Proposal:Offline Wikipedia

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Status (see valid statuses)

The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Strategic Priorities

This proposal is associated with the bolded strategic priorities below.


  1. Achieve continued growth in readership.
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation.
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation



Summary

I'd like to have offline access to Wikipedia when my phone loses its Internet connection. I'd also like to be able to have access to the latest online data whenever possible, and contribute changes with less fuss. I believe a practical and convenient offline caching system is within reach, and would achieve these goals.

There are already numerous independent and largely incompatible solutions to this problem. This proposal is not about supporting one platform, it's bout supporting all of them. The trick is to allow all of our phones, laptops and future devices to exchange data with Wikimedia's servers efficiently.

Proposal

Make it easier to cache Wikipedia locally. Even a mobile phone has enough storage capacity to hold the entire text of Wikipedia in one language, but the solutions for doing so in an easily browsable manner are inconvenient. I'd like to see a concerted effort from Wikipedians to produce a solution that is:

  • Easy to download and install
  • Provides some way of efficiently updating the local cache
  • Allows users to easily contribute changes back to the online version using the local client(s)
  • Low latency lookups: If my internet connection is slow, and I have a cached version of an article, I'd like to see the cached version instantly, and be notified unobstrusively once the article has updated in the background.

Nothing is stopping anyone from developing one of these solutions privately, say as an iPhone or Android application. However incremental updates just aren't readily available, and that requires participation from the technicians who run Wikipedia.

Detailed proposal

Screenshot of the version 0.9 (screencast)

Motivation

I love having access to the wealth of knowledge available online, but often find myself in situations with limited, slow, or nonexistent connectivity. I know that there are no technical barriers to the goals I've outlined above, and think that accomplishing them would go a long way towards educating people.

Funds raised from sales can go to the Wikipedia foundation or charities. Allow people without internet get a better service than Encarta.

Key Questions

  • Why hasn't this happened yet? - It has been tried often enough, but incompatible filetypes, unfrequent updates and software that supports only some operating systems failed to establish itself.
    Answer: it's technically difficult and not always financially successful (e.g. in Poland).
  • Is this what you want?

Potential Costs

  • Several person-hours of software development, systems/network administration, and testing time.
    • Wikimedia Foundation or Wikimedia chapters should give a grant to openZIM and Kiwix developers to complete the development and resolve current main issues.
    • For the Desktop, Kiwix is already there and works, so development cost are near to zero.
  • CD/DVDs and postage or distribution costs.

References

Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal Talk:Offline Wikipedia.

Want to work on this proposal?

  1. Kelson 05:49, 17 June 2010 (UTC)
  2. Diego Grez 00:32, 27 August 2010 (UTC) – Of course, an offline Wikipedia version would be really useful. I myself downloaded once a Kiwix version of Spanish Wikipedia, and it is really useful. Wikipedia on CD-DVD-USB distribution should be discussed, by example, to generate funds specially to distribute free Wikipedia CDs, just like Ubuntu/Kubuntu do.
  3. SJ+ 07:30, 1 September 2010 (UTC)
  4. --Wilfredor 14:40, 16 September 2010 (UTC)
  5. MC10 04:11, 3 November 2010 (UTC)
  6. Ijon 22:38, 8 November 2010 (UTC)
  7. Singhalawap 17:01, 26 December 2010 (UTC)
  8. Vibhijain 10:24, 6 May 2011 (UTC)