It’s difficult to imagine a word without Wikipedia. Launched today, 15 years ago on January 15th 2001, the free encyclopaedia has become known as a bastion of knowledge the world over, and many people’s go-to guide for , well, absolutely everything.

To mark this 15th  anniversary, the company is inviting its users to tell the world what the site means to them. Following that link, and tweeting your 140 characters of wisdom appear on their campaign page.

But, for those in this country, Wikimedia South Africa is encouraging more of us to edit their pages and expand the knowledge of our country online, especially in our unique tongues.

“We want to especially encourage people to edit less well-known Wikipedias such as Xhosa language Wikipedia or Zulu language Wikipedia,” said Douglas Scott, president of Wikimedia South Africa in a media statement. “Most of South Africa’s official languages have a Wikipedia, but unfortunately not enough people contribute for them to be considered thriving healthy wikies with lots of useful content. Wikipedia’s mission is to provide the sum of human knowledge for everyone, everywhere, for free.”

It’s the smaller wiki pages such as isiXhosa, Venda, and isiZulu that need attention. Remember that anyone can create an account and start editing and contributing on these pages, so, if you have the ability to speak any of these languages (or more), Wikipedia would love to have you contributing to the site and giving Africa a larger and more authoritative presence online.

Some facts about Wikipedia:

  • Each month, 80 000 volunteer editors contribute to the site
  • As of today, 28% of the world’s population have grown up in a world where Wikipedia exists
  • In its first year, Wikipedia grew to 18 languages, which included Afrikaans
  • Every hour, around 15 000 edits are made
  • Every day, 7 000 new articles are created
  • It is one of the top 10 websites in the world, and the only non-profit site to be so high on the list
  • Among the site’s “knowledge projects” are Wiki Loves Monuments South Africa and Wiki Loves Africa
  • The site’s more than 35 billion articles receive in excess of 15 billion page views per month
[Image – Jigsaw on Big Huge Labs]