Well now this is awkward. Yesterday we brought you news that YouTube would start using Wikipedia articles to fight conspiracy theories on the platform.
Speaking at South by South West, YouTube chief executive officer Susan Wojcicki revealed that in the coming weeks YouTube videos about conspiracy theories would feature excerpts from Wikipedia articles.
The problem is that nobody at YouTube seems to have spoken to the Wikimedia Foundation about this.
“In this case neither Wikipedia nor the Wikimedia Foundation are part of a formal partnership with YouTube, We were not given advance notice of this announcement,” said the foundation in a statement posted to Twitter.
Of course YouTube doesn’t need to pay anything to use information from Wikipedia as it’s freely licensed, but it’s worth remembering that Wikipedia is run by hundreds of people who probably need to pay the bills somehow.
“We want people all over the world to use, share, add to, and remix Wikipedia,” said the Wikimedia Foundation, “At the same time we encourage companies who use Wikimedia’s content to give back in the spirit of sustainability.”
It looks like Wikimedia is trying to get YouTube to make a contribution to the service without using as many words.
The announcement by Wojcicki drew harsh criticism from some of Wikipedia’s community members.
“It’s not polite to treat Wikipedia like an endlessly renewable resource with infinite free labor,” said community member Phoebe Ayers.
What happens next remains to be seen but we hope that YouTube decides to approach the Wikimedia Foundation and partner with it properly.