I’m not sure, but I think error 404 may not be a glitch in the system, but rather the program rejecting a post or message because it exceeds the 6,000 character maximum for which the system is set up.
Let’s try it. I am going to post a text containing almost 8,000 characters:
Main article: History of Wikipedia
Wikipedia originally developed from another encyclopedia project, Nupedia.
Wikipedia began as a complementary project for Nupedia, a free online English-language encyclopedia project whose articles were written by experts and reviewed under a formal process. Nupedia was founded on March 9, 2000, under the ownership of Bomis, Inc, a web portal company. Its main figures were Jimmy Wales, Bomis CEO, and Larry Sanger, editor-in-chief for Nupedia and later Wikipedia. Nupedia was licensed initially under its own Nupedia Open Content License, switching to the GNU Free Documentation License before Wikipedia’s founding at the urging of Richard Stallman.
Graph of the article count for the English Wikipedia, from January 10, 2001, to September 9, 2007 (the date of the two-millionth article)
Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales are the founders of Wikipedia. While Wales is credited with defining the goal of making a publicly editable encyclopedia, Sanger is usually credited with the counter-intuitive strategy of using a wiki to reach that goal. On January 10, 2001, Larry Sanger proposed on the Nupedia mailing list to create a wiki as a “feeder” project for Nupedia. Wikipedia was formally launched on January 15, 2001, as a single English-language edition at http://www.wikipedia.com, and announced by Sanger on the Nupedia mailing list. Wikipedia’s policy of “neutral point-of-view” was codified in its initial months, and was similar to Nupedia’s earlier “nonbiased” policy. Otherwise, there were relatively few rules initially and Wikipedia operated independently of Nupedia.
Wikipedia gained early contributors from Nupedia, Slashdot postings, and search engine indexing. It grew to approximately 20,000 articles, and 18 language editions, by the end of 2001. By late 2002 it had reached 26 language editions, 46 by the end of 2003, and 161 by the final days of 2004. Nupedia and Wikipedia coexisted until the former’s servers went down permanently in 2003, and its text was incorporated into Wikipedia. English Wikipedia passed the 2 million-article mark on September 9, 2007, making it the largest encyclopedia ever assembled, eclipsing even the Yongle Encyclopedia (1407), which had held the record for exactly 600 years.
Citing fears of commercial advertising and lack of control in a perceived English-centric Wikipedia, users of the Spanish Wikipedia forked from Wikipedia to create the Enciclopedia Libre in February 2002. Later that year, Wales announced that Wikipedia would not display advertisements, and its website was moved to wikipedia.org. Various other projects have since forked from Wikipedia for editorial reasons. Wikinfo does not require neutral point of view and allows original research. New Wikipedia-inspired projects — such as Citizendium, Scholarpedia, Conservapedia and Google’s Knol — have been started to address perceived limitations of Wikipedia, such as its policies on peer review, original research and commercial advertising.
The Wikimedia Foundation was created from Wikipedia and Nupedia on June 20, 2003. It applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark Wikipedia on September 17, 2004. The mark was granted registration status on January 10, 2006. Trademark protection was accorded by Japan on December 16, 2004, and in the European Union on January 20, 2005. Technically a service mark, the scope of the mark is for: “Provision of information in the field of general encyclopedic knowledge via the Internet.” There are plans to license the use of the Wikipedia trademark for some products, such as books or DVDs.
Nature of Wikipedia
Unlike traditional encyclopedias such as Encyclopædia Britannica, no article in Wikipedia undergoes formal peer-review process and changes to articles are made available immediately. No article is owned by its creator or any other editor, or is vetted by any recognized authority. Except for a few vandalism-prone pages that can be edited only by established users, or in extreme cases only by administrators, every article may be edited anonymously or with a user account, while only registered users may create a new article (only in English edition). Consequently, Wikipedia “makes no guarantee of validity” of its content. Being a general reference work, Wikipedia also contains materials that some people, including Wikipedia editors, may find objectionable, offensive, or pornographic. For instance, in 2008, Wikipedia rejected an online petition against the inclusion of Muhammad’s depictions in its English edition, citing this policy. The presence of politically sensitive materials in Wikipedia had also led the People’s Republic of China to block access to parts of the site. (See also: IWF block of Wikipedia)
Content in Wikipedia is subject to the laws (in particular copyright law) in Florida, United States, where Wikipedia servers are hosted, and several editorial policies and guidelines that are intended to reinforce the notion that Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Each entry in Wikipedia must be about a topic that is encyclopedic and thus is worthy of inclusion. A topic is deemed encyclopedic if it is “notable” in the Wikipedia jargon; i.e., if it has received significant coverage in secondary reliable sources (i.e., mainstream media or major academic journals) that are independent of the subject of the topic. Second, Wikipedia must expose knowledge that is already established and recognized. In other words, it must not present, for instance, new information or original works. A claim that is likely to be challenged requires a reference to reliable sources. Within the Wikipedia community, this is often phrased as “verifiability, not truth” to express the idea that the readers are left themselves to check the truthfulness of what appears in the articles and to make their own interpretations. Finally, Wikipedia does not take a side. All opinions and viewpoints, if attributable to external sources, must enjoy appropriate share of coverage within an article. Wikipedia editors as a community write and revise those policies and guidelines and enforce them by deleting, annotating with tags or modifying article materials failing to meet them. (See also deletionism and inclusionism.)
Editors keep track of changes to articles by checking the difference between two revisions of a page, displayed here in red.
Contributors, registered or not, can take advantage of features available in the software that powers Wikipedia. The “History” page attached to each article records every single past revision of the article, though a revision with libelous content, criminal threats or copyright infringements may be removed afterwards. This feature makes it easy to compare old and new versions, undo changes that an editor considers undesirable, or restore lost content. The “Discussion” pages associated with each article are used to coordinate work among multiple editors. Regular contributors often maintain a “watchlist” of articles of interest to them, so that they can easily keep tabs on all recent changes to those articles. Computer programs called bots have been used widely to remove vandalism as soon as it was made, to correct common misspellings and stylistic issues, or to start articles such as geography entries in a standard format from statistical data.
The open nature of the editing model has been central to most criticism of Wikipedia. For example, at any point, a reader of an article cannot be certain, without consulting its “history” page, whether or not the article she is reading has been vandalized. Critics argue that non-expert editing undermines quality. Because contributors usually rewrite small portions of an entry rather than making full-length revisions, high- and low-quality content may be intermingled within an entry. Historian Roy Rosenzweig noted: “Overall, writing is the Achilles’ heel of Wikipedia. Committees rarely write well, and Wikipedia entries often have a choppy quality that results from the stringing together of sentences or paragraphs written by different people.” All of these led to the question of the reliability of Wikipedia as a source of accurate information.
In 2008 two researchers theorized that the growth of Wikipedia is sustainable.
Reliability and bias
Main article: Reliability of Wikipedia
See also: Criticism of Wikipedia
Wikipedia has been accused of exhibiting systemic bias and inconsistency; critics argue that Wikipedia’s open nature and a lack of proper sources for much of the information makes it unreliable. Some commentators suggest that Wikipedia is generally reliable, but that the reliability of any given article is not always clear. Editors of traditional reference works such as the Encyclopædia Britannica have questioned the project’s utility and status as an encyclopedia. Many university lecturers discourage students from citing any encyclopedia in academic work, preferring primary sources; some specifically prohibit Wikipedia citations. Co-founder Jimmy Wales stresses that encyclopedias of any type are not usually appropriate as primary sources, and should not be relied upon as authoritative.