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Wikia (formerly Wikicities) is a free web hosting service for wikis (or wiki farm) which targets communities, both those established offline and those with a purely online following. It is free of charge for readers and editors, deriving its income from advertising, and publishes all user-provided text under copyleft licenses.

Wikia hosts several thousand wikis using the wiki software MediaWiki. Its operator, Wikia, Inc., is a for-profit Delaware company founded in late 2004[1] by Jimmy Wales and Angela Beesley—respectively Chairman Emeritus and Advisory Board chair of the Wikimedia Foundation—and headed by Gil Penchina.



Wikia spent over a year as Wikicities (inviting comparisons to GeoCities[2]), but changed its name on March 27, 2006, saying that "the name Wikicities has often caused confusion, with many people believing it was a site for city guides rather than wikis about any topic."[3] In the month before the move, Wikia announced a US$4 million venture capital investment from Bessemer Venture Partners and First Round Capital.[4] Nine months later, invested US$10 million in Series B funding,[5] with senior VP of business development Jeff Blackburn joining the company board.[6]

In November 2006, Wikia claimed to have spent only $5.74 on marketing, while generating 40 to 50 million page views.[6] The company spent $2 million to purchase ArmchairGM, previously an independently hosted site.[6]

Wikia announced the creation of its one hundredth wiki on February 3, 2005.[7] As of July 2007, it had over 3,000 wikis in over 50 languages.[8] In August 2009 it absorbed LyricWiki.[9]

Topics and wikis

Wikia covers a broad range of topics; almost any project not founded on hate, libel, pornography or copyright infringement is allowed, as long as it does not compete with Wikimedia Foundation projects.[10] Many hosted wikis follow the style of Wikipedia, but offer detail beyond that considered appropriate for an encyclopedia. For example, a minor character in a Star Wars film may have its own article on Wookieepedia.[11]

Wikia requires all user text content to be published under a free license;[12] most use the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license, although Memory Alpha and Uncyclopedia use a noncommercial variant and some use the GNU Free Documentation License.[nb 1][13]

As of June 2009,'s Alexa traffic ranking was 290.[14] Yu-Gi-Oh!, Fallout, Star Wars and Tibia fan wikis each account for around 10% of this traffic.[14] The Wikia-hosted Star Trek wiki Memory Alpha[15] and World of Warcraft wiki WoWWiki[16] currently use separate domain names, as they were founded separately from Wikia. WoWWiki sees roughly 20% the amount of global internet users compared to all of[14][16]

Wikia Green

Wikia Green is a wiki operated by Wikia, Inc. focusing on environmental issues.[17] Jimmy Wales started the project after a conversation with environmentalist activist and politician Al Gore, who suggested creating a green wiki.[17]


OpenServing was a short-lived Web publishing project owned by Wikia, founded on December 12, 2006,[18][19] and abandoned, unannounced, in January 2008.[20] Like Wikia, OpenServing was to offer free wiki hosting, but it would differ in that each wiki's founder would retain any revenue gained from advertising on the site.[18][21][22] OpenServing used a modified version of the Wikimedia Foundation's MediaWiki software created by ArmchairGM, but was intended to branch out to other open source packages.[18][23]

According to Wikia co-founder and chairman Jimmy Wales, the OpenServing site received several thousand applications in January 2007.[24] However, after a year, no sites had been launched under the OpenServing banner. Angela Beesley, a co-founder and vice president of Community at Wikia described OpenServing as "never very popular or successful", and said Wikia's efforts had been refocused on, to which redirects.[20]


Wikia runs a modified version of MediaWiki on Linux (Red Hat, Debian and Ubuntu) servers, and claims to provide both technical and social support for all aspects of running a wiki community.[25]

Search engines


Wikia Inc. initially proposed creating a copyleft search engine; the software (but not the site) was named "Wikiasari" by a November 2004 naming contest.[nb 2] The proposal became inactive in 2005.

Search Wikia

The "public alpha" of Wikia Search web search engine was launched on January 7, 2008.[26] This roll-out version of the search interface was roundly panned by reviewers in technology media.[27] The project was ended in March 2009.[28]


Wikia, Inc. is based in San Francisco (500 Third Street, SOMA district), California, U.S.[29] The company was originally incorporated in Florida in December 2004 and re-incorporated in Delaware as Wikia, Inc. on January 10, 2006.

Angela Beesley has served since the beginning as Wikia's Vice-President of Community Relations.[30] Gil Penchina, a previous angel investor[30] and former vice president and general manager at eBay, was hired as CEO on June 5, 2006.[31] Michael E. Davis, a former business partner of Wales who served for years as a founding member of the Wikimedia Foundation board and was that organization's Treasurer, was named Treasurer and Secretary of Wikia in January 2006.

