the Wikipedia [ˌvɪkiˈpeːdia] is one of freiwilligen authors written, multilingual, free on-line encyclopedia. The term sets itself together out „“(English for encyclopedia) and „Wiki(a to a large extent server-lateral software , with which each Internet user in the Browser can edit or again put on articles) for Encyclopedia. Existence has, which is accepted by the community. So far internationally about 100,000 announced users and an unknown number of anonymous coworkers articles contributed to the project. Over 600 authors regularly Eric Zachte cooperates in the German-language expenditure<>. ref: Wikipedia statistics, produces to 25. December 2005 from the SQL dump of 10. December 2005< /ref>

In January 2001 the created project calls itself as free encyclopedia, because all contents stand under the GNU license for free documentation; this grants the right to everyone to use contents free of charge - also commercially - to change and spread. Wikipedia is considered as the most extensive collection of originally free contents. Enterprises becomes Wikipedia of the Wikimedia Foundation, an Non profit organization with seat in Florida, the USA.

Logo der deutschsprachigen Wikipedia
Logo of the German-language Wikipedia
screen photo of the Web operational readiness level

table of contents


first occupied idea to use Internet for the cooperative production of an encyclopedia published Rick gate to 22. October 1993 in the Usenet. The project , like also the 1999 of smelling pool of broadcasting corporations Stallman, discussed as Interpedia, one of the most well-known representatives of the free software - movement, lively GNUPedia came over the planning phase however not outside (see: Predecessor of the Wikipedia).

Starting side of the English Wikipedia to 30. March 2001

in March 2000 started the Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales its approach to an Internet encyclopedia. It engaged the philosophy lecturer Larry singer over the company Bomis, whose partner and managing director were Wales at that time, and brought with it as an editor-in-chief the Nupedia into being. The editorship process leaned strongly against that conventional encyclopedias. Authors had to apply and to go through their texts afterwards a lengthy Peer Review. Accordingly slowly the project developed.

End to 2000/Anfang 2001 both Wales and singer on the Wiki principle were made attentive - knocked against through singers went thereupon already to 10. January a Wiki within the Nupedia project on-line; only five days later, to 15. January 2001, was then attainable under the independent address it. This is considered to Larry singer as the birth< of the Wikipedia>. ref: Enamel to the mailing list nupedia l: Let's make A wiki (10. January 2001), Nupedia's wiki: try it out (10. January 2001), Nupedia's wiki: try it out (11. January 2001; Name Wikipedia), Wikipedia is UP! (17. January 2001) (everything over Internet of archives)< /ref>

Originally Wikipedia should serve as platform for the common production of articles, which should go through the editorship process of the Nupedia later. Particularly due to its openness - the Wiki principle permitted the cooperation without registration - the project developed so rapidly that this idea stepped ever more into the background.

Article growth of the German-language wikipedia, conditions: 25.März

to 15. March 2001 announced Jimmy Wales on the Wikipedia mailing list to furnish versions also in other languages under first was the French and the German-language Wikipedia.< ref> to Jimmy Wales: Alternative LANGUAGE wikipedias and mechanism of “” (Posting at Wikipedia l, 16.3.2001)< /ref> End of the yearly 2001 existed the Wikipedia already in 18 different languages. In February 2002 Bomis decided not to employ longer an editor-in-chief and quit the contract with Larry singer. This stopped short time later its work with Nupedia and Wikipedia.

Main side of the German-language Wikipedia in January 2004

in February 2002 had to accept the Wikipedia for the first time a noticeable setback. Numerous authors of the Spanish Wikipedia decided to a Fork. The reasons for the splitting off under the name Enciclopedia Libre were rumors over the possible insertion of advertisement within the Wikipedia and the uneasiness over influence lacking in the English-language dominated international project co-ordination.

In order to prevent a further fragmentation, avowed Jimmy Wales in the same year that the Wikipedia is to remain also in the future advertising-free. In addition it changed the address of the Website of on with the Top level Domain .org thought for non-commercial organizations.

To 20. June 2003 finally announced of Wales the establishment of the Wikimedia Foundation and conveyed to the Non profit organization the servers, on which the Wikis ran, and which rights of the use of a name, which were to date with Bomis or him personally.

Meanwhile Wikipedia in more than 100 languages exists. In September 2004 the range of the overall project exceeded the border of one million articles. The German-language Wikipedia contained the English over 1.000.000 in April 2006 over 380.000 articles.

