Wired 13.03: The Book Stops Here: "Four years ago, a wealthy options trader named Jimmy Wales set out to build a massive online encyclopedia ambitious in purpose and unique in design. This encyclopedia would be freely available to anyone. And it would be created not by paid experts and editors, but by whoever wanted to contribute. With software called Wiki - which allows anybody with Web access to go to a site and edit, delete, or add to what's there - Wales and his volunteer crew would construct a repository of knowledge to rival the ancient library of Alexandria.
In 2001, the idea seemed preposterous. In 2005, the nonprofit venture is the largest encyclopedia on the planet. Wikipedia offers 500,000 articles in English - compared with Britannica's 80,000 and Encarta's 4,500 - fashioned by more than 16,000 contributors. Tack on the editions in 75 other languages, including Esperanto and Kurdish, and the total Wikipedia article count tops 1.3 million."