Wikimedia is taking a new approach to partnerships after announcing the discontinuation of the company’s Zero Program. The program will end in 2018 and open a new wave of partnership opportunities.
The move is part of the Wikimedia 2030, which will shape Wikipedia’s future.
Wikipedia Zero was a program that was created in 2012 to help remove barriers affecting Wikipedia users globally. The company cited high mobile data costs as a reason for the program’s existence, and partnerships allowed the program to flourish.
Wikimedia partnered with mobile providers to waive mobile fees associated with users viewing Wikipedia on their mobile devices. Customers that were part of these partnership programs could access Wikipedia for free on all of their mobile devices.
Scrutiny started to come after complaints that the company had an unfair advantage over competing websites. Partnerships meant that competing websites, which still consume data, would lose traffic to Wikipedia.
Users are more inclined to view free data on Wikipedia than pay for it on other websites.
Wikimedia claims that over the course of 2018, the company will not create any more Wikipedia Zero partnerships. The remaining partnerships, already in place, will expire at the end of the year, successfully ending the program that lasted for five years and gave free access to millions of people.
The program was accepted by 97 mobile carriers, offering 800 million people access for free.
Wikimedia claims that in 2016, there was a significant drop in the program’s interest and adoption. The foundation claims that mobile data costs and a changing industry are to blame for the fall in adoption.
Low awareness of Wikipedia was cited as a main reason for low adoption. The company conducted research that found Wikipedia is not as well known in other countries as it is in North America and Europe.
The foundation started to focus on outreach in countries that have lower awareness rates. Outreach, visit website for more information, will be a primary option for Wikimedia moving forward.
Wikipedia ran a test run in Iraq to bring awareness to Wikipedia, and it increased the awareness rate by 30%.
Partnerships in Nigeria helped introduce Wikipedia to 15 million people, showing them how the platform works. Worldwide participation is required for Wikipedia to grow, and that’s the goal of the foundation moving forward.
Barriers that will impact the growth of Wikimedia, according to the company, will include the affordability of data. The foundation will continue to partner with groups around the world to bring awareness to Wikipedia and help the platform grow.
The company will continue to measure their impact on a worldwide scale and seek partnership opportunities to build the future of Wikimedia.
Facebook, the social media giant, also tried to push a “Zero” program in Europe that caused an uproar over net neutrality concerns. Well-known and widely used, opponents of “Zero” programs rightfully claim that programs offered by large entities offer them an unfair advantage in the market place.
Investments in Zero programs were also hard for mobile providers to justify.