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Orange rolls with Wikimedia

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Orange has tied up a deal with Wikimedia to reproduce Wikipedia content in its portal and mobile phones, enabling Orange to stick its brand on the crowd-sourced content.

Initially the deal means links to Wikipedia content on the Orange portals in the UK, Spain and Poland putting Wikipedia right beside the news stories of the day. Phase two, though, involves creating widgets and applications to present Wikipedia content in a more "co-branded" form.

Orange describes itself as "the European telco leader" on the basis that its home page is very popular. To be fair Orange has maintained its "portal" approach, with news and entertainment at the forefront, but the thought of the 55 million users who visit every month seeing Wikipedia links beside every news story lends the crowd an unprecedented legitimacy.

On the other hand, once those 55 million users discover they can edit pages it could be more reminiscent of when AOL users descended on Usenet, rendering it useless within days.

That's assuming that the "co-branding" into which the Wikipedia content is wrapped doesn’t de-emphasise the editorial rights of the reader. There are a few mobile applications for accessing Wikipedia content already which don't lend themselves to interactivity, and users could easily come to believe that Wikipedia is a read-only medium.

At least Orange won't be creating Djinngo widgets for Wikipedia, as that project seems to be on hold following our coverage. Still, the deal will most likely mean more pub conversations ending in a scramble for mobile phones, and more pub quizzes yielding suspiciously similar answers. ®

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