WMDOC/Wikimedia and free content one-pager/en

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The Wikimedia Foundation[edit]

The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation which hosts several free-content projects on the Internet, such as Wikipedia, the award-winning multi-lingual encyclopedia. Other online projects include: Wikibooks, free, open-content textbooks; Wikinews, a free news source; Wikiquote, a free compendium of quotations; Wikisource, a free library; Wikispecies, an open, free directory of species; and Wiktionary, a free multilingual dictionary.

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. was chartered to develop and maintain the necessary infrastructure for the growing online projects. The corporation, established in the state of Florida in the United States, owns the servers and other assets, and insures the organization’s expenses are paid. Local chapters have been set up in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, and Switzerland to support and promote the projects on a national level. The Wikimedia Foundation operates mostly with volunteer staff and relies entirely on public donations and grants to meet its mission of providing free knowledge to every person in the world.


Free content[edit]

All of the articles in Wikimedia Foundation projects are free content; this means that they may be used for any purpose by anyone, including broadcasting or commercial uses.

Each contributor to the projects agrees to license their contributions under one or more free licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation license or the Creative Commons Attribution license. These licenses are designed to allow reuse of the content by others, as well as modification of the material. They do have some restrictions, particularly that any use of the material must also be licensed freely, and that the authors (or their designated agent such as the Foundation itself) are credited. This idea of sharing one’s copyrighted creations, and using a license to insure future derivations are likewise shared, is known as “copyleft”.

Using this free-content model, articles are able to be modified rapidly and repeatedly by contributors to the projects, letting each author build on the material provided by earlier editors. Articles tend to grow, with large sections splitting off to become their own related articles, but sometimes articles are pruned back to more basic facts if enthusiastic contributors get too detailed in their prose. The ability to modify, expand, or delete information as necessary helps give Wikimedia Foundation projects their dynamic nature.