The Wikipedia won several prices, among them in May 2004 a Prix of acre Electronica and a Webby Award, as well as the Grimme on-line Award 2005 and 2006 the LeadAward as Webleader of the yearly.

Function mode

article in Wikipedia directly in the Browser works on

Wikipedia is a Wiki, i.e. a Website, with which each user without registration author become, contributions to write and existing texts change can. An editorship strictly speaking does not give it, the principle is based rather on the acceptance that the users control themselves and correct mutually.

Contents are organized as hypertext. Cross references and instructions for formatting enter the authors in a simple syntax . Thus the software converts set terms ([[example]]) into square brackets automatically into a left on the article concerned. Exists this not yet, appears the left in red and when clicking opens an input field, in which the reader can write a new article. This simple linking possibility ensured that the articles of the Wikipedia are substantially more closely interlaced with one another than those of the conventional digital encyclopedias.

Beside in the context the attached hyper+on the left of on other articles still further navigation possibilities exist such as categories or the alphabetical index, which play however a subordinated role.


the given framework for the authors is very far calm. The initiators set up only very few guidelines, which are considered as irrefutable. In addition it counts as the first principle that Wikipedia is dedicated to the creation of an encyclopedia. From it other adjustments are distinguished. <ref> English Wikipedia: What Wikipedia is emergency< /ref> The principles neutral point of view< ref> English Wikipedia: Neutrally POINT OF view< /ref>, Verifizierbarkeit< ref> English Wikipedia: Verifiability< /ref> and renouncement of primary search< ref> English Wikipedia: NO original research< /ref> specify the contentwise adjustment of the articles. Furthermore the authors consent with storing to it to publish their articles under the GNU license for free documentation (GFDL). As behavior regulation of coworkers one demands to respect its co-authors and attack nobody personally.

Wikipedia is an encyclopedia

like other encyclopedias pursued also Wikipedia the goal of offering the whole of the knowledge of our time in lexical form. During earlier, printed encyclopedias for economic and technical reasons contents and author number to limit had, are subject the Wikipedia to no such restrictions: Non removable disk place is cheap, the authors works honorary.

Which topics are taken up and in which form, decide the Community during an open editorship process. Conflicts in the Wikipedia circle in this connection usually around which represents knowledge, where the demarcation lies to pure data and which by enzyklopädischer relevance is to be understood. Apart from rough guidelines, which distinguish Wikipedia from other work types such as dictionary, data base, left or quotation collection, there are no general catalogs of criteria approximately for biographies, how they are common in traditional encyclopedias. In the doubt the individual case one discusses. If a user feels a topic as unsuitable or an article as the topic inappropriate, it can place a delete request in such a way specified, which is following discussed.

Neutral point of view

in Wikipedia authors with most different political, religious and world-descriptive background cooperate, the open encyclopedia exclude from the beginning nobody due to his attitudes. To prevent over thereby inevitably arising fights for article contents and/or. to create, founder Jimmy Wales the guideline of the neutral point of view (NPOV, of English neutrally POINT OF view) set up a way out of it. Afterwards an article is to be so written that as much as possible authors it can agree. If several different opinions exist to a topic, then an article is to describe these fair, but to refer not even position. The neutral point of view does not require however that all opinions must be equivalently presented: The scientifically more plausible opinion can be called about in the first place (see also: Ockhams razor). How the suitability of individual articles for an encyclopedia is ensured is reached also the adherence to the neutral point of view by the social process and straight with controversies topics often only in laborious discussions.

Verifiableness and renouncement of primary search

as encyclopedia can take up Wikipedia only contents, which are published in other place already. Here it must concern recognized and examinable sources. An encyclopedia serves the representation, not the construction of knowledge („theory formation “). This principle is closely connected with the neutral point of view. Therefore also no primary search is operated (English: „NO original research “), but only fallen back to secondary sources.

Copyright and liberty of the contents of

all coworkers of the Wikipedia explain themselves in agreement with adjusting or working on articles to publish of them contributed contents under the GFDL. This license permits it to others to change and also commercially spread contents as desired, if the conditions of the license are kept and contents are published again under the same license. The license makes it not possibly to use Wikipedia articles and on this based texts with reference to copyright exclusively (Copyleft - principle).

For many authors this is from the free software - movement well-known principle a substantial reason to cooperate in the Wikipedia. The license prescribes likewise to call main authors of articles when publications outside of the Wikipedia. Some engaged authors, who do not work anonymous, are additionally motivated thereby.

