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31 October 2012, 15:53

Wikimedia launches Wikidata and reports on Wikipedia Zero

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The Wikimedia Foundation has officially launched its Wikidata project and has announced traffic data for the first six months of its Wikipedia Zero initiative. While Wikidata is focused at making it easier for contributors to use factual data in their articles, Wikipedia Zero is aimed at increasing readership of the collaborative encyclopedia in developing nations in Africa and Asia.

Wikipedia Zero constitutes a number of partnerships between the Wikimedia Foundation and mobile carriers in developing nations that allow mobile internet users to access Wikipedia from their devices free of charge. After the first six months of the project, the foundation has now published usage data from two carriers: Orange Niger and Orange Kenya. Both countries have seen more than 70 per cent growth in mobile traffic to Wikipedia since the beginning of the initiative. While the Wikimedia Foundation is careful not to draw too many conclusions from the data because of the relatively small data sets involved, the organisation is "really optimistic" for the future of the program.

Yesterday, the foundation also announced the launch of Wikidata, which is aimed at providing a centralised repository of factual data that can be reused in different articles without duplicating effort. This will make it easier for translators to reuse information such as the population of a city or length of a river. Wikidata will also make it easier to automatically generate list articles and embeddable info boxes. The foundation says that it is still fixing bugs, but that the system is usable for now.


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