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Wikia, Inc.
Wikia logo
Type Private
Founded October 18, 2004
Headquarters San Francisco, California, U.S.
Founder(s) Jimmy Wales
Angela Beesley Starling
President Jimmy Wales
CEO Craig Palmer
Products Wiki hosting
Employees 200 (March 2014)[1]
Written in PHP
Alexa rank Increase 98 (August 2015)[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 for wikis. The site is free of charge,[3] 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[4] 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.[5]

On February 8, 2012, co-founder Beesley Starling announced she was leaving Wikia to launch a startup called[6]


Wikia was launched on October 18, 2004, under the name "Wikicities" (which invited comparisons to GeoCities),[7] but changed its name to "Wikia" on March 27, 2006.[8] In the month before the move, Wikia announced a US$4 million venture capital investment from Bessemer Venture Partners and First Round Capital.[9] Nine months later, invested US$10 million in Series B funding.[citation needed]

By July 2007, it had more than 3,000 wikis in more than 50 languages.[10] Over time Wikia has incorporated formerly independent wikis that joined Wikia, such as LyricWiki, The Vault, Uncyclopedia and WoWWiki.[11] Gil Penchina described Wikia early on as "the rest of the library and magazine rack" to Wikipedia's encyclopaedia.[12] 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.[13]

The wikias were in 188 different languages.[3] 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[14] 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.[15][16] 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.[17]

Services and features[edit]

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 what can be found on Wikipedia articles.[18] 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. Also, the writing style is mostly directed to those yet 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).[citation needed]

Wikia requires all user text content to be published under a free license;[19] 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][20] Wikia's Terms of Use forbid hate speech, libel, pornography or copyright infringement. Material is allowed, as long as the added material does not duplicate Wikimedia Foundation projects.[21]

The Wikia file store as of June 2011 includes over 8 million files stored on SSD.[22]

As of August 2015, Wikia uses a heavily modified version[23] of MediaWiki software, based on the version 1.19[24] of MediaWiki, which was officially marked as obsolete in May 2015.[25] It has more than 250 extensions installed,[24] most of them created by their staff of developers, to add social features like blogs, chat, badges, forums and multimedia,[26] but also remove features like advanced user options[27][28] or skins other than their default custom skin and Monobook (available only for personal use),[29] which are often used by advanced users but that new users may find confusing.

Questions and answers site[edit]

In January 2009, the company created a question and answer website named "Wikianswers".[30] 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.[31]


OpenServing was a short-lived Web publishing project owned by Wikia, founded on December 12, 2006,[32][33] and abandoned, unannounced, in January 2008.[34] 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.[32][35][36] 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.[32][37]

According to Wikia co-founder and chairman Jimmy Wales, the OpenServing site received several thousand applications in January 2007.[38] However, after a year, no sites had been launched under the OpenServing banner.[34]


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.[39] After the purchase was made, the former owners applied ArmchairGM's architecture to other Wikia sites. 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.[40]

On March 20, 2008, Sports Illustrated added a section to their website called the SI Vault Wiki, pointing to the ArmchairGM encyclopedia.[41] 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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed] The "public alpha" of Wikia Search web search engine was launched on January 7, 2008,[citation needed] from the USSHC underground data center.[42] This roll-out version of the search interface was roundly panned by reviewers in technology media.[43] The project was ended in March 2009.[44] Late in 2009, a new search engine was established to index and display results from all sites hosted on Wikia.[citation needed]


Wikia communities have complained of inappropriate advertisements, or advertising in the body text area.[45] 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.[46]

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.[47] 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,[48] from Phil Nelson in October 2007, and from Harry Doddema and Dan Carlson in January 2008,[49] 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.[50] 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.[51][52] WikiFur moved likewise in August 2009;[53] the Nethack wiki moved in November 2010,[54] and the Doom wiki in September 2011.[55]

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.[56]

Relationship with Wikipedia[edit]

Wikia has been accused of unduly profiting from a perceived association with Wikipedia.[57][58] Although Wikia has been referred to in the media as "the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia",[59][60] Wikimedia[61] and Wikia staff[62] 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.[63] In January 2009, Wikia subleased two conference rooms to the Wikimedia Foundation for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative.[64] 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".[65]

Wikia, Inc.[edit]

Wikia and Wired Building location
Wikia and Wired flags

Wikia, Inc. is based in San Francisco, California.[66] The company was incorporated in Florida in December 2004 and re-incorporated in Delaware as Wikia, Inc. on January 10, 2006.[citation needed]

In October 2011, Wikia announced that Craig Palmer, the former CEO GEO of Gracenote, would replace Penchina as CEO.[5]

Wikia has technical staff in the US, but also has an office in Poznań, Poland, in 2006.[10]

Wikia derives income from advertising. The company initially used Google AdSense,[67] but moved on to Federated Media before bringing ad management in-house.[68] 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,[69] 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.

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]


  1. ^ Wikia, Inc. "Wikia, Inc.". Retrieved 2014-03-31. 
  2. ^ " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2015-08-02. 
  3. ^ a b John K Waters and John Lester (2010). The Everything Guide to Social Media: All you need to know about participating in today's most popular online communities. Adams Media. p. 171. Retrieved September 17, 2014. 
  4. ^ Pink, Daniel H. (2005-03-13). "The Book Stops Here". Wired (13.03). Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  5. ^ a b Marlowe, C. (2011-10-13). "Wikia names ex-Gracenote Craig Palmer as CEO". Digital Media Wire. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Gussow, Dave (4 April 2005). "Global villages convene in wiki town halls". St. Petersburg Times. 
  8. ^ Pete Cashmore (28 March 2006). Mashable, ed. "Wikia - Build Your Own Wiki". Retrieved 13 May 2015. 
  9. ^ Hinman, Michael (10 March 2006). "Venture capitalists invest wiki-millions". Tampa Bay Business Journal. Retrieved 10 March 2006. 
  10. ^ a b Shannon, Victoria (28 September 2006). "Wikipedia Founder Staffs For Profit Wikia Spinoff". International Herald Tribune. Archived from the original on 21 October 2006. Retrieved 28 October 2006. 
  11. ^ Warschauer, Mark; Grimes, Douglas (2007). "Audience, Authorship, and Artifact: The emergent semiotics of Web 2.0". Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 27: 1–23. doi:10.1017/S0267190508070013. 
  12. ^ Matthew Barton and Robert Cummings (2009). Wiki Writing: Collaborative Learning in the College Classroom. University of Michigan Press. p. 14. Retrieved 17 September 2014. 
  13. ^ The Social Media Bible: Tactics, Tools, and Strategies for Business Success. John Wiley & Sons. 2010. p. 491. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
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  15. ^ Dan Primack (28 August 2014). "Term Sheet -- Thursday, August 28". Fortune Magazine. Retrieved 18 September 2014. 
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  35. ^ "Wikipedia to share collaborative software". Daily Times. 2006-12-18. Retrieved 28 May 2014. 
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  64. ^ "A note on the Wikipedia Usability Initiative". 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
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  68. ^ "Advertising on Wikia". 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  69. ^ "About". Wikia. Wikia Incorporated. Retrieved June 15, 2014. 

External links[edit]