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A group of science enthusiasts from Berlin, Germany, are planning to send their own custom-built rover to the Moon. And they want to take Wikipedia with them. In the year of Wikipedia’s 15th anniversary, our global community of editors is invited to prepare the ultimate time (and space) capsule of knowledge.
Wikipedia to the Moon – in a nutshell
The Part-Time Scientists are one of five teams left competing in the Google Lunar XPRIZE challenge. Their goal is to reach the Moon by 2017, land their rover safely on the surface, have it drive 500 meters and send images back to Earth. There's not much room in a space vehicle for things to take along. Typically, this so-called payload is used for scientific experiments. The Moon rover that the Part-Time Scientists are building has room for some of those, but it also comes with a data disc that has been offered by the German Wikimedia Chapter, Wikimedia Deutschland, in order to use for Wikipedia.
Why not simply take a Wikipedia dump and put it on the disc? Because the available disc space is very limited and would not even hold one of the large language versions—even without version histories or media files. More importantly, Wikipedia is a truly global project and to date features content in almost 300 languages. Even if only a snapshot of Wikipedia can be brought to the Moon, its content will equal a genuine snapshot of the sum of all human knowledge. Thus, it should carry not only the quality of the work of the Wikipedia community but also its cultural diversity, its different perspectives, its many voices.
How to do it? How to decide? At Wikimedia Deutschland, we think that the best way to decide about a space-traveling snapshot of Wikipedia is to resort to the strengths of its basic principles: This is an anniversary gift to all Wikipedia communities all over the world. Let us discuss as a global movement and collaborate on-wiki. It’s a unique challenge in and of itself, because never before have all Wikipedia communities at the same time been called out to decide and work on a project with limited space … and time. In order to meet the payload deadline for the Moon rover, we have to work with an editing deadline, as well. Our goal is to have finished community discussions, decisions and content preparations by the International Volunteer Day (5th December) 2016:
5 December 2016. 39 million articles, 300 languages, thousands of editors. One disc with about 20 GB of data space.
This site on Meta-Wiki has been designed to facilitate the process until Wikimania Esino Lario in June 2016. In that time we need to come to a decision on how to proceed as a global community and in our respective language communities. This is a bold undertaking! Please read all about its details in the About and FAQ sections.
Let’s take Wikipedia to the Moon! We need your opinions and ideas in the ongoing discussion of possible working scenarios. Please edit!
- [Foundation-l] Long-term archiving of Wikimedia content (past discussion of laser micro-etching into nickel)