Back when Wikipedia first launched (formally) on January 15, 2001, it grew faster than anyone even imagined. By the end of the first year, people around the world had contributed to over 20,000 articles that were written in 18 different languages. Both the number of articles and the number of languages were impressive. By the end of 2003, just two years after Wikipedia first launched, there were articles written in over 46 different languages. Now we’ve gotten to 2008 and in all, there are articles written in over 255 different languages. More impressive is that they just hit 10 million articles Worldwide!
The Wikimedia Foundation says that this is a “Significant new milestone” for them, and it is. The lucky 10 millionth article was posted on the Hungarian Wikipedia site (here’s the English version) and it was about Nicholas Hiliard who is a 16th century English goldsmith and painter. The amount of human knowledge out there is amazing which is why Wikipedia has turned into such a great resource.
While there are over 255 different languages, many of the languages aren’t represented very well quite yet which means that there is a lot of room for growth. It’s very easy to tell the top 10 languages represented on Wikipedia because they’re shown on the Wikipedia logo. As shown below, you can see that the language with the most articles is English followed by German, French, Polish, Japanese, Italian, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish. If you look at the image below, you’ll see roughly how many articles have been written in those languages.
In their press release, the Wikimedia Foundation also pointed out some interesting information regarding the accuracy of the collaborative encyclopedia. They say:
In December 2007, the German magazine Stern announced in an independent study of 50 articles that the German Wikipedia was more accurate, complete and up-to-date than the longstanding print encyclopedia Brockhaus. In April 2007, a study conducted by the Hewlett Packard Information Dynamics Laboratory found that the best articles on the English Wikipedia are those that have been edited the most frequently, by the largest number of people. It concluded that the correlation between article quality and the number of edits validates Wikipedia as a successful collaborative effort.
Similar studies around the world continue to point to the increasing accuracy and quality of Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that is written, edited and maintained by a global community of thousands of volunteers.
Any guesses on when they’ll hit their 20 millionth article?