Friday, February 18, 2005

Worldwide response to Googles offer to host Wikipedia


Google Inc. may offer hosting services to Wikipedia, a free
community-built encyclopedia, and other projects hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation. Preliminary talks are scheduled to continue in March.

That news have caused a wave of responses all over the world:
Yahoo lists 55 news reports on this topic. English speaking Google News shows up 61 results.
There are 23 German speaking news reports up until now. French online press present 7 reports according to Google News. Japan shows 1 report from
That's porbably because Google is becoming increasingly stronger and a stiff competitor for Microsoft in more and more areas. And Wikipedia is gettign increasingly mature and already is one of the Top 200 Websites in the world. It is heading towards the Top 100. Who will have access to this growing Library of knowledge ?

The steps of Google towards Wikipedia are not surprising. Google's competitors, such as, MSN Search, and Yahoo,
aready offer searching of encyclopedias as a dedicated search category. offers the
English Wikipedia, MSN Search links to Encarta, and Yahoo

has access to the Columbia Encyclopedia.

Wikipedia is often one of the top results of many searches. Anyone can distribute and even modify Wikipedia content in
compliance with its license, called the GNU Free Documentation License. Besides attribution, the license requires that
modifications are made available under the same conditions, a principle known as "copyleft" and most frequently applied to
computer software such as the free operating system Linux.

How could a tight Wikipedia integration into Google look like ?

  1. A Wikipedia-specific search category like Google's Newsgroups Index Google Groups that even is editable. You can subscribe to Google Groups and post a
    response to a message thread.

  2. A Wikipedia-specific search category that is non-editable and links to the original project like Google Category that uses the Open
    Content the
    Open Directory Project

  3. An inline feature that emphasizes Wikipedia results at the top of a search result. For details see Google Web Search Features .

The technical side of Google hosting also leaves various possibilities:

  1. Google could place a daily updated mirror of Wikipedia that is Google-owned and hosted as a subdomain like
    That option could be perceived negative by the Wikipedia users. There is aready a discussion on Wikipedia how to deal with
    Mirrors of Wikipedia that are listed in Google search results higher than the original content. Wikipedia:Send
    in the clones

  2. Google could offer some Web servers with unlimited bandwith for the Wikimedia Foundation without conditions. That would have
    benefits for both sides: Wikipedia, that is currently in the Top 200 Web sites according to, would have no problems
    with delivering the content to the users. Google could index Wikipedia content instantly and is not restricted to the limited
    number of requests to index it by Google Webspiders.

Here is an excerpt of a page about hosting posted on Wikimedia's "Meta-Wiki", which is used by the community to coordinate
project organization:

"Google Inc. have made a proposal to host some of the content of the Wikimedia projects. The terms of the offer are currently
being discussed by the board. The developer committee have been informed of some of the details via email. A private IRC meeting
with Google is planned for March, 2005. Please note that this agreement does not mean there is any requirement for us to include
advertising on the site." [1] (

The original summary [2] ( was written by
Angela Beesley, one of the two elected board members of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates Wikipedia and its sister
projects. According to a message posted to a public Wikimedia discussion list by the second elected trustee, Florence
Nibart-Devouard, Wikipedia founder and Wikimedia president Jimmy Wales met with Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin on February 10, "who were extremely enthusiastic about the whole project." [3] (


This article was originally based on the blog entry "Google wants to Host
Wikipedia or its Content
(" by
"Sweet Silhouette". Portions of it are therefore licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License

It is also based on the collaborative work of members of Wikinews including me. See here for a current version of the news.

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