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Sunday
Jan222006

Answers.com makes money off the unpaid labor of Wikipedians

answerscom.jpgAnswers.com profits of those of us who contribute to Wikipedia! Many talk about the potential of free, user-driven web spaces. Sharing blossoms! Free Culture flourishes! Knowledge repositories like Wikipedia have hundreds of thousands of contributors who believe in what Yochai Benkler called the unregulated commons. Complaints surfaced when BBC allegedly put up a fake entry in Wikipedia to promote one of their programs. Yesterday In an online search I came across the fact that Answers.com plugs into Wikipedia. I was stunned! "Answers.com is an ad-supported reference search service, which displays concise answers drawn from over 100 encyclopedias, dictionaries, glossaries and atlases." I have not read any complaints about this feeding practice yet. This is surprising as the online-many who put their blood, sweat and tears into creating all these Wikipedia entries surely did not intend for their labor to be commercialized by the Answers Corporation. (Answers.com is "ad supported").

In the Wikipedia entry for Answers.com it states that: "Advertising revenues in March totaled approximately $91,000 in comparison to revenues of $16,000 in January and February. For the second quarter of 2005, revenues rose to $424,552 and in the next quarter rose to $563,576, a 33% growth." The economies are comparable to that of Google. (Google Base is a good example. But also Google Video milks the content provided by the many online.) Search engines as leeches? One thing is clear-- money is made from our voluntary, unpaid participation in centralized web-based databases. 

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