Wikimedia Enterprise will seek monetary compensation for making information available to the ‘Smart’ ecosystem: Wikipedia to start charging for referenced information?

Wikimedia Enterprise Wikipedia Content Monetization
Content Monetization underway for Wikipedia? Pic credit: Gerd Altmann/ Pixabay

Wikipedia is finally standing up to the big tech companies through the Wikimedia Enterprise. The global repository of crowd-sourced and publicly vetted information may start asking companies to pay for the information they pull.

Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and related projects, has introduced a new commercial project called Wikimedia Enterprise. The organization could demand monetary compensation from the big tech companies that rely on the repository for their “Smart” ecosystem.

With Wikimedia Enterprise, Wikipedia could soon start benefitting from the information it hosts:

Wikimedia Foundation operates the Wikipedia project in more than 300 languages as well as other wiki-projects. The company has announced the launch of a commercial product, Wikimedia Enterprise.

The new service claims to provide “paid developer tools and services that make it easier for companies and organizations to consume and re-use Wikimedia data.” What this basically means is that Wikipedia could no longer offer the information it hosts, for free.

The Wikimedia Foundation has clearly designed the Wikimedia Enterprise to streamline the sale and efficient delivery of Wikipedia’s content directly to the tech giants such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Microsoft.

To date, the majority of tech companies have relied heavily on the global, internet-based, publicly-curated, and verified encyclopedia. The concerning aspect is that despite tight integrations to source information from the publicly-accessible platform, there are no revenue-sharing agreements.

Wikipedia is clearly seeking monetary compensation for the vast amount of information that the aforementioned tech giants regularly source. The platforms as well as the virtual assistants routinely fall back on Wikipedia to seek information but have yet to pay the platform.

Wikipedia will continue to offer free ‘Data Dump’ but will start premium content refinement services?

Wikipedia has freely offered a snapshot of everything that appears on the site, every two weeks. Called a “data dump”, it is essentially an unmetered connection to all the changes as they are happening on the platform. Wikipedia delivered such a valuable treasure trove of information in a different format.

Needless to add, the big tech companies gladly imported Wikipedia content into their platforms. Neither did the companies need any special tools from Wikipedia nor did they offer to pay anything.

Starting soon, the Wikimedia Enterprise could set up a dedicated in-house team that would manage any or all of the information refinement, curation, verification, and delivery systems. The platform will reportedly seek payment for these services.

Incidentally, the “clunky” or raw Data Dump will still be available to all users, including commercial ones. Still, managed data refinement services should offer a huge incentive to tech companies.

Internet-based companies could easily “plug-in” the refined information directly into their systems. The digital or virtual assistants would obviously have a ready-to-look-up source of crowd-sourced and publicly vetted information.

Interestingly, the Wikimedia Enterprise will not host its version of Wikipedia content on the project’s own servers. The platform has reportedly approached Amazon Web Services, and would rely on the eCommerce giant’s servers “to meet the needs of its customers better”.

The platform does, however, stress that “it is not contractually, technically, or financially bound to use AWS infrastructure.” In other words, the Wikimedia Enterprise might change cloud service providers depending on its needs and budget.

Despite the gradual march towards content monetization, user donations and grants should remain Wikipedia’s primary source of funding. The platform needs about $100 million annually.

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