Answers archive/July 2012

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Foundation: Is this your project? Determining whether or not a site belongs to the Wikimedia Foundation

I found a website that looks like Wikipedia, and I can't tell if it belongs to you. How can I figure that out?
This is a screenshot of "Wookieepedia", a "wiki" that is not affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation.

We routinely receive letters from readers who have found a site that looks like Wikipedia or that uses Wikipedia's content but that they suspect does not belong to us....particularly with parody sites, but also with other wikis, many of which may use the same MediaWiki software that we do.

Just because a site has "wiki" in its title or looks like Wikipedia doesn't mean it's a Wikimedia Foundation website or that it's reusing Wikipedia's content. "Wiki" is a generic term for any website that is collaboratively created by its user community. The history of wikis dates back to 1994, whereas our oldest project, Wikipedia, was launched in January 2001. While the names of our projects - Wikipedia, Wikiversity, Wikisource, etc. - are trademarked, people are free to use the term "Wiki" in describing or titling their own websites, and many do.

Beyond similarities in name, there may be similarities in design. Wikimedia Foundation projects are built on MediaWiki, which - in keeping with our dedication to free cultural work - is free, open-source software that can be used by anyone in their own projects. While there may be some differences in configuration, projects that use MediaWiki may look and feel very similar to our own, even if their mission and content are entirely different.

Beyond projects that have similar name or software, but different content, there are also many "mirrors" and "forks" which copy or base their material on content we host. In principle, we not only permit but encourage this. Our commitment is to creating a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. For that reason, almost all of the content on our projects is freely licensed for modification and reuse (see our Terms of Use). Many of these mirrors and forks share our educational goals, but there are also parodies of Wikimedia Foundation projects that take our articles and modify them in ways that may be intended to be funny or offensive.

One easy way to determine if the site you've found is affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation is to look at our project list (less common projects are listed here.) You may also be able to tell by looking at the site in question itself. Generally, other sites that use the "wiki" title or use MediaWiki software are not intending to suggest an affiliation with us, and the distinction between us will be clear if you find the "about" or "contact" information. Even most mirrors and forks make clear that they are not affiliated with the Wikimedia Foundation. It can be harder to figure out with some parodic sites, who may simply copy over the "contact" information from Wikipedia or the other project they're spoofing, and it may not always be a good idea to explore these sites too deeply, as some of them may host malware. If a site makes you uncomfortable, you can always check our lists or do a "Whois" query to find out who hosts it. --Maggie Dennis (talk) 17:42, 23 July 2012 (UTC)