In the fourth week of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the Russian federal body Roskomnadzor threatened to censor the access to Wikipedia in the territory. This caused many people to start downloading all the content of the encyclopedia through Kiwix, where one of its funcionalities is to packaging the site for offline viewing. This month, the platform registered 105,889 downloads of the Russian Wikipedia, this means a growth of more than 4000% compared to the first half of January. What’s more, the downloads that come from Russia occupy 42% of all server traffic of the platform, in 2021 they only occupied 2%.
What is Kiwix and how is it used?
Created in 2007, Kiwix is an application that allows you to download content from web pages and then view it without the neccesity of Internet connection. In addition to Wikipedia, you can also access to projects like the Gutenberg project, Stack Exchange, TED talks, Khan Academy, among others.
Although Kiwix is a great tool to preserve the content of Wikipedia against possible censorship; the possibility of access to the website without needing an Internet connection opens up a range of possibilities for communities that have very little – or no – access to the Internet.
Given this scenario, Wikimedia Chile created a tutorial in Spanish that is now available for download in Commons. This document aims to give an introduction to Kiwix, as well as provide guides and examples on how to use it for educational purposes. Doing this, we seek that Spanish-speaking people understand how Kiwix works and also know where to find the files to download Wikipedia or other projects.
The importance of Kiwix for society
We’re aware that many people can’t access to the Internet, either due to lack of infrastructure or because of the costs that the service has in their territories. Kiwix makes it possible to overcome these barriers by making, for example, Wikipedia content accessible to devices without Internet access.
In addition, Kiwix gives options to choose how to download the content: for example, if you don’t have enough storage space, you can download only the first paragraphs of the articles, or download the content without images. Another thing to note is that the Kiwix team uploads thematic files, so if you need to teach about a specific topic such as the History of Chile, you can download (or create) your own Wikipedia that only has articles related to that.
Wikimedia Chile values the educational role of Kiwix and we seek that more communities in our region can use it, understanding that in our country and in Latin America there are still limitations in Internet access.