“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….
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)….
The free, albeit clunky option will still be available to all users, including commercial ones. This means that Wikimedia Enterprise’s principal competition, in the words of Lisa Seitz-Gruwell, the foundation’s chief revenue officer, is Wikipedia itself….
But the formatting problems with the free version offer an obvious opportunity to create a product worth paying for, one tailored to the requirements of each company. For example, Enterprise will deliver the real-time changes and comprehensive data dumps in a compatible format. There will also be a level of customer service typical of business arrangements but unprecedented for the volunteer-directed project….
By offering more useful data, Enterprise will help ensure that commercial operators display the latest, most accurate version of articles and crack down on vandalism quicker. A contractual relationship will also more formally recognize that these companies are extracting value from a volunteer project, and therefore must “contribute back to the commons,” Seitz-Gruwell says. …”