The Wikimedia Foundation, the entity behind popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has announced a new paid service for tech giants. While it won’t be a mandatory thing, it sounds like something that companies like Google and Apple would pay for.
The idea behind the service, known as Wikimedia Enterprise, is pretty simple. Notice whenever you do a Google search, you see an info box on the right side? Ever wonder where Siri pulls her information from when you ask her things? That info is usually scrubbed by the search giant, and then rearranged so that it is presented to users. The enterprise service makes it so that Wikimedia does it for the companies, rather than having them do it themselves.
This serves a number of purposes. The first one assumes that a company is paying contractors to have Wikipedia entries cleaned up before they get to users. Wikimedia Enterprise would probably cost the company less to achieve the same thing.
Second, and at the same time, paying for the service could also ensure that companies get, and display, the most vetted – and therefore accurate – version of an article, rather than the most recent edit. Which can be a problem since Wikipedia pages are free for anyone to edit. Such bad information can also be scraped before the site admins can undo the vandalism.
As mentioned, Wikimedia says that the launch of Enterprise doesn’t affect the free service it continues to provide. But it looks like something that big companies should pay for. Not only does it help them display more accurate information, it also helps keep Wikimedia, a nonprofit, stay afloat. For the average internet user, it probably would make no difference. Besides getting more accurate information more easily, of course.