So why compare it to anarchism? Well, there are some striking similarities in how Wikipedia functions and the goals of anarchism.
First and foremost the concept of property is removed by ensuring that all articles are copyleft rather than copyrighted. All the information is free to use in the public domain by using a copyleft license. In this case Wikipedia uses the GNU Free Documentation License ( http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) which ensures that all content can be freely used, freely edited, and free to copy and redistribute either for commercial or non commercial use. Other types of copyleft license are also available such as the Creative Commons License ( http://www.creativecommons.org) which allow most of the above but don't allow the use of content for commercial or profit use.
The second similarity is the concepts of voluntary cooperation and mutual aid. Individual Wikipedia contributors are volunteers who come together worldwide to help increase the knowledge of all. Creating a collaboritive multilingual project which enhances the knowledge of all the users both individually and collectively. As of June 2004 it contained more than 280,000 entries in English and more than 400,000 in other languages. By working together to create, review and add to articles the need for an editor or boss is dispensed with as all contributors become editors. At present the project is operated under the auspices of the non-profit making Wickipedia Foundation.
The third similarity is the concept of communities meeting their own needs, the idea of self-management. The project has its pros and cons as with all things. There have been occasions when someone has run amok, deliberately deleting or changing articles to distort the relative accuracy. However an internal system of self-healing has developed to cope with similar situations. An example of creating organisational structures as and when they're needed rather than resorting to imposing far reaching rules, regulations and laws to address what is a relatively small issue.
Although Wickipedia is not an anarchist project it does show how anarchist concepts of free use, voluntary cooperation, mutual aid and self-management are already in use in popular worldwide projects. Wickipedia began in 2001 and in March 2004 had 6000 contributors working on 600,000 articles in 50 different languages.
Anarchy in action?