But what next for the online encyclopaedia?
Emerging from the carnage of the dotcom crash, Wikipedia is now one of the most visited websites on the Internet and tomorrow, January 15, 2011, it celebrates its tenth anniversary.
Founded by Jimmy Wales in 2001 the online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit now boasts about 17 million articles in 270 articles. It attracts 410 million unique users every month and is the world’s fifth most visited website. English Wikipedia reached 1,000 articles just a month after launch and 100,000 two years later. It hit the one million article milestone in 2006. English Wikipedia now leads the way in terms of the number of articles, followed by German, French and Italian.
The billionth edit took place on April 16, 2010.
During his current tour to mark the anniversary Wales said Wikipedia is targeting one billion users within the next five years, mainly driven by a push in to India and Brazil and through encouraging more women to use the site. It will also remain a non-profit organisation, he confirmed.
Talking to the BBC he admitted that the software Wikipedia uses made it a confusing site, which has put off a lot of potential contributors. "We’re looking to get more women and older people contributing and so toward that end we’re looking to make the software easier to edit for those that are not as technically inclined."
The site has also been credited with defining a Wiki (which is actually an Hawaiian wording meaning quick) as an online resource that users can edit.
"In just ten years Wikipedia has become one of the most popular sources of information online and has been credited with bringing the wiki technology to the masses," says Phil Stewart, customer service director at Virgin Media Business, who added that it has changed the way the business world works.
"Wiki software has not only changed the way that the public access and share information, it has transformed the way that businesses share information internally, with many employees using internal wikis on a daily basis to collaborate and share knowledge with colleagues across the globe," he said.