LCA '09: Wikipedia's new mobile platform

Wikipedia will announce a new mobile platform for its online encyclopedia later this year, according to a speaker at Linux.conf.au (LCA) this week in Hobart.

update Wikipedia will announce a new mobile platform for its online encyclopedia later this year, according to a speaker at Linux.conf.au (LCA) this week in Hobart.

One of the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation this year is to increase the number of volunteers editing Wikipedia

Angela Beesley

Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board chair Angela Beesley said the new mobile platform was currently being built and will be announced later this year. Wikimedia is the not-for-profit organisation which runs the online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Beesley initially said the platform was licensed to Nokia, but later said while WikiMedia had an existing brand licensing agreement with Nokia, it was unrelated to the new mobile platform.

Beesley also revealed a number of technology improvements and community outreach measures being undertaken to encourage more editors to contribute to the crowd-sourced Wikipedia site.

"One of the goals of the Wikimedia Foundation this year is to increase the number of volunteers editing Wikipedia," she said. "Most of the edits are done by a small number of people."

A larger pool of volunteer editors would help increase the overall quality of the data on the site, she added, with between 20 and 60 per cent of edits on Wikipedia currently being done by bots.

Wikimedia was aiming for "organisational maturity" by hiring more professionals and getting expert advice to allow the foundation to achieve "improvements to process, policies and structures" Beesley added.

"We've planned a public outreach project which will include workshops being held around the world," she said.

Ads are financially unnecessary. We just raised enough money for the year

Angela Beesley

The Foundation had also contracted editor John Broughton to write an educators guide for teachers, and will also be creating video tutorials for users of Wikipedia.

But Beesley admitted that measures to address social issues within the Wikipedia editing community — which has been dogged by well-publicised disagreements about Wikipedia policy on article deletions, among other things — had not been identified as a specific goal for helping to attract more editors to the site.

"Those sorts of policies are created by the community," she said. "Wikimedia can't go in and impose policy, but they can give advice." In Australia, Wikipedia will focus its community-building efforts on the education sector, according to Australian chapter president Brianna Laugher.

Beesley said that the controversial question of whether advertising should be placed on Wikipedia wasn't a pressing issue, as a recent fundraising drive on the site had solicited US$6.2 million (AU$9.3 million) in donations.

"Ads are financially unnecessary. We just raised enough money for the year," she said.

The anti-advertisement bent of a "very vocal minority" who had threatened to leave if ads were allowed on the site was being taken seriously by Wikimedia, she said. "Contributors just aren't something the foundation is willing to gamble with."

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