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Wikia, Inc.
Wikia logo
Screenshot of Wikia's main page
Type Private
Founded 2004
Headquarters San Francisco, California, United States
Founder(s) Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley
Key people Craig Palmer (CEO)
Jimmy Wales (co-founder, President)
Angela Beesley (co-founder)
Products Wiki hosting
Employees 200 (March 2014)[1]
Alexa rank negative increase 148 (September 2014)[2]
Type of site Wiki hosting service
Advertising Direct and advertising networks
Registration Optional
Available in Multilingual
Launched October 18, 2004
Current status Active

Wikia (formerly Wikicities) is a free web hosting service and a Wiki hosting service for wikis. The site is free of charge,[3][4] deriving its income from advertising, and publishes all user-provided text under copyleft licenses. Wikia hosts several hundred thousand wikis using the open-source wiki software, MediaWiki. Its operator, Wikia, Inc., is a for-profit Delaware company founded in late 2004[5] by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley—respectively Chairman Emeritus and Advisory Board member of the Wikimedia Foundation—and headed by Craig Palmer as CEO.[6]


Wikia was launched on October 18, 2004, under the name "Wikicities" (which invited comparisons to GeoCities),[7][8] but changed its name to "Wikia" on March 27, 2006, saying that "the name Wikicities has often caused confusion, with many people believing it was a site for city guides rather than wikis about any topic."[9] In the month before the move, Wikia announced a US$4 million venture capital investment from Bessemer Venture Partners and First Round Capital.[10] Nine months later, invested US$10 million in Series B funding,[11] with Senior VP of Business Development Jeff Blackburn joining the company board.[12]

Wikia announced the creation of its hundredth wiki on February 3, 2005.[13] As of July 2007, it had over 3,000 wikis in over 50 languages.[14] Over time Wikia has incorporated formerly independent wikis that joined Wikia, such as LyricWiki, The Vault, Uncyclopedia and WoWWiki.[15][16][17] Gil Penchina described Wikia early on as "the rest of the library and magazine rack" to Wikipedia's encyclopaedia.[18] The material has also been described as informal, and often bordering on entertainment, allowing the importing of maps, YouTube videos, and other non-traditional wiki material.[19]

On April 7, 2010, Wikia announced the creation of its 100,000th wiki.[20] The wikias were in 188 different languages.[4] In May 2010, the company temporarily offered the removal of external ads (though not internal promotions) for a fee, but only for wikis with fewer than 20,000 page-views per month.[21] At the end of November 2012, it was announced that Wikia had raised another US$10.8 million in Series C funding from Institutional Venture Partners and previous investors Bessemer Ventures Partners and[22] Another $15 million was raised in August 2014 for Series D funding, with investors Digital Garage, Amazon, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Institutional Venture Partners. The total raised at this point was $39.8 million.[23][24]

Topics and wikis[edit]

Wikia Logo

Wikia covers a broad range of topics. Almost any project not including hate speech, libel, pornography, or copyright infringement is allowed, as long as the added material does not duplicate Wikimedia Foundation projects.[25] Many of the site's hosted wikis follow the style of Wikipedia, but offer detail beyond what is considered appropriate by Wikipedia's policies. For example, a minor character in a Star Wars film may have its own article on Wookieepedia, whereas the character may not be considered notable enough for a Wikipedia page.[26] Other examples of content that is generally considered beyond the scope of information of Wikipedia articles includes Wikia information about video games and related video game topics, detailed instructions, gameplay details, plot details, and so forth. Gameplay concepts can also have their own articles. Wikia also allows wikis to have a point of view, rather than the neutral POV that is required by Wikipedia (although NPOV is a local policy on many Wikia communities). [27]

Wikia requires all user text content to be published under a free license;[28] most use the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, although Memory Alpha and Uncyclopedia use a noncommercial variant and some use the GNU Free Documentation License.[nb 1][29]

Questions and answers site[edit]

In January 2009, the company created a question and answer website named "Wikianswers", which drew criticism from, which had a preexisting site called WikiAnswers.[30] CEO Bob Rosenschein stated, "Wikia is creating market confusion by associating its Q&A category with our market-leading WikiAnswers domain and site."[31] In March 2010, Wikia re-launched "Answers from Wikia", where users could create topic-specialized knowledge market wikis based upon Wikia's own Wikianswers subdomain.[32]


