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Wikipedia Releases Offline CD 221

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the vandalize-to-your-hearts-content dept.
An anonymous reader writes "WikipediaOnDVD, with cooperation with the Wikipedia community, has released its first offline test version. The articles were selected by Wikipedians and reviewed for accuracy, vandalism, and importance. Nearly 2,000 core Wikipedia articles will be sold on compact disc to give people without a net connection access to highlights of the popular web resource. The CD can be purchased or downloaded online via their site or the torrent."
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Wikipedia Releases Offline CD

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  • by zappepcs (820751) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:09PM (#18873225) Journal
    I pick 77 as the number of articles on the CD that will be wrong
  • by MouseR (3264) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:11PM (#18873253) Homepage
    [...] to give people without a net connection access to highlights [...]. The CD can be purchased or downloaded online [...]

    Now that's a hefty business plan.
  • No net connection? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by HoosierPeschke (887362) <hoosierpeschke@comcast.net> on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:15PM (#18873309) Homepage

    Wikipedia articles will be sold on compact disc to give people without a net connection access to highlights of the popular web resource. The CD can be purchased or downloaded online via their site or the torrent


    The no net connection / download / torrent is a gimme, but where will they offer this CD for those without net connections? I could see this being useful for libraries or schools to have solid access. Advertising it to people without a net connection seems to be pretty pointless as the only means of acquiring said CD is via an internet connection.

    Either that or we'll start seeing Wikipedia salesmen going door to door.
    • by soundhack (179543) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:19PM (#18873357)
      This reminds me of a retail cd drive that came with no printed installation instructions, the manual was on a CD.

    • by Hachey (809077)
      They currently do silly. See WikipediaOnDVD [wikipediaondvd.com]. I believe even though the website is WikipediaOnDVD, it is a CD. Keep in mind this is a test release; the idea is when it is too big for a CD for 1.0 releases it will be distributed on DVD, thus the website name.
      • by Hachey (809077)
        Oh, I see, how are people without a net connection going to SEE this? Well, I think the biggest problem isn't internet costs a lot more in other countries; no everyone has broadband. Dial-ups and cost per minute kills Wikipedia for that kind of environment. I know I guy in a remote African community who wanted me to send him a Wikipedia database dump on a hard drive which he was willing to pay for - downloading it with his current cost per min of internet was WAY more expensive than just buying the HD outri
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      People without net connections might have friends with net connections. Or they might just get some help from their local librarian. Word-of-mouth will be how they find out about it. It's not a plan designed for total market saturation or anything, but it isn't crazy either.
      • Shameless plug here: Most libraries in Canada will have a broadband connection. Libraries get funding from the federal government to do so.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:24PM (#18873447) Homepage
      It would be nice to be able to take wikipedia with you when you don't have a net connection, even if you usually have one. If you're using your laptop on the plane, it might be nice to look up something on wikipedia. That being said, I think they should implement it differently. I'm not sure how their repository system works, but it should be possible to download the whole thing, and then download only the changes when you need it updated. Kind of like with CVS or SVN.
      • I think rsync would work quite nicely for that setup... wiki + portage = wikage? Porki??
      • by HUADPE (903765)
        The whole thing? No thanks. 1.75 million articles is a bit much to be downloading, and that's just English.
    • by lawpoop (604919)
      "Either that or we'll start seeing Wikipedia salesmen going door to door."

      I have the perfect guy [retrojunk.com] for you.
  • by garcia (6573) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:16PM (#18873325) Homepage
    Wikipedia is a powerful tool because it can be constantly and immediately updated with new information as it becomes available. By burning it onto CD and distributing it, it becomes almost the same as any other encyclopedia available minus the cost and the fact that it doesn't carry the same reputation.

