Meet Wikipedia, the Encyclopedia Anyone Can Code
It began as the encyclopedia anyone can edit. And now it’s also the encyclopedia anyone can program.
As of this weekend, anyone on Earth can use Lua — a 20-year-old programming language already championed by the likes of Angry Birds and World of Warcraft — to build material on Wikipedia and its many sister sites, such as Wikiquote and Wiktionary. Wikipedia has long offered simple tools that let tens of thousands of volunteer editors reuse little bits of text across its encyclopedia pages, but this is something different.
“We wanted to provide editors with a real programming language,” says Rob Lanphier, the director of platform engineering at the Wikimedia Foundation, the not-for-profit that oversees the online encyclopedia. “This will make things easier for editors, but it will also be significantly faster.”
It’s yet another way that the art of programming is slowly trickling down from the elite technicians of the world to the Average Joe. Companies such as Codecademy are actively looking to teach all sorts of programming skills to everyone and their brother. Google, MIT, and others are building new languages that significantly simplify how software code is built. And the web makes it so easy to put the appropriate tools in your hand. Wikipedia — the most successful crowd-sourced site on the net — is the extreme example.