Posts Tagged ‘Website’


On 15th January 2001, Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, made the first ever edit when he typed “Hello, World!” on the front page of the site. And 10 years later, the world has said a big hello back.

Edit-It-Yourself: An untested idea went live from the platform of Wikipedia before ten years. It had no fanfare, no assurance of success, no one was aware whether people would contribute to such a project and if so, whether the information they submitted would be reliable. The scenario today is opposite though. The website is the fifth most visited internet site in the world over the last decade. The evolution of Wikipedia from an experiment to enterprise also reflects the central nature of web in our lives.

The site that everybody can edit freely and collaboratively is credited not only with having created a massive storehouse of knowledge but also democratizing the presentation of content on the Web.


Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia that has over 17 million articles in 270 languages, 3.5 million of them in English, and is used by almost 410 million unique people each month. It is supported by a non-profit organization called Wikimedia Foundation of San Francisco.

The website was launched by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001 on the domain The name is the brainchild of Larry. It is a blend of Hawaiian word ‘wiki’ meaning ‘quick’ and the word ‘encyclopedia’. The founding can be traced to a post by Sanger entitled “Let’s Make a Wiki” that was intended as a feature to Sanger and Wales’s other project, Nupedia. The feature, rooted in Open Source Thinking, grew out of proportion. Volunteers contributed voluminous number of entries, which began showing up in Google searches, furthering the site’s growth.

Wikipedia quickly gained a large following. Contributors, it turned out, were more than happy to contribute, while readers did not seem to mind that the editors were unpaid.


It is hard to imagine that a tiny, user-based project, Wikipedia completed ten successful years. “The people’s encyclopedia,” as it was described by Sue Gardner, Executive Director of Wikimedia, is starting its second decade by resolving to be more representative of the people. As it is, more than 80% of its contributors are male, the average age falls in the late 20s and the most thoroughly covered subjects involve science and technology. In 2011 and beyond, Wikipedia wants to reach out to more women, older people, experts in the arts and humanities, and less-represented geographic areas like South America, South Asia and the Arab world.

The goal, Ms. Gardner said, is to offer “the sum total of all human knowledge” in the native language of all of Wikipedia’s users. A push to improve the quality of articles is also under way, through a partnership with 16 universities. Wikipedia is also trying to get experts to contribute, and recruiting museums, which could offer better images for the site.

These efforts to increase diversity will be backed by the $16 million Wikimedia pulled in through a 50-day fundraising pledge drive at the end of 2010, nearly double the amount it raised in 2009. Advertising is not in the cards for Wikipedia, it has a budget of around $20 million for annual pledge drive this year.

Next, Wikipedia targets the goal of 1 billion users in the coming 5 years, maintaining its status as a not-for-profit organization.


Although Wikipedia allows virtually anyone to add or alter entries without oversight, the journal Nature reported in 2006 that its accuracy was close to that of Encyclopedia Britannica. Wikipedia says its quality controls stop most ‘vandals’ from posting maliciously inaccurate articles.

Wikipedia is used as a reference and works best as an introduction to a subject. Since the articles usually cite references, readers can investigate further whether the claims are actually true. The site has had its share of controversies, including the departure of Larry Sanger in 2002 and subsequent public disagreements between him and Jimmy Wales over whether he was a founder. There have been debates about how reliable Wikipedia is, also about whether it is a real research tool or if it promotes laziness among students unwilling or unable to search for primary sources to cite.

Wikipedia that was a poor man’s Britannica in its early days, has surpassed that size and scope. Wikipedia has become a battleground between authorities and activists, say experts on digital censorship. While critics have challenged Wikipedia’s accuracy and bias, others say it has democratized the concept of who has the authority to possess and author knowledge.


“Fruitful environment [including] valuing education, free speech and a culture of intellectual debate” is the reason behind Wikipedia choosing India to be their first stop in the journey of expansion. To increase the number of foreign-language articles, Wikipedia, is planning to open its first overseas office in India in the coming months. Lessons learned here will likely be adopted at other future international outposts, possibly in Egypt and Brazil.

The question pops up, why India? The large number of potential internet users, and the ‘ground support’ that exists in the form of a passionate community of Wikipedians, drive these “offshore efforts.”

A lesser-known fact is that Wikipedia is available in at least 20 Indian languages (Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Tamil, Bishnupriya Manipuri, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Urdu, Nepali, Kannada, Sanskrit, Bhojpuri, Pali, Punjabi, Oriya, Romani, Kashmiri, Sindhi and Assamese). While there are 58,000 articles in the Hindi Wikipedia, Telugu and Marathi too have been growing steadily, clocking 47,000 and 32,000 articles respectively. The Tamil Wiki has around 26,000 articles, Bengali (22,000), Malayalam (16,000) and Kannada (9,900). Together, Wikipedia is arguably the single largest source of Indic content online. And a massive task of expanding the local language content can be best tackled collaboratively.


