[Wikipedia-l] Reaching the next billion... Wikipedia...

Frederick Noronha fred at bytesforall.org
Wed Mar 7 14:17:36 UTC 2007


Reaching the next billion
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales seems focused on taking his online 'free
to edit encyclopedia' to everyone, as the world talks about his plans
to take on Google

Posted online: Monday, March 05, 2007 at 2301 hours IST

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 He rewrote the rules of encyclopedia business. And online search
engines seem to be the next on target. But Wikipedia founder Jimmy
Wales seems occupied with taking his 'free to edit' encyclopedia to
everyone in the world. He is headed to Japan after mingling with
Indian bloggers and wiki professionals at an unconference (where crowd
participates in the discussion instead of just the speaker talking,
just like his Wikipedia). "We have to think of how to take it to every
corner of the world," he says.

India and Indian languages, for instance, are already getting a bigger
foothold on wikipedia, which ranks among the ten most visited sites
globally. You could find detailed information in a small, relatively
unknown town of India, thanks to the software created by IT
professional, Ganesh Krishnamurthy for about 5,000 Indian towns and
cities. "This wikibot is one of the examples of users making efficient
use of the basic tool and platform to create their own wikis, says

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And expanding Wikipedia to the next billion people is on top of his
mind, even as he continues to refuse advertisements. "Every time we
turn down an advertisement offer, we remind ourselves that this money
could have gone into taking the access to developing countries. This
is one of the things I challenge people sitting in a wealthy country
with a broadband connection, he recently confirmed in a podcast from

"We have to be clear that we are turning ads down for a good reason.
And that's a stand for now. Project of a free wikipedia is a long-term
project and that 's a decision we take every year; every month," he
clarifies. Many in the industry believe that textlinks in Wikipedia
could fetch a fortune. His not-for-profit online encyclopedia gets
seven billion page views each month in more than five million multiple
language entries.

Here to attend India's first Wikicamp unconference, he also
kick-started an open book on the subject. "The most special feature is
that this book will be authored collaboratively by people worldwide.
These are people who have helped organise or attended unconferences
around the world. It will be written openly on a wiki," informs
Wikicamp organiser, Kiruba Shankar. Within days of the launch, 59
people from eight different cities have joined in.

Doesn't uncontrolled access to articles lead to vandalism and
self-promotion? Jimmy agrees but says such acts are duly corrected by
other users. Plagiarised copies can be easily found out because the
style of writing, which is unlike the encyclopedia style, betrays the
article, he adds.

Moreover, users take pride in publishing their own work rather than
copying material, Jimmy says.

Apart from the encyclopedia, Jimmy has also spearheaded a for-profit
organisation called Wikia, which is a repository of journals,
magazines, opinions and a library. The team is also working on
creating an open-source search engine to be called Wikiasearch, Jimmy

Though there are a few proprietary players in the search space, they
lack innovations in the search methodologies, he says.

With open source, users will be able to create their own search
engines from the basic tool, he adds. Wikipedia communities can also
be involved to flag the best articles that will be given top priority
while returning search results, he says.

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