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Origins and nature

Launched on January 15, 2001 by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger it is a free, collaboratively edited, and multilingual Internet encyclopedia supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation. Its 23 million articles, have been written collaboratively by volunteers around the world. Almost all of its articles can be edited by anyone with access to the site,and it has about 100,000 active contributors.


Wikiwand is modern reader for use on tablets and mobile phones, that takes advantage of the fact that all articles on Wikipedia are released under a free license, in order to take Wikipedia's content and optimize it (i.e. change the look) for a what they call an "improved reading experience". The data is pretty much the same though.

See the Wikiwand website at


The Encyclopaedia is often seen as unscientific, flawed and even dangerous by many prominent scholars and academics. As the entry on Wikipedia itself states it: "The open nature of Wikipedia has led to various concerns, such as the quality of writing, the amount of vandalism and the accuracy of information. Some articles contain unverified or inconsistent information." These concerns are constantly being debated. Nevertheless, it can also be immensely useful as a research tool, providing quick (even if suspect of unsubstantiated) information on just about everything, particularly for someone starting out on a project of research or writing.

Wikipedia and Theatre in South Africa

Wikipedia has a wide range of information and data on the arts, including theatre and performance internationally, as well as in South Africa. Particularly valuable are its articles on international artists and academics who have worked in or influenced the arts in Southern Africa, as well as Southern African artists and academics who have become prominent internationally, and expatriate Southern African artists and academics.

ESAT and Wikipedia

ESAT also employs the Wiki software platform[1] utilised by Wikipedia, and many of the entries in ESAT acknowledge Wikipedia as a source, or refer readers to related Wikipedia entries for more information. ESAT also employs a similar strategy to the Wikipedia one - i.e. it is free and open access and can be contributed to and commented upon by readers and users - though access is controlled to a greater extent to avoid vandalism in particular.

For more on the various Wiki programmes available and the specific programme used by Wikipedia and ESAT, see the Wikipedia entry on Wiki software at

See "An invitation to contribute to ESAT" on the Main Page,


Andrew Lih. 2009. The Wikipedia Revolution. London: Aurum Press.

Go to South African Theatre/Bibliography

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Return to South African Theatre Venues, Companies, Societies, etc

Return to The ESAT Entries

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