Wikia Offers Free Community Web Hosting

Web site operators and bloggers will get free Web hosting, including all advertising revenue from their sites, with a new service called “OpenServing” from the for-profit Wikipedia companyWikia.

The company said OpenServing will “extend the essence of theopen source model,” delivering not only free software and content to users but also free bandwidth, storage, computing power and ad revenue.

No one questions the success of the community information model, also dubbed “Web 2.0,” which was pioneered by projects such as Wikipedia.

However, this latest effort is reminiscent of the type of business non-model that was common in the Internet bubble days.

“Forgive me if I’m missing something,” Basex CEO and Chief Analyst Jonathan Spira told LinuxInsider, but “what is left to support [Wikia] development and the platform?”

Wiki and Free

When bloggers and Web site owners partner with Wikia, they will get the free hosting services that allow them to maintain collaborative sites or projects.

OpenServing users reportedly cannot charge site visitors but will be entitled to 100 percent of ad inventory and revenue, according to Wikia.

Among the first freely available applications of the service, Wikia said.

“Social change has accelerated beyond the original Wikipedia concept of six years ago,” said Wikipedia Founder and Chairman Jimmy Wales. “People are rapidly adopting new conventions for working together to do great things, and Wikia is a major beneficiary of that trend.

“OpenServing is the next phase of this experiment. We don’t have all the business model answers, but we are confident — as we always have been — that the wisdom of our community will prevail,” he added.

Platform Profit?

Despite questioning the model and strategy of OpenServing, content and site creators would be silly not to take advantage of the Wikia offering, Spira noted.

“OpenServing sounds like a very powerful offering,” he said. “There is always the question of whether people will move to a new platform, and what they will do with a new platform.”

Although open content, open source software and sharing are key components of Wikia’s success, the openness should notmean financial loss.

“OpenServing is not a charity — it’s a business,” Spira said.

Open Call

“OpenServing is a call to action for developers that want to take open source to the next level, and we are looking for volunteers to help us install and maintain other open source software,” said Wikia CEO Gil Penchina.

“We’ve already witnessed the power of these ideas in action by the thousands of dedicated people contributing to Wikia on a daily basis. We look forward to helping the next wave of brilliant and passionate people get their great ideas off the ground,” he added.

Symbiotic Service

OpenServing represents the future of Web hosting, maintains Wales.

“As servers and bandwidth get cheaper and cheaper, it becomes easy tooffer it to people who are building free content using free and opensource software,” he told LinuxInsider.

When asked why Wikia is giving away all of the advertising revenuefrom sites hosted through OpenServing, Wales indicated his organizationwants to do for broader media and Web publishing what Wikipedia did foronline encyclopedias.

“We want to fuel a massive revolution of free culture, taking theproprietary media and publishing industries head on, in the same waythat I took the encyclopedia publishers head on.

The service will be supported by those participating, Wales explained,giving content-relevant, non-advertising links back to releveant contenton Wikia’s ad-supported sites.

“It’s a symbiotic relationship,” he said.

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