Respectful handling

even if this guideline as unnecessary be regarded can, since respectful handling other humans than matter of course should apply, shows the reality nevertheless that this guideline has its right of existence. Particularly the openness of the project and the associated uncontrolled inflow of new authors, purely written communication as well as the different social and cultural origin of the active users make it necessary to remember occasionally this guideline.


structure of the Wikipedia

both the interpretation of the principles specified above and further defaults are specified by the community of the authors and are based particularly on social minutes. The operator of the Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, interferes in all rule into this process and does not trust instead on the self organization of the community.

Organizational the Wikipedia is divided into three ranges, by prefixes into the side name differentiated name areas so mentioned: the actual encyclopedia with the attached discussion sides, where on the articles one works, the user name area, in which each author receives a personal side, on which it introduce itself can, and a news page, on which others can take up contact, and which Wikipedia Namensraum for the organization of the operational sequences with it.

In the Wikipedia Namensraum are introduction texts and the software manual, style rules and format conventions. There the author community decides, which articles are deleted, shorten after a Review process particularly good contributions to Excellencies articles, which are introduced on the main side, and selects administrators, which receive extended software functions.

Decision making and organisational structure

the influence structure of the Wikipedia are complex and are usually only opened after longer active participation. It unites courses of anarchy, Meritokratie, democracy, autocracy and technocracy. The anarchische character follows from the Wiki principle, according to which everyone, also anonymous, can change sides. Social conventions and to a large extent informal organization processes keep an internal organisational structure upright. Announced participants can acquire themselves with their contributions in the Community a call and a confidence. Apart from the persuasive power of its arguments thereafter also the influence which participants have on current discussions, is measured.

The process is formalized by the choice of administrators. Or intends the author community selects particularly engaged participants for administrators with extended rights. With decisions over rules in the Wikipedia traditionally one tries to find a consent. Practically a genuine consent is hardly possible with the multiplicity of the coworkers. Rules, which are to have a sufficient legitimacy, must be carried by a large qualified majority of the users. The most rules and process are established so in practice by the fact that many participants take up and use a suggestion. Other decisions are made in opinions, which are to be settled between discussion and tuning.

The development of the software, for instance the installation of new features, determines of the Community independent team of the programmers, which orients itself however at the desires of the users. The founder Jimmy Wales, which smoothed long time of conflicts in its role as „Benevolent dictator “in the Community as the highest authority, has the largest personal influence - particularly in the English Wikipedia, in addition, in some other language versions -. A part of its tasks it transferred at the beginning of of 2004 into the English Wikipedia to „a Arbitration Committee selected by the participants “. Exist to this arbitral tribunal comparable institutions in several other language versions, among other things the French Wikipedia. The sovereignty over Wikipedia has finally the Wikimedia Foundation as operator organization and finances.

International cooperation

although at first not planned, developed itself Wikipedia to a multilingual enterprise. As soon as enough was interested find, for a language a Wiki is put on. Over the fixing of the boundaries between language and dialect develop into the Community often violent controversies. Become extinct one or plan languages is in principle permissible.

The articles through Interwiki on the left of linked with one another language versions are rare translated, but develop usually separately. Under the language barrier, exists between the languages little exchange, the Communitys usually organizes and develops independently. Individual initiatives like „the translation of the week “try to overcome this barrier and provide for more exchange. Particularly the establishment of Wikimedia Commons provided for an upswing in the international cooperation. On the Commons in several languages put on Wikipedia participants from all language versions in the structure of a central medium Repository work.


the financing of the technical infrastructure and the transferred volume of data, the rent for computing centres, Domainregistrierung as well as the promotion of specific tasks of software development and occasionally also of travel expenses takes place completely via donations.

Criticism and problems

of quality and reliability of the contents of

the most frequently aforementioned point of criticism to the Wikipedia are that each Internet user can change articles. While conventional encyclopedias with paid authors and editorial control vouch for the observance of quality standards, Wikipedia does not guarantee the completeness and correctness of its articles.

The most prominent example of a Hoax- Entry was the case of the American journalist John Seigenthaler, its wrong biography, in that the Kennedy advisor and others one suspected of entangling into the murder case Kennedy, only after several months by Seigenthaler themselves one discovered and afterwards in November 2005 on his complaint one deleted immediately.< ref> John Seigenthaler: A false Wikipedia “biography” the USA Today, 29. November 2005< /ref> The anonymous author the well-known opposite the American newspaper USA Today, it wanted later to make only one joke opposite a teammate.

