[Wikipedia-l] Cooperating with IMDB, FreeDB etc.

Erik Moeller erik_moeller at gmx.de
Sat Aug 2 01:04:00 UTC 2003

I think it would be great if we could make attempts to cooperate with  
large, proprietary and open content suppliers that do not directly compete  
with us. I am specifically referring to databases like

- IMDB.com for movies, games, TV
- freedb.org for albums
- Amazon.com for books and .. lots of other stuff.

We would ask these groups to provide a link for each entry in their  
database to the Wikipedia article about that entry, whether it exists or  
not. For example, if I looked up "Bowling for Columbine" in IMDB I would  
get "Description at Wikipedia: 'Bowling for Columbine is a Academy Award- 
winning documentary film starring Michael Moore. It opened ..' (more)"

If I looked up a non-existent movie, I would get "Describe this movie at  
Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia."

Links to existing articles would point to locally stored copies at IMDB,  
with an "edit the current revision of this article at Wikipedia, the free  
encyclopedia" link at the bottom.

Why would IMDB do this?

1) IMDB doesn't have many good movie summaries because they lack a  
collaborative writing module. They could implement one, but why not just  
use existing resources?
2) IMDB visitors would only leave IMDB when following an explicit link to  
Wikipedia. Otherwise they would stay within the site.
3) With some Sifter-like interface, we could make sure that IMDB always  
has the latest trusted copy, thereby giving them an advantage even over  
Wikipedia proper.
4) Because of the FDL, they can tear their bonds with us whenever they  
want, without losing the content.
5) Wikipedia already has some brand name recognition. We have a positive  
image that might rub off on those who cooperate with us.

Why would we do this?

1) IMDB has a huge community of movie enthusiasts who could contribute  
much useful information.
2) Similarly, in the case of freedb, instead of just importing tracklists,  
we would invite people to actually describe the content of albums, to  
write real articles about them.
3) Being linked prominently from large sites like these would strengthen  
our brand substantially and increasingly turn Wikipedia into a household  

There are some possible problems:

- Free databases tend to list lots of obscure stuff that probably does not  
warrant encyclopedic inclusion. Similarly, we would not want an article  
about every toy or product listed at Amazon.com. We would have to  
negotiate with each database supplier the criteria for when the Wikipedia  
link/copy is shown. For example, we could ask IMDB to only do it on movies  
that have a gross earnings listing (usually only the larger ones), or  
FreeDB to only do it on albums that have all data fields filled etc.

- We might not want to be associated with shady businesses bent for world  
domination like Amazon.com. However, sooner or later we will have to think  
about with whom we want to cooperate, and IMHO "only open content people"  
is too tight a rule.

- The mere inquiry might inspire these groups to think about creating  
their own, proprietary content collaborative writing modules, e.g. an IMDB  
article writing module whose contents are copyrighted by their authors and  
cannot be used by us. However, if that is a real threat, then it will  
probably happen sooner or later anyway, and it could be argued that we  
should give these people an alternative *before* they do it.

What do you think? Perhaps we should wait with more concrete inquiries  
until we have more resources to handle the traffic, but in general I  
believe it's worth giving it a shot.



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