Microsoft Encarta, the second most popular English-language Internet encyclopedia, is being discontinued and taken offline on 31 October 2009. According to the updated FAQ, "the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past." Although it never had as high a reputation as Encyclopædia Britannica for its articles, Encarta rose to prominence in the 1990s on the strength of its multimedia content, including tens of thousands of illustrations and hundreds of videos. However, in recent years Wikipedia has left Encarta a distant second among online encyclopedias; according to a recent Hitwise analysis, Wikipedia attracts 96.7% of encyclopedia web traffic, compared with 1.3% for Encarta.
New tech hire
On March 23, Brion Vibber announced that Frédéric Vassard had been hired for the Wikimedia Foundation technical staff. Vassard will be working with "operations, monitoring, and documentation of our servers."
The ongoing poll on the Flagged protection and patrolled revisions proposal is set to end on April 1. The compromise proposal currently has around 82% support—and has been falling gradually from an early level about 88%—with over 300 votes so far. In addition to those who oppose any form of flagged revisions, the proposal has been opposed by some who argue that it is essentially toothless with regard to biographies of living people. It is yet to be seen whether Jimmy Wales will present his own compromise proposal to apply some form of flagged revisions to such biographies, as he indicated he would before the current proposal gained momentum.
New donation of 250,000 images
Mathias Schindler reports the imminent "release of some 250,000 images from the Deutsche Fotothek under Creative Commons cc-by-sa 3.0 and its subsequent uploading to Wikimedia Commons." A joint press conference with Wikimedia Germany is expected soon. This follows Wikimedia Germany's late 2008 success in securing almost 100,000 images from the Bundesarchiv.
FAC rolls out uniform subpage system
As of April 1, a new system will be used to create nomination pages for featured article candidates. Under the new system, modeled after articles for deletion, all nominations will be automatically created in standard subpages with the following form: