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The Media The Internet

Wikipedia Reaches 200,000 Articles 405

CanadaDave writes "The Wikipedia.org project to create a 'complete and accurate free content encyclopedia' has just surpassed 200,000 articles, an increase from 100,000 just 1 year ago. Join in on the celebrations. Some work has been done on predicting Wikipedia's growth and others are already planning for the 500,000 articles over all languages press release. In related news, the project has recently received $20,000 worth of Linux server equipment (9 machines) in hopes to improve performance of the site, which has been prone to downtime over the past year. The servers are being tested right now and will be up and running soon. The purchase was made possible by the many donations the Wikimedia project received in 2003."
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Wikipedia Reaches 200,000 Articles

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:40PM (#8162360) Homepage Journal

    *** I N V O I C E ***

    To: Wikipedia.org

    Qty _ _ Item _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ Price _ SubTotal

    9 _ _ _ Linux Server Licenses _ $699.00 _ $6291.00

    Payable upon receipt.

    Thank you for doing business with SCO, we appreciate your
    continued support.
  • Is this encyclopedia incomplete? I don't see a picture of cowboy neal under "handsome".
  • by DrEldarion ( 114072 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:43PM (#8162411)
    which has been prone to downtime over the past year.

    So we have:

    Servers that are prone to downtime.
    New servers not running yet.
    Linked to on Slashdot

    I don't see this turning out well.
  • Hmm.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoeLinux ( 20366 ) <joelinux@gmail.cSTRAWom minus berry> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8162445) Homepage
    What I have never understood is why some troll doesn't go to it and ruin everything? What prevents that?

    I mean, I don't want to look up the War of 1812 and fine, "d00d, j00 b33n 0wnz3r3d". That would kinda suck.

    Can anyone answer this?
    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by dysprosia ( 661648 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:48PM (#8162483)
      With a thousand eyes, all bugs/errors/vandalism/junk is shallow... There's always someone watching out for junk. There's a Recent Changes page which shows all edits made, so one can monitor from there.
      • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Pakaran2 ( 138209 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rennurdniw>> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:01PM (#8162677)
        Yep... I'd say at any given time there's 5-6 people looking out for vandalism. Also, people who do it regularly tend to get temporarily blocked from editing; this happens dozens of times a day, actually. Unlike slashdot, because anyone can edit anything, the junk seems to get cleaned up quite quickly.

        I know that you know this, but I'm just clarifying for the benefit of the slashdot community...
    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by General Wesc ( 59919 ) <slashdot@wescnet.cjb.net> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:50PM (#8162500) Homepage Journal
      They do. All the time. Then, within a couple seconds, a non-troll reverts it. Check the edit history of the Hitler article some time. :-)
    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:4, Informative)

      by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:51PM (#8162524) Journal

      It does happen [wikipedia.org] but it's dealt with ably!

      They're good people, the Keepers of the Wikipedia.

    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      They've got a system in place to counter that very thing. The database keeps all previous versions of an article, so if someone deletes an article, anyone can replace it with a previous (legitimate) version.
    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      What I have never understood is why some troll doesn't go to it and ruin everything? What prevents that?

      They can't reach wikipedia, because they are all sticking in the honeypot [slashdot.org]. Thank you slashdot, for enabling the internet to operate.
    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by glop ( 181086 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:52PM (#8162547)
      There are a few things that reduce the trolling.
      First, trolling on Wikipedia is no fun since the system allows it. There is no sport, no hacking. It just seems stupid.
      Second, many people can see the troll and all of them are allowed to correct it by restoring a former version of the post. So anybody can fight the troll.
      Finally, the administrators of wikipedia can lock some pages and forbid edition by trolls (by blocking their IP address).

      As you can see, Wikipedia is not defenseless !

    • The main thing that prevents vandalizm is that some people continually watch the "Recent Changes" page for vandalism, and others will put certain articles on their "Watchlist." Whenever things change, people are watching. Additionally, complete page histories are kept on the server, so pages can be reverted to good edits very easily.

