Overview of Wikimedia Foundation and Google Partnership
The Wikimedia Foundation and Google both rely on a healthy and sustainable web content ecosystem that fosters the creation, dissemination and discoverability of highly relevant web content. While there are many areas in which our organizations differ in both perspective and approach, our missions share a commitment to making information more accessible to people around the world and ensuring that the information on the web reflects the diversity of its users.
The Wikimedia Foundation: Empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.
Google: Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.
History of the Relationship
The Wikimedia Foundation and Google have a longstanding history of collaborating on initiatives that further our joint goals around knowledge access. Before 2018, our engagement model was informal, decentralized, and largely reliant on the efforts of interested Googlers and Wikimedians to identify and champion collaborations they felt would benefit both organizations. Engagements included projects such as supplying credits for Cloud services, event sponsorship, Google employee gift match, and Google grants to the Wikimedia Foundation. In 2018 the Wikimedia Foundation and Google created a framework for partnership to ensure:
- Holistic Relationship Management: Established centralized teams that enable Google and the Wikimedia Foundation to better engage at all levels, review and execute projects, and manage cross-functional communications. Within the Wikimedia Foundation, this relationship is managed by the Partnerships team.
- Adherence to Core Principles: Co-developed a set of guiding principles so the Wikimedia Foundation & Google stakeholders have a framework for conceiving and evaluating ideas and proposed projects.
Our guiding principles in this partnership are:
- Transparency: Projects will be implemented in a publicly visible and accountable way. There will also be regular Wikimedia Foundation updates on this page regarding this partnership and its projects.
- Conflict Free: No conflicts of interest and/or perceptions of corporate influence
- Community Supported: Projects are supported by the greater Wikimedia movement
- Mission Aligned: Alignment to key levers that drive attainment of the Wikimedia Foundation’s mission
These principles were formulated from Wikimedia Foundation's official guiding principles, as well as Wikimedia Foundation's values.
- Clearly defined Focus Areas that drive our collaborations: Identified three focus areas where our missions are uniquely aligned and prioritized specific projects within each area:
Focus Area 1: Editor Development & Content Creation
Empowering editor communities to create content and grow multi-language Wikis through training, tools, and the development of new projects. Sample projects include:
- Growing Local Language content on Wikipedia (GLOW) (FAQ) - a multi-Wiki editathon to support editors and increase content in underrepresented languages.
- Translate API - We have added Google Translate to the list of machine translation (MT) systems available for users of Content Translation. This introduces machine translation support for more than 100 languages, including many languages which were not previously served by the existing systems.
Focus Area 2: Content Access & Accuracy
Ensuring access to Wikipedia knowledge on and off-platform while powering volunteers’ validation of Wikipedia content via manual review and scaled tools. Sample projects include:
- In 2022, Google became one of the first customers of Wikimedia Enterprise. Wikimedia Enterprise was designed to make it easier for a wide variety of entities to package and share Wikimedia content at scale in ways that best suit their needs. In accordance with the definition of Free Cultural Works, Wikimedia content has always been allowed to be used for any purpose, including commercially. Google, among many others, had already been integrating Wikimedia project contents within their commercial services for many years. The Enterprise API license agreement with Google neither grants any editorial rights nor changes the requirements of the copyright licenses on Wikimedia content. Furthermore, the revenue from Google received via this contract receives similar oversight and is used to support the Wikimedia mission, just as other sources of revenue are (e.g. from donations). For more details regarding the strategic, technical, financial, and legal issues of Wikimedia Enterprise, please see its FAQ documentation.
- WikiLoop program - Originated from Google, WikiLoop is an umbrella program for a series of technical projects intended to contribute datasets and tools from the technical industry back to the open knowledge world.
- Vision API - This computer-aided tagging tool is a feature developed by the Structured Data on Commons team to assist community members in identifying and labeling depicts statements for Commons files.
