Wikipedia Zero/Development

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Getting Started

The Partnerships and Wikipedia Zero team within the Advancement group at the Wikimedia Foundation works with mobile operators to set up Wikipedia Zero programs, which includes a legal agreement, technical implementation and testing, and marketing promotion. A current list of operators who have launched the program is available here.

Email us to start the process of enrolling as an operator.

Zero-rating traffic

Zero-rating traffic does not require much technical work for the operator or the Wikimedia Foundation.

  • The Wikimedia Foundation provides a list of Wikimedia IP addresses to be zero-rated.
  • Since Wikipedia now requires HTTPS access, we no longer support URL whitelisting.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation can support the Opera Mini proxy browser if the operator has the ability to zero-rate its traffic.
  • The operator and the Wikimedia Foundation coordinate testing before launch.

Free access banner

Free Access Banner
Warning Message

It is important to communicate to users when a page is free in order to:

  • assure users that they will not incur data charges;
  • encourage users to browse further without fear; and
  • provide a marketing benefit of the "freeness" to the operator.

For those reasons, there will be a small "free access" banner across the top of each zero-rated Wikipedia page. The operator can work with the Wikimedia Foundation to customize the banner color and decide the exact text (example: Free Wikipedia Access from Operator). The text will appear in whichever language Wikipedia the user is on, with translations created by both the operator and community via Translate Wiki. The banner may also have a hyperlink to the operator's home portal page.

This banner is only shown to users who come from an IP address of the operator (the operator provides these addresses to the Wikimedia Foundation). The banner will not scroll with the page, and is also collapsible. If it is collapsed, it will not reappear for 24 hours.

Warning message

Since many users will be using Wikipedia because it is free, it is also important to let these users know when they are leaving the free environment (i.e. going to a non zero-rated page). For example, when someone clicks on an external link (either sources or "see also") at the bottom of Wikipedia articles, they are leaving the free environment.

For users from an operator IP address, we will serve a "warning message" whenever they leave the free environment. This message appears in a red banner along the top (replacing the Free Access banner) and reads "Standard data charges may apply if you continue: Yes or No" (also translated like the free access banner). If the user selects "Yes", they continue on to the linked page and must back-browse to go back to the zero-rated Wikipedia page. If they select "No", they will return to the page they were on previously.

Translations

The Free Access banner and warning message should appear in whatever language Wikipedia the user is currently reading. The operator will provide translations of the free access banner in certain local languages. For other language translations, and for all translations of the warning message, we could use community help on Translate Wiki.

Country-specific landing page

Free Access banner and country-specific landing page

In order for Wikipedia Zero to be effective in expanding access to knowledge, it needs to make users aware of local language Wikipedias. Currently, however, there is no Wikipedia "portal" page for each country to promote the existence of local language Wikipedias. Country-specific portal pages may eventually be on the Wikimedia Foundation's product roadmap, so the Wikipedia Zero initiative provides a good opportunity to test that concept.

The landing page for Wikipedia Zero will present users with a menu of commonly used languages for the region. It has the following components:

  • search bar, using the primary language of the country by default,
  • links to the home page of up to 7 "secondary" languages, and
  • a selection drop-down for all languages in the usual "alphabetical" order.

Wikimedia selects the primary (default) language based on the language most frequently used by Wikipedia users in the country. (See usage statistics by country). The operator and the Wikimedia Foundation can jointly decide the secondary languages, based on country demographics.

The Wikimedia Foundation will serve the landing page to all users within the IP range of a partner operator. Users will be redirected to the landing page when navigating to m.wikipedia.org.

Approaching Partnerships

The Wikimedia Foundation reserves endorsement for partnerships that meet our Operating Principles for Wikipedia Zero and protect the Foundation’s mission to make knowledge free and accessible to all.

Regarding Free Basics

Neither Wikipedia nor the Wikimedia Foundation are formal partners of Facebook Free Basics (formerly Internet.org). Facebook's program may include Wikipedia because of Wikipedia's commitment to free content licensing. After lots of confusion, we've crafted a blog post to explain more about Facebook's Free Basics and Wikipedia.


Proposed features

As we get further into Wikipedia Zero, we have come up with some ideas to improve the functionality and efficiency of the project.

Additionally, to better the Wikipedia Zero experience for feature phone (lower-end phones that are internet capable), a new WAP view is an open enhancement request.

Wikipedia Zero Support for Apps

For information on Wikipedia Zero support within the 2014 updated releases of the Wikipedia apps for Android and iOS and the setting "Warn if leaving Wikipedia Zero", see the Wikipedia Zero App FAQ.