Wikimania hits Israel as conference opens

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales

Internet users with a penchant for obscure facts and seemingly random details have gathered in Haifa this week for the annual Wikipedia conference.

The three-day event Wikimania opened yesterday and will feature a speech by the online encyclopaedia's founder, Jimmy Wales.

Other guests include Tomer Ashur, the chairman of Israel's Wikimedia chapter, and hundreds of activists and citizen editors from the around the world. Attendees even came from Venezuela and Indonesia, countries which do not recognise Israel.

This year's event is the seventh, and the first to be held in Israel, a country known for it's IT and hi-tech industry. Previous locations have included Egypt and Poland.

Participants will enjoy discussions on a number of issues surrounding the decade-old website, as well as tours of Haifa, the Galilee, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

Mr Wales told the Associated Press on Thursday that he was concerned the user-edited site was losing contributors.

The site currently holds some 3.6 million articles written in English, with a total of 19 million entries written in more than 280 languages.

Last updated: 10:43am, August 5 2011