It is analyzed that the number of Wikipedia’s English language contributors fell from 54,000 in March 2007 to 35,000 in September 2010, but here Wikipedia may be the victim of its own success. As the website gets more inclusive, fewer articles need to be penned. But one thing is for sure, if Wikipedia ever goes away, we will not have a strong source to confirm this! However, 10 years is a remarkable achievement. To go from being a fringe idea to the center of a free culture movement is more than remarkable, it is important.

Happy Birthday, Wikipedia. Here’s to 10 more!


• The Wikipedia article on former US President George W Bush has been edited the most number of times; also, the page was viewed 4.5 million times in 2010.

• The first media report about Wikipedia appeared in the Wales on Sunday published from Cardiff, UK on August 26, 2001.

• The most Wikipedia 10th anniversary events were held in India (95 events). USA was a distant second with 52 events.

• In January 2001, there were only 25 articles on the English Wikipedia, the only version available back then.

• The three millionth article on English Wikipedia was added on 17 August, 2009. The 3.5 million articles milestone happened on 12 December, 2010.

• Gangadhar Bhadani, a banker from Ranchi, is the most prolific Indian Wikipedian with over 192,400 edits.

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WikiLeaks has been firing up popular imagination by suggesting that the round-the-corner leaks will have serious consequences on the world. Its strategy is to get and post on the Internet, secret documents flying out of the wraps of Governments and businesses.

WikiLeaks is a website that is used for publishing sensitive documents and news. It established an editorial policy that accepted only documents that were ‘of political, diplomatic, historical or ethical interest’. The website run by The Sunshine Press, was launched in 2006. It is a non-profit media organization that works with the objective of publishing submissions of otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and leaks. The idea was relatively simple: given the viral nature of the Internet – and the ease of duplicating digital documents – once secret information was published, it could never become secret again.

WikiLeaks describes itself as “an uncensorable system for untraceable mass document leaking”.

A very common misconception prevails: Wikipedia and WikiLeaks are affiliated to each other. But this is NOT the case. These are two different entities that share the same ‘wiki’ prefix. Wiki is the abbreviation of WikiWikiWeb, which was the first wiki software. It’s actually a Hawaiian word that means “fast.” As a noun, wiki means a collaborative website that can be directly edited using only a web browser.

Wikipedia is an online encyclopedia editable by any user. Whereas, WikiLeaks was formerly a wiki, but and has turned into a more traditional website. Also, wiki is a generic word that anyone can use; it is not a brand name.

The domain name was registered on October 4, 2006. The website was unveiled, and published its first document in December 2006. The site claims to have been “founded by Chinese dissidents, journalists, mathematicians and start-up company technologists, from the US, Taiwan, Europe, Australia and South Africa”.
WikiLeaks has been in the eye of the storm due to the controversial nature of content published by it. They really do not have any permanent website due to a number of denial-of-service attacks and its division from different Domain Name System (DNS) providers. Formerly, the website was

It was launched as a user-editable wiki site, where any person can submit sensitive data without the fear of being tracked by Government agencies or organizations. However, a team of reviewers – volunteers from the mainstream press, journalists and WikiLeaks staff – decides what is published.

The creators of WikiLeaks have not been formally identified. It has been represented in public since January 2007 by Julian Assange and others. He has been called “the Robin Hood of hacking.” As the founder and public face of WikiLeaks, Julian Paul Assange is best known as the spokesperson and editor-in-chief for the whistleblower website. He is an Australian journalist, publisher and internet activist.

Assange was reportedly born in 1971 in the city of Townsville, northeastern Australia. When he turned 16, he began hacking computers, reportedly assuming the name Mendax – from the Latin splendid mendax, or “nobly untruthful.”

Before working with the website, Assange was a physics and mathematics student as well as a computer programmer. He has lived in several countries and has told reporters he is constantly on the move. He makes irregular public appearances to speak about freedom of the press, censorship, and investigative journalism.

The soft-spoken Assange is almost as opaque as the website he edits. He declines to release personal details and leads a somewhat nomadic lifestyle.
And the information war continues. The super power US v/s the whistleblower WikiLeaks is the biggest cyber war the world has witnessed.

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A controversy that has ignited a very important debate – WikiLeaks – has created nothing short of a storm worldwide. WikiLeaks and potential imitators could be game changers for the relationships between journalists and the Governments and companies they cover. The merits or dangers of those changes are, however, big points of conflict for both the organizations that have experienced leaks and the journalists who cover them. Multiple stories on the issue do exist, but the first million-dollar question to be addressed is:


Within a year of its launch, the site claimed a database that had grown to more than 1.2 million documents. WikiLeaks is a website that posts formerly secret documents online, in the search of accountability and transparency. Its release of more than 75,000 US Army and Marine Corps documents recording six years of events in Afghanistan, has angered officials in Washington, Britain and Pakistan. It has created serious controversy over the inherent conflict between national security interests and Government transparency. At the center of the WikiLeaks controversy is US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, the man suspected of having passed the whistle-blower website a massive collection of US embassy cables.

