How Does Wikipedia Work? Your Questions Answered.

How Does Wikipedia Work

How Does Wikipedia Work? Your Questions Answered.

Wikipedia is the world’s large database of free reference articles on almost every topic imaginable. The Wikipedia community consists of users who simply view the content and other users who are dedicated administrators on the website.

Wikipedia consists of a multitude of Wikipedia pages that are free to view, all of which contain the millions of articles hosted on Wikipedia. In fact, the English version of Wikipedia has over six million wiki articles alone!

Wikipedia utilizes a variety of tools to make the encyclopedia more useful to users. On the left-hand side of any given wiki page, you’ll see tools that allow you to translate articles into your preferred language, cite the wiki page properly, and more.

History of Wikipedia

Before we understand how Wikipedia works, let’s jump back and look at Wikipedia’s history. It was founded in 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, two internet entrepreneurs from the United States. It began as a project to make information free and freely accessible to everyone on the internet.

One core concept to the project was de-centralized editing, meaning, no specific organization should control the editing process. This principle still holds true today, considering all article edits come from the Wikipedia user base. Wikipedia’s administration therefore includes all registered and non-registered users that opt-in to help run the day-to-day operation of the site.

How Wikipedia Makes Money

A common question people ask is, “if the content is free, then how does Wikipedia make money?” It’s quite shocking to hear, but Wikipedia is run almost solely by donations! The nonprofit quickly founded the Wikimedia Foundation (not to be confused as the Wikipedia Foundation) as a way to raise funding and reinvest every dollar earned back into Wikipedia.

When using the site, you might experience banner ads that ask for your donation. This is Wikipedia’s main source of revenue, so if you enjoy using the free service, perhaps consider supporting the organization.

How Content is Created on Wikipedia

Wikipedia’s community of contributors is responsible for creating content on the site. All content must be written in a neutral point of view and all media must follow Wikipedia’s copyright and creative commons guidelines.

The community portal can be found under the “Contribute” tab on the left-hand side of any given Wikipedia page, and this is where you can explore different projects being worked on. If you’re interested in writing or editing content for Wikipedia or proposing a new idea, you should explore the community portal.

Image Source: Wikipedia

Who Contributes to Wikipedia?

Anyone who is a registered user can contribute to Wikipedia. Registered users will have their IP addresses hidden when suggesting edits, which is a nice added layer of privacy. Non-registered users can suggest new topics for Wikipedia editors on the “Talk” tab at the top of any given Wikipedia page, but their IP address will be visible unless they register their account.

Editing Wikipedia articles takes time and unfortunately there are no set dates as to when someone could expect proposed changes to be pushed live. Because of how large Wikipedia is, the process for even simple edits could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Is Wikipedia Actually Trustworthy?

We’re constantly told as children never to use Wikipedia for any type of research project. It is understandable that educators want students using primary sources and utilizing library services, but Wikipedia offers a great starting point for building foundational knowledge on a plethora of topics.

Wikipedia often gets a bad rap because anyone can suggest an edit, regardless of their knowledge or expertise on the subject. It isn’t always fool-proof, but Wikipedia uses bots and automations to make sure that spam content and misinformation is caught before any proposed changes are published. At any given time, users are looking at the most accurate and up-to-date information available on any given topic.

In general, Wikipedia articles are trustworthy sources for general background information. Plus, the different language versions of Wikipedia help make it accessible to most users, no matter what your native language is. Wikipedia understands that knowledge sharing shouldn’t be exclusive to only native English speakers, so users have the option to select their preferred language on the left-side menu.


It’s natural to wonder how such a vast organization like Wikipedia works and can make money while simultaneously offering information to viewers for free. Wikipedia’s no-advertising policies make it one of the most unique publications of our time. Surprisingly, the site is able to manage itself through donations and external funding alone.

If you’re interested in tackling a project on Wikipedia, talk to us at We’ll discuss your plans and the best strategy to get your project published quickly. We’re U.S.-based Wikipedia experts and we’re here to make your Wikipedia project a reality.

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