      There are some problems. Some edits can escape notice and get lost, although the page history can allow people to go back and review the changes.
      • (cur) (last) . . M 21:08, 2 Feb 2004 . . Cyp (Reverted edit of 12.45.103.30, changed back to last version by Derek Ross)
      • (cur) (last) . . 21:06, 2 Feb 2004 . . 12.45.103.30
      • (cur) (last) . . 06:44, 6 Jan 2004 . . Derek Ross (copyedit)

      A rather easy example. It took all of two minutes before someone de-trolled that page. Or you could revert it yourself, if you happened to run into it during those two minutes. Basicly, there's no fun in trolling there. Unlike on Slashdot, where I've seen trolls ranking at +5..

    • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by misterpies ( 632880 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:39PM (#8163132)

      The problem with Wikipedia is not trolling. It's people who don't know as much as they think they do correcting other people's arguments. It's the majority view winning out over the correct one.

      Don't get me wrong - I love wikipedia,it's fun to read and fun to contribute to. But never, ever confuse it being a reliable source, since by its nature it reflects the majority belief. Open sourcing code is one thing: if it works, it works. Open sourcing knowledge is riskier: it's not hard to imagine a world where most wikipedia users were creationists. Would you trust the evolution article then?
      • Re:Hmm.. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Pakaran2 ( 138209 )
        Well, the whole point of Wikipedia is that it's written from a neutral point of view. Actually, one of the administrators is a follower of Reverend Moon's Unification Church - but he doesn't write articles biased in their favor.

        I happen to believe in evolution, and to be pro-choice. I don't let that influence my writing, or if I do, I attribute it ("Some people believe that abortion is acceptable in these circumstances because...").
      • Re:Hmm.. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Metasquares ( 555685 ) <slashdot@metas q u a r ed.com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @05:13PM (#8163475) Homepage
        Theoretically, that's against the Wikipedia etiquette and isn't done too often. However, as I've just recently seen firsthand, most people avoid arguing with the majority view on Wikipedia in practice, even if the majority is wrong. Generally, when this happens, you end up with an edit war between those who are right and those who think they are right.
  • by SummerMan ( 745955 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8162446)
    As the digitization of our encyclopedias continues, millions of unemployed encyclopedia salespeople lament their poor career choice.
  • open and accurate? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by oskillator ( 670034 )
    Considering that a Wiki is modifiable by anyone, I don't see how they can advertise that the Wikipedia is accurate with any degree of confidence.
    • by daeley ( 126313 ) * on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:48PM (#8162482) Homepage
      "Modifiable by anyone" does not mean there are no checks and balances. RTFFAQ [wikipedia.org]
    • So, let me get this straight. You would rather have 1 entity responsible for having the integrity to maintain truth and acuracy, than have an unlimited amount of resources maintaining that truth? Relying on the morals and ethics of one Truth Bearer sounds pretty primitive.

      • I don't think that the point is to believe in one and only one truth. I for one believe that having a smaller group (enough to be able to check on one another) transcribing the facts and verifying them is a good idea. Someone needs to have a money driven (therefore, entailing a certain level of responsibility) motive to keep things accurate and authoritative.

        I do however find wikipedia to be important, in that we have a non authoratative tool to inspire people to learn about new things.
  • Great news (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8162453) Journal
    That is such a good website, gets more informative every day. It's amazing how quickly it has become a useful source of info. I'd like to see them get their search engine fixed, but the google thing that they're using in the meantime works just fine.

    When I first came across wikis I thought that they'd be prone to vandalism, but it seems to work well. Anybody know why this is? Does all the good info get backed up? Are there full-time people who patrol it for trolls?
    • Re:Great news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tuzanor ( 125152 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:54PM (#8162576) Homepage
      It's essentially a CVS (or some diff implementation) so changes can be reverted easily. So far the biggest problem hasn't been trolling, but keeping the content (especially political stuff) as neutral as possible.

      Overall it's been very good, though!

