Professional.Wiki is Wishing Wikipedia a Happy 20th Anniversary


Last updated on 2021-01-25. Written by Karsten Hoffmeyer


Professional.Wiki is wishing Wikipedia a Happy 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago today, January the 15th, the English language edition of Wikipedia was launched. It was the first of more than 300 language editions that followed and exist today. This started the tremendous success story as the open-collaborative online encyclopedia we all appreciate today. The overall interest makes Wikipedia rank among the most popular websites. This would not have been possible without it's relentless volunteer editors. They spend a lot of time and effort in creating and enhancing this treasure of knowledge and information for all of us. Personally, I call them heroes and admire the result of their effort as a true gift for humanity. Thank you to all of you!

Quick statistics:

  • 55 million articles so far
  • 270,000 thousand volunteer editors
  • 1,7 billion visitors this month
  • one of the 15 most popular websites

I myself am a proud part of this effort mostly on the German language Wikipedia. I made my first timid edit on September 1, 2003. The following year on March 5, 2004 I created my account. Later that year I published my first article on August 27 about the Avro Canada C102 "Jetliner" airplane. Even today, I edit Wikipedias with great enthusiasm and for fun on a regular basis. My main focus, though, has shifted to other projects within the potpourri of existing possibilities:

  • MediaWiki.org, the wiki documenting and organizing all around the MediaWiki software and software extensions to it
  • Semantic-MediaWiki.org, the wiki documenting and organizing all around the Semantic-MediaWiki software and software extensions to it
  • translatewiki.net, the wiki of an open source translation community allowing to translate system messages of software (not just MediaWiki, Semantic-MediaWiki and extensions to it)
  • Wikidata.org, the wiki creating a free knowledge base of data items
  • Wikimedia Commons, the wiki as a collection of freely usable media files

Wikipedia is, however, not just about online collaboration. Over the course of years I have met a lot of people in person. I attended events such as regulars' tables, excursions, and conferences. I have made friends this way whom I cherish. This is what makes Wikipedia even better. All of this: based around wikis.

Talking about wikis: Wikipedia very much made the idea behind wikis popular and promoted it. Through Wikipedia's promotion, wikis became serious tools for knowledge management. At the same time it provides an outstanding example on how it works. Nowadays, we value the following concepts that wikis bring to us:

  • collaborative editing of content directly using a browser
  • having a version history to be able to follow the changes to content
  • direct easy linking of content to other content

Wikis, at the same time, do not preset a certain structure. This allows for unmatched flexibility in organizing knowledge. Many different use cases can be covered by creating individual content structures. No wiki needs to be or actually is the same as the other.

A wiki has undoubtedly become an established way to organize and connect content, data, and knowledge online. This happens not just in the web but also in the intranets of companies and organizations. The wiki engine MediaWiki makes this wonderful concept possible. It is nowadays a top choice for the purpose of manging all kinds of knowledge not just enterprise knowledge.

All of this inspired me to start a career in working with wikis. This way I ended up as one of the top editors documenting MediaWiki on MediaWiki.org. I create, administer and enhance wikis with enthusiasm and elan day in and day out for customers all over the world but also for myself. I created my first wiki using MediaWiki in May 2009 and administered it for many years. Since then, many more wikis followed using MediaWiki still counting. Wikipedia triggered this!

In September 2009, I began looking into Semantic MediaWiki. This extension to MediaWiki lets you store and query data within the wiki. It started out in August 2005 with the idea of a Semantic Wikipedia in mind. The concept envisioned Wikipedia connecting its content with the Semantic Web. That way the content is made available as structured data. The aim was to make the content more accessible for humans but also for machines.

Structured data definitively takes your content and knowledge, not just to the next level, but beyond. Thus, the basic idea of handling structured data using a wiki struck and never has left me. Again this made me a top editor on Semantic-MediaWiki.org documenting the very software. At the same time, I built up countless wikis using Semantic MediaWiki.

Years later, Wikipedia started going the structured data route via Wikidata.org using the Wikibase software. The inspiration came from Semantic MediaWiki. During that time time Semantic MediaWiki and its many spinoff extensions turned into a powerful framework. It continues to grow in usage. This framework is successfully used as a powerful and flexible knowledge management system on many wikis.

Here at Professional.Wiki we love wikis and working with them. In 2019 I teamed up here with other experts and professionals. Sharing the same spirit creating many more "Wikipedias" we cater to many different use cases. Additionally we provide managed hosting, technical support and software development. Doing so, we ensure that you make the most out of your wiki. Implementing structured data using the Semantic-MediaWiki software is part of our offer, and we also do Wikibase. Make sure you check out our offerings in case you would like to go the Wiki Way for your organization or company!

All of this was started on January 15, 2001 - 20 years ago! Happy 20th Anniversary! Thank you Wikipedia! All my best wishes for the times ahead!

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