OpenServing was a short-lived Web publishing project owned by Wikia, founded on December 12, 2006,[33][34] and abandoned, unannounced, in January 2008.[35] Like Wikia, OpenServing was to offer free wiki hosting, but it would differ in that each wiki's founder would retain any revenue gained from advertising on the site.[33][36][37] OpenServing used a modified version of the Wikimedia Foundation's MediaWiki software created by ArmchairGM, but was intended to branch out to other open source packages.[33][38]

According to Wikia co-founder and chairman Jimmy Wales, the OpenServing site received several thousand applications in January 2007.[39] However, after a year, no sites had been launched under the OpenServing banner. Angela Beesley, a co-founder and vice president of Community at Wikia described OpenServing as "never very popular or successful", and said Wikia's efforts had been refocused on, to which redirects.[35]


ArmchairGM was a sports forum and wiki site created by Aaron Wright, Dan Lewis, Robert Lefkowitz and developer David Pean. Launched in early 2006, the site was initially US-based, but sought to improve its links to sports associated with Britain over its first year. Its MediaWiki-based software included a Digg-style article-voting mechanism, blog-like comment forms with "thumbs up/down" user feedback, and the ability to write multiple types of posts (news, opinions, or "locker room" discussion entries).

In late 2006, the site was bought by Wikia for $2 million.[12] After the purchase was made, the former owners applied ArmchairGM's architecture to other Wikia sites.

For Super Bowl XLI, the site made charity donations for every comment posted. The main hub of this commenting was in a live blog.[40] An ArmchairGM contributor operating under the pseudonym Manny Stiles auctioned his blogging services on eBay in early 2007. Tampa Bay Devil Rays President Matt Silverman bought the 33-year-old blogger's work for $535, before adding another $1000. The money went to AIDS awareness.[41]

On March 20, 2008, Sports Illustrated added a section to their website called the SI Vault Wiki, pointing to the ArmchairGM encyclopedia.[42]

From September 2010 to February 2011, Wikia absorbed the site's encyclopedia articles and blanked all of its old blog entries, effectively discontinuing ArmchairGM in its original form.

On August 1, 2011, ArmchairGM's codebase was open-sourced.[43][44]


Starting in 2012, Wikia had partnerships with gaming companies. Companies such as Sony Online Entertainment recolonized a few wikia communities as the official communities such as Everquest II and Planetside 2.[45]

Wikia Fan Studios[edit]

In 2014 Wikia formed partnerships with several videogame, comic book, and other entertainment developers and publishers, for them to work directly with Wikia users in the development of the Wikias on the publishers' projects.[46] The "fan authored" content would also be integrated into partner devices, such as Sony's gaming and entertainment platforms. Other partners that Wikia has worked with in similar capacities include Rotten Tomatoes and TV Zone.[47] In the past some entertainment publishers had used Wikia as the official community pages for their games or other projects, instead of hosting their own official sites.[48] These official partnerships are one of the projects that Wikia Fan Studios produces.[49]

Software and hardware[edit]

Wikia runs a modified version of MediaWiki[50] on Linux (Ubuntu) servers.[51] The Wikia file store as of June 2011 includes over 8 million files stored on SSD.[52]

Search engines[edit]


Wikia Inc. initially proposed creating a copyleft search engine; the software (but not the site) was named "Wikiasari" by a November 2004 naming contest.[nb 2] The proposal became inactive in 2005.

Wikia Search[edit]

Main article: Wikia Search

The "public alpha" of Wikia Search web search engine was launched on January 7, 2008,[53] from the USSHC underground data center.[54] This roll-out version of the search interface was roundly panned by reviewers in technology media.[55] The project was ended in March 2009.[56]

Current search engine[edit]

Late in 2009, a new search engine was established to index and display results from all sites hosted on Wikia.[57]


Wikia and Wired Building location
Wikia and Wired flags

Wikia, Inc. is based in San Francisco, California.[58] The company was originally incorporated in Florida in December 2004 and re-incorporated in Delaware as Wikia, Inc. on January 10, 2006.

Angela Beesley served as Wikia's Vice-President of Community Relations until 2012.[59][60] Gil Penchina, a previous angel investor[60] and former vice president and general manager at eBay, was hired as CEO on June 5, 2006.[61] Michael E. Davis, a former business partner of Wales who served for years as a founding member of the Wikimedia Foundation board and was that organization's Treasurer, was named Treasurer and Secretary of Wikia in January 2006, and served until his departure.

