Wikia just announced free, open serving and “free content for all.” If this was just another free site of some kind — instead of something setup by arguably the quintessential model for open content, Wikipedia — I’d not be so enthused or intrigued. But Jimmy Wales (head of Wikia) has done it once before on a massive scale and perhaps he’ll do it again?
Can’t find the article right now and don’t have the time (am jammin’ before heading to a charity dinner this evening) but I recall the cacophony of voices insisting that Wales monetize the enormous traffic from Wikipedia since the site was receiving something like four billion pageviews per month. If he took advertising, it would dwarf most media properties.
Of course, Wales knew intrinsically that such a move would destroy Wikipedia and take away the very energy and effort all the co-owners of Wikipedia (i.e., all of us) would feel about this global phenomena. He’s made it clear in interviews that Wikia was his vehicle to monetize the expertise he and his team have developed with building Wikipedia.
Who but Wales might know how to deliver a scalable, free, ad supported model that relies on the collective input of many? I’m going to invest a fair amount of time in understanding their approach and offer, but the tour looks graphically boring and the categories for an openserver instance too limiting (just tried to open one for a group I’m involved in and none of the categories work!!).
So many A-list bloggers and podcasters have wondered out loud about mobile phones (and even cars) being advertiser supported. I scratch my head over that but who knows? If this model works, could it be the first mass advertising model that allows affinity groups to be self-supporting? Will people really step up and generate content? It’s really quite thought provoking.