    It's a good idea in theory but in reality it's sorta pointless.
    • So basically you're saying that if people can't get the most updated information, they shouldn't get any information at all? Brilliant!
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
        I think what he's trying to say is more like if you can't get the most updated information then why use Wikipedia at all? And he's right, there's no real point to Wikipedia (beyond a large volume of data) compared to other encyclopedias if you don't access it online.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by shawn(at)fsu (447153)
          Some things don't change on a day to day basis. Say for example the location and the history of a mountain. Gratned is someone dies climbing it well you wont know the latest and greatest but at least know something. Would wikipedia be that much less valuable if updates were performed monthly instead of daily?
        • there's no real point to Wikipedia (beyond a large volume of data) compared to other encyclopedias if you don't access it online.
          For another thing, the Wikipedia disc set is probably less expensive than the Britannica or Encarta disc set, especially once local public libraries start offering a legit disc duplication service.
          • by ross.w (87751)
            This may finally kill off traditional encycleopaedias. No more looking it up in yer Funk'n Wagnalls.
        • by Coryoth (254751)

          And he's right, there's no real point to Wikipedia (beyond a large volume of data) [Emphasis mine]

          Yes, there's no point aside from having a large volume of articles on a vast array of subjects, and who could possibly want that? You want to know what would be even worse? Some pointless "large volume of data" that doesn't even come in an easily cross-referenced/searchable format, and then expecting people to pay lots of money for that!. How useless would that be?! No one would use it! Which is why Britannica, World Book, Everyman's Encyclopedia, and all those others have only ever managed to sell a few c

    • Not only that, but this sort of thing encourages the view of Wikipedians that they're working toward a final goal, which causes serious problems with article ownership and forced stagnation. It's near impossible to get an entrenched fact out of an article. Took me three or four tries to get Black Sabbath off a short list of proto-heavy-metal bands who are considered "hard rock" in the heavy metal article a few months ago. All the guy had to do was click the link to their article and see they're always calle
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jfengel (409917)
      Plus the breadth. Wikipedia covers a lot of material you don't find in most encyclopedias, just because they have encyclopedia editors have limited time resources and Wikipedians have collectively nearly infinite free time.

      It seems to me that cost+breadth gives the Wikipedia CD a reason to be. If you can't afford an encyclopedia but want something available even when you can't get to the Internet, it seems to be a huge bargain.

      It doesn't entirely supplant real encyclopedias, either, but it does narrow the
      • It seems to me that cost+breadth gives the Wikipedia CD a reason to be. If you can't afford an encyclopedia but want something available even when you can't get to the Internet, it seems to be a huge bargain.

        At 2k articles... not much breadth there to be had. In fact, browsing the list of included articles - there seems to be an overall scheme for organization, but the actual selection is virtually random. Giving someone this CD as an actual reference would be doing them a disservice.

        • I agree. I like the idea, but the article selection process is downright bizarre. I particularly like their selection under "Military Units" in the "History and War" section: the Lord's Resistance Army and the Japanese Imperial Navy. Okay ... not arguing that either are exactly unimportant ... but why those two?

          I think they need to use some sort of better, more objective metric for inclusion. How about the most popular / most-often-viewed articles on WP? Or the ones created in the database first, back when
    • it can be constantly and immediately updated with new information as it becomes available

      Encyclopedia != news. Once most articles are "done," the rate at which they're modified should be really low. After all, "new information" about a 500-year-old event doesn't come up very often...

      • Encyclopedia != news. Once most articles are "done," the rate at which they're modified should be really low. After all, "new information" about a 500-year-old event doesn't come up very often...

        No, but new information about fairly recent events - where wiki excels - does come up often. Really, why do mainstream encyclopedias have to focus on almost primarily out-of-date events? The answer is not "because that's a good way of doing things," the answer is "because otherwise the lengthy editing/publishing

        • Really, why do mainstream encyclopedias have to focus on almost primarily out-of-date events? The answer is not "because that's a good way of doing things," the answer is "because otherwise the lengthy editing/publishing cycles would result in an out-of-date encyclopedia."

          Or maybe it's because if you are trying to give thorough and balanced coverage of all the notable people, places, and events in history then naturally the vast majority of them will be from the three or four thousand years of recorded history and not from the past five years of current events.

