Wikipedia has been working on new ways to bring its 25 million articles to more users in developing markets, where smartphones and internet connectivity are still sporadic. The latest plan is let users request specific articles from Wikipedia by having them send text messages to the website through SMS or another standard called USSD. Wikipedia via text is due out in the next few months and is being funded by a $600,000 grant from the Knight Foundation, the nonprofit media and journalism support organization.
As Kul Takanao Wadhwa, the head of mobile for the Wikimedia Foundation (which runs Wikipedia) explained in a blog post on the Knight Foundation's website on Friday: "We’re very excited about delivering Wikipedia via text, which we expect to roll out within the next few months. With the program, users will send a text request to Wikipedia and, within seconds, they will get the article to their phone."
send a text to Wikipedia and get the article delivered within seconds
The new effort joins another program at Wikimedia to offer free, low-bandwidth access of Wikipedia to feature phone owners, called "Wikipedia Zero," which is a text-only version of the full website. That program launched in late 2011 and has since begun rolling out to 330 million users in Russia, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, among other regions. But that effort relies on cooperation from wireless providers, and Wikipedia itself remains primarily funded by donations, meaning that as Wikipedia continues to grow to new markets, it will also need to increase its funding sources to keep up with the costs associated with expansion.