    • Re:Great news (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jon Chatow ( 25684 ) * <slashdot@jdforrester.org> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:55PM (#8162592) Homepage
      Yeah, we try to keep an eye on what changes are made; of course, there are several thousand edits a day (and getting slashdotted doesn't help ;-)), so we don't catch /every/ one immediately, but it's rare to find an uncaught troll posting.
    • Re:Great news (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MachDelta ( 704883 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:56PM (#8162610)
      Yeah, everything is backed up. If a troll goes in and screws up a page, all it takes is one person to click "revert", and its fixed again. The effort it takes to ruin a page is actually greater than that it takes to restore it. Not to mention that trolls are outnumbered like a million to one. Its really just not worth someones time to bother mucking with Wikipedia. One person, or even a group of people, simply can't weild the same power as the collective whole does. So its not very appealing to trolls. Their "work" will be erased within minutes and viewed by almost no one. No point for them, especially when there are much easier places to peddle their smut.

    • > That is such a good website, gets more informative every day. It's amazing how quickly it has become a useful source of info.

      Yeah, I've started thinking about hacking Galeon to put a Wikipedia search box on the toolbar with the Google, dictionary, and other lookup stuff.

      > Are there full-time people who patrol it for trolls?

      No, but it's the "many eyes" thing. You can see in the histories that lots of vandalism gets fixed really fast.

    • When I first came across wikis I thought that they'd be prone to vandalism, but it seems to work well. Anybody know why this is? Does all the good info get backed up? Are there full-time people who patrol it for trolls?
      Well, there isn't much incentive to deface a wiki. It's not like it's challenging, really - and the first person to see it will most probably fix it.

      Another application of "many eyes make all bugs shallow" :)

  • by gid13 ( 620803 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8162456)
    While I love the spirit of openness for both source and encyclopedia knowledge, there are a couple of things that I've been wondering about here.

    1. Will scholarly publications view this as a valid source of accurate information?

    2. Once people realize there's a free encyclopedia out there that rivals expensive ones (I don't know Wikipedia well enough to know whether it lags, rivals, or surpasses, but I suspect that if it isn't already, it's only a matter of time until it's a serious contender), will they abandon the paid ones? If so, it'll be interesting to see the effects of abandoning our existing knowledge infrastructure.
    • by General Wesc ( 59919 ) <slashdot@wescnet.cjb.net> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:53PM (#8162559) Homepage Journal
      The "Fuck" article was once cited in a court document in the US. (Reference [thesmokinggun.com])
      • Wow, that's hilarious AND informative. You deserve mods-a-plenty. I agree with the Smoking Gun people, i.e. I especially like the table that compares the number of Google hits for fuck versus those for mom, apple pie, and other "normal" terms.

        Still though, from reading the link, the lawyer that prepared that never argued in front of a judge, so it remains debatable whether the reference would have been considered credible.
    • I think your two points may answer each other as far as the revenue sources for the expensive rival encyclopedias (with greater informational integrity) are largely academic institutions (I'm assuming).
    • Good point. You could say that knowledge is about to get a whole lot cheaper and thus a lot more widespread. It wasn't so long ago that you'd have to go to the library to see a decent encyclopedia. Now you just punch in www.wikipedia.org and you're in business.

      Of course you could say that about the internet in general, but there's something fascinatingly concise about wikipedia. The collective seems to be a lot better at modifying and adding info, then trimming out the superfluous stuff so that the la

    • by k98sven ( 324383 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:06PM (#8162744) Journal
      Will scholarly publications view this as a valid source of accurate information?

      I think that's a bit irrelevant, actually.

      Academic publications are all about source-criticism, nothing is (supposed to be) accepted offhand just because it comes from a 'reliable' source. It's what is said that is to be taken into account, not who said it.

      Apart from that, encyclopedias and Wikipedia are really about 'general knowledge'. And 'general knowledge' is by definition stuff which isn't in dispute.

