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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 08:35 GMT
Community websites take wiki path
There are thousands of Wikia sites
The founder of online encyclopaedia Wikipedia is launching a service offering free tools for people who want to build community websites.

Jimmy Wales has said his company Wikia.com will offer software, storage and network access and that website creators can keep advertising revenue.

Sites built with Wikia tools must provide a link to the company, which itself earns money from adverts.

Wikipedia is built and edited by users and is free for anyone to use.

Wikia is the commercial counterpart to the not-for-profit Wikipedia site.

Wikipedia was founded in 2001 and is seen as a serious rival to commercial online encyclopaedias.

It is built using wikis, open-source software which allows anyone to edit, add, delete, or replace an entry. It relies on volunteer contributors to update its pages.

Wikipedia is a net success story

Businesses have started to embrace the wiki model to allow employees to collaborate and communicate about projects, while special-interest groups are also using them to share ideas.

"It is open-source software and open content," Mr Wales told the Reuters news agency.

"We will be providing the computer hosting for free, and the publisher can keep the advertising revenue."

Thirty thousand users have posted 400,000 articles so far on Wikia.com sites.

Mr Wales believes the falling cost of computers, storage and network access will mean success for the service.

"It is becoming more and more practical and feasible to do," he said.

"We don't have all the business model answers, but we are confident as we always have been that the wisdom of our community will prevail," he said.

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