Submissions:2019/Wikispore: Wider than Wikipedia, Deeper than Wikidata

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This submission has been designated as a lightning talk at WikiConference North America 2019.


Wikispore: Wider than Wikipedia, Deeper than Wikidata


Reliability of Information
+ Relationship Building & Support
+ Inclusion and Diversity
+ Tech & Tools

Type of session:



The Wikimedia movement supports wikis such as Wikipedia and Commons which were groundbreaking in the early 2000s, but hasn't had a new sister project since the launch of Wikivoyage and Wikidata in 2012. With time, the limitations of Wikipedia's scope and nature as a tertiary source have become clearer, and at the same time Wikidata has opened up the vista of many more discernible topics without narrative pages. Our movement needs to experiment again, and to open up new genres of free knowledge.

Proposals for new Wikimedia projects have been diverse and lively for years, sometimes gathering hundreds of supporters, but without an effective outlet they have withered on the vine. The paradigm of an all-or-nothing launch and the legacy of projects of limited success such as Wikinews has driven a short-sighted conservatism that can and should be broken. New prospects are possible, such as wikis on current events, the art world, genealogy, community histories, and many topics that can benefit from novel approaches to a diversity of written and oral sources within a given domain.

This idea of a reversion to the protean phase grew up out of the New York City Strategy Wiki-Picnic on Roosevelt Island in the summer of 2019, as discussions around both partnerships and diversity converged in a need for greater flexibility and the starting of new "spore" mini-projects to support new directions for the movement. It subsequently took greater shape at the Wikimania hackathon in Stockholm, as the project was able to find a temporary home on Wikimedia Cloud Services.

We will explore both the social and technical aspects of "germinating" new wikis with Wikispore. Here the wiki farm is reconceptualized as an agricultural experiment where genre concepts are allowed to succeed or fail on their merits, with perhaps the top 10 test wikis selected each year for interim development in a manner similar to the Community Wishlist Survey, and, after a maturation phase, one or two might sprout yearly to full sister project.

We will follow the technical details of building a decentralized wiki farm where it is possible to experiment and innovate on one wiki without risking the stability of the other wikis, and on ways to build deep integration with Wikipedia and Wikidata so that content on Wikispore is discoverable and usable inside the Wikimedia ecosystem, to a degree far greater than that available on third-party specialized wikis.

Academic Peer Review option:


Author name:

Richard Knipel and Gergő Tisza

E-mail address:

Wikimedia username:

Pharos and Tgr

Affiliated organization(s):

Estimated time:

30 minutes

Preferred room size:

Large room

Special requests:

Have you presented on this topic previously? If yes, where/when?:


If your submission is not accepted, would you be open to presenting your topic in another part of the program? (e.g. lightning talk or unconference session)