At ten years old, Wikipedia sets its sights on India – Metro US

At ten years old, Wikipedia sets its sights on India

Just 10 years ago, people looking for background information walked to
a library and opened an encyclopedia. When Jimmy Wales launched
Wikipedia on January 15, 2001, that changed.

Today the free online
encyclopedia has 3,526,199 articles, written by 13,738,621
registered users. But you get what you pay for: Wikipedia’s articles
have gained a reputation as unreliable. In fact, Jimmy Wales tells
Metro, Wikipedia is as reliable as traditional encyclopedias. Now he
wants to expand in the developing world, starting with a Wikipedia
office in India. But, says Wales, he wishes more women and seniors
would write Wikipedia articles.

When is the last time you used an encyclopedia?

Quite some time. Several years, I think.

And the last time you visited a library?
Fairly recently, two months
ago or so. I read a lot of books with my daughter. She’s 10 years old,
just like Wikipedia.

Has Wikipedia made the world wiser?
I think so. At least it has increased the information available to people.

And perhaps lazier, too, as we expect to find information right

No. People have more access to information, and they do access it.
Remember how people used to say “I’ll look it up in the library,” but in
the end they never went to the library?

If you were a newspaper editor, would you want your reporters to use
Wikipedia as a source?
Wikipedia is fine as a starting point, but you
should use it just like any other encyclopedia: as a starting point
from which to build your story. If you’re just using Wikipedia as your
source, you’re not doing your job properly.

How reliable is Wikipedia’s content?
According to scientific research, Wikipedia is as reliable as traditional encyclopedias.

What do you use Wikipedia for?
I use it just like everyone else. When I
read about something, I go to Wikipedia to find out more about it. And
I edit, too. I just edited an entry on the 12th Duke of Devonshire.

You’ve said that you want to simplify Wikipedia to allow non-geeks to
edit it, too.
Are there too few regular people among your

We’d love to see more women, older people, and speakers of
languages in the developing world, like Hindi. Hindi is the biggest
language in India, and is spoken by 280 million people, but there are
only 50,000 Wikipedia entries in Hindi.

Many people in developing countries don’t even have computers. How are
you going to increase the number of Wikipedia entries in such

That’s true, but we’re optimistic. According to estimates,
several hundred million people in developing countries will be online
within the next several years.

How will Wikipedia develop in the next several years?
Right now we’re
focusing on India. We’re opening our first office outside the U.S. there
because we have a very active community there and see an opportunity to
grow fast. In Africa, we’re so far behind that we don’t even know where
to start.

How many people write and edit articles on Wikipedia in different
It’s obviously different for each language, but in general a
language that has approximately 50,000 entries has several dozen
regular contributors.

Every time I go to Wikipedia, there’s a photo of you asking for a
donation. How much does it cost to run Wikipedia?

Our budget for next
year is $20.1 million. We just completed our fundraising drive. We met
our goal, $16 million.

How many people donate to keep the website running?

Over 500,000 people donated in this year’s fundraising drive.

You once compared yourself to the monarch in a constitutional monarchy.
How exactly are you like Queen Elizabeth?

I’m trying to get a more
ceremonial role and not be so involved in the day-to-day work of
running Wikipedia.