Big Tech loves using Wikipedia. Now, the free site is planning an enterprise product.

Big Tech has teams dedicated to reworking Wikipedia into other products. The Wikimedia Foundation wants to make their lives easier.

March 18, 2021

Chances are, you use Google to find answers. Chances also are, Google uses Wikipedia to find answers to your questions.

Partly because of this — and other cases like it — Wikipedia’s site traffic has remained static for years.

That’s a problem for the Wikimedia Foundation — a nonprofit that relies on site traffic to drive donations that support its existence.

And Big Tech is the main culprit 

Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and others leverage Wikipedia’s content for a wide range of commercial purposes, including:

  • The “infoboxes” displayed in search engine results
  • Virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa
  • Information on digital maps
  • Fact-checking tools on Facebook and YouTube

The Wikimedia Foundation is fully aware that Big Tech invests big money into reworking Wikipedia data for its own products.

So now Wikimedia wants to make their lives a whole lot easier

Any company can freely use Wikipedia data through a clunky API. But Wikipedia-reliant products need teams of people to clean up and manage data.

So, the nonprofit is building the Wikimedia Enterprise API — designed to quickly deliver cleaned, tailored data paired with high-level customer service — to make the process easier, faster, and a whole lot cheaper.

The enterprise move is a long-term sustainability play

Individual donations aren’t going anywhere — Wikimedia estimates ~8m readers will donate this year at an average of $15 per donation. In 2019, the foundation raised $122m, up 18.5% YoY.

But as Wikipedia’s content is increasingly drawn from the site rather than viewed on, the foundation sees a need to diversify its revenue streams for the long run.

It’s a strategic move from one of the world’s most successful internet companies (the 13th most-visited site in the world) — that also just so happens to be a nonprofit.

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