Wikipedia Looks To India For Growth

Wikipedia said on Wednesday that it would target India, and possibly Brazil, in seeking to reach its goal of 1 billion users.

Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the San Francisco, CA-based online encyclopedia, said Wikipedia seeks to reach its target within the next five years while maintaining its status as a non-profit organization.

“We don’t move in the world of IPOs and valuation and investment,” said Gardner, who runs the non-profit foundation behind Wikipedia, during an interview with Reuters.

“We never talk about it, we never think about it.”

Wikipedia currently boasts some 410 million unique visitors each month, making it the fifth most-visited Web site in the world.   The organization functions on an operating budget of about $20 million annually, raised primarily through donations.

Its main goal is to attract additional users.  However, with the Chinese market essentially cut off and Western markets maturing, India and Brazil present attractive growth opportunities.

This year, the organization will open its first overseas office, in India, where it will work to increase readership and articles in English and many Indian languages, Gardner said.

Among the 316 events in 104 nations marking Wikipedia’s 10th anniversary, 60 are scheduled in India.

“Our main strategic focus right now is on India and other countries in the developing world. Massive numbers of people are starting to get connected to the Internet, mostly through mobile phones but also through traditional PCs,” Gardner said.

“Brazil is provisionally next,” she said.

Wikipedia has not moved any servers into China because doing so would require agreeing to government limitations on publishing.   Adding any operations in China would be contingent upon guarantees that content would not be censored, Gardner said.

“We made a decision that we weren’t going to collaborate in our own filtering.”

Wikipedia relies on roughly 100,000 regular contributors who work for free, along with members of the general public who write and edit articles in some 270 languages.

“Isn’t it amazing?” Gardener said.

The site currently adds 1,100 articles per day, and now includes 17 million articles in English. Wikipedia is also working with 12 universities to add to the quality of articles about public policy, Gardner said.

The company says its quality control measures effectively block people from making malicious or inaccurate posts for very long.

“Over time, people are trusting us more,” said Gardner.

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