      And if the information isn't in dispute, there is no reason to question the source, whatever it may be. (and the academic practice is not to give sources for such information, either)
    • "If so, it'll be interesting to see the effects of abandoning our existing knowledge infrastructure."

      I bet the effects will be something like large corporations exerting their financial power to pass legislature to copyright historical and factual information.

      <sarcasm>But that's just a guess, I'm sure there's no precedence to show this is plausible</sarcasm>
    • by Mike Hicks ( 244 ) * <hick0088@tc.umn.edu> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:09PM (#8162784) Homepage Journal
      I don't think Wikipedia can really be a top-tier scholarly resource. It's a bit more like a quick reference, with many facts that would have to be re-verified if anyone wanted to use them. Most articles are highly accurate (if a bit thin on the details), and there are discussions on the article "Talk" pages whenever disputes arise.

      My only real concern is that people will forget that some bits of Wikipedia can be inaccurate, leading to feedback loops of information. Something might get posted in a Wikipedia article and then get used by a historian or researcher who should know better, and then that validation could lead people to believe the information to be entirely true. We'll have to see how that plays out.

      I've heard that Wikipedia is already getting more hits than many online references, and the site has many more articles than most other places. Of course, many of the articles are one-liners, or mere demographic information for tiny towns in the middle of Kansas. I recently saw someone mention that Encyclopdia Britannica has 750,000 items in its index (they have less than 100,000 articles), so Wikipedia getting that many articles would be a good next step.
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:17PM (#8162871)
      I'm less concerned about the abandoning of infrastructure as I am about the abandoning of the knowledge itself.

      The fate of the mp3.com archive serves as an interesting cautionary tale for the 21st century.

      What happens if Britannica ceases publication but subsequently goes under and deletes the archives? Even if the essential knowledge remains elsewhere I might point out that the Britannica represents an amazing work of literature as well.

      Anything on the web that isn't mirrored to hell and gone with full legal rights to distribute has to be considered volatile. Extrememly volatile.

      KFG
    • By the time a scholar checked a Wikipedia citation, it might have changed from the time another scholar cited it. You'd need some way to specify and retrieve a particular version of an article.

      Academics might also object to citing works by anonymous contributors.
    • >>2. Once people realize there's a free encyclopedia out there that rivals expensive ones (I don't know Wikipedia well enough to know whether it lags, rivals, or surpasses, but I suspect that if it isn't already, it's only a matter of time until it's a serious contender), will they abandon the paid ones? If so, it'll be interesting to see the effects of abandoning our existing knowledge infrastructure.

      In my experience, a lot of what's on wikipedia is copied out of other encyclopedias and reference so
    • Scholarly publications do not view any encyclopedia as a valid source of accurate information.

      Traditional print encyclopedias do not cite their sources adequately, and are not peer-reviewed.
  • by rosewood ( 99925 ) <rosewood&chat,ru> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:46PM (#8162457) Homepage Journal
    I just started using wikipedia after seeing the wikipedia needs help article on slashdot.

    It is a very handy resource for grabbing good information on almost anything quickly. I use it in conjunction with everything2 when I try to find quick bits of information on a subject.

    So, since Ive never really dorked around with wikipedia, what makes it so great? What are some cool things that everyone should know about it?
  • I have to admit I've only browsed Wikipedia a few times but the open nature of it seems like it would be rife with abuse. From what I understand there is moderation in place but how long before something like Wikipedia succombs to the trolls and such.
  • Getting the word out
    Ok, question - has anyone outside of wikipedia actually noticed? I added a couple geek friendly Featured articles to the main page in anticipation of a slashdotting (for the record, my submission was shot down in 2 minutes flat). Raul654 08:04, Feb 2, 2004 (UTC)

    Please don't - that would kill the second hand server that we are now using. Things are slow enough as it is. We should concentrate on the project-wide 500,000 press release instead. By the time we hit that milestone, the new ser
  • Toast (Score:4, Funny)

    by pizza_milkshake ( 580452 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:50PM (#8162516)
    wikipedia is toast atm. as a service to other readers, here is the first of many posts reproducing the currently unavailable content:

    Aardvark
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
    Aardvark
    Scientific classification
    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Tubulidentata
    Family: Orycteropodidae
    Genus: Orycteropus
    Species: afer
    Binomial name
    Orycteropus afer
    The aardvark (Orycteropus afer) is a medium-sized mammal native to Africa. The name comes from the Dutch for "earth pig", because early settlers from Europe thought it resembled a pig (although aardvarks are not closely related to pigs).

