The 2009 strategic mobile and web partnership with Orange was the first of its kind. Predating Wikipedia Zero (launched in 2012), it took a different form from more recent mobile partnerships. Under the terms of the three-year deal, Orange paid the Wikimedia Foundation for the right to use Wikimedia brands and trademarks in showcasing the content. Users were able to access Wikimedia content from Orange's own portals, and targeted marketing was presented alongside the content.
The 2009 deal, serving European markets, was followed in 2012 by another Orange partnership focused on the Middle East and Africa (MEA). This no longer involved a monetary arrangement between WMF and Orange. Most recently, it provided free Wikipedia access to mobile users in eight African countries with a combined population of around 225 million: Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Madagascar, Niger, Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Following the removal of the Orange partnerships, Botswana, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Niger, and the Democratic Republic of Congo no longer appear on the mobile partnerships page, while Kenya still has Airtel and Safaricom listed, and Tunisia still has Tunisie Telecom.
Wikimedia Foundation Partner Manager Adele Vrana told the Signpost:
Our contract with Orange expired last year upon completion of a 3 year term. We had several short term extensions while discussing a switch to our updated legal template. We decided to let the latest extension expire on March 11th as we continued our discussions, allowing more time to reach mutually agreeable terms. The conversations with Orange are ongoing and we look forward to future collaboration.
Orange, for its part, announced last month that it had signed a strategic partnership with Google "to bring the best of mobile internet across its full African and Middle Eastern (Orange MEA) footprint". The partnership will provide access to "a range of best-in-class online services including, but not limited to, popular content covering fashion, sport and music, as well as everyday tools such as Google Search™, YouTube™ and Google Maps™. [...] Important information will be made accessible, for example, finding answers to questions instantly through Google Search or the ability to locate the nearest health clinic using Google Maps."
The project, based on a dataset spanning 13 years of Wikipedia editing, incorporating 188,805,088 edits by 117,523 different users, concluded that:
The digital traces left behind by the users in the online environment reveal more about them than they might like. As our recent WSDM'16 paper shows, machine learning algorithms can be used to uncover hidden links between a user's past activity and her private traits – like gender, education level or religious views –, even for retired users. [...]
As an online system evolves over time, new digital traces of individual behavior may uncover previously hidden statistical links between an individual's past actions and her private traits [...] the prediction accuracy for almost all private traits consistently improves over time. Surprisingly, the prediction performance for users who stopped editing after a given time still improves. The activities performed by new users seem to have contributed more to this effect than additional activities from existing (but still active) users. Insights from this work should help users, system designers, and policy makers understand and make long-term design choices in online content creation systems.
Data center switch-over postponed: The work announced in last week's technology report, which will reduce Wikipedia to read-only access for brief periods, has been postponed. It is now scheduled to take place in the week of April 18.
Frances Hocutt leaves WMF: In what appears to be further fall-out from the recent crises at the WMF, Frances Hocutt, who spoke up about the staff engagement survey at the January Metrics meeting, has left the Wikimedia Foundation. Hocutt was hired in May 2015 as a software engineer on the Community Tech team.
European Commission Open Science Policy Platform candidacies: A number of Wikimedians are applying as representatives on the European Commission Open Science Policy Platform and are seeking endorsements. The OSPP will provide expert advice to the European Commission on implementing the broader Open Science Agenda. For further information, see Daniel Mietchen's page on Meta.
"Wikipedia Zero mass effect": A Wikimedia-l thread reports an "increasing amount of improper editing coming from IP addresses located in Angola. Some users believe that this may be related with Wikipedia Zero and a partnership between the WMF and a cellphone company that allows reading and editing at free cost. One of the first reactions to that is a large range block that was just set on Commons in order to prevent these edits, as they are being done in a way that volunteers can't handle."
The case for federation: Should parts of WMF be spun off?: Also currently on the Wikimedia-l mailing list, a discussion (threaded archive) initiated by former WMF deputy director Erik Möller about the potential benefits of a smaller WMF, partly inspired by William Beutler's op-ed in last week's Signpost issue.