Letter from the Founder - January 2005
This has been a very exciting year for Wikimedia, and much more is
coming next year!
It seems as though it was years ago when we were almost completely offline
for three days, because we had only three servers and two of them crashed with
motherboard and hard drive problems. But, this was just last year at
this time. Today, we have 40 servers and more on the way.
In this year, we have gone from a site half-afraid of being featured
on the computer news site Slashdot because we weren't able to cope
well with the traffic, to being a site that hardly notices when we
But our growth has not slowed, and may even be accelerating. We've
done something that is unprecedented, and is widely inspiring people
about the first dreams of what the Internet could be: people sharing
knowledge, giving it away for free, working together to create the
tools that people need to make this a better world.
No one can say exactly what the new year will hold for us, but some of
the developers are suggesting that if we continue on our current
growth course, we will be a top-100 or top-50 site by the end of this
year, and we will need hundreds of servers. This growth would be
exciting for anyone, but for us it is particularly exciting because of
how we have done it: in a way that no one would have ever imagined
possible... hundreds of volunteers collaborating in a loose and
vaguely anarchistic fashion to do something we really believe in.
How will we handle this growth? In the same way that we have handled
things in the past: through careful, thoughtful deliberation in which
we look to find the best ideas from whatever source. We need to
identify areas in which we need the most help, and actively seek that
For example, demands on developer time are becoming substantial,
and so we need to recruit and retain new developers. This can be
harder than recruiting new authors, because new developers have to
learn a lot more before they reach maximum productivity. For another
example, we know that there are systemic biases in Wikipedia, and so
we need to think about how to reach out to authors who are interested
in different topics than our existing community members are.
I ask everyone to make a resolution for the New Year to think about
how to handle this growth and, especially, how we can reach out to find
the help that we need. If every active volunteer can go out and
find one person who could bring something new to our community, we would
have a great increase in our ability to grow while maintaining and