|This article's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (December 2011)|
Screenshot of Wikia's main page
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, United States|
|Founder(s)||Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley|
|Key people||Craig Palmer (CEO)|
|Employees||200 (March 2014)|
|Alexa rank||141 (April 2014[update])|
|Type of site||Wiki farm|
|Advertising||Direct and advertising networks|
|Launched||October 18, 2004|
Wikia (formerly Wikicities) is a free web hosting service and a wiki farm for wikis. It is normally free of charge for readers and editors, deriving most of 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 by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley—respectively Chairman Emeritus and Advisory Board member of the Wikimedia Foundation—and headed by Craig Palmer as CEO.
- 1 History
- 2 Topics and wikis
- 3 Software and hardware
- 4 Search engines
- 5 Company
- 6 Controversy
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Wikia was launched on October 18, 2004, under the name "Wikicities" (which invited comparisons to GeoCities), 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." In the month before the move, Wikia announced a US$4 million venture capital investment from Bessemer Venture Partners and First Round Capital. Nine months later, Amazon.com invested US$10 million in Series B funding, with Senior VP of Business Development Jeff Blackburn joining the company board.
In November 2006, Wikia claimed to have spent only $5.74 on marketing, while generating 40 to 50 million page views. The company later spent $2 million to purchase ArmchairGM, a sports forum and wiki, previously an independently hosted site.
Wikia announced the creation of its hundredth wiki on February 3, 2005. As of July 2007, it had over 3,000 wikis in over 50 languages. Wikia's growth stems not only from wikis founded on Wikia, but also from incorporating formerly independent wikis that joined Wikia over time, such as LyricWiki, The Vault, Uncyclopedia and WoWWiki.
On April 7, 2010, Wikia announced the creation of its 100,000th wiki. In May 2010, the company 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. 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 Amazon.com.
Topics and wikis
Wikia covers a broad range of topics; almost any project not founded on hate, libel, pornography or copyright infringement is allowed, as long as it does not duplicate Wikimedia Foundation projects. Many hosted wikis follow the style of Wikipedia, but offer detail beyond what is considered appropriate for a general encyclopedia. For example, a minor character in a Star Wars film may have its own article on Wookieepedia. Another example is that content that is generally considered beyond the scope of information of Wikipedia articles on video games and related video game topics, such as detailed instructions, gameplay details, plot details, and so forth, are offered on video game related wikis hosted by Wikia. Gameplay concepts can also have their own articles. Wikia also allows wikis to have a point of view, rather than the neutral POV on Wikipedia. However, many wikis choose to follow a neutral point of view policy regardless.
Wikia requires all user text content to be published under a free license; 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]
Questions and answers site
Wikia has struggled several times to open a question-and-answer site akin to Google Answers and similar ventures. In January 2009, the company relaunched this effort, which used the name "Wikianswers", which drew criticism from Answers.com, which had a preexisting site called WikiAnswers. Answers.com CEO Bob Rosenschein stated, "Wikia is creating market confusion by associating its Q&A category with our market-leading WikiAnswers domain and site." 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.
OpenServing was a short-lived Web publishing project owned by Wikia, founded on December 12, 2006, and abandoned, unannounced, in January 2008. 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. 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.
According to Wikia co-founder and chairman Jimmy Wales, the OpenServing site received several thousand applications in January 2007. 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 wikia.com, to which openserving.com redirects.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Software and hardware
The "public alpha" of Wikia Search web search engine was launched on January 7, 2008, from the USSHC underground data center. This roll-out version of the search interface was roundly panned by reviewers in technology media. The project was ended in March 2009.
Current search engine
Late in 2009, a new search engine was established to index and display results from all sites hosted on Wikia.
Angela Beesley has served since the beginning as Wikia's Vice-President of Community Relations. Gil Penchina, a previous angel investor and former vice president and general manager at eBay, was hired as CEO on June 5, 2006. 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.
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.
Wikia has technical staff in the USA, 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!"
Wikia derives income from advertising. The company initially used Google AdSense, but moved on to Federated Media before bringing ad management in-house. Alongside Wikia's in-house advertising they continue to use Adsense as well as Amazon Ads and several other third party advertising services.
Asides from the San Francisco headquarters and the Polish technical operations office, Wikia boasts several other offices. Wikia has three marketing and sales specific offices in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago; primary marketing operations originate from New York, with the other two being very small.
Wikia also has an office in Germany where international operations are based. Wikia additionally has an office in Tokyo where Japanese/Chinese operations are conducted. Further on Wikia has a miscellaneous office in London.
Wikia has over 200 employees with several contractors and volunteer users. Wikia's employee base is spread out across the offices, but also has an abundance in remote employees.
Advertising and use of free content
Once on Wikia, wiki communities have complained of inappropriate advertisements, or advertising in the body text area. 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.
In 2009, Wikia added an extension where users could create magazines of content pages, through partner MagCloud; however, this was not disabled on wikis with a "Noncommercial" clause on their license, which would break the license.
Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation
Wikia has been accused of unduly profiting from a perceived association with Wikipedia. Although Wikia has been referred to in the media as "the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia", Wikimedia and Wikia staff 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. As of June 2007, two members of the Foundation's Board of Directors also served as employees, officers, or directors of Wikia. In January 2009, Wikia subleased two conference rooms to the Wikimedia Foundation for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative. 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".
Domain and skin assimilation
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. 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 uncyclopedia.org from Jonathan Huang in July 2006 and gamewikis.org from Phil Nelson in October 2007, the content was under a non-commercial license.
Wikia has merged separately founded wikis, such as Uncyclopedia, to subdomains of wikia.com against contributors' wishes, citing a need to boost its attractiveness to advertisers. The company intended to merge Memory Alpha, WoWWiki, and Zelda Wiki in a similar fashion; the proposal was successfully opposed by users of all three sites. Zelda Wiki is still an independent wiki, while WoWWiki and Memory Alpha were merged but allowed to keep their domain names.
In June 2008, Wikia adopted a new skin, Monaco, intending to implement it as the default on almost all hosted wikis. The skin had an uneven reception, with issues over the prominent branding, in-content format-altering ads, and the mandatory nature of the change. 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 Wikia moved content to their own server, citing the format-altering ads and mandatory changes as reasons for their departure. WikiFur moved likewise in August 2009; the Nethack wiki moved in November 2010, and the Doom wiki in September 2011.
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.
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 repeatedly. The two girls were said to have attempted to kill the girl after reading a fictional short-story on the Slender Man which was found on creepypasta.wikia.com. While the two girls were shown to have had mental health issues, some blamed the Creepypasta Wiki for the happening.
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