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English Wikipedia Gets Two Millionth Article 125

Posted by kdawson
from the tracking-the-milestone dept.
reybrujo writes to inform us of a milestone for the English-language Wikipedia: the posting of its two millionth article. At the time of this posting there is uncertainty over which article achieved the milestone. "Initial reports stated that the two millionth article written was El Hormiguero, which covers a Spanish TV comedy show. Later review of this information found that this article was most likely not two million, and instead a revised list of articles created around two million has been generated, and is believed to be correct to within 3 articles. The Wikimedia foundation, which operates the site, is expected to make an announcement with a final decision, which may require review of the official servers' logs."
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English Wikipedia Gets Two Millionth Article

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  • by adatepej (1154117) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:09AM (#20536883)
    There's a reason for only counting pages above a certain size as "articles": a heading and a sentence do not maketh a proper wikipedia article.
  • by El Lobo (994537) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:14AM (#20536907)
    And why, oh why, is it always so important to know exactly which articles was Nr X, which poster was the first one, which was the first child born in the new millenium, how many times did Al pacino say "fuck" on Scarface and so on?...

    Do we have so few problems that we have the need to statistically know EVERYTHING? Does that matter (other than to inflate the vanity of a few?).

  • by opusman (33143) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:22AM (#20536953) Homepage
    It would be interesting to know how many "real" articles there are. That is, if you took out the individual articles for all the fictional sci-fi characters that wikipedia seems to excel at, all the articles for individual episodes of Star Trek and Dr Who, basically all the meaningless cruft that nerds deem important - then, count how many articles there are. Far, FAR less than 2 million, I would expect.
  • by Da Fokka (94074) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:26AM (#20536979) Homepage
    You can't quote a microwave in a college paper either, but it's certainly useful.

    But seriously, Not every source has to be academical to be of use. For many subjects, wikipedia is an excellent starting point. You might want to take lemmata on controversial subjects like Palestine and the Evolution with a grain of salt, but for many a subject the articles on wikipedia are of excellent quality.
  • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:31AM (#20537027)
    You have two exclusive statements...one which makes sense, the other which doesn't.

    Who cares? I mean honestly, who does?

    In the long run, this is quite a minor historical marker. We're going to see article 5 million and MAYBE that will matter a little more. Maybe.

    You can't even quote Wikipedia on a college paper, so why should anyone be using it

    Correct - it's rather dumb to use it on a college paper (like using a regular paper encyclopedia); however, Wikipedia is the fastest starting point and is a good medium on not only specific information on subjects and sources, but also on the opinions of people with education, expertise, and bias on their subjects. If you dig into some controversial topics' histories, there is actually some VERY good information to wade through and find sources on. The end result is not perfect, the system IS flawed, but the information that you can glean from digging and researching STARTING at Wikipedia is quite useful.

    Plus, the specialized wikis that are popping up that are using wiki-style management for their small wikis (where REAL experts can actually post) may be the bigger genius behind wikipedia).

    If your complaint about wikipedia is that the final articles are flawed, you're right...but look at the process behind some of those articles and the histories. Dig into that, and you find what you need.
  • by jollyreaper (513215) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:38AM (#20537069)

    It would be interesting to know how many "real" articles there are. That is, if you took out the individual articles for all the fictional sci-fi characters that wikipedia seems to excel at, all the articles for individual episodes of Star Trek and Dr Who, basically all the meaningless cruft that nerds deem important - then, count how many articles there are. Far, FAR less than 2 million, I would expect.
    I would agree that there's no place for that sort of thing in a paper encyclopedia, there's just not enough room. If you want geek stuff, you have to buy those books separately. But wiki has no practical limitation, it can grow to be however big it needs to. So long as the information is well-written, what does it matter? The important matter is indexing the information. Without a good index, I could certainly see your point, the practical information could be lost amongst the impractical. But wiki has a good manual index and google automatically indexes the shit out of the site. So what's the rub?
  • by dbolger (161340) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:41AM (#20537097) Homepage
    You are being a bit closed minded there. What gives you the right to determine what is "real" or "important"? I'm not saying I entirely disagree with your view on the value of such things, but your argument could really be turned on its head for any point of view. Replace the Slashdot POV with Entertainment Weekly and we get something that is just as valid as your argument:

    'It would be interesting to know how many "real" articles there are. That is, if you took out the individual articles for all the boring scientific rubbish that wikipedia seems to excel at, all the articles for individual chemicals or compounds, basically all the meaningless cruft that nerds deem important'

    I wouldn't deny a peroxide addled nitwit their juicy celebrity gossip any more than I would deny a geek his in-depth biography of Wolverine, or a nerd his scientific definitions. Just because it is unimportant to you or I does not mean that it is without merit to somebody.
  • by opusman (33143) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:54AM (#20537195) Homepage
    The rub is that Wikipedia presents itself as a "real" encyclopedia, when it clearly isn't. If they didn't make such an issue out of the whole "notability" thing it wouldn't be so bad - as it is, it really looks like hypocrisy. I've got nothing against having all those articles up there - I've read a few of them myself. But wikipedia is presented to the world as a real encyclopedia, with high standards to match (e.g. the "accuracy competition" with Britannica) - and yet the vast majority of its material does not relate to anything real or important by any stretch of the (non-geek) imagination. When 50% of Britannica is composed of biographies of Captain Janeway and Buffy Summers then Wikipedia will be able to count itself as a real encylopedia, but not before.

