wikipedia by numbers

A little while ago, I published a series of articles about Wikipedia, following a conference which took place last October in Amsterdam. Thanks to the open-site.org website, here is a little illustration of the prominence of the online encyclopaedia. Worthy of note is the fact that, after a long and passionate battle, encyclopaedia Britannica has eventually gone out of print. It is now restricted to its online version(s). All those extraordinary numbers exposed in this infographics should not force us to overlook some of the shortcomings embedded in the online Cyclopaedia, as explained and detailed in my article available at http://bit.ly/waleswm2

Via: Open-Site.org


Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales : “from Wikipedia to Wikia” – #istrategy (6 of 6)


On October 26, I attended the iStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.

To gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

what the future holds

The future trends for the foundation, according to its founder are twofold:

  1. on the one hand, it’s about expanding Wikipedia’s language capability and namely the most popular languages of India (in India there are over 20 different languages!”). In order to do that, keyboard issues will have to be overcome;  “this will be a challenge!” Jimmy Wales added,
  2. on the other hand, the future is also about a new project name Wikia. “If Wikipedia was the beginning, i.e. an encyclopaedia, wiki is much more ambitious platform; it is meant to be a library!” declared Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales.


Jimmy Wales gave us a few example of new projects developed from the platform, in order to give us a flavour of what the future holds:

Barcode_zeilenThe Guttenplag wiki (http://de.guttenplag.wikia.com) for instance, is a full-fledged critical report of the Ph.D. dissertation of Karl Theodor Freiherr (Earl) zu Guttenberg in which the authors of the collaborative project demonstrated that 371 pages of that dissertation (i.e. over 60% of the whole document) were actually copied from other sources. This led to the resignation of this gentleman as defence minister of the Federal Republic of Germany (for details refer to “Karl Theodor zu Gutenberg: “baron without a title” BBC.co.uk 18th of February 2011). Hundreds of people, not just journalists, took part in this project, Jimmy pointed out. In essence, one could comment that what this Wikia platform is bringing the power of wikis to the people.

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Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: the Wikimedia foundation #istrategy (5 of 6)

On October 26, I attended the iStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.

to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

the Wikimedia foundation

… is the mother company behind the online encyclopaedia. Its primary source of funding is its yearly donation campaigns. “Last year’s campaign was most successful“, Jimmy Wells emphasised. $19 million were donated online, out of the $28 million which make up the annual budget of the non-profit. Running servers and paying for the bandwidth supporting those millions of pages costs a mint of money, and $28 million is a handsome budget. The aim of the foundation is to be “independent, neutral and avoid the whitewashing of anything for anybody” Jimmy added.

Yet, how you ensure neutrality and fairness in the community in which not everyone is capable of editing the content (see part 4 in this series) is a much debatable issue.

Having said that, the foundation has 80 full-time employees working for it, and above 100,000 volunteers. “Do not expect our employee pays to grow to the 4,000 level within 10 years” Jimmy Wales said, this is not supposed to happen!


Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: “our contributors are computer geeks” #istrategy (4 of 6)

On October 26, I attended the iStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.

to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

user profile

The new generation doesn’t know what a regular encyclopaedia is Jimmy Wales went on: he gave us evidence of that when he shared a tweet with us in which a teacher (see above picture) was asking a student what and encyclopaedia was and the student responded: “is it some sort of Wikipedia?“. One may well surmise that Wikipedia has become the epitome of an encyclopaedia … for better or for worse.

Yet, don’t imagine that your average Wikipedia contributor is representative of the overall population: “87% of our contributors are made male ” Jimmy pointed out. “This is because the software is very geeky” he added.

The technical complexity of the code is “putting off other people who aren’t computer nerds” he added. But the Wikipedia team is working on a new improved WYSIWYG interface (thank God! I’m not exactly computer illiterate but editing Wikipedia for me is a real chore).

For the same reasons, contributors tend to be very young, the average age being 26. And the number of Ph.D. among them is double the average numbers of what they are among the overall population!


Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: all nationalities are culturally different – #istrategy (3 of 6)


On October 26, I attended the iStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.

to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

Pop Culture in Japan

Talking about usage, not all the world is using the popular online Cyclopaedia in the same way. Jimmy provided a very striking comparison (see above picture). The Japanese for instance, are very focused on pop culture which is according to Jimmy Wells, “a very important part of Japanese life”. I personally couldn’t imagine it could be any worse than in Britain and France but it is apparently…

Our German neighbours seem to be very much into geography Jimmy went on “a joke which could only be made in Holland” according to him, hinting at the darkest hours of Europe. The Spanish and French are the only nationalities in which they are not articles about sex he added; maybe a sign that “they are the only ones who are actually having it” he ventured, and they are far more interested in culture and the arts than the average too.

a world of differences

“it is difficult to draw any conclusions from this” he commented more seriously, but it defeats the idea that we have all become similar. On the contrary, it ‘”shows the great cultural differences between nationalities”. It is easy to explain and he gave us an example: “any Briton would be interested in reading facts about Nick Clegg” he said. Other nationalities wouldn’t even know what party he is from and why he is deputy Prime Minister.


Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: 20 million articles in 270 languages –#istrategy (2 of 6)

On October 26, I attended the IStrategy conference in Amsterdam. Here is part 2 of the account of Jimmy Wales’s presentation on Wikipedia and Wikia.

to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

[photo by YAG: Chinese restaurants using the Wikipedia brand to name weird dishes ]

20 million articles in 270 different languages

with 420 million visits per month, Wikipedia is a behemoth even though “English growth is slowing down” according to its co-founder. Yet, other languages are soaring, namely those of emerging countries. Kazakhstan for instance is a fast-growing contender, but nothing like Chinese (Wikipedia has now been allowed there even though pages like that on Tienanmen Square are still filtered according to ‘Jimbo’).

Censorship issues and usage in China

“Wikipedia doesn’t want any involvement with censorship” Jimmy Wales declared. Even though he has contacts with Chinese officials, he said he didn’t want to hear the complaints about the content being supposedly inadequate. “I’m still waiting to hear the complaints” he added. Yet, whether this is due to censorship or not, and despite the growth he described early on, and regardless of the Chinese habit to recycle the Wikipedia brand name in weird and hypothetical dishes (see photo above), “usage is still lagging behind” in the  Middle Kingdom.


Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales: What Wikipedia is really about – #istrategy (1 of 6)


On October 26, I attended the IStrategy conference which took place in Amsterdam. I was there to deliver a keynote on social media are ROI/ROE, but I must confess I also attended the conference in order to listen to Jimmy Wales who gave us an overview of his celebrated online encyclopaedia: Wikipedia. I was there in the front row, with my notebook in my lap. Here is the account of Jimmy Wales’s most impressive presentation, a good means of taking a bit of hindsight and LAN learning to know better a collaborative website which everyone uses but few have in-depth knowledge about.


to gather all the parts of this post together, just type: http://bit.ly/walesvm2!

[photo by YAG: Jimmy Wales on stage at iStrategy in Amsterdam on October 26]

who is using Wikipedia?

Was Jimmy Wales introductory question to the audience and not surprisingly, everyone raised their hands. “who has edited Wikipedia?” Was question number two and a couple of dozen delegates raised their hands this time, which shows that the audience was really upmarket. It also demonstrates a known fact, i.e. that only a fraction of users are content producers, and that most of them are content with the ability to look at others users’ entries.

no free beer

Wikipedia is “based on the concept of free software” Jimmy Wales went on. But free, in that instance, doesn’t mean that it’s free in “the free beer sense of the term” he added. What it really means, he explained, is that “everything that goes into Wikipedia can be reused and redistributed, repurposed for all kinds of things, namely the translation into a number of languages”.

what Wikipedia is … and isn’t about

Wikipedia is meant to be “the sum of all human knowledge”. A somewhat bombastic boast I would say, for there are instances in which, the online encyclopaedia is delivering false information; this should not be forgotten, even though – like me – one really dotes on the project, the crosschecking of information is a necessary and unavoidable process.

Regardless, what Jimmy Wales was hinting at was that the purpose of the online collaborative project is to collect information on Hamlet for instance, not to be a repository of everything regarding Hamlet, let alone to “keep a copy of Hamlet” he said. It’s about describing and debating Hamlet… and other subjects.

in comes Wikia

At the end of his introduction, Jimmy announced that the Wikimedia foundation (i.e. the non-profit organisation he is heading) has launched a new project which caters for those wanting to debate Hamlet, and other subject, on and on and on. This new project is called Wikia. But before we delve into this new venture, I remember that Jimmy Wales gave us an overview of Wikipedia and how it’s being used worldwide; this will be the subject of a few other posts on this blog… Stay tuned!


iStrategy digital conference in Amsterdam with Randi Zuckerberg and Jimmy Wales …

supercharge your digital strategy in Amsterdam on October 26

October 2011 is rather fretful. I keep telling my wife that I need to put down my suitcase and stay put but how could I when the world is buzzing with exciting events like the iStrategy global digital media conference which will take place in Amsterdam on October 25 and 26?!

At this conference, on October 26, I will be keynoting on social media ROI/ROE but I will keep this for a later post. today, I would like to focus on the program first. The array of speakers is truly amazing, the program is second to none, and here are some other highlights from that list of keynotes which you shouldn’t miss:

  • Randi Zuckerberg will open the session with a keynote on the future of online banking. Mr Z’s sister will namely deliver her top 10 tips to maximise your brand on… Facebook of course!,
  • Tim Callan from Melbourne IT (disclosure: I am a client) will deliver a pitch on the new GTLD program by ICANN. Don’t miss this, MIT are the world’s most revered experts in this domain (their Chief Strategy Officer is Dr Bruce Tonkin, one of the world’s leading experts in domain name strategy),
  • Last but not least, Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, will describe how collaboration is changing not just encyclopaedias, but the whole world. Mr Wales’s keynote is entitled: “the wiki world“.

There will be plenty more speakers, like Facebook’s Julien Codorniou and Laurent Delaporte from Microsoft. Stay tuned on this blog, I will soon give some details about my keynote on “social media ROI/ROE”.