Search giant Google ready to pay for enhanced Wikipedia services

Technology juggernaut Google made a startling decision to pay for improved Wikipedia services at a time when industry analysts think the market for encyclopaedia services may create a new growth narrative in the years to come.Google made the decision as part of a rising trend for the US computer company to enter into business arrangements with other web organisations.

Through open cooperation and a wiki-based editing system, a community of volunteers creates and maintains Wikipedia, a free multilingual online encyclopaedia. Wikipedians are the collective term for individual contributors, often known as editors. The largest and most popular reference source in history is Wikipedia. 

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As of 2022, Wikipedia was ranked as the 7th most popular website; it is consistently one of the top 10 websites according to Similarweb and the previous Alexa. It is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organisation in the United States supported primarily by donations.

The nonprofit organisation that runs Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation, announced that its for-profit arm, Wikimedia Enterprise, has its first paying customer: Google. The commercial services will be provided without charge to The Internet Archive, a nonprofit organisation that operates the Wayback Machine, a website that archives screenshots of webpages and is used to correct Wikipedia links.

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“We’re thrilled to be working with them both as our longtime partners,” said Wikimedia’s Lane Becker in a statement on Tuesday.

According to the foundation, the new commercial arm won’t alter this arrangement for particular consumers.The “knowledge panel,” a sidebar that appears alongside the primary search results, uses content from the website.The fact that the information’s source isn’t always displayed has led to objections from Wikimedia.Google has previously made grants and donations to Wikipedia.

“We have long supported the Wikimedia Foundation in pursuit of our shared goals of expanding knowledge and information access for people everywhere,” said Google’s Tim Palmer.

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The value of the Google deal was not disclosed in the foundation’s announcement.

On Tuesday, Google and French regulators reached an agreement on a framework for the American company to pay news organisations for content on Tuesday, ending a long-running disagreement. Google claimed to have agreements in place with hundreds of news organisations worldwide.

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