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Wikia to give away web hosting

Wikipedia founder's firm hosts sites for free

Wikia plans to offer a free online application hosting service in the near future, but has no idea how it will make money from it.

The company will launch openserving.com with one hosted application, an open-source content-management platform that it acquired when it bought sports fan-site ArmchairGM LLC last week.

Set up by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales in 2004, Wikia's goal is to encourage the sharing of information. It hosts websites for free, using wiki software to allow its customers and their readers to freely edit the sites. Wikia asks its customers to share their content under a variety of Creative Commons or GNU licences.

"Open source was the beginning. Free culture is what's happening next," Wikia chief executive officer Gil Penchina said yesterday, announcing the company's plans at a conference in Paris on the future of social media, Le Web 3.

Openserving.com will go further than Wikia's current services, by giving away hosting services and bandwidth, in addition to allowing site creators to keep the advertising revenue generated by the site.

"If we give away the bandwidth and the storage, and we get none of the advertising revenue, what's the business model? Well, I don't know yet," Penchina said.

The software acquired with ArmchairGM will allow Openserving.com customers to create collaborative publishing sites, combining elements of blogs and wikis.

Penchina called for volunteers to help install and maintain other open-source applications on the site.

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