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December 11, 2006

Wikipedia founders open community content site

Wikia Inc, the commercial arm of the nonprofit organization that runs Wikipedia, announced yesterday the opening of a new free service for hosting any community-sponsored content, such as blogs, social networking or other Web 2.0-like content that promotes interaction.

By CBR Staff Writer

The new hosted site is called OpenServing.

And here’s the fun part: it’s all free. The only condition is that software or content providers cannot charge for their software or service. But they will be allowed to run ads, and better yet, keep the revenue. Wikia immodestly termed it the mother of all freebies.

Of course, OpenServing is hardly the only site where users can post software. But coming out of the Wikia organization, it could become one of the more visible.

Wikia is only asking one favor. We don’t want to sound too Web 1.0, but we’re asking people to bring relevant links back to our ad supported site, said Wikia founder and chairman Jimmy Wales.

The new service is a close relation of Wikia, the for-profit site that invites community interaction over pop culture. Whereas Wikia keeps the money from its own ads, OpenServing provides a platform for providers to have their own social applications hosted.

For starters, Wikia purchased, a sports blogging site, which it hosts on OpenServing to provide an idea of the types of community interactive packages that could be hosted on the site.

According to Wales, the organization wants to reach out to software developers to host their applications. However, Wikia for now does not plan to offer an SDK because its core technology is the LAMP stack, which is freely available via open source anyway.

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Wales said that the business model for the site would evolve. Excluding the requirements that the hosted software be free to use and be community oriented, Wales did not yet have any criteria as to what would or would not get hosted on the site.

Obviously there is potential for abuse. But Wales believes that, as the site grows more visible, that the community will keep it clean. Wales recounted that on Wikipedia, problems with vandalism were worse in the early days. The more open we are, the less trouble we have, he said, adding, As the community has grown, we’ve had better tools to deal with it vandalism.

Wales claimed that recent media reports of Wikipedia locking down its pages to cope with growing vandalism had the story backwards. In actuality, said Wales, pages were originally locked from page editing until vetted by the community. Now they are only semi locked, in that you can make changes that are date and time stamped with your IP address.

Wales added that Wikipedia is actually working on new mechanisms to let new users whose accounts are less than four days old to edit pages in a protected sandbox.

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