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Google reaches agreement with Wikipedia to pay for content to go in new “Knowledge Panels”

Patrick Devaney

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Wikipedia is one of, if not the most useful and impressive free online tools that has ever existed. Open-source knowledge that is free to access makes us all smarter. Moderating all that content, however, and keeping the site going costs money and, just like with any service that is offered for free, the Wikimedia Foundation that is responsible for running Wikipedia needs to make money. That is why a partnership deal between Google and Wikimedia is good news.

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The announcement centers around Wikimedia Enterprise, which is a recently launched commercial product from Wikipedia that offers commercial services to companies who use Wikipedia and Wikimedia projects on a large scale. Google has agreed to pay for the privilege of using Wikipedia content in new search “Knowledge Panels”.

Google reaches agreement with Wikipedia to pay for content to go in new “Knowledge Panels”

Wikipedia announced news of the deal in a Wikimedia blog post. The post didn’t mention the terms of the deal but it is clear that this isn’t a charitable donation by the search giant. As Google adds more and more widgets to its search results that pull more and richer data and information from websites, fewer and fewer users will actually click on links and go to the webpages that come up in search results. This, in turn, harms those websites that then see less traffic.

Of the deal, Lane Becker, Senior Director of Earned Revenue at the Wikimedia Foundation said:

“Wikimedia Enterprise is designed to meet a variety of content reuse and sourcing needs, and our first two customers are a key example of this. Google […] leverages Wikimedia content in very distinct ways, whether it’s to help power a portion of knowledge panel results or preserve citations on Wikipedia… We’re thrilled to be working with them both as our longtime partners, and their insights have been critical to build a compelling product that will be useful for many different kinds of organizations.”

The blog post also contained details of another commercial partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation and the Internet Archive, which runs The Wayback Machine, a website that saves snapshots of websites so people can go back and see what the internet was like at certain times during history. This one, however, is not a financial partnership as both websites are a part of the broader free knowledge movement and support each other’s objectives.

This is great news for Wikimedia and internet users everywhere. It follows and goes beyond making up for recent news that Wikipedia has stopped accepting cryptocurrency donations.

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