Sat, Aug 04, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Taipei Wikipedia conference draws 500 enthusiasts

OPEN-SOURCE WORLD The three-day event will address developments related to free knowledge and the implications for education and society

By Jessie Ho  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Wikimedia Foundation, operator of the popular online encyclopedia Wikipedia, opened its annual international conference in Taipei yesterday with more than 500 Wikipedia enthusiasts from 43 countries attending to learn more about the open-source community.

The three-day event will address Wiki technology and Internet developments related to shared knowledge and the implications these have for educational and social trends.

With Taiwan's widespread Internet access and the emergence of vibrant, active online communities, an increasing number of Taiwanese have become involved in Wikipedia, Florence Devouard, member of the board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, told a press conference yesterday.

Founded in 2003 in St Petersburg, Florida, the foundation is a nonprofit organization funding nine free information projects to encourage the development and distribution of free content online. The most well-known of these projects is Wikipedia.

Launched in January 2001, Wikipedia, which relies on Internet users to contribute, edit and cite sources for information organized into an encyclopedia, Wikipedia now has more than 5 million articles in more than 250 languages.

The Chinese-language Wikipedia site was inaugurated in October 2002.

About 40 volunteers work with Wikimedia in Taiwan, said Titan Deng (鄧傑), chairman of Wikimedia Taiwan.

The foundation's main source of funding is public donations and grants, and most staff are unpaid.

If Wikimedia Taiwan receives stable funding, it will consider hiring employees to expand its activities, Teng said, adding that the organization would like to work with the government, schools or companies in developing open-source access to knowledge online.

Wikipedia has rapidly become a favorite resource for Web users and professionals worldwide, and Taiwan is no exception.

Last month, a Cabinet report on the 20th anniversary of the end of Martial Law cited Wikipedia.

"We don't mind our content being used by other media, even for commercial purposes, as long as they attribute the copyright to us," Devouard said.

Many Web sites and companies are not aware that they should cite Wikipedia when using information from the Web site, since the encyclopedia's content is collectively produced.

Most have complied with the copyright policy after receiving a notice from Wikipedia, but a few have refused to do so, such as Chinese search engine Baidu Inc (百度), Devouard said.

Baidu frequently uses content from Wikipedia without citing the organization, even after several reminders, Devouard said.

"We provide free knowledge to everyone, but this is not what we want," Devouard said.

The organization will continue communicating with Baidu over the issue on friendly terms, rather than taking legal action against the company, said Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia cofounder.

Although some content from Wikipedia is used on other Web sites that can be viewed in China, Wikipedia is blocked by Beijing.

"Wikipedia has nothing to do with politics ... we'd like not to be blocked, considering the huge market size in China," Sandra Ordonez, the foundation's communication manager, told the Taipei Times. "The more contributors we have, the higher quality our site will be."

This story has been viewed 3086 times.
TOP top