Yahoo's search engine division will supply hardware and other resources to the Wikimedia Foundation to support that nonprofit organization's free Wikipedia online encyclopedia.
Yahoo Search's contribution is the most significant received by Wikimedia from a corporate sponsor to date.
Yahoo Search also will feature abstracts of Wikipedia content at the top of relevant search results in the form of "shortcuts," which are either factual information or links to factual information. Yahoo's shortcuts are intended to give users the answer they're looking for right on the search results page, so users don't have to browse away to other Web sites and scour them for the desired information.
The move comes as Google begins its own Q&A service.
Wikipedia gets wicked
Yahoo's support comes completely free of charge to Wikimedia, David Mandelbrot, Yahoo's vice president of search content, said in an interview. Featuring Wikipedia's content abstracts and links in the form of shortcuts is in line with Yahoo Search's mission to provide high-quality, relevant information to its users, he said.
"To operate a site that reaches as many people as Wikipedia can be costly for a non profit, and we're contributing with resources to help with that effort," Mandelbrot said. "Their popularity is growing very fast and, accordingly, their bandwidth and hardware needs have increased substantially."
The hardware support will bolster Wikimedia's technical infrastructure, while the shortcuts inclusion will increase Wikipedia's exposure worldwide, the organizations said.
"Our growth in Web traffic continues to be staggering, doubling every few months. Yahoo's generous donation to our cause in the form of servers, hosting and bandwidth will have a huge impact on our ability to get our message of sharing knowledge out to the world," wrote Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia's president, in the official Yahoo Search Web log.
It's for charity
Yahoo's gesture comes with no strings attached, Wales wrote: "Yahoo's donation is purely charitable in nature with no requirements for us to show advertising, and no ownership or control of our work by Yahoo of any kind. Yahoo is simply enthusiastic about the goodness of our work."
In a separate statement from Wikimedia, the group said Yahoo will provide it with hosting capacity by dedicating "a significant number of servers" in a Yahoo facility in Asia.
Yahoo Search plans to begin serving up shortcuts with Wikipedia content in the coming weeks on its US site and on other select country sites.
The content of the increasingly popular Wikipedia is available for free. Anyone can add and edit Wikipedia content via a browser. It receives about 50 million hits every day and its English-language version now has over half a million articles, according to Wikipedia. Since its launch in 2001, about 40,000 people have contributed content to Wikipedia, which has versions in more than 100 languages.