Printing Wikipedia

I’m sure we all use Wikipedia as a quick online reference, but have you ever given thought about it being an encyclopedia? After all, its tagline is “The Free Encyclopedia”. Traditionally, an encyclopedia one large reference book split up into many volumes for ease of use and storage. Nowadays, there are many encyclopedias online, including those traditionally in print, perhaps because it makes it easier to access and maintain, as well as being less costly. Wikipedia has taken advantage of these benefits and started off online. What’s more, it’s a wiki, so anyone who is knowledgeable on a subject is encouraged to edit the appropriate articles, allowing for the most up-to-date information.

Silly question, but what if you wanted to print the whole English Wikipedia?

Well, first of all, why would you even think of printing the whole of Wikipedia?

Regardless, Rob Matthews has printed 0.01% of Wikipedia, having printed all the featured articles a few years ago:

Rob Matthews' print copy of Wikipedia's featured articles

Rob Matthews’ print copy of Wikipedia’s featured articles

Here’s another shot to give it some perspective:

Rob Matthews' printed Wikipedia featured articles

Rob Matthews’ printed Wikipedia featured articles

Remember, that only contains the featured articles from a few years ago.

On xkcd’s What If?, Marein Könings asked, “If you had a printed version of the whole of (say, the English) Wikipedia, how many printers would you need in order to keep up with the changes made to the live version?”

Apparently, you’d only need six printers:

Six printers

You only need six printers to keep up with Wikipedia’s updates.

Randall has already explained the details of how this works, so I’ll direct you to his post.


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