Last month, e-commerce marketplace Amazon.com launched a relatively unnoticed new feature that brings content from Wikipedia pages to its own servers in a shadowy new project that appears to be called "Shopping Enabled Wikipedia Pages." Hosted on the Amazon.com domain, they replicate Wikipedia's content but have added links to where a book can be purchased on Amazon.
"Shopping-enabled Wikipedia pages are a new introduction on Amazon.com," Amazon spokeswoman Anya Waring told CNET when asked via e-mail. "As of November, we have rolled [the feature] out in the books category; however, [it] will be expanding to new categories in 2011."
It's not an official partnership, Waring explained. Amazon's use of the content is licensed under Creative Commons, the alternative to traditional copyright that Wikipedia uses for all of its user-sourced encyclopedia content. At the bottom of a "Shopping Enabled Wikipedia Page," a message explains: "The article appearing above is from Wikipedia...The Wikipedia content may be available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, version 3.0 or any later version."
What's the point? As the project rolls out, Wikipedia pages will show up in Amazon search results--for example, a search for author Stieg Larsson will eventually bring up not only links to the pages for purchasing his books but also to the Amazon-tagged Wikipedia page for Larsson.
"We're always looking to innovate on behalf of our customers, and we're looking at the fact that a lot of customers do research online," Waring said. "Wikipedia is somewhere where people can really engage and learn about an author."