Wikia CEO Talks Wikianswers Conflict

Says Their Own Version is Better

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Wikia has just relaunched an answers site called Wikianswers, which has drawn a bit of controversy over its name. There is another site called Wiki Answers, which was once called FAQFarm and is now owned by Answers.com.

Yesterday I spoke with Chris Whitten, the founder of FAQFarm, who said, "It’s perplexing to me that Jimmy [Wales – Wikia President] and Gil [Penchina – Wikia CEO] would choose to relaunch their site as ‘Wikianswers.’Although it’s true that someone had started a Q&A Wikia years ago, that doesn’t mean they have any stronger claim to the name than WikiAnswers. I registered the WikiAnswers.com domain even earlier than that, in June 2004." More of what Whitten said here.

A Wikia representative was kind enough to put me in touch with Wikia CEO Gil Penchina. Here’s what he had to say:

FAQFARM was aware we were operating Wikianswers.

Gil PenchinaWikia has hosted a Question & Answer wiki called Wikianswers since 2004, and we have revamped and re-launched it because we believe we can provide the best resource for people.

Wikianswers.com (or wiki.answers.com) changed its name from FAQFARM in 2006/07 without getting Wikia’s permission on what’s clearly a conflicting and confusing name and address.  FAQFARM was aware we were operating Wikianswers, but decided to go ahead with the name change anyway, perhaps believing as a small company Wikia wouldn’t contest it. Perhaps as a result, the Patent & Trademark Office did not approve Answers.com’s application for trademark protection of Wikianswers.  We cannot speak to the domain name question as that is not something the Patent & Trademark office typically considers.

All that said, we believe Wikia’s Q&A site is better in part because its more in keeping with the wiki spirit.  The content is freely licensed (unlike wiki.answers.com) and anyone can contribute (wiki.answers.com requires you to register to change questions as an example). We believe that a more open, freely licensed community will always do better than any corporate site that takes customers contributions and copyrights them in a way that takes some rights away from the customer.

Ultimately it is up to users to decide which they like better. Those Google+Search&aq=f”>searching for "answers" might have a better chance of ending up with the Answers.com version. The first result on Google is Answers.com itself, which has a prominent link at the top to its version of Wiki Answers. A search for "wikianswers" also yields a top result of Answers.com’s version (though Wikia’s version is right below it).

Answers Corp. (the company behind the non-Wikia version) CEO Bob Rosenschein has a post up titled "WikiAnswers: setting the record straight," which offers his take on the subject:

We are admirers of Jimmy Wales but must set the record straight about the recent statement on Wikia’s site that he is the “founder of Wikianswers”.

Wikia’s Answers category is indeed one of thousands of wikis on its site, right between Ansible and Anthony Trollope. It started in November 2004 and had almost no activity for the past four years. By August 2007, the site had a total of 17 answers. By their launch last week, there were about 1,000. The site remains very small, despite their seeding thousands of unanswered questions last week… Read the post here.

Wikia CEO Talks Wikianswers Conflict
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