Wikipedia is one of the wonders of our age. It just keeps getting bigger, and I often find now that when I google to learn more about a topic, the first or second item returned is a very good article on Wikipedia. All free, built from nothing by everybody in less than three years.
Slashdot hosted a question-and-answer format with Wikipedia founder Jimmy (Jimbo) Wales. Slashdot | Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds. Here’s an excerpt that captures his philosophy in a nutshell.
It is my intention to get a copy of Wikipedia to every single person on the planet in their own language. It is my intention that free textbooks from our wikibooks project will be used to revolutionize education in developing countries by radically cutting the cost of content. … Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.
Basically what I think works in a wikis is to trust people to do the right thing, and trust them as much as you can possibly stand it, until it hurts your head and makes you scared for what they’re going to break. Because that is what works.