Citing low awareness of Wikipedia outside the US and Europe, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has announced it will be stopping its “Wikipedia Zero” program that provides the service free of charge on mobile phones, in developing countries.
According to the Foundation, since 2016, it has seen a significant drop-off in adoption and interest in the programme. “This may be due, in part, to the rapidly shifting mobile industry as well as changes in mobile data costs,” the Foundation said in a blog post.
“The ‘Wikipedia Zero’ programme will end in 2018 while new partnership opportunities will continue to address critical barriers to participation in free knowledge around the world,” it said, adding that the Foundation has stopped forming new carrier partnerships.
The Foundation provided free access to more than 800 million people, through 97 carrier partnerships in 72 countries over the course of the programme’s life. Launched in 2012, the free-to-access programme provided zero-rated Wikipedia access to more than 800 million people in countries such as Myanmar and Nepal.
Meanwhile, the organisation said it is exploring more ways to service the developing world, including campaigns designed to raise awareness of Wikipedia’s missions in various countries. “We will explore other ways we can leverage the findings from our research and the Wikipedia Zero programme to direct future work with partners,” it added.