26 June 2007

Offiziell: de.wikipedia.org ist Offiziell

Here's an interesting precedent being set:

For the first time, the German edition of the open Internet encyclopedia Wikipedia will be receiving state funding. Germany will be setting aside part of its budget to improve information about renewable resources in Wikipedia. Over the next few years, several hundred articles will be written on this issue.

"A number of key words already have excellent entries in the German Wikipedia" within the field of renewable resources, explains Andreas Schütte. Schütte is the executive director of the Renewable Resources Agency (FNR), which receives funding from the German Ministry of Nutrition, Agriculture, and Consumer Protection to conduct research on renewable resources with an eye to launching products on the market. At the same time, Schütte says that a number of key words in the German Wikipedia have very short descriptions, are not up to date, or are missing entirely.

Entries on this topic are to be improved under the direction of the private-sector Nova Institute. The Institute plans to get external experts to write entries on renewable resources for Wikipedia. These experts will first receive training for Wikipedia because collaboration in the community project has its pitfalls. The Institute is therefore looking for someone well versed in Wikipedia to handle project coordination. The project partners have issued a call for tenders for that position. Wikipedia experts can send in their applications immediately.

The benefits of expanding this approach are great. The state gets to distribute useful information, highly efficiently, and helps to ensure its reliability. The users, of course, gain enormously from this new influx of quality contributions.

Even the Wikipedians gain, since in the future there might be the prospect that they could be commissioned by governments to write high-quality articles on particular subjects (but with editorial independence).

And if other governments start following suit, the long-term viability of the entire Wikipedia project - still rather uncertain, at present - will be transformed completely.

All-in-all, this move by the German ministry represents a small but important step towards making Wikipedia into an all-encompassing reference, subsuming both official and unofficial information.

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