Partnerships FAQ

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This will be an FAQ on associations with the Wikimedia Foundation of any kind: integration of products & services, sharing of our content, licensing of our brand, subscription to live feeds. It should give people answers where they are obvious (e.g. we're strongly committed to open source / free content), and direct them to the right individuals where they're not. It is aimed at a broad general audience and should be written in language that's easily understandable for people who are not experts (e.g., not copyright lawyers, software developers, wiki users, etc.). Please feel free to add/refine.

Who owns Wikipedia?[edit]

Wikipedia is a massively collaborative project with thousands of volunteer authors.

Copyright to all text is owned by individual contributors, who agree to release their work under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License. This license grants anyone broad rights to re-distribute and re-use the materials, within some constraints. Images, videos and sound files are released under a number of similar free content licenses. See below: #What are the key copyright rules I must follow?.

Wikipedia and its sister projects (Wikibooks, Wikisource, and others) are hosted and supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), based in San Francisco. WMF also owns the domain names, trademarks, and logos.

Some of these sister projects have slightly different copyright policies. WikiNews uses the Creative Commons Attribution (only) License whilst WikiMedia Commons and WikiSource primarily contain media and text in the Public Domain.

If I want to reach an agreement with you, who should I contact?[edit]

Before contacting us, please consult this FAQ in full. The Wikimedia Foundation receives many inquiries on a daily basis, and only employs a small number of staff members. Our goal is to streamline processes as much as possible, and to only be organizationally involved when necessary.

The Wikimedia Foundation is supported by grass-roots chapter organizations in many countries. These chapter organizations can independently develop relationships with third parties. Please see the list of chapters.

The broadest category of partnerships that require our involvement are agreements to use our trademarks and logos, and specific subscription based services (primarily our live-feed subscription service). Beyond that, there are partnerships where it makes sense for the Wikimedia Foundation to be involved, including outreach events, large scale content donations, sponsorships, and technology collaborations.

If, after reading, the FAQ, you would like to get in touch with us, please use the following e-mail addresses:

  • If you represent a for-profit entity, please contact our Head of Business Development at <business at wikimedia dot org>.
  • If you represent a not-for-profit entity, including research organizations, please contact <partnerships at wikimedia dot org>.

If you are interested in employment with the Foundation, please see our current job openings.

Will Wikipedia integrate my service that will make your site more useful to readers?[edit]

Wikimedia's content and technology are developed under the principles of the free culture movement: We want to create a commons of shared resources that anyone can contribute to, modify and re-purpose. This shared value system, articulated through foundational documents like the Definition of Free Cultural Works and the Free Software Definition, is essential to enable the global collaboration of volunteers while minimizing the legal friction caused by traditional intellectual property restrictions.

If you can play by these ground rules, then you will almost certainly require very little involvement of the Wikimedia Foundation as an organization: You can negotiate the terms of your engagement directly with the Wikimedia community, including the open source development team. Our barriers to participation are meant to be minimal, both in terms of contributing to the content and to the software that helps us to create it.

If, on the other hand, the nature of your proposed agreement is in contradiction with this core philosophy, the Wikimedia Foundation generally has neither the power nor the will to negotiate an agreement. In other words: Engaging the Wikimedia Foundation, as opposed to the global community of contributors, is not a way to circumnavigate Wikimedia Foundation core values.

So, how do I engage the community with regard to content partnerships?[edit]

The simplest way to contribute content is to be bold and just do it: Anyone can edit Wikimedia projects, even without registering. To learn the basics of wiki editing and the key policies, the English Wikipedia introduction is a good starting point. Be careful when writing about your own products and services -- generally, conflict of interest policies apply, such as the English Wikipedia COI policy.

If you want to recruit volunteers to help you, it's a good idea to describe your project on one of the Wikimedia mailing lists, applicable to the project community you want to interact with (e.g. wikien-l for the English Wikipedia community, foundation-l for cross-project issues, wikipedia-l for the Wikipedia community in all languages). Or you can post directly to relevant community places, e.g. the Village pump on the English Wikipedia.

