How Wikipedia Zero Could Revolutionize The World, Explains Wikimedia Director [ EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW]

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​​While we were awning at faster phones and speedy networks, the largest multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia project grew by over 6 registered users and added 5 and a half pages of content, the very last minute. And as if that was not enough, the astonishing pace of growth of this collaboratively contributed content library does not cease to surprise us.

Being available in 287 language versions with a dozen of them​, the highest being Dutch, Swedish, German and French​, clocking over a million articles submitted, the count of English content articles is growing fast and was at 4,568,272 at 21:41 hrs on 28th July 2014. Started by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger on Monday 15 January 2001, branching out of Nupedia, ​ this openly editable, contribution based reference website, known as Wikipedia.com globally, is supported by Wikimedia Foundation. Wikipedia Director Carolynne interveiw

The Contributing Community of Wikipedia

With over 80 thousand active editors who not just write and contribute articles, also edit and update the facts aligning them with newer findings, the responsibility of ensuring the authenticity of the content solely lies on this vast tech-savvy self-governed community. After all, the 33,421,540 pages on Wikipedia does not come easy.

What’s more interesting is the results of the survey conducted by The United Nations University Merit program in 2010, which had over 58,000 self-selected Wikipedians from 22 language editions in 231 countries respond. According to this report the contributors accounted for about 87% men and only 13% women, with 59% editors in the age group of 17 to 40 and 28% who were aged 40+. Even the reasons of contributing were different. While 71% of the editors quoted they liked volunteering to share knowledge and 63% pointed out that contributing is fun, only 7% edited Wikipedia for professional reasons. Strangely, there were more Wikipedians contributing edits (76%) to the English Wikipedia than those reading (49%) it. Heading the Wikimedia Foundations’ Mobile Programs and Partnerships, Carolynne Schloeder, with 27 years of entrepreneurial success in mobile and digital media sectors, had some interesting insights and some facts to reveal to Dazeinfo during a recent interview.

The Device Dilemma

With 250 million page views per month, from the Opera Mini browser alone, the feature phone consumers don’t seem of a small number. However, of the 20 billion page views of total consumption, smartphones and tablets seem to contribute to the growth of Wikipedia leadership on handhelds, increasingly.

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Free Knowledge For All

The new initiative, Wikipedia Zero, by Wikimedia Foundation that started in Malaysia in May 2012, has been expanding since then to reach 29 countries through 34 operators. The mission of Wikipedia Zero is to provide Wikipedia free of charge on mobile phones, particularly in developing markets. The recent collaboration between Wikimedia and Indian’s leading telecom provider Aircel has been kicked off as a part of such initiative. Under this collaboration all Aircel users would be able to consume Wikipedia content free of charge and both the companies are expecting that exploded mobile penetration in India would influence mobile users to ride on the power of knowledge.

Carolynne is using her strong strategy and implementation skills to help the Wikimedia Zero initiative, from the past year, fostering ties with different mobile service providers, handset manufacturers and mission aligned organisations contributing to the presence of Wikimedia Zero in more geographies.

“The feature phone usage is impressive, but the user experience on feature phone is challenging because of small screen and long Wikipedia articles. Therefore, we are looking for ways to improve the user experience, especially on smart feature phones so that users can consume information seamlessly and more comfortably. I think the challenge is on the product side of the user experience, though the price difference between feature phone and smartphone are squeezing, we still want to support the better user experience on feature phones.” says Carolynne.

Our Best Wishes

We wish the initiative not just helps spread knowledge to every nook of the world, it also helps bridge the prominent gender gap to give Wikipedia a lot more timely edits. After all, one of the key goals of Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation until May 2014, was to raise the share of female contributors to 25 percent by 2015. 

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