The operators of the Wikipedia take the view that due to the simplicity to make changes the restraining threshold sinks to correct error. In their opinion the articles mature thus, since errors are found and repaired after some time.

By the ability of the software to call to each article its version history and cross references follow, readers and authors can pursue the career/development of an article and make themselves thereby a more comprehensive picture. Likewise a discussion side can be called up to each article, which contains not belonging notes into the article text. The acceptance of the operators of Wikipedia is that readers analyze the reading and accept these offers.

Differently than in conventional encyclopedias length and extent of an article in Wikipedia do not state anything over its meaning. While many Popkultur or computer topics are represented in all width, it can happen that Wikipedia contains a lean, extremely short entry of philosophy to a central term only.

Groups of interests represent a further problem, which try, political in particular, to affect religious and world-descriptive article contents in a certain direction. Article to disputed topics like e.g. Could often not correspond to sparkling wines or generic term cures esoterischen theories therefore to the neutrality principle. In order to protect particularly disputed articles, it is however also possible for administrators to close this temporarily for working on.

Copyright infringements

the open nature of a Wiki offers first no preventing protection approximately copyright - and other law breakings. If a suspicion results, then active users examine therefore new articles for whether they were copied by other Websites. If the suspicion is confirmed, these by the administrators after one time for appeal are deleted. Hundred percent of security does not offer this procedure however.

The largest well-known case of a copyright infringement was discovered in November 2005 by coworkers of the German Wikipedia. An anonymous author had copied contributions from books over two years. Above all it used for it old GDR encyclopedias. Particularly the departments of philosophy, economics and history were affected by it. Over 1000 articles first under quarantine were placed and many of it were deleted after they turned out as direct copies. Turned around some cases already admits become, in which copyrights of the authors of the Wikipedia were hurt, as contributions without source data from Wikipedia are copied and trained in strange web page.

Wikipedia compared with other encyclopedias

the first large-scale comparison of the German Wikipedia with established digital reference books Microsoft Encarta Professional 2005 and Brockhaus multimedially 2005 Premium appeared c't to technical periodical in October 2004 in the computer (expenditure 21/04). Wikipedia obtained there in the contents test the highest average total score, in the category Multimedia cut off the free encyclopedia against it badly, similar valuations obtained the German Wikipedia shortly thereafter in an encyclopedia comparison of the weekly paper the time. Both tests were based on a small sample of altogether 60 to 70 articles from different topic areas. December 2005 published the magazine Nature a comparison of the English Wikipedia with the Encyclopædia Britannica.< ref> Jim Jiles: Internet encyclopaedias go head tons head, Nature 14. December 2005< /ref> In addition they had asked 50 experts one article to examine each from both works from their field of activity exclusively for errors. With on the average four errors per article the Wikipedia lay only scarcely behind the Britannica, in which on the average three errors were found. Britannica published in March 2006 a criticism of the Nature study, in which they accused heavy errors relating to crafts to the science magazine - like that were for instance articles were consulted, those not at all from the actual encyclopedia, in addition but from yearbooks, the Reviews came even for errors had not been examined.< ref> Britannica: Fatally flawed, March 2006< /ref> The magazine Nature knows the reproaches back and explained, one compared the expenditures for on-line, with which also the yearbook articles are contained. That the Reviews is examined for errors, one never stated. Since the study was accomplished besides as blind test, all points of criticism would apply also to the Review of the Wikipedia articles, the total result change so not.< ref> for Nature: Response Britannica< /ref>

Spreading of Wikipedia contents

forms of the use

Der erste WikiReader
the first WikiReader

numerous Websites the offer of the free license and reflect Wikipedia contents notice, some earn thereby at the insertion of announcements. Besides also several versions for mobile phone and PDA developed. In the off-line spreading the German-language Wikipedia played a role of the pioneer. Several German Wikipedianer placed so-called. WikiReader together, article collections to a topic, by which some in small editions appeared also printed. In the autumn 2004 the citizen of Berlin publishing house Directmedia Publishing in co-operation published a CD version of the Wikipedia with the Wikipedia Community, in the spring 2005 followed an DVD expenditure, which both were made available also freely in the net to the Download. Since winter 2005 are available in the same publishing house lektorierte collections of Wikipedia texts as paperback row Wikipress.