    The aardvark is the only surviving member of the family Orycteropodidae and of the order Tubulidentata. The aardvark was originally placed in the same genus as the South American anteaters because of superficial similarities which, it is now known, are the result of convergent evolution, not common ancestry. (For the same reason, aardvarks bear a striking first-glance resemblance to the marsupial bilbies and bandicoots of Australasia, which are not placental mammals at all.)

    ...

    yes, it's a joke.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:51PM (#8162522)
    The great thing about Wikipedia is that anyone can add, remove, or modify the content. This coupled with the fact that most people take information as fact without properly double checking can lead to some fun times.

    For instance, in a taxonomy class I recently took, each person in the class had to write a report on the mallard duck. Well, just as a little social exercise, I decided to replace the content on the mallard duck Wiki page with that the content on the rat page.

    When the reports were through being graded, the instructor gave us a rundown on the class performance. I just barely kept myself from bursting out in laughter as the instructor described his astonishment as he read a report that labeled the mallard as "a rodent commonly found dwelling in sewers and other vile areas."

    God, that was funny!
  • Some work has been done on predicting Wikipedia's growth and others are already planning for the 500,000 article press release.


    Well, actually this is not something far in the future. Just try to add up all the article numbers from all the international wikipedia sisters. In 10 days (ETA), we [wikipedia.org] will be celebrating our 50K-article count.

    500K-worldwide is very close
  • Depth disparity (Score:3, Insightful)

    by F. Mephit ( 720161 ) <fmephit@NospAM.twowhitestripes.com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:53PM (#8162561) Homepage
    If the section on Biochemistry were as in-depth as its section on Star Trek, that thing would be invaluable indeed. But since it isn't, I'm now forced by curiosity to spend my lunch hours jumping from 7 of 9 to the battle of Kittimur instead of finding the proper axes of a Michaelis-Menton plot..
  • I don't know the whole server story, but as far as I know, Wikipedia's current server farm is at least a generation older than it should be. My understanding is that new servers were put in place a few months ago, but they had severe hardware troubles. The site was pushed back onto older servers for the time being, and money was raised to buy the new server farm mentioned in this article.

    The site's current servers have been slow on a regular basis for the last month. They were pretty much slashdotted ev
  • Ah, wikipedia. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordK3nn3th ( 715352 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:56PM (#8162606)
    Wikipedia is a very good idea, however, recently I've come across some problems.

    1) Edit wars: militant people will continue to insert bias and lies in some topics, and it is very hard to stop them. The system moves very slowly. I've had to deal with scientific skepticism, dealing with rather ill-informed people who think skeptics are out to destroy science.

    2) The community politics: I questioned an admin's use of a personal photograph in his profile (professional photographs usually are copyrighted under the photographer, not the client), and I was threatened with being banned, accused of trolling (I was earlier warned not to call people a troll by the very same admin!), and personally attacked in chat, when I was following wikipedia policy to a T.

    I think administration does need a little more bite when dealing with the problem users who insert bias into topics. Users like "Mr-Natural-Health" should be gagged on certain topics, at the very least.

    Oh, and a litle more information: The first time wikipedia hit 200,000, I believe, was due to many stub articles suddenly appearing. I wonder why :)
    • Edit wars: militant people will continue to insert bias and lies in some topics

      In the same spirit of Truth-In-Information that makes open source more truthful than closed source, open bias is more truthful than hidden bias.

