Wikipedia will ask Big Tech to stop … using its foundation

Wikipedia will ask Big Tech to stop … using its foundation


2021-03-22 23:31:21

With the advent of Wikimedia Enterprise, this volunteer project will change that – and perhaps change themselves too!

For a long time, Google and Wikipedia have had an implicit partnership: Wikipedia produces information that Google gives out as users type searches, and Google builds its credibility for Wikipedia by calling this encyclopedia a reliable information source. Of course, the two still have some grudges, including that Goggle tried to replace Wikipedia with its own version, based on a huge number of user-generated posts, with a rather dumb name. is “Knol”, which stands for “knowledge”. Knol never became popular, although Google convinced the authors of the article by paying them a portion of the advertising proceeds. But after that failure, Google “clung to” Wikipedia more than ever – not only linking to articles on this page, but also displaying many important excerpts on the search results pages to quickly quickly bring answers from Wikipedia to the user.

Google and Wikipedia have grown together over the past 20 years, becoming household names. But while one side exploded into a trillion-dollar company, the subsidiary remained a mid-sized nonprofit, dependent on the generosity of its users, fundraising organizations, and other giants. in Silicon Valley to sustain life. Now, Wikipedia has decided it is time to rebalance its relationship with Google and other major tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, which own platforms and virtual assistants. day and night “spend the temple” sweat effort from Wikipedia.

Yesterday, the Wikimedia Foundation, the organization behind the Wikipedia project with more than 300 languages ​​and other wiki projects, announced the launch of a new commercial product, the Wikimedia Enterprise. This new service is designed to effectively sell and deliver Wikipedia content directly to the online giants (and even smaller companies later).

Exchanges between the newly formed subsidiary, Wikimedia LLC, and the Big Tech companies, were carried out – as revealed from the project participants – but over the next few months, we will be informed. responses of thousands of volunteers on Wikipedia. Agreements with companies can be reached as early as June.

This is the first time the organization has realized that commercial users are users of our services“- Lane Becker, senior director at the organization who heads the Enterprise project with a small development team,” said.We know they’re there, but never really viewed them as a group of users

For years, Wikipedia has provided a free snapshot of everything displayed on the website every two weeks – a “block of data” for the user, as well as a “fire hydrant” in case it does. Problems occur with changes to the page, packaged in a different format. That’s exactly how big companies take advantage of importing Wikipedia content into their platforms without any special organizational help.

This free but complex option will remain the same for all users, including commercial users. That means the main rival of Wikimedia Enterprise – in the words of Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, the organization’s chief revenue officer – is none other than Wikipedia itself.

But the formatting problems with the free version also provide an opportunity for Wikimedia Enterprise to create a product that is worth the money, one that is tailored, customized, and tailored to your needs. individual needs of each company. For example, Enterprise provides real-time modifications and comprehensive data blocks packaged in a compatible format. In addition, there will be a customer care service that is typically found in business models, but there is no precedent for a volunteering project: a line where clients can call. , a guarantee will deliver data at certain speeds, a team of specialists arranged to deal with technical gaps …

Another bold change to a project like Wikipedia, long considered part of the free software world, Enterprise will not now host its version of Wikipedia content on its servers. projects, which are on Amazon Web Services, because they believe AWS will enable the company to better meet customer needs. The organization makes clear that their use of AWS infrastructure is not a matter of contract, engineering, or finance.

The aforementioned comments show that Wikipedia – one of the monuments of everlasting Internet idealism – is struggling to find a way to meet the needs of commercial giants whose standards vary widely. Not only about free software, but also about transparency and a monetization perspective. However, the leaders of the Enterprise project say that Wikipedia would be foolish to separate itself from those big companies, as they are the ones opening great avenues for people to come and read. Wikipedia article.

By providing more useful data, Enterprise helps ensure that company websites always display the latest, most accurate, version of the articles, while also destroying those trying to sabotage content. more quickly. A relationship fixed through the contracts will also be taken more seriously, and thereby forcing the parties to “contribute in reverse to the common good“- Seitz-Gruwell said. They will be forced to participate in maintaining the resources their business needs. Likewise, Wikipedia can use contracts to secure contributions. Their recognition will be in certain ways and attract more volunteers to the website.

The organization said it did not expect Enterprise to be the main source of income for their nearly $ 100 million need. User donations, combining funds from funds, will still carry the bulk of the “weight” for the Wikimedia Foundation – says Seitz-Gruwell, but there is also a sustained additional revenue stream from companies. will bring stability to the organization, especially when they are pursuing an ambitious goal of reaching out, bringing “free knowledge” to more parts of the world and more communities by year. 2030.

We have an important job ahead, without a doubt“- Seitz-Gruwell said, insisting that this work”requires revenue growth“.

Once you admit that the big platforms are the ones controlling the flow of commerce and information online, you can focus on taking your “pie.” Once a tough, proud name in Silicon Valley, the Wikimedia Foundation is finally doing exactly what they avoid. But of course, for a project like Wikipedia and other industries whose products are manipulated by platforms, the flip side of the stability created by Big Tech’s money is the risk of losing control. Wikipedia will now need to orient itself to the demands of the commercial internet, even if it will need substantial sums of money to support a better, stronger, more diverse community.

Wikipedia is an extraordinary resource, an effort built over two decades to portray the world, both its long history and its sudden changes. During development, Wikipedia continued to commit to its core non-commercial concept. On the other hand, Big Tech companies have shown themselves to be greedy capitalists, taking as much as possible and then applying for permission later. They will quickly copy a competitor to gain control of a service they consider valuable. Wikipedia’s decision to bind them with an agreement and initiate an explicit relationship, as opposed to a tacit, potentially risky affinity that the values ​​of the commercial world – as well as the end-to-end reward Its good – it can obscure everything.

If Wikipedia rejects this steady cash flow, insistently abiding by its principles, they will probably be seen as a stubborn and dodger, like landowners who reject large sums of money from a developer. Real estate developers are planning to build a new skyscraper. Often that building is being built sooner or later, while the tiny house is forever in its shadow, a remnant of the past. And the landlord permanently misses a large sum of money to make big things.

Over the decades, Wikipedia chose to cooperate with the forces of commercial development. They hope to begin with relationships that can help them in internet planning, with parks, low-cost housing, and most importantly, curb the development of snapshots. Hopefully they will find partners worthy of that trust.

Reference: Wired

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