So, how do I engage the community with regard to technology partnerships?[edit]

First, one caveat: If your technology depends on an external service that's not hosted by us, we're unlikely to adopt it -- especially if the external service is based on proprietary software. It's key to our long term sustainability (and to the re-usability of our content as a whole) that we do not become dependent on any third party. Similarly, our community tends to react aversely to very visible brand promotion.

So, services of the "We can provide you semantic enrichment based on our cool proprietary technology", or "We will build an amazing proprietary navigational tool" are generally unlikely to be adopted in our projects.

The key software component enabling all Wikimedia projects is the MediaWiki open source software. There are thousands of websites not operated by the Wikimedia Foundation that use MediaWiki. Accordingly, MediaWiki has a large, diverse base of developers, especially if you count the hundreds of available extensions.

The best way to contribute code is to directly commit it to our version control system under an applicable open source license. Please read the instructions regarding commit access carefully, and contact <commitaccess at wikimedia dot org> with your public key, preferred user-name, and a description of your project. Remember: While it's easy to gain commit access, it's also easy to lose, so please do not make potentially controversial changes without discussing them, e.g. on the wikitech-l mailing list.

In addition, there is a simple way to contribute small snippets of code: site and user JavaScripts. These are client-side scripts that any user can contribute, and that any user can activate. For easy activation, some scripts are listed on the "gadgets" tab in the user preferences. This is defined on a per-project basis through the MediaWiki:Gadgets-definition page and typically its associated discussion page.

Finally, if you need direct access to the Wikimedia databases, restricted replication access to non-private data can be obtained through the Wikimedia Toolserver.

Related questions:

  1. #Can I use your trademarks or logos to promote my cool proprietary tool/service?
  2. #If I contribute to your mission, how will you give me credit?

Can I sponsor a Wikimedia Foundation developer, or other Wikimedia projects, directly?[edit]

Yes. While at the current stage in our organizational development we generally prefer unrestricted donations to support our growth across the board, we are happy to discuss more narrow donation and sponsorship opportunities with you. Please use <partnerships at wikimedia dot org> for these inquiries.

Can I use your trademarks or logos to promote my cool proprietary tool/service?[edit]

While we may decide to license our trademarks and logos to you for such commercial uses, it is unlikely that we would directly promote your tool or service. Please negotiate licensing agreements with our Head of Business Development, reachable at <business at wikimedia dot org>.

What's the best way to host a local Wikipedia event?[edit]

It depends on the scale of the event. Wikimedians self-organize all the time: Check out the Wikipedia Meetup page on the English Wikipedia and the linked pages for examples. If you want to make your venue available to meetups, you can talk to the organizers of past Wikipedia Meetups.

If you want to organize a different type of meetup with wiki contributors from a particular region, you can try contacting individuals through the Wikipedians by location category, which also exists in different languages.

If you are interested in setting up a larger event, you may want to get in touch with a local chapter, if one exists (see list), or with the Wikimedia Foundation through <partnerships at wikimedia dot org>. Events which the Wikimedia Foundation has sponsored and helped to organize include the annual Wikimania conference, and Wikipedia Academies in selected countries (the Wikipedia Academy concept was invented by the German chapter).

What's the best way to create an organization supporting Wikipedia?[edit]

It depends on the nature of the organization that you want to create. If you're an active Wikimedia contributor, and there's no local chapter where you are, you may want to try to motivate Wikimedians from your region to start one. Please consult the local chapter FAQ for more information on this process.

If you want to create a different type organization that somehow primarily helps and supports Wikimedia, that's a more complex matter for which there is currently no precedent, and we recommend that you contact us at <partnerships at wikimedia dot org> to discuss this.

Can we make a book, TV show or other product out of Wikipedia content?[edit]

If you want to use the Wikipedia name and/or logo, the usual rules for licensing them apply: Depending on the exact nature of your use, and the remuneration, we may or may not be able to reach an agreement. See #Can I use your trademarks or logos to promote my cool proprietary tool/service?.

If you simply want to use derivatives of the content without using our name or logo, you can do so under the constraints of the licensing without asking for our permission: See #What are the key copyright rules I must follow?. Since the Wikimedia Foundation holds no special rights over the content, we cannot grant any content usage rights beyond what the license allows.

