English Wikipedia

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Web address en.wikipedia.org
Slogan The Free Encyclopedia
Commercial? No
Type of site Internet encyclopedia project
Registration Optional (but required to create articles)
Users 21,162,387
Content license Creative Commons Attribution/
Share-Alike
3.0
(most text also dual-licensed under GFDL)
Media licensing varies
Owner Wikimedia Foundation
Created by Jimmy Wales, Larry Sanger
Launched 15 January 2001

The English Wikipedia is the English-language edition of the free online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Founded on 15 January 2001 and reaching four million articles by July 2012, it was the first edition of Wikipedia and remains the largest, with almost three times as many articles as the next largest, the Dutch Wikipedia. As of April 2014, nearly 14.4% of articles in all Wikipedias belong to the English-language edition. This share has gradually declined from more than 50% in 2003, due to the growth of Wikipedias in other languages. There are 4,494,413 articles on the site (live count). In December 2012, the combined text of the English Wikipedia's articles totaled approximately 9.7 gigabytes.

The Simple English Wikipedia is a variation, with most of the articles using a simplified level of English vocabulary. There are also two other "English" Wikipedias, the Scots Wikipedia (Scots Wikipaedia) which aims to preserve the vocabulary and grammar of the Scots language in all its forms over the past nine centuries, and the Old English (├ćnglisc/Anglo-Saxon) Wikipedia.

Pioneering edition[edit]

The English Wikipedia was the first Wikipedia edition and has remained the largest. It has pioneered many ideas as conventions, policies or features which were later adopted by some of the other-language Wikipedia editions. These ideas include "featured articles", the neutral-point-of-view policy, navigation templates, the sorting of short "stub" articles into sub-categories, dispute resolution mechanisms such as mediation and arbitration, and weekly collaborations.

The English Wikipedia has adopted features from the German Wikipedia, and from smaller editions. These features include verified revisions from the German Wikipedia (dewiki), and town population-lookup templates from the Dutch Wikipedia (nlwiki).

Although the English Wikipedia stores images and audio files, as well as text files, many of the images have been moved to Wikimedia Commons with the same name, as passed-through files. However, the English Wikipedia also has fair-use images and audio/video files (with copyright restrictions), most of which are not allowed on Commons.

Many of the most active participants in the Wikimedia Foundation, and the developers of the MediaWiki software that powers Wikipedia, are English Wikipedia users.

Users and editors[edit]

English Wikipedia statistics Number of user accounts Number of articles Number of files Number of administrators
21,162,387 4,494,413 829,228 1,407

The English Wikipedia reached 4,000,000 registered user accounts on 1 April 2007, just a little over a year since it had crossed a threshold of 1,000,000 registered user accounts in late February 2006.

About 250,000 new accounts are created every month.[citation needed] Over 800,000 editors have edited Wikipedia more than 10 times. Approximately the same number, 300,000 editors, edit Wikipedia every month; of these, over 30,000 perform more than 5 edits per month, and a little over 3,000 perform more than 100 edits per month. By 24 November 2011, a total of 500 million edits had been performed on the English Wikipedia.[citation needed]

A 2008 survey provided some basic information on the demographics and motivations of Wikipedia editors.

As the largest Wikipedia edition, and because English is such a widely used language, the English Wikipedia draws many users and editors whose native language is not English. Such users may seek information from the English Wikipedia rather than the Wikipedia of their native language because the English Wikipedia tends to contain more information about general subjects. Successful collaborations have developed between non-native English speakers who add content to the English Wikipedia and native English speakers who act as copyeditors for them.

Arbitration Committee[edit]

The English Wikipedia has an Arbitration Committee (also known as ArbCom) that consists of a panel of editors that imposes binding rulings with regard to disputes between other editors of the online encyclopedia. The Committee was created by Jimmy Wales on 4 December 2003 as an extension of the decision-making power he had formerly held as owner of the site. English Wikipedia is the wikipedia with the most articles with 4,466,866 articles.

When initially founded, the Committee consisted of 12 arbitrators divided into three groups of four members each. Since then, the Committee has gradually expanded to its membership to 18 arbitrators.

Like other aspects of the English Wikipedia, Wikipedia's sister projects have emulated the Arbitration Committee with their own similar versions. In 2007, an Arbitration Committee was founded on the German Wikipedia called the Schiedsrichter.

Varieties of English[edit]

Andrew Lih wrote that the English Wikipedia "didn't have the chance to go through a debate over whether there should be a British English Wikipedia or an American English Wikipedia" because the English Wikipedia was the original edition. Editors agreed to use U.S. spellings for primarily American topics and British spellings for primarily British topics. In 2009 Lih wrote, "No doubt, American spellings tend to dominate by default just because of sheer numbers."

Controversies[edit]

One controversy in the English Wikipedia concerns which national variety of the English language is to be preferred, with the most commonly advocated candidates being American English and British English. Perennial suggestions range from standardizing upon a single form of English to forking the English Wikipedia project. A style guideline states, "the English Wikipedia has no general preference for a major national variety of the language" and "an article on a topic that has strong ties to a particular English-speaking nation uses the appropriate variety of English for that nation". An article should use spelling and grammar variants consistently; for example, color and colour are not to be used in the same article, since they represent American and British English, respectively. The guide also states that an article must remain in its original national variant.

There has been a similar issue in the Chinese language Wikipedia concerning regional differences in writing. Efforts at a language fork for Portuguese Wikipedia have failed, and succeeded for Norwegian Wikipedia.

Incidents of cyberbullying on Wikipedia have been reported in the mainstream press. The Glen A. Wilson High School was subject of such a threat in 2008, and a 14-year-old boy was arrested for making a threat against Niles West High School on Wikipedia in 2006.

A 2013 study from Oxford University concluded that the most disputed articles on the English Wikipedia tended to be broader issues, while on other language Wikipedias the most disputed articles tended to be regional issues; this is due to the English language's status as a global lingua franca, which means that many who edit the English Wikipedia do not speak English as a native language. The study stated that the most disputed entries on the English Wikipedia were: George W. Bush, Anarchism, Muhammad, List of WWE personnel, global warming, circumcision, United States, Jesus, race and intelligence, and Christianity.

Internal quality control and assessment of importance[edit]

Wikipedia in general uses a two axis approach to the internal quality control and assessment of importance which it uses to organize the support and development of its content for users. The range of quality control assessments begin with "Start" class and "Stub" class assessments, which then are refined and improved to "A" class, "B" class, and "C" class, respectively, until the highest quality standards of internally assessed quality is reached in its "Featured Article" class of development. Of the total number of about 4.4 million articles supported as of 11 December 2013, approximately five thousand are at the "Featured Article" status (about .1% of total). These statistics are actively updated and maintained by the internal quality control standards at Wikipedia.