The Wikimedia Foundation has been testing the applications tying location data with pages since January, when it added a new GeoData extension for MediaWiki to promised to provide geo-coordinates for many articles. Now that hard work is beginning to show itself on the Nearby page.
Nearby will make it much easier to get info on nearby pages whether you are at home or on vacation. Take a look at the photo above to see pages that came up in nearby search while close to Vatican City.
While Wikipedia certainly wants to help you find out about things near you, it also wants something in return — your photos and editing contributions to help keep pages near you up to date. Wikimedia Foundation mobile engineer Jon Robson wrote in a blog post:
Along with the goal of bringing awareness of the surrounding areas to our existing readers, we hope that this simple tool can attract new editors to these articles, whether it is to update the information on the exhibits in a local museum, or simply to add a photo of a nearby park that is in severe need of a properly licensed lead image.
As a first pass, the mobile team has focused on using the Nearby page to surfaces articles in close proximity that lack images, inviting users to add one. Upon visiting those pages, the user will be prompted to illustrate the article, which they can do quickly and easily if they’re on a mobile device that supports taking and uploading photos.
The Nearby feature, although designed with the Wikipedia mobile experience in mind, also works on the desktop version of Wikipedia. In the future, we envision this as a useful step in the editing onboarding process, helping new users learn about editing by encouraging them to improve an article on a topic nearby.
I briefly tested the new page on my iPhone and it worked well, bringing up pages in Brooklyn that I didn’t know much about. The Wikipedia Mobile app for iPhone also includes a Nearby page, but surprisingly enough, I much prefer the web version of Nearby.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons