Starting with its inception in 1768, the Encyclopaedia Britannica was the flagship reference resource, the ultimate catalogue of all human knowledge. For over 200 years, that standard didn’t change. Then, in 2001, Wikipedia came along.
When Wikipedia launched on January 15, 2001, there was little reason to suspect that a crowdsourced, paperless encyclopedia could become the most used and most comprehensive encyclopedia the world had ever seen. While detractors claim that the crowdsourced, peer-edited nature of Wikipedia could never allow it to stand alongside the likes of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, sources as respected as the journal Nature have defended the site, claiming that the science-based articles were nearly as accurate as those in Britannica itself.
Detractors aside, since 2001, Wikipedia (a combination of “wiki,” which originates from the Hawaiian word for “quick,” and “pedia,” from “encyclopedia”) has grown to include more than 300 languages. The English version alone has more than 5 million entries. But despite the fact that it is now a part of our daily lives, there are a few truly astounding Wikipedia facts you probably didn’t know…