|Founded||October 18, 2004|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
Angela Beesley Starling
|Slogan(s)||The Home of Fandom|
|Alexa rank||99 (August 2016[update])|
|Type of site||Wiki hosting service|
|Advertising||Direct and advertising networks|
|Launched||October 18, 2004(as Wikicities)|
Wikia (formerly Wikicities) is a free wiki hosting service. The site is free of charge, deriving its income from advertising and sold content, publishing most 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 Starling—respectively, Chairman Emeritus and Advisory Board member of the Wikimedia Foundation—and headed by Craig Palmer as CEO.
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. 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.
By July 2007, it had more than 3,000 wikis in more than 50 languages. Over time Wikia has incorporated formerly independent wikis that joined Wikia, such as LyricWiki, The Vault, Uncyclopedia and WoWWiki. Gil Penchina described Wikia early on as "the rest of the library and magazine rack" to Wikipedia's encyclopaedia. 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.
By 2010, Wikias were able to be created in 188 different languages. In October 2011, Wikia announced that Craig Palmer, the former CEO of Gracenote, would replace Penchina as CEO. On February 8, 2012, co-founder Beesley Starling announced she was leaving Wikia to launch a startup called ChalkDrop.com. 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. 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. On March 4, 2015, Wikia announced its appointment of Walker Jacobs, who was the former Executive Vice-President of Turner Broadcasting System, to the new position of Chief Operating Officer. In December 2015, Wikia launched the Fan Contributor Program. On January 25, 2016, Wikia launched a new entertainment news site named Fandom.
Services and features
Wikia communities consist of online encyclopedias, each one specialized in a particular subject or theme. Although Wikia allows almost anything to be the main focus of a wiki, the most common interest of Wikia internauts is in popular fiction franchises of books, films, games and other media, due to the considerable limitation of such detailed information by Wikipedia's notability policies.
The main purpose of articles in a Wikia community is to cover information and discussion on a particular topic in a much greater and more comprehensible detail level than can be found on Wikipedia articles. For example, a minor character in Undertale may have its own article on the Undertale wikia, whereas the character may not be considered notable enough for a Wikipedia page. Also, the writing style is mostly directed to those familiar with specific vocabulary and terminology rather than to the lay and general public of Wikipedia.
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).
As of August 2015, Wikia uses a heavily modified version of MediaWiki software, based on the version 1.19 of MediaWiki, which was officially marked as obsolete in May 2015. It has more than 250 extensions installed, most of them created by their staff of developers, to add social features like blogs, chat, badges, forums and multimedia, but also remove features like advanced user options or skins other than their default custom skin and Monobook (available only for personal use), which are often used by advanced users but that new users may find confusing.
Questions and answers site
In January 2009, the company created a question and answer website named "Wikianswers". 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.
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. 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.
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. 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. Late in 2009, a new search engine was established to index and display results from all sites hosted on Wikia.
Wikia 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.
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, gamewikis.org from Phil Nelson in October 2007, and memory-alpha.org from Harry Doddema and Dan Carlson in January 2008, 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. 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. 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.
Relationship with Wikipedia
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. In 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:
We obtained about a dozen bids...We used averaging as a way to arrive at a fair market rate to neither advantage nor disadvantage Wikia when suggesting a rate. The averaging also resulted in a rate that was roughly equivalent to the most comparable space in the running.
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. Wikia additionally gains income from various partnerships oriented around various sweepstake sponsorships on related wikis.
Wikia has several other offices, international operations are based in Germany, Asian operations and sales are conducted in Tokyo, other sales offices are located in Chicago, Latin America, Los Angeles (marketing programming and content), New York and London.
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