Wikipedia Zero


What is Wikizero? What it is not. Wikipedia Zero is a program that is lead by the Wikimedia Foundation in conjunction with mobile phone operators around the world. In 2012, the initiative launched with the aim of ultimately guaranteeing ‘free knowledge for every single person on the planet’ by making the online encyclopedia available to parts of the developing world where people lack Internet...


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More about Wikipedia Zero

What is Wikizero? What it is not.

Wikipedia Zero is a program that is lead by the Wikimedia Foundation in conjunction with mobile phone operators around the world. In 2012, the initiative launched with the aim of ultimately guaranteeing ‘free knowledge for every single person on the planet’ by making the online encyclopedia available to parts of the developing world where people lack Internet access.

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The concept is simple: the partnership involves the mobile operator providing ‘zero-rates’ (i.e. waives data charges) for users accessing a version of the Wikipedia mobile site. Cost and awareness are two barriers that keep users, in these regions, from reading Wikipedia and accessing free knowledge. Wikipedia Zero intends on eliminating these barriers where possible.

All that is needed to use Wikipedia Zero is a mobile phone, of which 6 billion people have access to.

How to access Wikipedia Zero on your mobile phone using:

  • You simply dial *515# to receive a text prompting the entry of a search term.
  • Type in the topic you are searching for and you will receive a list of related articles to choose from.
  • After selecting the page you want, you can choose which section you would like to read before Wikipedia sends the full text.

Operators are encouraged to get involved by ‘zero-rating’ (removing data charges) the mobile version of Wikipedia in each of the most common languages of their country. Wikipedia Zero has successfully been launched in Malaysia, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Jordan and Nepal.

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FAQs

Why is the Wikimedia Foundation partnering with mobile operators?
To make free knowledge more accessible. A major goal of the Wikimedia Foundation is for Wikimedia sites to reach 1 billion people by 2015. Two things need to be addressed in order to introduce new readers and contributors to Wikipedia via mobile devices: 1) Help them discover it and 2) Reduce barriers to accessing it. Every mobile partnership will be designed to achieve these objectives.
Why would any mobile carrier give free access to one service and not another?
A primary reason for providing Wikipedia free of charge is that it is a public good and not monetized. The partnership is based on the agreement that free knowledge should be a fundamental human right.
Are partners paying the one another to be able to deliver these types of programs?
No. The Wikimedia Foundation is not paying partners. The partnerships do not produce revenue for the Wikimedia Foundation.
What exactly does the Wikimedia Foundation get from carriers for these kinds of partnerships?
Advancing the free knowledge mission is the only goal of these partnerships. They drive awareness of Wikipedia, make it easier for people to discover the sites, and reduce barriers to accessing it.
What does the partner get? Why would they do it?
A marketing benefit exists for the partner. Customers are more likely to buy from and be loyal to an operator that supports the mission and provides Wikipedia without data charges. Partners often create campaigns as well to promote free Wikipedia access. In the case of Wikipedia Zero, it helps introduce people to the usefulness of the mobile Internet, which means more customers for operators in the long-term.
Is it the same as other zero projects? Are you partnering with Facebook Zero?
The initiative was inspired by the Facebook Zero concept, but it is not a partnership between the Wikimedia Foundation and Facebook or any other web or mobile sites. They are the same in that they allow users in developing countries access to the sites without paying data charges.
What parts of the world does WikiZero work with?
The areas of the world that have the greatest need to reduce barriers so people can have access to knowledge. Those areas include most countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Could people in developed countries also benefit from free Wikipedia?
Definitely. Although, particular focus needs to be placed on areas that will benefit the most. The areas experiencing the highest impact are countries in which the barriers to access (data cost relative to income) are greatest and where the gap between mobile penetration and desktop penetration is higher.
These kinds of deals are great if you have a mobile phone that can render data, but what is the Wikimedia Foundation doing to increase reach for people without those types of phones?
This is also a priority, and we are working on developing SMS and USSD services in which a user can search Wikipedia and read articles without a data-enabled phone. Unlike Wikipedia Zero, which utilizes the existing mobile site, these programs require additional infrastructure. For that reason, we anticipate being able to roll out those services later in 2013.
Why isn't editing included in these kinds of systems?
Mobile editing has been enabled on Wikimedia sites for users with Wikimedia accounts. Users can now contribute to Wikipedia on-the-go.
What role do community members have in these partnerships?
The community is involved in helping discover opportunities to expand mobile reach and how to improve the experience for contributors and readers.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.