The post is an infamous video shot from a US helicopter, which shows suspected militants being gunned down in Iraq. In the video, a group of men alleged to be militants are shot at for over an hour until most of them are dead or wounded, when a rescue van arrives, unarmed men are shot down as well. Recorded by the US Defense Department in 2007, the video has reignited a debate about leaks, the responsibilities of those who publicize them, and the ways the Internet is changing the nature of keeping secrets.
Apart from these, WikiLeaks is supposed to have leaked many other controversial documents:

– Extrajudicial killings in Kenya
– Report on Toxic Waste Dumping on the African coast
– Church of Scientology manuals
– Guantanamo Bay procedures

The process is this: The website is set up to allow completely anonymous submissions from whistleblowers around the world via a supposedly secure online form, although questions have been raised lately about its reliability. Assange and company then leaf through these confidential submissions, repackage them into multimedia presentations and publish them on the Web, still guaranteeing their sources complete anonymity.

As for the recent controversy of US secret cables, it has been said that the US military had recently introduced an information-sharing initiative called Net-Centric Diplomacy which allowed insiders to gain access to classified information. Under the new initiative, a subset of State Department documents are published through a Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet, which is supposed to be Pentagon’s Secret-level global network. The information available on this network is accessible to authorized American military service personnel. Manning is believed to have downloaded a cache of documents and passed them on to WikiLeaks.
Needless to mention, Governments around the world would like to take down WikiLeaks for once and for all, but it is not that easy. They are only able to block the website. But it can be bypassed using separate URL’s maintained by WikiLeaks. This is because: WikiLeaks hosts itself by PRQ, a Sweden-based company providing “highly secure, no-questions-asked hosting services”.

The US Government has solemnly warned that WikiLeaks is endangering the lives of American diplomats, soldiers and spooks. “Such disclosures put at risk our diplomats, intelligence professionals, and people around the world that come to the US for assistance in promoting democracy and open Government,” the White House declared. “By releasing stolen and classified documents, WikiLeaks has put at risk not only the cause of human rights but also the lives and work of these individuals.”

On 20 August 2010, an investigation was opened against Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks and an arrest warrant issued in Sweden in connection with sexual encounters with two women, aged 26 and 31, one in Enkoping and the other in Stockholm. Assange’s defense lawyer, Mark Stephens, says the sexual assault allegations against his client are part of a conspiracy. Julian Assange, too, dismissed the allegations made against him in Sweden and vowed to fight against extradition. Hinting at a conspiracy,

Assange’s lawyer described the accusations as a “political stunt” and “political motivations that appear to be behind this.”
Assange was arrested on 7 December, 2010 and WikiLeaks appealed to its supporters to make up Assange’s bail in the days before his arrest. Journalist John Pilger, film director Ken Loach and sister of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, Jemima Khan offered to put up sureties. However, this proved to be unnecessary. The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court refused Julian Assange bail because of the risk of him fleeing.

Weighing the merits of publishing against the risks of making sensitive information known, experts claim the authority to decide which materials to make public. Needless to say, the Government disagrees. From a journalistic point of view, the ethical problem that arises is determining who decides what is at risk and what it is worth. There are also serious question marks with regard to the verification of the documents and the motives of those who sent them.
As the most basic level, though, the question results from the simple fact being: good facts are necessary for good ethics and we don’t have all the facts needed to fully assess how much harm the leaks will cause. The possible consequences of the leaks have been
the subject of intense disagreement. Predictions have ranged from the leaks having no serious consequences to their undermining “the functional integrity of the whole Western security machinery on which its very survival depends”.

In considering the ethics of WikiLeaks, a point to be kept in mind is that what is and isn’t ethical can differ at different levels of analysis. These levels are the individual (micro), institutional (meso), societal (macro), and global (mega). All of them are relevant in the case of WikiLeaks. Something that might pass ethical muster at one level might not do so at another. For instance, freedom of speech might justify disclosure of certain information at the level of individual rights. The harm that disclosure would cause at all the other levels would make it unethical at those levels, however.

While there are questions over whether he would get a fair trial, Assange himself has no choice but to believe in the system. He has invoked the values of the system to commit some of his other acts. He has admitted at various points of time that he is only the messenger and that there is an attempt to shoot the messenger. The self-styled defender of freedom of speech continues his war with his enemies – the corporations that attacked WikiLeaks. He is supported by a lot of followers who believe in him and his only weapon – his laptop!

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