  • worthwhile project? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:57PM (#8162617)
    Speaking as somebody who has contributed 100-plus articles and done scads of editing over the past year, I'm still not convinced Wikipedia is ever going to be a legitimate reference work. For all the obvious reasons (vandalism, lack of expertise, point-of-view flame wars) articles are suspect.

    If nothing else, however, it is an interesting group-psychology experiment ... and a lot of fun.
  • This is exactly the kind of thing that makes the open source community so difficult for business types to understand. An excellent service hits the wall, and passes the hat. And it comes back with >$20k in it!

    This is also why things like M$ wanting to compete with Google look so damned silly to us. We already have what we need, and we take care of our own.

    Weaselmancer

  • by RobertB-DC ( 622190 ) * on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:57PM (#8162626) Homepage Journal
    I use PayPal constantly, so I can't very well whine, but I do wish my contribution to Wiki hadn't been diluted by those fees. Almost $29k in US contributions, but almost $1.3k in PayPal fees!

    Another problem. Those fees come up to just short of 4.5%. The PayPal fee structure [paypal.com] says that at the worst, they should be skimming 2.9% plus 30c per transaction. Does this mean that many/most of Wiki's contributions are in small amounts?

    30c is 6% of a $5 donation, but 3% of a $10 donation. I think the lesson is, if you're going to donate, the bigger the better -- unless you like subsidizing my use of PayPal's BillPay!

    Should PayPal consider giving registered non-profits a break? Or is this admin overhead unavoidable with charitable causes?
  • by Lord Satri ( 609291 ) <alexandrelerouxNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:58PM (#8162635) Homepage Journal
    Wiki is great. I mean *GREAT*. But it has limitations. Such as the file size for every entry.

    I discovered this when I wanted to put on wiki my list of Earth Observation Remote Sensing Satellites [matox.com]. Such spreadsheets are NOT wiki-friendly. This, hopefully, will change with time.
  • thanks slashdot (Score:4, Informative)

    by sHu_pAc ( 620580 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @03:59PM (#8162652) Homepage
    Thank you all for slashdotting the encyclopedia, as this is one of the better fact encyclopedias on the net (IMHO) I was doing searches for some information , and next thing I know Wikipedia stops responding. therefore i go to back to my home page (slashdot) and behold first news item, is an article on Wikipedia so thank you again for delaying my research.
  • by RadicalBender ( 734280 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:01PM (#8162673) Homepage

    It didn't take long for some to trot out the usual arguments about Wikipedia: "How do they keep out the trolls and kiddies?" etc.

    Wikipedia has spent a lot of time outlining those very questions on their Replies to Common Objections [wikipedia.org] page. Or, if all of you hose the very delicate servers, here's the Google cache version [216.239.57.104].

    By the way, on the announcements page [wikipedia.org] this morning, it was explicitly said, "Please, do not tell too many people about this, our current server cannot handle the extra load." So, uh, thanks all you Slashdotters... ^^;;;

    • by American AC in Paris ( 230456 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:33PM (#8163050) Homepage
      Wikipedia has spent a lot of time outlining those very questions on their Replies to Common Objections page.

      ...yes, but their answers generally amount to relying on The Wiki Way to save the day. While it's a wonderul sentiment, it's profoundly naive to rely primarily on the integrity of the community to cope with growing pains.

      The larger a community grows, the less diciplined and dedicated that community will be to the "core values". If Wikipedia becomes the Next Big Thing, the Wiki folks will have an absolute shitstorm of asinine, counter-productive, uninformed, and outright malicious activity to deal with, and they'll tire of it very quickly.

      Consider this hypothetical meatspace analogy:

      "Mr. Mayor, how do you plan to deal with crime when LittleTown, USA, becomes the thriving metropolitan center you want it to be?"
      "Well, we've been doing pretty well so far with crime, as most of the folks here in LittleTown are peaceful types, and Bill is a really great sheriff. We figure things should remain pretty much the same as we grow..."

  • Bah! Everything2 [everything2.com] has more than 449,000 articles and all in all, 921,175 nodes. It's not really a wiki but anyone with a (free) account can write anything. It has a voting system implemented to weed out the crappy/too short/too old/superseded/getting-to-know-you articles.