    • by wrook (134116)
      Actually, for several purposes the major benefit of Wikipedia is not the fact that it's constantly updated, but rather the fact that it's licensed under a Creative Commons license. So I can definitely see a use for getting the disc and using a portion of it for other purposes (after spending some time verifying the information first, of course). It's handy to have the info on a CD before you start to repurpose it.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Livius (318358)
      Maybe, maybe not.

      A selection of articles that are proof-read and vandalism-free but maybe a year out of date might be a good trade-off in some cases. Kind of like 'stable' versus 'development' versioning.

      And if no-one buys the CD version, no harm done.
    • by timeOday (582209)

      it becomes almost the same as any other encyclopedia available minus the cost and the fact that it doesn't carry the same reputation.

      I think reputation is specifically addressed by this project - the reason it's a relatively small collection of articles is because the standard for quality will be higher.

      What? You wanted the full breadth (millions of articles) up-to-the-minute and all hand-verified by subject matter experts? Good luck, nobody has ever managed such a thing. I think Wikipedia, as it is,

    • by Vampyre_Dark (630787) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @02:15PM (#18874261)
      Pointless? I think that's way off base.

      There was a point when your random, off the shelf encyclopedia didn't have a reputation either. That's built up over time. And a cheap disc of Wikipedia can be very helpful to some people. The fact that anyone can add to it doesn't change the fact that it's still an encyclopedia.

      It's biggest strength of wikipedia is also it's biggest weakness. You can't read about any software that isn't under the gpl without seeing a page that's been hijacked by GPL zealots time after time. Hell, the fact that 3DS Max is NOT under the GPL and free is somehow more important than anything else about the software, despite the fact that's it's the industry leader/standard 3d modeller and renderer. The articles about 3D software are all really about how you should be using Blender instead, because it's GPL. Just like every other software page. So much for the NPOV policy.

      An article about a person in the public eye often turns into a battle gound and then a daily log of that person's life by an obssessed fan who thinks what they had for breakfast on friday is important information. Factual information that paints them in negative light is often editted out by these same people.

      Then we have magazines and newspapers editors who think it's funny to write articles about how they vandalized an article. We have Stephen Colbert logging onto Wikipedia during his show, and making article edits. Even my local newspaper had an article written that detailed a spree of silly article edits along the lines of turning into a werewolf if you visit a certain country on a certain date. This is a columnist in his 50s, not a 15 year old kid.

      The whole thing is overrun by GPL Zealots, anti corporate hippies, immature kids, obssessed fans, bible thumpers, etc. None of these types are competant enough to make Neutral Point Of View contributions. Not to mention the fanboys who flood serious articles with video game, comic book, and star wars|trek references.

      How is a 12 year old kid, taking everything in there at face value, supposed to seperate the BS from the truth so they can get their school project done? Especially when you have older people who should know better, filling it with such facts as 'E = MC Hammer'.

      The disc distribution can solve that, and users can feel confident that the information contained therein is actually worth something. The disc may be the only version that is ever really usefull as an encyclopedia. The online version could be best used as a temporary editing version, with real versions being pressed and distributed, and competantly edited.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by garcia (6573)
        Pointless? I think that's way off base.

        Thanks for at least taking the time to explain why you think that way.

        In my eyes, I don't trust it at all over any other encyclopedia and I have a low appreciation for encyclopedias of any kind as primary publication research is where it's at. Sometimes I wish that they would teach that sort of research earlier than high school -- school aged kids might actually learn to enjoy the research they do instead of considering it tedious.

        The disc distribution can solve that,
    • by fatduck (961824) *
      The fact that Wikipedia can be constantly and immediately updated doesn't change the fact that Wikipedia has a shitload of information already. If they were shutting down the Wikipedia website and moving to an offline model distributing successive editions of the encyclopedia on disc, then your comment might make sense.
    • by asninn (1071320)
      You're fundamentally misunderstanding what Wikipedia is about. Here's a hint: it's an encyclopedia, not a social project; the social project exists solely for the purpose of creating the encyclopedia.