Wikia has some technical staff in the USA, but also has an office in Poznań, Poland in 2006. Explaining his choice of location, Wales commented "It's about reasonable salaries and high quality. You can find cheaper programmers in other parts of the world, but the quality's not there!"[8]

Wikia derives income from advertising. The company initially used Google AdSense,[32] but moved on to Federated Media before bringing ad management in-house.[33]


Advertising and use of free content

Wikia has sometimes expanded by acquiring an existing wiki's domain name, user lists, and databases, from a founder or co-founder in return for money and stock options.[34] The original wiki is then shut down without consulting its editors or wider community, and the domain redirected to Wikia's version of the project. In at least two cases[nb 3][35] the content was under a non-commercial license, raising the question of whether the wikis could legitimately be sold to Wikia for commercial use.[36] In 2009, Wikia added an extension where users could create magazines of content pages, through partner MagCloud;[37] however, this was not disabled on wikis with a "Noncommercial" clause on their license, which would break the license.

Once on Wikia, wiki communities have complained of inappropriate advertisements, or advertising in the body text area.[38] There is no easy way for individual communities to switch to conventional paid hosting, as Wikia usually owns the relevant domain names. If a community leaves Wikia for new hosting, the company typically continues to operate the abandoned wiki using its original name and content, adversely affecting the new wiki's search rankings.[39]

Wikia and the Wikimedia Foundation

Wikia has been accused of unduly profiting from a perceived association with Wikipedia, even though Wikia, Inc. is a different entity than Wikipedia's non-profit parent, the Wikimedia Foundation. Both sites had Jimmy Wales as a co-founder (with Larry Sanger co-founding Wikipedia, and Angela Beesley co-founding Wikia), and Wikia has been referred to in the media as "the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia."[40][41] Wikimedia[42] and Wikia staff[43] call this description inaccurate.

In 2006, the Wikimedia Foundation shared hosting and bandwidth costs with Wikia, and received some donated office space from Wikia during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006. At the end of fiscal year 2007, Wikia owed the Foundation US$6,000. As of June 2007, two members of the Foundation's Board of Directors also served as employees, officers, or directors of Wikia.[44] In January 2009, Wikia subleased two conference rooms to the Wikimedia Foundation for the Wikipedia Usability Initiative.[45] Bid averaging was used "as a way to arrive at a fair market rate".[46]

Domain and skin assimilation

Wikia has merged separately-founded wikis, such as Uncyclopedia, to subdomains of against contributors' wishes, citing a need to boost its attractiveness to advertisers.[47] The company intended to merge Zelda Wiki, WoWWiki, and Memory Alpha in a similar fashion;[48][49] the proposal was successfully opposed by users of all three sites.[50][51][52]

In June 2008, Wikia adopted a new skin, Monaco, intending to implement it as the default on almost all hosted wikis.[53] The skin had an uneven reception, with issues over the prominent branding, in-content format-altering ads, and the mandatory nature of the change.[54] Many wiki users felt the choice of skin default should remain their own. The switch went ahead, but some wikis retained Monobook as their default.

In May 2009, Wikia removed the ability of individual users to choose a skin other than Monaco or Monobook, claiming a testing burden and relative lack of features.[55]


Wikia relaunched in January 2009 a previously moribund question-and-answer site, which used the name "Wikianswers", while had a much more prominent site "WikiAnswers".[56] CEO Bob Rosenschein stated "Wikia is creating market confusion by associating its Q&A category with our market-leading WikiAnswers domain and site."[57]

See also


  1. Most content on Wikia was licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License until June 19, 2009, at which point most wikis were relicensed to CC-BY-SA.
  2. The name was derived from the Hawaiian word for "quick" and asari, Japanese for "rummaging search".
  3. The acquisition of from Jonathan Huang in July 2006 and from Phil Nelson in October 2007


  1. Pink, Daniel H. (2005-03-13). "The Book Stops Here". Wired News. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 
  2. Gussow, Dave (2005-04-04). "Global villages convene in wiki town halls". St. Petersburg Times. 
  3. Beesley, Angela (2006-03-27). "Wikicities relaunches as Wikia". Wikia. Retrieved 2006-07-15. 
  4. Hinman, Michael (2006-03-10). "Venture capitalists invest wiki-millions". Tampa Bay Business Journal. Retrieved 2006-03-10. 
  5. Primack, Dan (2007-01-03). "PE Week Wire". Private Equity Week. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Blitstein, Ryan (2006-12-06). "Amazon puts faith – and money – in Wikia". Mercury News. 
  7. Beesley, Angela et al. (2005-02-03). "100 Wikicities". Retrieved 2006-10-15. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Shannon, Victoria (2006-09-28). "Wikipedia Founder Staffs For Profit Wikia Spinoff". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2006-10-28. [dead link]
  9. Colombo, Sean (2009-08-31). "LyricWiki:Wikia Migration FAQ". Wikia. Retrieved 2009-09-22. 
  10. "Wikia:Creation policy". Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  11. McNichol, Tom (March 2007). "With Wikia, a Wikipedia founder looks to strike it rich". Business 2.0 Magazine. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 
  12. "Wikia:Licensing". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  13. Beesley, Angela. "Licensing update June 19, 2009".,_2009. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 " traffic details". Alexa. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  15. " traffic details". Alexa. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 " traffic details". Alexa. Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  17. 17.0 17.1 Wenzel, Elsa (2008-09-09). "Wikipedia's Wales launches Wikia Green". Cnet. 
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 "Wikipedia founder remakes Web-publishing economics". Reuters/USA Today. 2006-12-12. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  19. "Wikia Announces Free Wiki Hosting". TechCrunch. 2006-12-11. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 "Wikia's OpenServing Project Dies a Quiet Death". Mars Magazine. 2007-10-10. 
  21. "Wikipedia to share collaborative software". Daily Times. 2006-12-18.\12\18\story_18-12-2006_pg6_1. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  22. "Wikia Unveils OpenServing - the Mother of All Freebies". Business Wire. 2006-12-11. 
  23. "Wikipedia founder to share collaborative software". AFP. December 2006. 
  24. "Wikis can succeed on newspaper sites, claims Wikipedia founder". Online Journalism News, 2007-01-19. Retrieved 2007-10-04. 
  25. Wikia, Inc.. "Why use Wikia?". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  26. Public alpha of Wikia search project
  27. Manjoo, Farhad (2008-01-07). "Wikipedia founder's search engine gets bad reviews". Retrieved 2008-01-07. 
  28. Needleman, Rafe (31 March 2009). "Wales giving up on Wikia Search". Webware. CNet. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  29. "San Mateo-Based Wikia Lands Investment from". Silicon Valley Wire. 2006-12-06. Retrieved 2007-03-08. ; California Business Portal, Agent for service of process address; Go Daddy, Registered domain address.
  30. 30.0 30.1 Wikia, Inc.. "Bessemer Venture Partners Funds Jimmy Wales' Startup Wikia". Retrieved 2006-03-31. 
  31. "Wikia taps eBay exec as CEO". San Francisco Business Times. 2006-06-05. 
  32. Lashinksy, Adam; Scott, Jagon (2006-08-30). "For-profit wiki". Marketplace. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  33. "Advertising on Wikia". 2008-01-08. Retrieved 2009-06-19. 
  34. "GuildWiki: Wikia Move". GuildWiki. Retrieved 2007-10-20. 
  35. "Announcement: Wikia & Uncyclopedia". Uncyclopedia. 2006-07-10. 
  36. "How to Stop Commerial Use of Copyleft Materials?". Slashdot. 2007-09-15. 
  37. "Introducing: Magazine Creator". 2009-10-14. 
  38. Finkelstein, Seth (2008-09-25). "Read me first: Wikipedia isn't about human potential, whatever Wales says". The Guardian. 
  39. Finkelstein, Seth (2008-07-31). "How will Wikia cope when the workers all quit the plantation?". The Guardian. 
  40. "Wikipedia founder says to challenge Google, Yahoo". Reuters. 2007-03-09. 
  41. "Community websites take wiki path". BBC News. BBC. 2006-12-12. 
  42. "Wikia, Inc. is not the commercial counterpart to Wikipedia or the Wikimedia Foundation". Wikimedia Foundation.,_Inc._is_not_the_commercial_counterpart_to_Wikipedia_or_the_Wikimedia_Foundation. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  43. "Wikimedia". Wikia, Inc.. Retrieved 2008-02-26. 
  44. Wikimedia Foundation 2006-2007 Audit page 9 says "The Organization shared hosting and bandwidth costs with Wikia, Inc., a for-profit company founded by the same founder as Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Included in accounts receivable at June 30, 2007 is $6,000 due from Wikia, Inc. for these costs. The Organization received some donated office space from Wikia Inc. during the year ended June 30, 2006 valued at $6,000. No donation of the office space occurred in 2007. Through June 30, 2007, two members of the Organization’s board of directors also serve as employees, officers, or directors of Wikia, Inc."
  45. "A note on the Wikipedia Usability Initiative". 2009-01-21. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  46. "Foundation-l: Wikia leasing office space to WMF". 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  47. "Forum:Uncyclopedia domain name" (Wiki). Uncyclopedia. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  48. "WoWWiki:Domain name" (Wiki). WoWWiki. Retrieved 2008-12-06. 
  49. "Forum:Domain name change" (Wiki). Memory Alpha. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  50. "News 2007 (Look under 2nd Quarter)" (wiki). Retrieved 2010-01-10. 
  51. "WoWWiki_talk:Domain, Proposal & Vote section" (Wiki). Retrieved 2009-05-01. 
  52. "Forum:Wikia now owns" (Wiki). Memory Alpha. 2009-02-27. Retrieved 2009-07-15. 
  53. Wikia, Inc. (2008-06-17). "Wikia's New Style". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  54. "Forum:Wikia's New Style - Archive 1". Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  55. "Forum:Changes to skin preferences". 2009-05-19. Retrieved 2009-06-20. 
  56. Schonfeld, Erick (2009-01-31). "Jimmy Wales Quietly Launches Wikianswers". Retrieved 2009-07-17. 
  57. "WikiAnswers: setting the record straight". 2009-02-03. Retrieved 2009-07-17. 

External links

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