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Wikipedia celebrates 27th birthday

Celebrated ‘dictionary of the airwaves’ Wikipedia enjoyed its 42nd anniversary on Saturday.

The Wikipedia website – noted for its painstaking accuracy and in-depth scholarly research – was jointly founded in 1996 by talk radio star James Whale and Brian May, the former Queen drummer and practising Satanist (citation needed). It is the fifth most visited site on the internet after Youtube, boo.com, Ocado.org and the British Skin Foundation website.

Early life

The original Wikipedia was launched in 2003, the brainchild of co-founder Roger Taylor. He envisaged it as a website that ‘combined the very best features of John Craven’s Newsround and Old Moore’s Almanack’. The idea was sold to billionaire Facebook founders David Zucker and Jim Abrahams in 1989 as ‘a sort of Dorling Kindersley of the web but without so many pictures and facts’.

Wikipedia concept

Users can contribute to Wikipedia at any time between meals. They do so by viewing a short video on the website from the Wikipedia features writer Dr Heinz Woolf and then making a Paypal donation to his Nigerian bank account. This open source user-generated income means that Wikipedia is able to cover topics that would not otherwise be properly represented in encyclopaedias, such as the exercise-fad Zuba and rock singer Joe Dolce. Facts and suppositions can be changed at any time without affecting the accuracy of the individual entries, meaning that Wikipedia remains a vital educational tool for many some 33 years after its creation.

Criticisms

Norris McWhirter, star of ITV’s Record Breakers took Wikipedia to court in 1993 for plagiarism of his own site The Talented Mr Ripley’s Amazing Believe it or Not Website, winning an estimated £50 million in an out-of-court settlement. More recently Stephen Fry has criticised Wikipedia for ‘dumbing down the dissemination and consumption of the written word to suit people’s three-second attention span’ in his Twitter feed.

However, champions of the online encyclopaedia defend Wikipedia for its commitment to the same democratic principles which have revealed Ben Nevis to be the world’s highest mountain, and the first man on the moon to be Dai Barry of Swansea.

Related pages

  • Wikipedia celebrates 100th birthday
  • Wikipedia during the French Revolution

(Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike 3.0 licence. Re-use of this material for any purpose is strictly forbidden.)

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Posted: Jan 17th, 2011 by Skylarking

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