The following is a statement from The Wikimedia Foundation’s Yana Welinder, which was read at the public forum at ICANN51 in Los Angeles in an effort to expedite the release of 2-character .wiki names. Wikimedia plans to use the names as URL shorteners for Wikipedia.
“The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia and 12 other freely licensed sites with content that is collaboratively created by Internet users around the world. Wikimedia’s mission is to empower people to develop freely licensed educational content and to globally disseminate that content. Providing URL shorteners based on two-character domains will help us reach new heights in globally disseminating the free content on Wikipedia.
The non-profit Wikimedia Foundation is asking for a select number of two-character .wiki domains to create URL shorteners for Wikipedia. We currently support 287 language editions of Wikipedia. The URL shorteners would, for example, allow someone looking for information about the dengue fever in Spanish to type in es.wiki/Dengue to get directed to the Spanish Wikipedia article about the dengue fever (es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dengue). It will also allow people to share short links to Wikipedia articles and other Wikimedia sites on various social media and invite more people to edit Wikipedia. We hope that this will improve user access across the globe.
The URL shorteners could be particularly impactful in the Global South, where people generally use mobile phones, rather than desktop computers, to access the Internet. As an example, we are currently working on a pilot with UNICEF to provide SMS messages with links to Wikipedia articles on topics such as Ebola, flood control, and microfinance to relevant regions.
We recognize the concern that two-character domains may sometimes appear similar to national ccTLD identifiers. However, given that Wikipedia is organized by languages rather than countries and millions of users have been accessing Wikipedia sites via domains like en.wikipedia.org and es.wikipedia.org over the past decade, users will easy recognize domains like en.wiki and es.wiki as links to the different language versions of Wikipedia. Granting this use of two-letter domains will transcend borders and empower entire language communities to access knowledge and participate in knowledge creation. I hope that the ICANN Board recognizes the importance of providing these domains to increase access to Wikipedia and approves our request as soon as possible.”