Wikipedia Founder May Get Into Selling Market Research Data

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Jimmy Wales is pushing Wikia, the for profit arm of the company associated with Wikipedia. Wikia is to offer free software and hosting via Open Serving to anyone looking to create software using MediaWiki, the software behind Wikipedia:

"It is open-source software and open content," Wales said in a phone interview. "We will be providing the computer hosting for free, and the publisher can keep the advertising revenue."

That could prove disruptive to business models of Web sites that provide free services to customers but require a cut of any resulting revenue in return.

Other than selling marketing data, using traffic data to bet on financial markets (Wales got rich trading options), or creating some framework that allows him to guide, advertise to, and/or manipulate publishers, I can't see a business model.

With everything being free will people actually use it? Will they care about the hidden costs?

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Nothing is free

Nothing is free in this world. Certainly business models are generated every day that have planned operational losses short term in order to achieve long term gains. On the web, anything that can cause mass market brand recognition is extremely valuable in and of itself because of the potential for monetizing huge amounts of traffic - certainly pay per click or affiliate marketing is an option, but google didn't buy YouTube just to get a bigger piece of the adsense pie.

OpenServing is a good idea, but hosting web sites for free isn't an altogether new idea, nor will they be the only company on the market offering free service for little to nothing in return short-term. Certainly he has an inherent market presence because of name recognition, but that doesn't necessarily translate into instant success. He also has a history of good intentions on his side, though - and look at what good karma in the tech community translated into for google.

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