it has itself shown that the GNU license for free documentation, under which Wikipedia contents stand, for which Wiki based production of a free encyclopedia is only conditionally suited. The license was originally developed for free EDP documentations; with such documents usually the number of the text revisions and authors involved is visible. In the Wikipedia however articles experience changes to popular or controversies topics permanently, in which every now and then a large crowd is involved by authors. Beyond that article fusions are and - fragmentations, translations from anderssprachigen Wikipediaversionen as well as anonymous text donations from unclear sources at the agenda. The complex developing process of many articles can be reconstructed often only laborious. Details of the license conditions, like the supply of complete version history, possibly. also the Eruierung of main authors, furthermore the obligation for the complete rendition of the license text, make the license-conformal far use more difficult of Wikipedia articles.

Scientific analysis

the success of the open encyclopedia concept aroused the interest of many researchers; the bibliography linked down gives an overview of published work. With the Historyflow procedure and analyzed a researcher team of IBM 2003 visualized the evolution of articles. Martin cotton wool mountain and Fernanda B. Viégas stated with the fact that the Community Vandalismus eliminated amazingly fast.

For the social structure of the Wikipedia authors still few investigations exist. An inquiry of peppering citizen psychologist resulted in one high man portion (88%) and about 50% Singles. 43% of the asked ones work full time. Students form a large group. To its motivation, evaluated over 80% the extension of the own knowledge asks as importantly to very important.

In an analysis of the participation behavior of announced participants Jimmy Wales stated that half of all contributions came from straight once 2.5% the user. Wales supported thereby its thesis of the Wikipedia as “community OF thoughtful users”, whom it confronted to a description of the Wikipedia as emergentem phenomenon, in which from the contributions of a multiplicity of anonymous Internet users rather spontaneously an encyclopedia develops.

Sister projects

there the Wikipedia themselves limited to enzyklopädische articles, developed themselves in the meantime for folders, which take care of other text places. An important folder is Wiktionary, a project, which applies the Wiki concept to dictionaries. In July 2003 with the goal of providing free text books begun Wikibooks. Wikiquote collects quotations, Wikisource is a collection of free sources of original. From the Community developed in the spring 2004 also an sow-Irish folder of the Wikipedia, the Kamelopedia.

Since September 2004 gives it with the Wikimedia Commons a central data base, which makes pictures and other media for all Wikimedia projects together accessible. A further sister project, Wikinews, which dedicates itself to the structure of a free intelligence source, was brought at the beginning of November 2004 into being. Up to the Kamelopedia all are operated this Wikis of the Wikimedia Foundation.


diagram of Wikimedia server architecture of 12. April 2005

of beginning used Wikipedia as software the UseModWiki written in Perl, which had not soon any longer been up to to the requirements however. In January 2002 Wikipedia changed application over (phase II) to from the German biologist Magnus a Manske written, MySQL - based PHP -, which was particularly to the needs of the Wikipedia adapted. After the Website had divided over one year resources with the Web offer of Bomis, the English Wikipedia, later also the other language versions, moved in July 2002 on its own server with one of Lee Daniel Crocker revised and partly again-written version of Manskes software (phase III). This received later the name MediaWiki.

With rising access numbers the requirements increased to the hardware. If there was in December 2003 still three servers, are for the enterprise of the Wikipedia and their sister projects in May 2005 meanwhile over 70 servers in Florida and France in the use, which are cared for by a team of honorary administrators. The principle to designate the servers after famous Enzyklopädisten was given up 2005.

As operating system different Linux distributions, predominantly Fedora, are used with the server software Apache, PHP and the data base MySQL. Upstream Squid - Caches do not supply announced visitors, who want to only read, also before-generated sides. The MySQL data base runs on several servers with Replikation in the master Slave enterprise.

Regularly it comes to capacity bottlenecks, which lead to the fact that sides are loaded only very slowly or not at all.

Several enterprises and organizations offered the Wikimedia Foundation their support. In April 2005 the search machine operator Yahoo! explained itself ready to turn 23 servers off in its computing centre in Asia for the enterprise of the Wikipedia. With Google the Wikimedia Foundation stands likewise in negotiations.


< of references/>


  • Henriette Fiebig (Hrsg.): Wikipedia. The book. Zenodot publishing house company ltd., 2005, ISBN 3-86640-001-2 (WikiPress volume 1)

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