What if people paid for Wikipedia, and only got a few articles? Now you can

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Hamble, the Humble Bundle mascot, enjoys a vintage reading experience through a monocle with a printout of Wikipedia. Photo by Whitney Stutes

There are about 5.4 million articles on the English-language Wikipedia. That can be impressive – and a little overwhelming. It’s empowering to know that at any time you can—for free!—peruse lists of songs, and delve into the list of songs about vehicle crashes, and then read about the song “30,000 Pounds of Bananas,” and the real incident it is based on, and wow that’s actually kind of tragic, and did you know bananas are actually berries, and you can make beer out of them? And… wait, it’s 3 a.m.?
Rabbit hole. Gets ya every time. That’s where inspiration struck Humble Bundle, the San Francisco-based company that lets gamers buy a bundle of games while helping their favorite charities. Humble Bundle has long been a supporter of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that supports Wikipedia and its sister projects.
A few weeks ago, the folks at Humble Bundle wondered, what if – instead of endless rabbit holes – people could get a little divet of Wikipedia, or maybe a pothole of Wikipedia, or a small ditch of their very own they could fall into? What if people could pay for a download of Wikipedia in staggeringly massive DRM-free text files?
“On a laserdisc!” suggested our forward-thinking Executive Director Katherine Maher. “Or a VHS tape!” Or a papyrus scroll! Or a thing where the whole encyclopedia is spelled out with Stonehenge-like tablets!
It turns out some of that wasn’t feasible.
Print shop. Photo by Daniel Chodowiecki, public domain.

But you can—you really, truly can—buy yourself a chunk of Wikipedia via Humble Bundle. You can download it for use whenever you want to look something up. You can even buy a slender printed volume! (Printing is a way of reproducing text and images using a master form or template.)
Dog in top hat. Photo by Bonque & Kindermann photography, public domain.

Humble Bundle is producing handsome bound volumes on topics including “Encyclopedia of English Language Metaphors,” “Encyclopedia of Commonly Misspelled Words,” (see what they did there?), and “Encyclopedia of the Metal Umlaut.”
Think of the vintage experience of perusing a volume of Wikipedia through your monocle before a crackling fire. In the article on the use of the umlaut in the name of heavy metal bands you read the explanation from Spın̈al Tap’s rocker David St. Hubbins: “It’s like a pair of eyes. You’re looking at the umlaut, and it’s looking at you.” Satisfied, you lay the book upon a doily on your oaken desk and pour a glass of sherry.
From now through Monday, you can order the Wikipedia bundle from Humble currently being featured.
The Wikimedia Foundation and open-license applications
Happy April Fool’s Day! If you get volume A from Humble Bundle, you can read all about the origins of this day on your own Wikipedia. Otherwise, you can look it up with everybody else online.
This offer, however, is very real, as is our sincere appreciation for Humble Bundle. This is their great idea, and the kind of creative generosity that makes the company a real gift to gaming and the internet.
Downloading and printing Wikipedia are possible because of free and open licenses that allow for other fantastical applications. Want to see a 4.9′ wide and 43′ tall representation of the complete text and images of the Wikipedia article for Magna Carta? Check out Magna Carta (An Embroidery), a 2015 work by English installation artist Cornelia Parker. Our licenses enable “Histography,” an online visualization of world history on a sliding scale. Print Wikipedia is an art project by Michael Mandiberg. It was displayed at the at Denny Gallery in New York City, where 106 of the 7,473 volumes of English Wikipedia were printed, providing a small snapshot of what Wikipedia looked like on April 7, 2015. In addition to enabling these creative ventures, we believe free and open licenses—like the Creative Commons license utilized for Wikipedia’s content—are an important tool in making knowledge available to every human being.
About Humble Bundle
Humble Bundle sells digital content through its pay-what-you-want bundle promotions and the Humble Store. When purchasing a bundle, customers choose how much they want to pay and decide where their money goes – between the content creators, charity, and Humble Bundle. Since the company’s launch in 2010, Humble Bundle has raised more than $95 million through the support of its community for a wide range of charities, providing aid for people across the world. For more information, please visit www.humblebundle.com.
Jeff Elder, Digital Communications Manager
Wikimedia Foundation

Archive notice: This is an archived post from blog.wikimedia.org, which operated under different editorial and content guidelines than Diff.

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