AUSTIN, TEXAS -- Wikipedia Foundation’s commercial spinoff Wikia is getting into the news reporting business, Founder Jimmy Wales said during a keynote conversation at SXSW Interactive here this morning.
Wales said ad-supported Wikia, which is now the world’s “16th most popular website,” has recruited 700 volunteers to report on its Fandom hub, which covers games, movies and TV content and experiences.“Instead of just being an encyclopedia, we’re becoming a news source,” Wales said of Wikia’s new focus vs. Wikipedia’s encyclopedic approach to publishing.
Wales also revealed that Wikipedia is poised to launch its first native iOS mobile app and that it will transform users' experience with the online encyclopedia. Specifically, he said the app is designed to optimize snackable moments of users' time, much the way they might use Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or other time occupying platforms -- but with an educational and informative bent.
He said the idea for it was for users who are stuck for “five minutes” somewhere and “want something interesting” to occupy their time.
He said the new app is being developed to “think about the flow experience” and will focus on feeding “interesting content” and more “personalization.”
“Lately, I’ve been interested in shipwrecks,” he told the SXSW audience. “Clearly, the app could know that “he read three articles about shipwrecks. Let’s serve him up more content about shipwrecks.”