Wikipedia is to begin making its articles available on CD-ROM so that people with no or limited access to the web can still access the site's highlights. Wikipedia Version 0.5 CD contains 2,000 articles about core subjects such as the arts, literature, history, science and geography.

Wikipedia used a nomination process to identify which of its 1.7 million English language articles were of most value to Wikipedia users. Featured 'bronze star' articles (articles deemed to be the best on the site by Wikipedia's own editors) were included by default.

However, 2,000 articles make up just 0.1 per cent of the total Wikipedia English language encyclopaedia. So whilst the $13.99 (£7) price tag might be modest, it's important to remember that this is only a very limited selection of articles.

A £7 valuation on 2,000 articles suggests that Wikipedia values its entire English language article base at £5,950 per individual copy. In contrast, you can get the whole 100,000 article Encyclopedia Britannica CD-ROM for £45.

Future projects

"Not only does it provide those not connected to the worldwide web access to knowledge, but it also showcases some of the best articles created on Wikipedia," said Florence Devouard of the Foundation.

Wikipedia is a non-profit internet encyclopaedia on which any web user can edit and create entries. It is funded by regular funding drives where it asks users for donations to keep the foundation running.

"We wanted to cover the major topics, while also including a selection of articles considered to be the very best of Wikipedia," said professor Walker, of the State University of New York, Potsdam.

"These featured articles aim to be well written and comprehensive, and also free from errors, bias, vandalism and marketing."

Word is that Wikipedia is planning several more offline ventures in the near future.