Wikipedia is celebrating its 20 anniversary, but this giant free electronic encyclopedia, which is still standing in the era of the tyranny of commercialization on the Internet, faces a set of challenges that it must overcome.
Historian Remi Matisse, former president of “Wikimedia France”, said that “Wikipedia” is a “small miracle” in the era of Internet commerce and the great growth of the most prominent technological companies known as “GAFAM” (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft).
Wikipedia, which was founded by the American Jimmy Wales on January 15, 2001, with a non-profit aim, seeks to gather all knowledge in the world on a single online platform thanks to millions of voluntary contributors.
The encyclopedia soon achieved success, as the first site, which was in the English language, was followed by the German and Swedish sites in March 2001, and ten other sites soon followed, including the Arabic, French, Italian, Chinese, Russian and Catalan sites.
Wikipedia is the seventh site in the world in terms of the number of visits it attracts, and it includes more than 55 million articles published in 309 languages. Each site has separate content, as there are no translations but original contributions, sometimes supplemented by robots from public data.
Unlike the traditional encyclopedia written by well-known experts, this collection of amateurs’ knowledge, and often anonymous, has sparked countless criticism and hostilities from certain academic circles.
The author of “Wikipedia: In the Backstage of the World’s Largest Encyclopedia” (First Editions publishing house) noted that “the desire to build an encyclopedia does not attract anyone, and the contributors are often urban residents and university graduates.”
Some see the encyclopedia model as the antithesis of the massive circulation of misinformation on social networks.
In summary, “Wikipedia” stands in front of two major challenges: the first is to continue to encourage users to contribute to the encyclopedia, and the second is to make its content more moderate.