Wikipedia backs Facebook Community Pages

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Wikipedia backs Facebook Community Pages

Wikipedia has welcomed Facebook's Community Pages which are designed to act as online groups of interest, even though they may negatively affect the online encyclopaedia's web traffic.

Facebook launched a beta of Community Pages this week, claiming that its long-term aim is to make them the "best collection of shared knowledge on a topic".

The initiative would at first sight appear to rival Wikipedia, the largest community-generated online encyclopaedia, especially since Facebook said it will use content from Wikipedia in the interest groups to start off, before building up its own repository.

However, Jay Walsh, head of communications at the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation which operates Wikipedia, disagreed.

"I can say that, from the Wikipedia Foundation's perspective, Facebook's use of Wikipedia articles in Community Pages is exactly the sort of use of Wikipedia's information that we like to see," he added.

"Wikipedia is free content, and a big part of how and why it exists is its freeness. Editors contribute to a single base of knowledge that other people around the world can reuse freely, even commercially, as long as they ensure that the information continues to remain freely reusable."

Walsh explained that Wikipedia's volunteer editors are generally happy when the knowledge they collaborate on is shared widely.

"Facebook is a very wide space, and carries that knowledge throughout the world," he said. "Wikipedia isn't focused on competing with other information spaces, so issues of rivalry aren't top of mind."

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