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Does Amazon Owe Wikipedia For Taking Advantage of The Free Labor of Their Volunteers?

Slate’s Rachel Withers argues that “tech firms that take advantage of Wikipedia’s intensive database owe Wikimedia a much greater debt.” Amazon’s Alexa, for instance, makes use of Wikipedia “without credit, contribution, or compensation.” The Google Assistant additionally resources Wikipedia, however they credit score the encyclopedia — and different websites — when it makes use of it as a useful resource. From the file: Amazon lately donated $1 million to the Wikimedia Endowment, a fund that helps to keep Wikipedia working, as “part of Amazon’s and CEO Jeff Bezos’ growing work in philanthropy,” according to CNET. It’s being framed as a “gift,” person who — as Amazon places it — acknowledges their shared imaginative and prescient to “make it easier to share knowledge globally.” Obviously, and as alluded to through CNET, $1 million is hardly ever a magnanimous donation from Amazon and Bezos, the previous a trillion-dollar corporate and the latter a person with a internet price of greater than $160 billion. But it is not simply the truth that this donation is, within the scheme of issues, paltry. It’s that this “endowment” is dwarfed through what Amazon and its ilk get out of Wikipedia — figuratively and actually. Wikipedia supplies the intelligence in the back of many of Alexa’s most beneficial talents, its solutions to the whole lot from “What is Wikipedia?” to “What is Slate?” (meta).

Amazon’s know-it-all Alexa is famend for its skill to reply to questions, however Amazon did not collect all that knowledge itself; consistent with the Amazon developer forum, “Alexa gets her information from a variety of trusted sources such as IMDb, Accuweather, Yelp, Answers.com, Wikipedia and many others.” Nor did it pay those that did: While Amazon consumers pay no less than $39.99 for an Echo software (and the excitement of asking Alexa questions), Alexa freely pulls this knowledge from the web, leeching off the laborious paintings carried out through Wikipedia’s trustworthy volunteers (and in contrast to highschool scholars, it does not even hassle to switch a couple of phrases round). It’s hardly ever noble for Amazon to toughen Wikipedia, bearing in mind how a lot Alexa makes use of its services and products, neither is it specifically selfless to fund the encyclopedia when it is based upon its peer-reviewed accuracy; in the long run, serving to Wikipedia is helping Amazon, too. […] We all get pleasure from Wikipedia, however arguably no person greater than the good audio system, for which the web’s encyclopedia is a precious and value-adding useful resource. It’s frankly slightly exploitative how little they provide again. Withers is going on to notice that Wikipedia seeks donations from its customers — it is a non-profit that runs completely on donations from most of the people. While one can argue that “Amazon is only packing up information that we ourselves leech for free all the time, […] Alexa is also diverting people away from visitng Wikipedia pages, where they might noticed a little request for a donation, or from realizing they are using Wikipedia’s resources at all,” Withers writes.

A file from TechCrunch previous this 12 months pointed out that Amazon is the one one of the massive tech gamers now not discovered on Wikimedia’s 2017-2018 company donor record — one that incorporates Apple, Google, or even Amazon’s Seattle-based sibling Microsoft, all of which matched worker donations to the song of $50,000.

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