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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 April 2007, 13:27 GMT 14:27 UK
Wikipedia offers access offline
Jimmy Wales
Jimmy Wales founded the free online resource in 2001
Nearly 2,000 Wikipedia articles will be sold on compact disc to give people without a net connection access to highlights of the popular web resource.

The Wikipedia Version 0.5 CD collection includes topics such as geography, arts, literature, science and history.

The articles were selected by software that rated their quality and importance to the Wikipedia community.

Martin Walker, a senior academic from the US also helped set the selection criteria for the $13.99 (7) disc.

"We wanted to cover the major topics, while also including a selection of articles considered to be the very best of Wikipedia," said Professor Walker, of the State University of New York, Potsdam.

"These featured articles aim to be well written and comprehensive, and also free from errors, bias, vandalism and marketing."

Language plans

The 1,964 articles were only selected from the English version of the online resource, which currently contains more than 1.7 million entries.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the group behind Wikipedia, said the CD reflected its mission of "making knowledge available to every human being."

"Not only does it provide those not connected to the worldwide web access to knowledge, but it also showcases some of the best articles created on Wikipedia," said Florence Devouard of the Foundation.

The collection is not the first time that the online resource has been distributed offline.

In 2006, children's charity SOS Children released a free encyclopaedia made up of articles selected from Wikipedia. The CD, aimed at eight to 15 year olds, included articles that had been "tidied up" by volunteers.

The CD is the first of many offline projects planned by the wikipedia community.

A DVD of 239,000 hand-checked Polish Wikipedia articles will be released in the next few weeks, and a French language version of the new CD is planned.

Other systems already allow users to take the online resource out and about.

Webaroo allows users to carry the free encyclopaedia on a smart phone with a compact flash card, whilst Encyclopodia puts the open source project on an iPod.

The latest offerings from Wikimedia means it further encroaches into markets traditionally dominated by companies such as Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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