    (Just my own opinion of course, feel free to disagree)
  • by tucuxi (1146347) on Monday September 10, 2007 @08:56AM (#20537217)

    Because they draw people to try to reflect their points of view; and when you read the article (say, abortion [wikipedia.org] or evolution [wikipedia.org] or software patents [wikipedia.org]) you can gain a quick overview on almost any significant point of view on the subject, and how they relate to each other. Yes, individual viewpoints may not be perfectly reflected. But you *do* gain an incredibly broad view, which no traditional encyclopedia can deliver.

    Wikipedia is much more likely to be useful on a controversial subject where people feel inclined to participate (and correct or refactor partisan views) than in non-controversial subjects that doesn't scratch anybody's itches. You need to cross a certain threshold in order to contribute to an article. Articles that aren't important to you you simply will not edit. Articles that are edited by many may not gain "quality", but will become very broad, and better starting points for further research than those that are only edited by a few not-that-motivated users.

  • by KiloByte (825081) on Monday September 10, 2007 @09:23AM (#20537449)

    That depends on the encoding - either 72 characters in ASCII or UTF-8 or 36 characters if they go for the more multi-lingual friendly UTF-16.
    UTF-16 more multi-lingual friendly than UTF-8? Er... it has many disadvantages and not a single benefit over UTF-8.

    For example, UTF-16 needs a lot of porting effort, while UTF-8 magically works in all 8-bit-clean programs that don't need to count codepoints or tell character properties (and hey, bytes happen to _be_ 8-bit wide so unless you do something strange, you are 8-bit-clean). Most English-speaking developers won't put this effort, so here goes your multi-lingual friendliness.

    Or another, more insidious flaw of UTF-16: it gives people a false feeling that they can store an entire character in a single array position. This works... as long as you don't meet any character over U+FFFF (rare Han[1], etc) or characters which need to be written using a base char + combining characters (Indic scripts, etc). UTF-8 makes no such promises, and thus doesn't lead to such non-obvious bugs.

    UTF-16 is an abomination that needs to go. Unfortunately, it's entrenched in Windows API: you need to use BlueScreenW() instead of BlueScreenA() everywhere, and this is something people who don't need internationalization don't want to do. Even as of Vista, Microsoft still doesn't allow simply setting the system's code page to UTF-8, something which the whole Unix world[2] did years ago.

    [1]. And according to People's Murderous Commiepublic of China's laws, you need to support these (as GB18030) in any product sold in mainland China. Of course, they don't give a damn about that law unless they want to demand a favour from a company so they have a yet another stick of non-compliance).

    [2]. All non-toy distros do this by default, and if not for few whiners, non-UTF8 locales would probably be dropped by now.

  • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Monday September 10, 2007 @09:35AM (#20537581) Homepage

    It seems to me (and apparently the GP as well) that you're criticizing Wikipedia for not having the same limitations as a paper encylopedia. Who cares what proportion of the articles fall into some niche category, as long as one can still easily find all the information one is looking for? The simple fact that a physical encyclopedia has limited storage space and thus cannot contain in-depth articles on every little special-interest detail does not appear to me to somehow constitute an advantage for physical encyclopedias.

    Or were you perhaps simply protesting the direct comparison of article counts between Wikipedia and Britannica? That I could understand, since the comparison could hardly be fair. Their requirements are simply too different for any direct quantitative comparison to be meaningful.

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:08PM (#20540087)
    I know a few retired rocket scientists. I'd love it if their unique knowledge didn't go to the grave with them. I'd rather be able to look up the definition of a "yardley" as a unit of pressure than a list of characters from Harry Potter. Unfortunately, wikipedia doesn't seem to be interested in anything that's "from personal knowledge or experience" these days. [wikipedia.org]

    If wikipedia is only going to allowed references to things already published elsewhere, and all written culture is inevitably moving online, how will wikipedia differentiate from Google? I mean, if there's no unique information in wikipedia, there's very little unique value in it. It's just a really labor-intensive presentation layer at that point, isn't it?
  • by carpe_noctem (457178) on Monday September 10, 2007 @12:28PM (#20540341) Homepage Journal
    Whoever said anything about quoting wikipedia itself? I would say it is of far greater use for research papers in that you can get a good overview of a subject, and then use the citations of said article to find other, lengthier papers more suitable for academia.

    Wikipedia is a research tool, not the swiss army knife of research.

"The geeks shall inherit the earth." -- Karl Lehenbauer

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