Proposal:Wikimedia Web Annotation system

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    Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

    Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

    Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

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


    There are various Web Annotation systems coming into use on the web, not all of which provide access to unregistered users, or users without specific software. Could it be of benefit to the community if Wikimedia was to operate a public service for web annotation?


    We can generalise this question further...

    There are many websites and services which accept and publish user content. Often these sites can be split into two categories: those sites run for the public and the users, and those sites run for profit. There are some websites in recent years which have been the first to offer a service, and have accepted a lot of user input, but users have increasingly found themselves locked away from their data, and bombarded with adverts, as the site moves in its own direction.

    Let's look at some example websites:

    • Delicious. Allows users to share their data with others, and query the public database or their own data via JSON and RSS.
    • Facebook. Great for finding long-lost friends and keeping in contact. But data can only be accessed via the slow AJAX interface full of adverts. Very little support for data export (if the user wanted to migrate to another system). Users must accept a license which allows their personal browsing data to be sold to marketeers, and denies them the right to delete all their data.

    I would suggest that Delicious is providing a good service which meets the needs of its users, but that Facebook is a for-profit service which is not providing the best it could for its users.

    (If you do not agree with my summary, feel free to substitute your own most/least favourite websites as eaxmples! In general I would far rather be contributing data to a website run by a Foundation or Trust, rather than one run for profit.)


    I raise this issue with Wikimedia because I see them as somewhat pioneers in the hosting of user-contributed data, and they do it right. There are many wanted services emerging on the web. I think Web Annotation may be the next big service that users will be looking for, and we need to find a good provider for it!

    Key Questions

    The question is: Can we provide a better service for users, and would Wikimedia be interested in such a project?

    • Ultimately the choice of which systems get used most is up to individual users. Build it right, and they will come...

    Potential Costs


    Community Discussion

    Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Wikimedia Web Annotation system.

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