Wikipedia (i/ˌwɪkɨˈpiːdiə/ or i/ˌwɪkiˈpiːdiə/ WIK-i-PEE-dee-ə) is a collaboratively edited, multilingual, free Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia's 26 million articles in 286 languages, including over 4.2 million in the English Wikipedia, are written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site. It has become the largest and most popular general reference work on the Internet, ranking sixth globally among all websites on Alexa and having an estimated 365 million readers worldwide.
Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001, by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. Sanger coined the name Wikipedia, which is a portmanteau of wiki (a type of collaborative website, from the Hawaiian word wiki, meaning "quick") and encyclopedia. Wikipedia's departure from the expert-driven style of encyclopedia building and the presence of a large body of unacademic content have received extensive attention in print media. In 2006, Time magazine recognized Wikipedia's participation in the rapid growth of online collaboration and interaction by millions of people around the world, in addition to YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook. Wikipedia has also been praised as a news source due to articles related to breaking news often being rapidly updated.
The open nature of Wikipedia has led to various concerns, such as the quality of writing, the amount of vandalism and the accuracy of information. Some articles contain unverified or inconsistent information, though a 2005 investigation in Nature showed that the science articles they compared came close to the level of accuracy of Encyclopædia Britannica and had a similar rate of "serious errors". Britannica replied that the study's methodology and conclusions were flawed, but Nature reacted to this refutation with both a formal response and a point-by-point rebuttal of Britannica's main objections.