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Wikipedia Is Finally Asking Big Tech to Pay Up – WIRED

Summary

From the start, Google and Wikipedia have been in a kind of unspoken partnership: Wikipedia produces the information Google serves up in response to user queries, and Google builds up Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of trustworthy information. Of course, there have been bumps, including Google’s bold attempt to replace Wikipedia with its own version of user-generated articles, under the clumsy name “Knol,” short for knowledge. Knol never did catch on, despite Google’s offer to pa…….

From the start, Google and Wikipedia have been in a kind of unspoken partnership: Wikipedia produces the information Google serves up in response to user queries, and Google builds up Wikipedia’s reputation as a source of trustworthy information. Of course, there have been bumps, including Google’s bold attempt to replace Wikipedia with its own version of user-generated articles, under the clumsy name “Knol,” short for knowledge. Knol never did catch on, despite Google’s offer to pay the principal author of an article a share of advertising money. But after that failure, Google embraced Wikipedia even tighter—not only linking to its articles but reprinting key excerpts on its search result pages to quickly deliver Wikipedia’s knowledge to those seeking answers.

The two have grown in tandem over the past 20 years, each becoming its own household word. But whereas one mushroomed into a trillion-dollar company, the other has remained a midsize nonprofit, depending on the generosity of individual users, grant-giving foundations, and the Silicon Valley giants themselves to stay afloat. Now Wikipedia is seeking to rebalance its relationships with Google and other big tech firms like Amazon, Facebook, and Apple, whose platforms and virtual assistants lean on Wikipedia as a cost-free virtual crib sheet.

Today, the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the Wikipedia project in more than 300 languages as well as other wiki-projects, is announcing the launch of a commercial product, Wikimedia Enterprise. The new service is designed for the sale and efficient delivery of Wikipedia’s content directly to these online behemoths (and eventually, to smaller companies too).

Conversations between the foundation’s newly created subsidiary, Wikimedia LLC, and Big Tech companies are already underway, point-people on the project said in an interview, but the next couple of months will be about seeking the reaction of Wikipedia’s thousands of volunteers. Agreements with the firms could be reached as soon as June.

“This is the first time the foundation has recognized that commercial users are users of our service,” says Lane Becker, a senior director at the foundation, who has been ramping up the Enterprise project with a small team. “We’ve known they are there, but we never really treated them as a user base.”

For years now, Wikipedia has made freely available a snapshot of everything that appears on the site every two weeks—a so-called “data dump” for users—as well as a “fire hose” of all the changes as they are happening, delivered in a different format. This is how big companies typically import Wikipedia content into their platforms, with no special help from the foundation.

“They all have teams dedicated to Wikipedia management—big ones,” Becker said, adding that making the different content speak to each other required “a lot of low-level work—cleaning and managing—which is very expensive.”

The free, albeit clunky option will …….

Source: https://www.wired.com/story/wikipedia-finally-asking-big-tech-to-pay-up/