      Creating "offline" versions has ALWAYS been on the agenda. Not everyone has lots of bandwidth and a cheap broadband internet connection like us lucky folks in "western" countries; in fact, many people don't even have a computer of their own. For students etc. that don't and that can only use a computer at schoo
  • hmmm.... (Score:2, Funny)

    by BenSchuarmer (922752)
    Wikipedia without accuracy or vandalism problems... What fun is that?!?!?
  • I don't get it. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kabocox (199019) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:25PM (#18873449)
    Ok. It's a CD size, why is their title wiki on DVD? Actually, I was looking for something like this just a few months ago. At that time, if you wanted an offline copy of wikipedia, you had to download something like 80GB and figure out how to install/run the wikipedia backend.

    I think the folks behind this project just don't get what wikipedia is best used for. It sounds like they are trying to release the best fact checked copy that they can within those subjects. Um, that's not what I use wikipedia for. I use it to quickly figure out who this guy is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eben_Moglen [wikipedia.org] or immediate trivia that in 5 minutes I could care less about, but I just would like a vague idea of who the guy is and such. Wikipedia is great for fast trivia. I bet you most of the articles that I look up won't be on this CD because those that are making this want wikipedia to be like a book reference and all the junk that I want researched would be filtered out. Oh well, maybe it would be useful for the kids to look through.
    • by tepples (727027)

      It's a CD size, why is their title wiki on DVD?
      Because they are planning to bring more articles to class GA or better and get them onto future editions of the disc.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You couldn't care less about.
      Couldn't.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      The full version of WP's current articles is a XML dump of 4.7 GB. That alone fits on a DVD. Then there are about 60GB of images (plus all the images in Commons). Getting a copy of every article you want would take up at least a Dual-Layer Blu-Ray even with the best of compression (you can put it in a database smaller than the XML dump), and you can down-res most larger images.

      They realized they couldn't do that, so instead they picked a few hundred articles, and got the most accurate copies they could.
    • Re:I don't get it. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PurifyYourMind (776223) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @02:32PM (#18874507) Homepage
      That in five minutes you COULDN'T care less about. Don't use a phrase if you don't know how to use it.
  • Why is the website called wikipedia on dvd, and yet they only have an option to download a 420mb CD image? Where is the 4+GB DVD image their name implies?
  • Performance (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FunkyELF (609131) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:30PM (#18873531)
    Something makes me thing that having a local copy in place in your cdrom would take longer to load than a halfway decent network connection.

    I saw the title of the article and initially thought : cool, that'd be nice to have a nice fast copy.

    Then (in my head) I heard the sound of my cdrom spinning up to speed before reading an article and came to realize that most of what is on Wikipedia is just text and it loads fast enough for me and probably faster than the CD would.
    • You're not the target audience!
    • by J0nne (924579)
      You could also just keep the iso (or even the files that make up the cd) on your HD, if you care about speed.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by interiot (50685)

      As someone else said, you're probably not the target audience. Wikipedia's benefits not only include the fact that it's constantly updated, but also that it's free as in beer, and free as in speech, both of which are designed to try to spread the wealth of knowledge to places that couldn't otherwise afford many textbooks or commercial encyclopedias, including third-world countries. Wikipedia also will be distributed on the One Laptop Per Child, another way that Wikipedia hopes to distribute the knowledge

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:31PM (#18873549)
    so you can edit it. Also it will only work if you place it in a publically accessible network drive so others can make changes too.
  • by Hachey (809077) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:34PM (#18873613)
    This is a release for Wikipedia 0.5. The next release is Wikipedia 0.7, and if you see something you not in 0.5 that you want in 0.7, cruise on over to the nominations page [wikipedia.org] and let 'em know.