Focus Area 3: Operational Sustainability
Supporting the sustainability of the Movement and the long-term health of the Wikimedia Foundation while protecting its principles regarding democratic giving and lack of corporate influence. Google financially supports the Wikimedia Foundation in the following ways:
- Wikimania & Regional Conference Sponsorships - Google supports the Wikimedia Foundation’s Thriving Movement priority area by offering scholarships to Wikimedia contributors from underrepresented Wikis to participate at Wikimania and regional Wiki conferences.
- Google’s Matching Gifts Program - The Wikimedia Foundation is among the top recipients of Google’s employee matching gifts program, with contributions totaling more than $2.5M to the Foundation since 2006.
- Corporate Donations - Google.org has also contributed directly to the Wikimedia Foundation and to the Wikimedia Endowment, supporting the Foundation’s long-term sustainability.
What do I do as a community member if I have questions about this partnership, or want to reach Google with an idea?
Email Partnerships@Wikimedia.org if you have questions or concerns for either the Wikimedia Foundation or Google teams. We’ll route your request to the appropriate contact and either address it internally or follow up for additional context where needed.
How were these partnerships communicated to the Wikimedia community?
For Editor Development and Content Creation partnerships, Wikimedia Foundation staff engaged with different language Wikipedia communities to assess interest in participating, scope pilot programs, get input and feedback on approach and program benchmarks, and assess program outcomes. For all partnerships, the Wikimedia Foundation documents partnership goals, phases, and project-specific FAQs on Meta.
How did you select the countries and language projects that will be affected by the partnerships listed above?
We have generally prioritized work on specific language projects based on a combination of a) priority locales between Wikimedia’s anticipated growth regions and Google’s Next Billion Users countries, and b) the interest of individual project community members in collaborating on pilot programs and/or using new tools available through partnerships.
Google products are not based on open source software. Why are we using them?
Guided by the principles of the Wikimedia Foundation's resolution to support free and open source software, we will prioritize the integration of open source services whenever they are available and meet the needs of our reader and contributor communities. However, we use proprietary or closed tools (such as software, operating systems, etc.) where there is currently no open-source tool that will effectively meet our needs. Projects like the Translate API represent the best available option to provide our community with translation tools in the widest possible range of languages; currently, no open source alternative offers broad enough language support to meet the needs of our diverse global communities.
It is also our policy to not add any proprietary software to Wikimedia websites and servers. For all of the initiatives described above, Google has worked with us to provide backend support for open source tools and clients that run on Wikimedia projects.
How do the tools that use Google APIs protect the privacy of editors who use these tools?
To protect the privacy of the user, each of the tools developed through the partnership projects listed above that runs on Wikimedia projects uses the Wikimedia servers as an intermediary between the user's browser and access to Google. This design ensures that the only connection information that the Google servers can detect are the requests coming from the Wikimedia servers, and not the individual editor's device or their IP address.
Will content generated by the Google partnership be free for use in Wikipedia?
Yes. All content created through the partnership tools and programs listed above is freely licensed.
What are other ways in which Google makes use of Wikimedia content that fall outside the scope of this formal partnership?
- Leveraging APIs: Google uses Wikimedia APIs to interface with Wikidata and other Wikimedia projects to incorporate Wikimedia content into their services, for example on the Google Knowledge Panels. Google was one of the initial funders of Wikidata, supporting Wikimedia Deutschland in its development.
- YouTube Information Panels: Wikipedia content may show up in both info panels giving topical context and info panels providing publisher context. These products aim to raise authoritative content and give users more sources of information on topical searches and videos. While the Wikimedia Foundation does not actively support this project, YouTube keeps the Foundation informed before adding new topics and publishers to the panel list. For more information on reuse of Wikipedia content, click here.
- Cross-Language Search (formerly known as Toledo): Cross-Language Search is a pilot that changes the way Google presents machine translated content in search results for some languages. Google invited the Wikimedia Foundation to provide feedback prior to the launch, and the Wikimedia Foundation has supported with some design recommendations to lessen the impact on language communities. The project is fully owned and operated by Google.
- COVID-19: Google utilizes Wikipedia data for its information map by importing Wikipedia’s COVID-19 pandemic by country and territory statistics. This Wikipedia data is also used to power Google’s COVID-19 Statistics Card, which is presented to Google users who search for information related to the pandemic.