17 Things You Didn't Know About Wikipedia

Thirteen years ago, tracking down information meant effort—hitting the library stacks, grabbing a dusty set of Britannicas, or digging out the World Book CD-Rom that came with your green iMac. It was an age of darkness.

Then came Wikipedia. Casting light onto the world with instantly accessible and free information for all, Wikipedia has grown from internet upstart—and punchline—to one of the Internet's most trusted destinations of reliable information on media, geography, diseases...pretty much anything you want to research. Edited by the collective hive mind of anyone with a computer, editions in almost every language have made it popular in hundreds of countries.

But how much do you actually know about Wikipedia itself? Of course, you could just go meta and Wikipedia Wikipedia—it's a verb now—or browse the "Criticism of Wikipedia" page, but who has time to read a 24,000 word encyclopedia entry? Instead, here're 17 quick and dirty facts you didn't know about Wikipedia.

1. Wikipedia is the sixth most popular website in the world.
Can you name any of the other five?

2. Every month, 500 million people use Wikipedia.
And they're repeat customers: netting 18 billion total page views.

3. “Wiki” is the Hawaiian word for "quick."
Even though now it pretty much means “user created and edited.” Magnum's Ferrari is Hawaiian, so you could say it's wiki.

4. A 2005 survey in Nature said its science accuracy was on par with Britannica.
And that was 10 years ago.

5. Wikipedia is edited by around 73,000 active editors, globally.
And 22 million user accounts. You probably won't be too surprised at their demographics. (See image above.)

6. English Wikipedia is still the largest by far.
It has 4.6 million articles. Still, that's a small plurality—it's just 13.7 percent of the whole catalogue. 

7. Most of Wikipedia’s servers are in Virginia.
This means they have to follow Virginia laws (also: blackout on VA grid? Consider Wiki's servers severely hampered), not just the federal ones.

8. Wikipedia doesn’t have rules—it has five pillars. 
Of course, those pillars are also Wikis, and are editable.

9. Article vandalism usually reverts in around five minutes.
So unless you get really unlucky, it’s pretty good for settling bets.

10. According to Business Insider, two Wikipedia employees used to have a side project: accepting cash for favorable edits for their clients.
It wasn't good. They call this practice “sanitizing reviews.”

11. One of its co-founders left in 2002. 
His name is Larry Sanger (above) and he left Wikipedia because he said it was overrun by trolls and wasn’t credible enough.

12. In 2006, 1,800 articles were being added daily.
Now it’s flattened to around 800. Eventually they’re going to cover pretty much everything. Given this exists, it's hard to think there's anything left. 

13. The CIA has edited its Wikipedia page.
It got caught, because the org. is not as nerdy as the NSA. Well, they got caught too

14. In 2006, a bunch of congressmen polished their pages as well.
They tracked them down with IP addresses.

15. Wikipedia actually started from another “Pedia.”
Wikipedia came from Nupedia, also founded by Jimmy Wales (still Wiki's CEO) and Sanger. It had a very formal editing process, unlike its predecessor. It's dead, but Sanger's new site Citizendium is still another Wikipedia alternative.

16. Wikipedia used to be a "dot com."
It became a "dot org" after its Spanish version seceded due to concerns about ads. Wanting to make its non-profit status clear, Wales and Co. changed it.

17. During the Wikipedia blackout, 162 million hit the blackout page.
Everyone's homework was late that week.

Ethan Wolff-Mann is an editor at Supercompressor. He looks at Wikipedia, but only reads it for the sources. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann and Instagram.