Like all great things on the World Wide Web, Wikipedia too had humble origins. It was spurred by founder Jimmy Wales' (right) idealistic notion of "a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge".
And this was to be achieved by a worldwide web of volunteers, working for free and without any personal recognition. Literally anyone could contribute articles and edit articles written by others.
It was a recipe for disaster. Funny thing is, it didn't turn out that way. What we have today is in fact a rather accurate and extremely useful free encyclopaedia that's growing by the day.
To help celebrate its 10th year, which is quite a milestone for any dotcom, here are 10 interesting things about Wikipedia.
1. Wikipedia's very first posting
'Hello world. Humor me. Go there and add a little article. It will take all of five or ten minutes.' Those were the first words posted to Wikipedia by its founder. Little did he know - or did anyone expect - that Wikipedia would end up being what it is today. It is in many ways a triumph of the human spirit to share knowledge and to be responsible in doing so.
2. The name Wikipedia chose has Hawaiian roots
Wikis were devised by a guy named Ward Cunningham in 1994. He came up with the name after noticing a shuttle bus at Honolulu International Airport called the Wiki Wiki (quick, quick) Shuttle. Nowadays wiki has evolved to mean 'a web application that allows anyone visiting a website to edit content on it'.
3. It's the fifth most visited website in the world
Wikipedia gets roughly 400 million readers a month and is the fifth most-visited website in the world. The foundation aims to have 680 million users by 2015, and expects that most of that growth will be in places such as Brazil, India and the Middle East.
4. It now has 17 million articles and growing
There are many different language version of Wikipedia. In total there are some 17 million articles in Wikipedia of which about 3.5 million are in English alone. About 1,000 English-language articles are added every day.
5. There are 262 versions of Wikipedia.
Altogether there are 262 language versions of the website. These are not translations of the English version but independent versions created by those who speak the language. The English, German and French versionshave the most articles. About 32 languages have collections of over 100,000 pages.
6. It's been edited over a billion times
To date there have been more than 1 billion edits on Wikipedia, and of courses that's growing all the time. It should be noted that, although most entries are available for anyone to edit, some are restricted. These are usually for current events that are still unfolding to prevent misinformation, and also for highly contentious entries.
7. The most unusual accolade Wikipedia received was from Time magazine
In 2006 the users of Wikipedia who edited the site were named collectively as Time Magazine's 'Person of the Year'.
8. Wikipedia servers are hosted in the US for security reasons
The main reason its servers are in the US is to ensure there is no censorship. America has very strong free speech laws and Wikipedia didn't want to be subjected to potential censorship if its servers are placed elsewhere. It's worth mentioning that the similarly named WikiLeaks is not related to Wikipedia. In fact, WikiLeaks is technically not even a 'wiki'.
9. Google is a good friend of Wikipedia
Google has made a donation of US$2 million to Wikipedia and many of Wikipedia's users are referred there by Google. In fact about 50 percent of Wikipedia's traffic comes from Google.
10. Wikipedia is a non-profit by choice
Wikipedia makes no profit off its popularity, not because of an inability to do so but because it was set up as a non-profit organisation. It has about 57 paid employees. Revenue for operations is obtained purely through donations. Its founder has recently stepped into the spotlight more often, even appearing on every page of Wikipedia in a plea for donations.