    • by r3m0t (626466)
      "if you see something you not in 0.5 that you want in 0.7"

      Um... how about almost everything? 2,000 articles is paltry.
      • by Teancum (67324)
        If you are really interested in having static HTML copies of Wikipedia pages (you can burn them onto DVD-Rs or even Blu-ray discs due to volume), try this URL instead:

        http://static.wikipedia.org/downloads/November_200 6/en/ [wikipedia.org]

        Be warned that this is a huge download, but it may be what you are looking for instead. This is not the raw database, but actual articles put into static HTML format and only requires a standard web browser to view the articles. Cross-links and author attribution is also included.

        As for
  • How does it compare with Encarta in terms of article count?
  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by roelbj (95481) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @01:39PM (#18873689) Homepage
    Now my information can be wrong AND outdated.
  • Besides someone sneaking a Goatse pic in on the George W. Bush page, this offline CD hopes to fill the gaping hole in the marketplace.
  • I find browsing it much more exciting than browsin Wikipedia, because most are very familiar to my eyes, yet I don't know them in detail. It's much more about the selection of articles than the multitude of them.
  • Why only 1956 articles? I get that they want to show off the best, but Encarta 2007 has 42,000+ articles and includes tons of multimedia. There's no way a volunteer team can review anywhere near that number of articles, so I think they should scrap the "good articles only" policy and just stuff as much as possible onto the DVD.
  • 2000 ...? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @02:35PM (#18874539)
    Given the amount of information we know is on Wikipedia, putting 2000 articles seems highly insufficient. Another thing is, informations dates really fast these days, and their efforts will quickly age.

    Wouldn't it be much smarter if they wrote a little system to prepare those torrents automatically, say, every week, and include much larger fraction of the articles. Reviewing for vandalism is something that should happen for the online version of Wikipedia naturally by the existing editors (similar to OSS "stable" version vs "development" version).

    In the 21-st Century, having enough information and always up to date is more important than accuracy. Reading an article where 20% of the info is wrong is better than no article at all. We still know it's Wikipedia and can use critical though process to check additional sources when we get to an Internet connection or the library.

    Another flaw of this project, is that by handpicking the articles, it automatically means I can't download a localized version of that DVD.

    And right now I really needed the localized version, to distribute to a set of computers without connection in a local school. Bummers.

    Only way forward is automatization.
    • then you should be pushing for a similar project on your local wikipedia.

      The bulk of the work is in the reviewing. That pretty much has to be done seperately for each language. As you say ideally the online version should benifit from that reviewing as well but the overstretched mediawiki dev team has other priorities than making that happen.

    • by Hachey (809077)
      Well I think they'd appreciate you help over at Wikipedia's CD Release discussion page [wikipedia.org]. Sounds like you could help out the project - hopefully you are both a mover AND a shaker.

  • Starting end of 2005 the (complete) German version of Wikipedia is distributed as a DVD. They did it in cooperation with a company called Directmedia. This company runs the label "Digitale Bibliothek", which is quite common in Germany. It provides high quality digital works from different fields of the liberal arts, like anthologies, handbooks and collections of paintings. You can downlaod this DVD from Wikipedia but also buy it in a book shop or via Amazon (for about 10 Euro).

    To browse this DVD a small

  • OLPC (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bytor4232 (304582) on Wednesday April 25, 2007 @03:45PM (#18875693) Homepage Journal
    I can see these distributed to poor nations benefiting from OLPC. Include this with the PC given out to the poor and needy.
  • My daughter is in first grade, and her classroom has a PC in it, but no internet connection. This CD would be very useful to her teacher. I know, Wikipedia is inaccurate, etc, but like any encyclopedia its a great jumping off point. A lot of classrooms of younger children have computers in them that are not networked.

    Hm. I'm off to burn a stack of these for Central Elementary!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Hachey (809077)
      They should be careful for first grade, though - this is an adult encyclopedia, and we didn't censor it. If you take a look at things like Mozart's article [wikipedia.org] (2nd paragraph), you'll see the kind of thing I mean - important to include in an adult release, but not what I'd want my second grade daughter reading! For young kids, I'd recommend the 2006 SOS Kids release [soschildre...ges.org.uk]. That has no browser, but every article should be kid-friendly.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington

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