Fixed Reference: Snapshots of WikiPedia


WikiPedia is a reference encyclopedia, where topics are interconnected via links in webpages. WikiPedia contains a huge amount of reference information and can be copied freely under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

However the WikiPedia development site, www.en.wikipedia.org is open-edit site, meaning that ANYONE can change any reference or dialogue with any other user.

This has some major advantages: most notably this gives very fast development (the word Wiki in WikiPedia comes from a word meaning fast). Articles are being added at a rapid rate, with no sign that the development will end.

However, there are two major problems with this:

  1. It also means that anyone referring to a reference or image in WikiPedia and linking to it accepts the likelihood that whatever they link to or refer to may change or be deleted before the link is followed.
  2. It means people using the development site for reference may meet malicious individuals there or come across vandalism: obscene or racist images or definitions for example. Vandalism does generally eventually get repaired, but you may still see it. More innocent vandalism (like people adding their name to lists of famous scientists or whatever) is sometimes harder to spot and hangs around.

Fixedreference.org has regular saved (fixed) snapshots of WikiPedia at a fixed moments in time, without the talk pages. All content comes from WikiPedia.

Current saved snapshots:

  • English WikiPedia: 24 July 2004
  • Simple English WikiPedia: 24 July 2004
  • French WikiPedia: 27 July 2004
  • This largely solves (1). In general if you link to a page on WikiPedia on fixed reference the link will always point to the same thing (the saved snapshot of WikiPedia on a given date), with a proviso that if after putting up a fixed snapshot we find illegal content, copyright violations or vandalism we will remove it.

    This partially solves (2) but only partially. You cannot meet people at fixed reference, the talk pages are gone. However, WikiPedia is enormous (250 000 pages) and it isn't practical for us to check it all before displaying it, so there is always a small risk of coming across something unpleasant. We may at some point in the future put up a snapshot we have actually read through in entirety, but don't hold your breath. We are not aware of anything unpleasant or illegal in the current snapshots, but we take no responsibility for this risk see DISCLAIMER and if you wish to use wikipedia for a school project for example we suggest you check relevant pages before doing so. Have a look around and let us know if you do find anything.

    If you'd like a downloadable copy of any particular saved version on CD ROM for a school or whatever please speak to us, we'll try and help. The site is large (900 Mb) and bandwidth constraint means we will detect and stop straight downloads from the site.

    STOP PRESS

    Fixed Reference now has a demonstration copy of the 2006 Wikipedia CD Selection


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