Offline Wikipedias

February 6, 2009

Offline wikipedias represent an important source for information for places that have no/unreliable/expensive or censored Internet.  I would like to highlight two projects that I have experience with.

SOS School Wikipedia

SOS Children’s Villages recently released an updated SOS 2008/2009 version of its kid safe, “hand checked” English Wikipedia version aimed at school children with selections based around the UK National Curriculum.  This version is 3.5GB big and contains 5,500 articles which is about the size of a 20 volume encyclopedia consisting of about 20 million words and 34,000 images (big selling point for kids).  The earlier version was distributed widely by the Shuttleworth foundation in South Africa and the through SOS’s large network of schools worldwide (192 schools & 91,000 students).

The SOS version comes in the form of static html so it can be easily run off a DVD or USB key on any computer.  Content is organized by subject and with a handy title word index that does a good job replacing search functionality.

The SOS School Wikipedia 2008/2009 version can be downloaded for free here as a torrent.

Moulin Wiki

Moulin Wiki was a project that came out of the Geekcorps Mali program during my time there,  the brain child of  Renaud Gaudin and Frederic Renet.   At that time, we weren’t able to find a suitable offline wikipedia version so we saught to create it.

Moulin Wiki is a desktop application based on Mozilla’s XULRunner and can run on windows, osx and linux.  Unlike a selected version, our goal was make available the entire Wikipedia text, indexed and searchable. We were unable, however, to include images due to both licensing and size constraints.

Since our target market were people living in Mali, we released a French 550MB CDROM version containing 500K+ articles which we distributed across the country through our partners and Peace Corps Volunteers.  Internews then sponsored the creation of a Farsi version which they distributed over 2,000 copies to journalists, universities and individuals in Iran.


Moulin is currently available in French, Arabic, Farsi and Vietnamese with an English version still in the works.


Zipedia is a Firefox extension that is able to read a Wikipedia dump to provide offline access.  I really like the concept of being able to update your content by downloading new dumps (in any language). One of problems with this approach, however, is since there is no indexing is the user experience is not very zippy.

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I'm a technologist/geek living in Nairobi, Kenya. I believe open code and data can make the world a better place. Follow me on Twitter;

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