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According to Alexa Internet, as of 8 October 2017, Wikipedia is the world's fifth-most-popular website in terms of overall visitor traffic.

He explained to Sanger what wikis were, at that time a difficult concept to understand, over a dinner on Tuesday 2 January 2001.

Sanger thought a wiki would be a good platform to use, and proposed on the Nupedia mailing list that a wiki based upon Use Mod Wiki (then v. Under the subject "Let's make a wiki", he wrote: No, this is not an indecent proposal. Jimmy Wales thinks that many people might find the idea objectionable, but I think not...

The idea of using automated machinery beyond the printing press to build a more useful encyclopedia can be traced to Paul Otlet's 1934 book Traité de documentation; Otlet also founded the Mundaneum, an institution dedicated to indexing the world's knowledge, in 1910.

This concept of a machine-assisted encyclopedia was further expanded in H. Wells' book of essays World Brain (1938) and Vannevar Bush's future vision of the microfilm-based Memex in his essay "As We May Think" (1945).

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 a wiki pioneered in 1995 by Ward Cunningham.

Many former Bomis employees later contributed content to the encyclopedia: notably Tim Shell, co-founder and later CEO of Bomis, and programmer Jason Richey.

Wales stated in December 2008 that he made Wikipedia's first edit, a test edit with the text "Hello, World!

On Tuesday 14 December 2010, developer Tim Starling found backups on Source Forge containing every change made to Wikipedia from its creation in January 2001 to 17 August 2001.

For more information see Wikipedia: Wikipedia's oldest articles.

On Friday 30 August 2002, the article count reached 40,000.