Yesterday we activated the wiki-to-print feature (see our recent blog post) in six additional Wikipedia language editions: French, Polish, Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, and Simple English. In these language editions, it’s now possible to make collections of Wikipedia articles, share them, download them as PDF and OpenDocument files, or order them as printed books. We specifically activated it in the Simple English edition (which is a version of Wikipedia written in simple terms for children and adults learning English) so that English language users can get a first good feel for the functionality in a Wikipedia environment (it’s been active in English Wikibooks for a while). We’re hoping for a roll-out in additional languages including English very soon; our main concern is scalability of the feature under the massive load of the English Wikipedia.
The feature has been quickly embraced where it has been activated. In the German Wikipedia, since our deployment on January 27, more than 1,000 custom selections have been created and saved. Our technology partner, PediaPress, has been highly responsive to the rapidly accumulating feedback, and many small and larger output issues have been fixed in the last two weeks. For the new deployments, there’s a central feedback page on Meta.
It will be interesting to see how this feature affects writing on Wikipedia. When people start to think about their contributions in the context of a book, having a consistent structure and style is even more important than when viewing separate Wikipedia articles in a browser. Beyond increasing the quality and reach of our content, we also hope that this technology will be valued by our existing volunteer community as a way to turn their contributions into something that can be touched, held, given away — and by new writers as a motivation to participate.
Deputy Director, Wikimedia Foundation
(UPDATE 2/27: We’ve enabled it in the English Wikipedia for signed in users and are observing server load and user feedback. If you’re logged in, see the help page for more information on how to use the tool. As always, the PediaPress team is amazingly responsive to issues that people encounter, and we expect continued improvements to the PDF and print quality over the coming weeks and months. If all goes well, we plan to deploy it on all relevant projects for all users in March. Language support in Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Hebrew and some other languages still needs to improve and we won’t enable it in languages that the tool can’t handle appropriately yet – code contributions are welcome!)