    I donated $5.00 to Wikipedia but I donated $25.00 to E2.
  • by Eloquence ( 144160 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:08PM (#8162769)
    Also take a look at MediaWiki [sourceforge.net], the open source wiki that runs Wikipedia. It was especially developed for that purpose, but is now also used by our spin-off projects Wiktionary [wiktionary.org], Wikiquote [wikiquote.org] and Wikibooks [wikibooks.org] (the latter is an attempt to create free textbooks for use in education, and has already made some good progress). All of these projects are organized under the Wikimedia non-profit foundations. More projects such as a wiki news site are on the horizon.

    MediaWiki is also used by non-Wikimedia projects. Among the more interesting ones is Disinfopedia [disinfopedia.org], an encyclopedia of propaganda, and Wikitravel [wikitravel.org], a travel guide. Star Trek fans will want to take a look at Memory Alpha [st-minutiae.com].

    Because of Wikipedia's constant server problems, MediaWiki has been refined to be very scalable. It caches almost everything and uses Livejournal's memcached [danga.com] to keep important data in memory. It also has support for Squid proxy servers. Aside from that MediaWiki comes with a huge set of features [sourceforge.net], many of which are found in few other wikis:

    • section editing - edit not a whole page, but just a small subsection of it (great for large pages)
    • automatic image rescaling
    • LaTeX support for mathematic formulas
    • message transclusion - create messages that can be used
    • namespaces to separate article content, user pages, image descriptions and discussions; message notification for user-to-user messages
    • plenty of query functions to examine the relationships between articles (articles which have many links to them but don't exist, articles which have no links to them, very long/short articles etc.)
    More cool features are in the works, including a larger set of backends [wikisophia.org] for rendering music, chemical formulas, chessboards etc. MediaWiki is always looking for new developers. Give it a try and join the mailing list [wikipedia.org] to help out. There are other great wikis out there -- MoinMoin, Tiki, Zwiki, OddMuse etc. -- but I prefer MediaWiki because I find it the easiest to use, and most other wikis use the ugly CamelCaseSyntaxWhichMakesPagesHardToRead.
  • by pantropy ( 720411 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:12PM (#8162811) Homepage
    Here are some comparisons between wikipedia and other encyclopedias:

    Quantity:

    Size of Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]
    A more detailed quantity comparison [wikipedia.org] between Wikipedia, Encarta, and Britannica

    Quality:

    English Wikipedia Quality Survey [wikipedia.org]
    Wikipedia Quality Analysis [wikipedia.org]

    Projected growth:

    Modelling Wikipedia's growth [wikipedia.org]

  • by mblase ( 200735 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:15PM (#8162849)
    Wikipedia, Everything2 [everything2.com] and h2g2 [h2g2.com] all have different approaches to the same goal -- a web-based user-updated encyclopedia. As near as I can tell (not being a participant in all three), here are the main differences:
    • Wiki is very strongly fact-based, aiming to imitate a paper encyclopedia as much as possible. E2 and h2g2 are more open and have at last as much pop-culture content as they do factual stuff.
    • Wiki and h2g2 only allow one article per title, while E2 allows multiple writeups per title (but only one writeup per title per person). h2g2 doesn't have the update/revert structure in place that Wiki does. By allowing multiple writeups, there's no way for a troll to replace good content with bad even for a short time.
    • h2g2 and E2 both rely on editors with special powers, albeit in somewhat different ways. Wiki basically allows anyone to be an editor, while h2g2 requires editor approval to post an article and E2 requires editor approval to keep it posted.
    • E2 and h2g2 both have strong communities, with E2 mainly depending on real-time chat and h2g2 on message forums.
    • E2 allows and even encourages original creative content -- stories, poems, and opinionated reviews -- as much as it does factual content of any sort. h2g2 culture practically requires a creative (read: Douglas Adams-like) personal touch on submitted articles.
  • by minesweeper ( 580162 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:16PM (#8162854) Homepage
    Slashdot readers may find the following Wikipedia articles about Slashdot informative and interesting:

    Slashdot [wikipedia.org]

    Slashdot effect [wikipedia.org]

    Slashdot trolling phenomena [wikipedia.org]

    Another interesting point of note:

    According to Alexa (which is not always reliable), Wikipedia.org is now more popular than Slashdot.org [alexa.com].