This license does not restrict normal information usage practices like quoting and referencing Wikipedia. You may do this, just like you would with any book so long as you reference the source.

What are the key copyright rules I must follow?[edit]

All text is currently licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License. (The single exception is the Wikinews project, which uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.)

Content is licensed by individual contributors, not by the Wikimedia Foundation. Hence, it is your responsibility to ensure that you are compliant with the licensing conditions of the content, and the position of the Wikimedia Foundation is purely advisory.

If you abide by the following terms, you should not run into compliance issues:

  1. For all uses, any modifications or additions of your own will have to be licensed under the CC-by-SA licnese.
  2. For electronic uses, include a visible notice at the bottom that says "Text is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.

If you are using media under a different license, such as the Creative Commons Attribution license, you have to follow the terms of that license. You can see the license an image, sound file, or other media file is under by reviewing its file description page, e.g.: Image:Egeskov_Slot_spejling_Edit_2.jpg is licensed both under the GNU Free Documentation License and the CC-BY-SA license, so you can follow either license and be in compliance. For content that is in the Public Domain, such as many of the media on Wikimedia Commons, you are not legally obliged to make any citation but it is good practice to reference the source.

Note that some media files are used under "fair use" or similar exemptions to copyright law. This is also clearly labeled on the file description page. Your use of such files will only be in compliance if you meet the conditions defined in your jurisdiction's copyright laws; typically, exemptions to copyright law for commercial uses are very limited. No files in Wikimedia Commons fall into that category.

Will Wikimedia endorse my grant proposal?[edit]

It obviously depends on the nature of your grant proposal. We generally support research that fits the Wikimedia research agenda, and open source development projects that line up with our mission. Please contact us at <partnerships at wikimedia dot org> to discuss this.

Will Wikimedia participate in my grant?[edit]

At this stage in our development, we do not have the organizational bandwidth to execute complex grant projects, so we generally recommend that you directly engage our volunteer community (see above).

I would like to create my own free-content collaborative encyclopedia (e.g., Folkpedia, Canuckpedia). Is it true that I can use your software for free?[edit]

Yes. The software used by MediaWiki is open source, and can be downloaded from mediawiki.org, where you can also learn more about the software. (The Wikipedia article MediaWiki also provides an overview.)

Will you host my brilliant wiki idea?[edit]

Probably not. The most recent Wikimedia project wiki, Wikiversity, was launched in August 2006. Wikimedia is not a general wiki hosting service: It's a non-profit effort to help every human being to share in the sum of all human knowledge, with a strong focus on educational uses. New projects that fit within that mission can be approved through a community process: see proposals for new projects. However, at this stage, it's generally more likely that new projects fit within the scope of an existing effort, or out of scope for Wikimedia.

For information on creating your own wiki independently, the Wikibook "How to start a Wiki" has some starting points.

If I start my own free-content collaborative encyclopedia, can I use Wikipedia material as a kind of "seed content"?[edit]

Yes, absolutely, as long as you comply with the conditions of the license. See: #What are the key copyright rules I must follow?

You can download Wikimedia database dumps in different formats here: http://download.wikimedia.org/

Is there a way for me to upload my own changes and updates back into Wikipedia?[edit]

No, there is currently no automated way to do that. And it might not be desirable anyway: the scope and tone of your wiki might be quite different from that of Wikipedia - so material that is perfectly suited to your project, might not be suited to Wikipedia, and vice versa. If the changes you make are seen by Wikipedia editors as useful for it, they will likely be merged back into Wikipedia anyway. :-)

Is there a way for me to subscribe to particular kinds of content out of Wikipedia (e.g., articles about folk music, or articles about Canada), so that my encyclopedia benefits automatically from the ongoing contributions of Wikipedia contributors?[edit]

If your use is on a reasonably small scale, you can try using the MediaWiki API and the per-page RSS feeds to acquire updates. If your use is on a larger scale, you will need to subscribe to our live feed service: #How do I get real-time updates of Wikipedia content?. This service is not currently filtered, so you will have to do the filtering on your end.