What you need to know
- The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the Wikipedia project, has created a new enterprise product.
- The product is aimed at companies who use its data to provide information.
- It will offer real-time updates and customer service for its enterprise users.
Apple, Google, and everyone else may have to start paying for all of that information they've been enjoying for free from Wikipedia.
As reported by Wired, the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization that manages the website, announced a new product called Wikimedia Enterprise. The new product enables the organization to sell the information from the website to companies who wish to use that information.
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.
Lane Becker, a senior director at the Wikimedia Foundation who has been working on the new product, says that this will be the first time that the project has asked for payment from companies that have used the information gathered on the website.
"This is the first time the foundation has recognized that commercial users are users of our service. We've known they are there, but we never really treated them as a user base."
Wikipedia currently does a data dump of its website every two weeks, but the enterprise version will offer real-time updates, guaranteed data delivery speeds, and a customer service team to support enterprise users.
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: a number for its customers to call, a guarantee of certain speeds for delivering the data, a team of experts assigned to solve specific technical flaws.
Wikipedia has long been a go-to source of information for search engines like Google as well as voice assistants like Siri. The report says that agreements between the Wikimedia Foundation and its new enterprise customers could be reached as soon as June.