For decades, people turned to the information stored in the Encyclopedia Britannica when they needed to look something up. However, at the turning of the century, the website that would eventually overtake them was started. The rise of Wikipedia is an unusual one as they forged their own trail to success. Run almost entirely on donations, this informational site is highly informative with articles written by anyone and everyone who has something to add.
How They Became Successful
Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger are credited with formally launching Wikipedia. The idea of having an internet repository of information was not necessarily a new idea, but it had not been successfully executed until this point. The domain was launched on January 15, 2001, with many former employees from Bomis, a partner, contributing to content.
It was not until July 2001 that the site got its first major endorsement from the Slashdot website. While the site had been mentioned twice in March 2001, they were minor in comparison to the July version and many new participants were drawn to help write content and use the information.
More traffic began to be directed to the site from Google, which sent hundreds of new visitors to the site every day, helping to spread the word of its place on the internet. The New York Times gave Wikipedia their first mainstream media coverage on September 20, 2001.
In 2005, Hitwise dubbed Wikipedia the most popular reference website and the largest general knowledge online encyclopedia with over 750,000 articles. (And that was just in the English version.) As of June 2014, Wikipedia is the world’s sixth most popular website with 10 billion pageviews from around the globe each month, or 8 million every day.
Just like any other successful business, Wikipedia overcame their fair share of criticisms along the way. After a well-known journalist talked about how his biography was totally false on the site, people started taking a harder look at how reliable user-generated information really is. Wikipedia tightened its reigns a bit and required more sources and documentation for each change.
Most schools forbid their students from using this site for their research, many even blocking it while on campus, because it didn’t take long for students to discover that searching on Wikipedia is less time consuming than other methods. Even if they couldn’t site Wikipedia, though, the resources listed at the bottom had the useful information in them and could set the students going the right direction.
Eventually, studies started being done to prove that Wikipedia was just as correct, if not more so, when compared to other informational sources like the Encyclopedia Britannica. The articles that were less accurate were usually fringe topics, where there is not a lot of information and it is of little consequence to the main population. The more common articles rarely have inaccurate information.
The Production of Articles
Articles were quickly written and posted on Wikipedia in the early days. It took less than a month from its creation to get its 1,000th article and there were ten times that many by September 2001. In the first year alone there were over 20,000 entries created, which was approximately 1,500 per month. The article generating did not slow down either.
Anyone can help to contribute now, with 85.5% of all Wikipedia articles being non-English versions. Together, people keep this site up and running in order to make sure that the facts are correct.
The unique benefit of having an online encyclopedia is found in the example of comparing the website to books. Yes, there were a number of incorrect articles that were published, but the advantage of the online source had over the book encyclopedias is that the mistakes were corrected within hours on the site while they couldn’t be corrected in books until the next version was printed.
What Your Business Can Learn
Every business is going to go through hard times. You just need to keep pressing forward. There is more to learn from Wikipedia’s story, though. They found success in the world of the internet when it was still relatively new to many Americans.
Another thing you should learn is that there is no set pattern for success. While Microsoft was pushing their own version of a digital encyclopedia, their name didn’t automatically make their product the best in the business. Instead, word of mouth made this internet giant a common household name.
On that same line, people are very committed to brands. When a good thing comes along, customers and clients can spread word faster than any other avenue and it usually holds more weight among their friends, family, and colleagues. This is one major reason you should make your potential and current customers feel important and valued to you.
Nothing compares to hard work. There are a lot of ways for you to succeed in your business, but you have to find the way that works for you. The biggest payoffs come from the biggest risks, so don’t be afraid to pave your own road.