    • According to Alexa (which is not always reliable), Wikipedia.org is now more popular than Slashdot.org.

      Or, more likely, Slashdot users are more suspect of spyware than Wikipedia.org users.

    • i love it. they list all the common troll types, with examples (scroll down to the bottom). that's seriously funny stuff. i can't believe someone actually spent the time to put all that together. i don't think Encarta would do that! cheers!
  • Announcements (Score:4, Informative)

    by dze ( 89612 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:19PM (#8162884) Homepage
    If anyone wants to watch the Wikipedia Recent Announcements [wikipedia.org] page automatically, feel free to point your favorite news aggregator to Wikipedia Recent Announcements RSS Feed [jeays.net] which I generate from the web page. If you use Bloglines, click here [bloglines.com] for a preview or to subscribe.
  • IMDB? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Alomex ( 148003 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:21PM (#8162906) Homepage
    Can Wikipedia do an IMDB on us? Lots of people put plenty of time on the IMDB, with the understanding that it was an open, shared resource. One day we awoke to the news that the editors in the UK had sold out to Amazon and volunteers be damned...
    • Re:IMDB? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Pakaran2 ( 138209 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <rennurdniw>> on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:40PM (#8163145)
      It's under GNU licensing - to the point that some people download all the content onto their Linux boxes to run more efficient database queries through it. If it went private, one person could buy a membership, download everything, and redistribute it under the GFDL. Also, Wikipedia is run by a not-for-profit organization, and has been for most of a year.

      Granted, theoretically one "copy" of wikipedia could start charging for memberships like Mandrake does (which I think would never happen) but, like with Mandrake, it would be quite legal to sell copies.
  • by teslatug ( 543527 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:24PM (#8162939)
    Couldn't you guys wait a week before posting this. The hardware isn't properly set up yet. There will be a press release when the 500K mark is reached and hopefully the hardware will be ready by then. Sheesh. At least we'll be getting some testing on the hardware, hope nothing melts.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    would be a great topic for ask-slashdot i think.

    i am really interested to serve a huge demand portal/forum site, and am wondering how to enhance my infrastructure, and to make it as stable with some thousand bucks like the wikipedia guys are trying to do so.

    unfortunately, i think slashdot just /.ed their site anyways, or their 20thousan bucks are not live yet.

    any comments or hints or maybe someone gonna put up my question to ask-slashdot?

    thanks.
  • Unusual articles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by minesweeper ( 580162 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:34PM (#8163057) Homepage
    One of the great things about Wikipedia is that it can include articles that you wouldn't find in a typical encyclopedia or almanac. Generally, anything that is fairly famous and verifiable is a candidate for a Wikipedia article. Examples include:

    All your base are belong to us [wikipedia.org]

    Crushing by elephant [wikipedia.org]

    Extreme ironing [wikipedia.org]

    List of people known by one name [wikipedia.org]

    List of films by gory death scene [wikipedia.org]

    For more, see unusual articles [wikipedia.org] and list of trivia lists [wikipedia.org].

  • by 4ginandtonics ( 455958 ) on Monday February 02, 2004 @04:44PM (#8163189)
    Is it just me, or does this sound a lot like the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy?

    For those of you that don't recall -

    I has many galactic treasures of information such as -

    The best way to get a drink out of a Vogon is to stick your finger down his throat

    Here is what to do if you want to get a lift from a Vogon: FORGET IT.

    or, perhaps the most relevant entry for us:

    Earth: Mostly Harmless.

    In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker's Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.

    Perfect. ;-)

"The medium is the massage." -- Crazy Nigel

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