It’s hard to believe but today is Wikipedia‘s 10th birthday. The “multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project” was created on January 15, 2001.
Do you remember what life was like back then? Google was powering the search results at Yahoo! Inktomi was powering the search results at MSN. And Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter didn’t exist.
Flash forward to today and it’s hard to find an important person, company or topic that hasn’t written up in Wikipedia.
According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, 79 percent of American adults use the Internet. And 53 percent of these adult Internet users have used Wikipedia to look for information. By comparison, 87 percent have used a search engine to find information, 66 percent have watched a video on a video-sharing site like YouTube, 61 percent have used an online social networking site like Facebook, and 17 percent have used Twitter or other status-update service.
And even though search is more popular than Wikipedia, the odds are pretty good that the Wikipedia listing for important people, companies, or topics can be found on the first page of search engine results.
Education level continues to be the strongest predictor of Wikipedia use. According to Pew, 69 percent of internet users with at least a college degree use the collaborative encyclopedia. Broadband use remains another predictor, with 59 percent of those with home broadband using the service, compared with 26 percent of those who connect to the internet through dial-up. Additionally, Wikipedia is generally more popular among those with annual household incomes of at least $50,000, as well as with young adults: 62 percent of internet users under the age of 30 are using the service, compared with only 33 percent of internet users age 65 and older.
So, take a moment to wish Wikipedia happy birthday. And if journalists write the first rough draft of history, then let’s thank all the Wikipedians who have helped to write 3,528,686 articles in English for creating the second draft of history.