Wikipedia began with its launch on 15 January 2001, two days after the domain was registered by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Its technological and conceptual underpinnings predate this; the earliest known proposal for an online encyclopedia was made by Rick Gates in 1993, but the concept of a free-as-in-freedom online encyclopedia (as distinct from mere open source) was proposed by Richard Stallman in December 2000.
Crucially, Stallman's concept specifically included the idea that no central organization should control editing. This characteristic was in stark contrast to contemporary digital encyclopedias such as Microsoft Encarta, Encyclopædia Britannica, and even Bomis's Nupedia, which was Wikipedia's direct predecessor. In 2001, the license for Nupedia was changed to GFDL, and Wales and Sanger launched Wikipedia using the concept and technology of awiki pioneered in 1995 by Ward Cunningham. Initially, Wikipedia was intended to complement Nupedia, an online encyclopedia project edited solely by experts, by providing additional draft articles and ideas for it. In practice, Wikipedia quickly overtook Nupedia, becoming a global project in multiple languages and inspiring a wide range of other online reference projects.
According to Alexa Internet, Wikipedia is the world's sixth-most-popular website in terms of overall visitor traffic. Wikipedia's worldwide monthly readership is approximately 495 million. Worldwide in August 2015, WMF Labs tallied 18 billion page views for the month. According to comScore, Wikipedia receives over 117 million monthly unique visitors from the United States alone
Advances in information technology in the late 20th century led to changes in the form of encyclopedias. While previous encyclopedias, notably the Encyclopædia Britannica, were book-based, Microsoft's Encarta, published in 1993, was available on CD-ROM and hyperlinked. The development of the World Wide Web led to many attempts to develop internet encyclopedia projects. An early proposal for a web-based encyclopedia was Interpedia in 1993 by Rick Gates; this project died before generating any encyclopedic content. Free software proponent Richard Stallman described the usefulness of a "Free Universal Encyclopedia and Learning Resource" in 1999. His published document "aims to lay out what the free encyclopedia needs to do, what sort of freedoms it needs to give the public, and how we can get started on developing it." On Wednesday 17 January 2001, two days after the founding of Wikipedia, the Free Software Foundation's (FSF)GNUPedia project went online, competing with Nupedia, but today the FSF encourages people "to visit and contribute to [Wikipedia]
CONCEPT OF FORMULATIONS
Wikipedia was initially conceived as a feeder project for the Wales-founded Nupedia, an earlier project to produce a free online encyclopedia, volunteered by Bomis, a web-advertising firm owned by Jimmy Wales, Tim Shell and Michael E. Davis. Nupedia was founded upon the use of highly qualified volunteer contributors and an elaborate multi-steppeer review process. Despite its mailing list of interested editors, and the presence of a full-time editor-in-chief, Larry Sanger, a graduate philosophy student hired by Wales, the writing of content for Nupedia was extremely slow, with only 12 articles written during the first year.
Wales and Sanger discussed various ways to create content more rapidly. The idea of a wiki-based complement originated from a conversation between Larry M. Sanger and Ben Kovitz. Ben Kovitz was a computer programmer and regular on Ward Cunningham's revolutionary wiki "the WikiWikiWeb". He explained to Sanger what wikis were, at that time a difficult concept to understand, over a dinner on Tuesday 2 January 2001. Wales first stated, in October 2001, that "Larry had the idea to use Wiki software", though he later stated in December 2005 that Jeremy Rosenfeld, a Bomis employee, introduced him to the concept Sanger thought a wiki would be a good platform to use, and proposed on the Nupedia mailing list that a wiki based upon UseModWiki (then v. 0.90) be set up as a "feeder" project for Nupedia.