Wikimedia Mobile is Officially Launched

iPhone Version in English

iPhone Version in English

After spending about 6 months in alpha-beta-development-maybe-kind-live mode, we have recently moved Wikipedia Mobile over to a new fast and sexy server. With this new server, we’ve reached the point in development where we can call this baby “launched”!

When I was brought on board at Wikimedia, I was tasked with endowing Wikimedia with a compelling mobile offering. From the beginning, we knew we were going to focus on “fully featured” smart phones. These phones are taking more and more of the market and we believe they will have an easy majority-share in a couple years. The goal is to build for the future.

At the moment, the Mobile site supports iPhone, Kindle, Android, and Palm Pre. And we fully support both English and German. There are other working languages, but they haven’t been fully translated yet. Our goal is to grow slowly and do it really well. We are starting out simple with limited support in order to test the usability and the platform’s stability. So far, things are looking good.

During the beta test period, we’ve served around 10,000,000 pages. You can view the hourly stats here (updated every hour on the hour). And with this new test server, we should be able to do more.

Based off of requests from Google and the Palm Pre folks… and with what just makes sense. We are doing default mobile redirects. That is, if you open a wikipedia link on a supported mobile device, then you get redirected automatically to the mobile gateway. If you click the “View this page on main Wikipedia” then we disable that redirect with a cookie. This way, the 99% of people using mobile devices to read Wikipedia on-the-go have a seemless experience. And, the 1% who like to edit on their mobile device can use their browser to view the main site and do all the fancy things that they like doing. We suspect an initial outcry from the editors that use their mobile devices, but hope that will calm down. We’ve had very good feedback from the 99% and so we can’t forget those folks. If anyone has any suggestions on how to make this easier for the 1% who are editing while mobile, we’d love to hear from you.

If you want live updates about the Mobile site then you can follow WikimediaMobile on Twitter. Also, if you know any Ruby, you can grab the source code via git from Github and helpout! Feel free to contact me via email with any questions.

Also, special thanks to Nic Williams and Ryan Bigg from Mocra for help with the Ruby 1.9 transition and thanks to Yahuda Katz for help with the XML parsing layer and for all his work on the Merb framework.

Categories: Mobile, Technology
13 Show

13 Comments on Wikimedia Mobile is Officially Launched

Dave 7 years

Bad gateway errors and 404 error if you try to disable it. Yes, is wonderful.

Nova Terata 7 years

Just like Jdale at least half of the time I go to wikipedia on my iphone I get the 502 Bad Gateway error when it tries to access I also tried it in firefox once and got that error. On top of this I don’t even want the mobile version, but if I try to go to and click on an article it automagically take me to the mobile version then the 502. If I’m somehow able to load the mobile version and try to click on permanently disable mobile version I get a 401 Not Found!

Scott Bradford 7 years

This is great.

For folks with devices that don’t automatically go to the mobile version (like my BlackBerry), you might want to include a ‘permanently enable mobile site’ link to go with the ‘permanently disable…’ link.

My BlackBerry Bold has a Wikipedia search built into the browser, so that would be a good way to force it to work right until RIM points it to the right place!

JohnL 7 years


We have partnered with an open source mobile transcoding product which could serve Wikimedia Mobile well in trying to accommodate these other devices. The license version would run through my company as Siruna is located in Belgium, but we would be more than happy to discuss the benefits of any device.

Kind regards,

Contact: JohnL at openwair (dot) com

Jdale 7 years

Sounds great. Unfortunately, on the Palm Pre, when I click the Wikipedia link from universal search, I now get a “502 Bad Gateway” error instead of the Wikipedia page. Going directly to Wikipedia in the browser works fine.

Christopher 7 years

I’ve been using this Wikipedia Launcher on my BlackBerry 8330 for quite some time. The source code is also provided, for those interested.

Also, while no one will deny that the default BlackBerry browser leaves a lot to be desired, I recommend using a browser called BOLT. It is a great browser for viewing full blown webpages (as well as mobile or WAP sites). I use the BOLT web browser to view the full wikipedia site all the time (among several other full-blown websites). It is availble for platforms other than BlackBerry as well..

brion 7 years

Terence, that *is* the site we’re talking about. :)

Currently we don’t have full localization or home page data extraction set up for most languages, and while it _should_ work on any decent mobile browser, it hasn’t been fully tested on all, and we’re only doing automatic redirections for a few devices so far.

We’ll expand it as we work out the kinks.

Terence Eden 7 years

It works on BlackBerry – and just about every other mobile I’ve tried it on. Why are you saying that it’s limited to those 4 minority devices?

How is this any different or better than the existing ? That’s also not limited to EN and DE. Try


James 7 years

Blackberry smackberry, when they actually start using web standards then you’ll get your support…

David I. 7 years

Support for Blackberry?

Hampton 7 years

Brian: Microsoft hasn’t responded to our contact attempts….

Brian 7 years

how ’bout supporting Windows Mobile devices? :) [HTC Touch Pro here]

Colin Henderson 7 years

Nice work HC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *