wanted to create a participative site of information on various subjects, which they did, you understood it well, otherwise Wikipedia would not exist for over 20 years and you would be reading another top. Larry Sanger also left the company after two years because there were too many trolls putting anything on the site.

3. Basically, articles had to be written by professionals

Initially the project had to be managed by experts, so each page had to be written by professionals to ensure that the information was well verified. The problem is that the team was tiny and the experts were doing this on their own time. When the project was still called Nupedia only twenty-four articles had been written in one year.

4. When the site became participatory, there was a real boom in popularity

From the moment people could create and edit articles on the site there was an incredible participation: 6000 articles written in the first month and two months later the number of pages was doubled with 13000 new articles. Wikipedia was truly launched.

5. The name is not a made-up word

The name of the site is not something invented from scratch but has a meaning, it comes from two words:

Wiki : Which means “fast” in Hawaiian.

Pedie : which means “instruction” or “education” in ancient Greek.

Yeah, that makes sense when you know the meaning.

6. Wikipedia is the largest and most consulted encyclopedia in the world

By being free and accessible at any time, Wikipedia has quickly become the most widely used encyclopedia in the world. Available in most countries and in a large number of languages ​​(more than 300) it is finally quite logical.

7. The logo represents the same glyph

If you’re wondering what the site’s logo represents (besides seeing that it’s a globe made of puzzle pieces that fit together to form planet Earth) it’s made up of several glyphs and symbols of different languages ​​that read “wu”, “wi” or “wa”. Concretely, it is more or less the symbols of the writing systems which are similar to the letter “W”.

8. Nothing is ever erased, everything is always stored and backed up

You think that when you go to correct an article or a Wikipedia page by changing even one letter you will erase the previous page and yet not. Everything is saved, each previous version of a page is kept in memory so that it can be restored if the modification is considered false, which the site describes as “vandalism”.

9. A large number of bots work on the site constantly

You might think that people are paid to correct mistakes, add hyperlinks to certain keywords, verify information or restore a previous backup in the event of vandalism, but in fact they are (logically enough) bots trained to do this work. With each new modification a bot checks the page and does its little job. Free by the way.

Top 15 things you probably didn't know about wikipedia
Photo credits (Public Domain): Tsvetkova, M., García-Gavilanes, R., Floridi, L., & Yasseri, T,

10. The site is modified several thousand times per hour

It sounds huge and it is, if you count every page change, every new article added, every delete, save, restore and fix it equates to several thousand different actions per hour. There are more than a hundred pages currently edited at the time you read this sentence, and this is also explained because the site is one of the fastest to update information: politics, death of a significant personality or event.

11. Corrections are generally effective very quickly

If an act of vandalism is carried out on the site, it usually takes less than five minutes for the article to be fixed again by the bots. It’s super fast and it prevents big bullshit from staying online too long.

12. Wikipedia has no rules but is based on five pillars

We do not consider these “pillars” as rules but yet it looks like this:

– Wikipedia is an encyclopedia.

– Wikipedia is written from a neutral point of view.

– Wikipedia is free content that anyone can use, edit and share.

– Wikipedia users and contributors should treat others with respect and civility.

– Wikipedia does not have strict rules.

And like all Wikipedia pages, the one with these five pillars can be edited.

13. The site lives mainly thanks to donations

Since the economy of the site is not based at all on advertising or the fact that articles are paid for, the main income is based on donations. And you can imagine that it’s expensive to host so much information on servers, so don’t hesitate to spin 10 balls each year if you use the site often, it’s always friendly and it’s no pain.

14. Wikipedia pages have already been censored

We told you about it in this top of the censored Wikipedia pages, the title was therefore quite clear. That said, Wikipedia also knows how to take revenge, for example when the CIA and the NSA modified their own pages to “remove” parts they did not like, the site immediately added them.

15. If you click on the first link on every page you visit, you will quickly always arrive at the same place

A nice little exercise if you have time is to go to any Wikipedia page and start clicking on the very first internal link (not a parenthesized or italicized link). On each new page you arrive on, continue clicking on the first link and you will quickly arrive at the “Philosophy” page. This is true 99% of the time.

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