In October 2011, Wikia announced that Craig Palmer, the former CEO of Gracenote, would replace Penchina as CEO, and that Jennifer Betka would commence in the new position of senior vice president of marketing.[6]

Wikia has technical staff in the US, but also has an office in Poznań, Poland, in 2006. Explaining his choice of location, Wales commented "It's about reasonable salaries and high quality. You can find cheaper programmers in other parts of the world, but the quality's not there!"[14]

Wikia derives income from advertising. The company initially used Google AdSense,[62] but moved on to Federated Media before bringing ad management in-house.[63] Alongside Wikia's in-house advertising they continue to use Adsense as well as Amazon Ads and several other third party advertising services.

Wikia has several other offices,[64] three marketing and sales offices, primary marketing operations originate from New York, and very small offices in Los Angeles and Chicago.

International operations are based in Germany, Japanese and Chinese operations are conducted in Tokyo, and there is a "miscellaneous office"[clarification needed] in London.

Wikia has over 200 employees with several contractors and volunteer users.[clarification needed] The employee base includes many remote employees.


Advertising and use of free content[edit]

Once on Wikia, wiki communities have complained of inappropriate advertisements, or advertising in the body text area.[65] There is no easy way for individual communities to switch to conventional paid hosting, as Wikia usually owns the relevant domain names. If a community leaves Wikia for new hosting, the company typically continues to operate the abandoned wiki using its original name and content, adversely affecting the new wiki's search rankings, for advertising revenue.[66]

In 2009, Wikia added an extension where users could create magazines of content pages, through partner MagCloud.[67]

Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

Wikia has been accused of unduly profiting from a perceived association with Wikipedia.[68][69] Although Wikia has been referred to in the media as "the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia",[70][71] Wikimedia[72] and Wikia staff[73] call this description inaccurate.

In 2006, the Wikimedia Foundation shared hosting and bandwidth costs with Wikia, and received some donated office space from Wikia during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. At the end of fiscal year 2007, Wikia owed the Foundation US$6,000. In June 2007, two members of the Foundation's Board of Directors also served as employees, officers, or directors of Wikia.[74] In January 2009, Wikia subleased two conference rooms to the Wikimedia Foundation for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative.[75] According to a 2009 email by Erik Möller, deputy director of the Wikimedia Foundation, bid averaging was used "as a way to arrive at a fair market rate".[76]

Domain and skin assimilation[edit]

Wikia has sometimes expanded by acquiring an existing wiki's domain name, user lists, and databases, from a founder or co-founder in return for money and stock options.[77] The original wiki is then shut down without consulting its editors or wider community, and the domain redirected to Wikia's version of the project. In the case of the acquisitions of from Jonathan Huang in July 2006 and from Phil Nelson in October 2007,[78] the content was under a non-commercial license.

In June 2008, Wikia adopted a new skin, Monaco, intending to implement it as the default on almost all hosted wikis.[79] Many wiki users felt the choice of skin default should remain their own. The switch went ahead, but some wikis retained Monobook as their default. In September 2008, the Transformers Wiki moved content to their own server, citing the format-altering ads and mandatory changes as reasons for their departure.[80][81] WikiFur moved likewise in August 2009;[82] the Nethack wiki moved in November 2010,[83] and the Doom wiki in September 2011.[84]

In May 2009, Wikia removed the ability of individual users to choose a skin other than Monaco or Monobook, claiming a testing burden and relative lack of features. Soon after, Wikia removed the option to set the default skin to Monobook, with the exception of certain large wikis, namely, Uncyclopedia.[85]

In December 2014, Wikia outlined plans to implement a new skin, which has caused a large amount of controversy among its userbase.[86]

Creepypasta Wiki[edit]

In 2014, two 12-year-old girls from Madison, Wisconsin were accused of attempted homicide after almost killing one of their friends by stabbing her 19 times. The two girls were said to have attempted to kill the girl after reading a fictional short-story on the Slender Man. While the two girls were shown to have had mental health issues, some blamed the Creepypasta Wiki for the happening.[87][88]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Most content on Wikia was licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License until June 19, 2009, at which point most wikis were relicensed to CC-BY-SA.
  2. ^ The name was derived from the Hawaiian word for "quick" and asari, Japanese for "rummaging search".[citation needed]


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External links[edit]