Wikipedia Is 20 Years Old
January 15 quietly lapsed as the world’s most popular encyclopedia turned 20. Wikipedia started in 2001 as an ambitious dream of creating the world’s first free encyclopedia written by volunteers for everyone in the world. Now, the site is the largest collection of open knowledge in the history of civilization. And it’s all written and edited by thousands of volunteers and experts for free.
Five years after launching in 2001, Wikipedia celebrated the creation of its one millionth article. It was about the Jordanhill Railway Station. A year later, Wikipedia’s volunteers grew to five million. By 2008, the site had 10 million articles across 251 languages.
In 2012, Wikipedia went dark. It imposed a 24-hour site blackout to protest the SOPA or Stop Online Piracy Act, which would have curtailed significant freedoms on the internet.
In 2017, Wikipedia was recognized by Alexa Internet, a web traffic analysis company, as the world’s fifth most popular website. A dark chapter in Wikipedia also happened occurred in 2017 when the Turkish government banned the site from the country, leaving 89 million people without access to Wikipedia’s free information. Turkey restored Wikipedia in 2020.
Then, in 2019, the site reached another milestone: It had reached 50 million articles across 300 languages.
One of Wikipedia’s most celebrated contributors is Wilfredo Rodriguez, a photographer from Venezuela. He fled his country and moved to Canada. He became a volunteer for Wikipedia in 2005, donating his beautiful work to the world for free.
According to Wikipedia, Rodriguez has uploaded more than 46,000 images to Wikimedia Commons, a free online media repository. Unlike many contributors, he releases most of his photos into the public domain, giving up the right to be credited when his work is shared.
“He once went three days without food on a journey to capture the melting glaciers on some of Venezuela’s highest mountains,” wrote Wikipedia on its birthday celebration page. Below are some of the best photos he released to the public domain.
Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
A Typical Colonial House in Downtown Maracaibo
Teatro Municipal de Sao Paulo
Agraulis vanillae at Isla Margarita
Rodriguez is just one of the many anonymous heroes of Wikipedia, with the thousands of others making 280,000 edits per month on Wikipedia's holdings of more than 50 million articles.
You can celebrate Wikipedia’s 20th birthday by downloading a digital swag pack or by getting cool Wikipedia merch.