August 28, 2009

"WikiFur" Escapes From Wikia, Inc.

The "WikiFur" community has finished its escape from being digital sharecroppers on the electronic plantation, err, part of wikifarm company Wikia, Inc. Remember, that's the startup co-founded by Jimmy Wales to, in the words of one article (they said it, not me!), "take the success -- and, indeed, the underlying philosophy -- of Wikipedia," and "commercialize the hell out of it".

As put in a statement:

Why did WikiFur move?

Our current host, Wikia, is a for-profit company funded by venture capital. They have been able to expand rapidly as a result, and provide both technical and community support. This has usually been beneficial to WikiFur.

However, there comes a time when every business has to start making money. To increase revenue, Wikia applied new adverts which intrude into the content area, pushing aside existing content. We believe this significantly detracts from the design of these pages. To date, WikiFur readers have been spared the worst of these - see Wookieepedia (without an ad-blocker) for an example of what it would be like.

Wikia also imposed major changes to the user interfaces of hosted wikis, in a deliberate trend towards a branded look. They wish to be seen as an integral part of the site, rather than the providers of a hosting service to separate communities.

The changes mean that Wikia's service no longer met our needs, so we decided to part company.

Hat tip: Fan History’s Blog, which has this interesting additional aspect:

Since the move, we've seen a drop in traffic (Google was our number-one referrer), but editing has remained active, so we're happy. From our past experience with other language projects, we know they'll find our new location soon enough.

Good luck, folks. Let's see how Google treats you in the future.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikia | on August 28, 2009 11:59 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (4)
August 21, 2009

Google Book Search Settlement - The Enemy Of The Enemy Is Opposition's Friend

[I've been on blog-vacation, but I think I can say something interesting on this item]

One of several mysteries to me has been why the Internet Archive's opposition to the Google Books Settlement has recently been getting so much attention from professional law/policy types. Don't misunderstand my point regarding that attention, I'm all for it. But, in my experience, those kinds of public spirited projects are the type of thing that typically get obscure mentions in journal articles that nobody reads, usually trotted-out to justify the writer's visionary hobbyhorse. Proof - has anyone heard of Project Gutenberg recently?

So, when I read BBC - Tech giants unite against Google:

Three technology heavyweights are joining a coalition to fight Google's attempt to create what could be the world's largest virtual library.

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo will sign up to the Open Book Alliance being spearheaded by the Internet Archive.

They oppose a legal settlement that could make Google the main source for many online works.

"Google is trying to monopolise the library system," the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle told BBC News.

A-ha! Mystery solved. Moneybags. Indeed, very large moneybags. If it were just librarians and civil-libertarians and free-culture people, nobody else would care. They'd just be kicked, at best. But big corporations are different matter. Their concerns are taken seriously.

Now, I'm not saying anything about the causality, or pawns, or making any statement about the morality of such a coalition. An enemy-of-my-enemy strategy can be good politics, even necessary against a behemoth like Google.

However, I suspect if before this was announced, I had speculated that all the attention to the project was a sign that something like this was potentially in the works (remember, these sorts of arrangements don't happen overnight, they can require months of negotiation) - I would have been roundly denounced as cynical in the extreme.

Again, I wish the endeavor well. I just find it darkly amusing to note the various forces at work here.

Bonus: Group-groom to/from Doc Searls - Unsettling books

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in google | on August 21, 2009 11:59 PM | (Infothought permalink) | Comments (2)