Today, the latest edition of the Wikipedia school edition has been released by SOS Children’s Villages, a charity organization that aims to help orphans and vulnerable children worldwide. The 08/09 edition can be downloaded for free, via BitTorrent only, and comprises over 5500 hand-picked educational articles aimed at helping schools to enhance their curriculum.
This year’s Wikipedia edition for schools is the largest since the project started back in 2006. With 34,000 images and 20 million words, it is comparable to a twenty volume encyclopedia captured on a single DVD.
Without a doubt, it is the most successful “checked content” project based on the English Wikipedia, used by hundreds of schools in first and third world countries. The project was originally aimed at schools in developing countries, but because of the high quality articles – all based around the UK curriculum with an absence of adult content – it is often used on intranets in first world schools too.
To save on resources, Wikipedia for schools is only available online via BitTorrent, which practically reduces the charity’s distribution costs to zero. SOS Children CEO Andrew Cates, who is a Wikipedia administrator himself, said that they have no other choice than to use BitTorrent, since the 2.9 GB download would crush their server.
“BitTorrent was a bit disappointing in that it got us the only substantial criticisms we received online,” Cates said in an interview with Wikinews. “A lot of people find it too much effort to use. However for the period we offered a straight http: download we had huge problems with spiders eating vast bandwidth.”
“As per last year therefore our main two channels will be free download by BitTorrent and mailing the DVDs free all over the world. At a pinch we will (as before) put straight copies up for individuals who cannot get it any other way, and we have some copies on memory sticks for on distributors,” Cates added.
The .torrent file is available for download on the SOS Children’s Villages website. For those who don’t want to install a BitTorrent client, the DVD can also be downloaded from any web browser with BitLet.
A final word of advice from SOS Children’s Villages: “It helps our charity if you keep µTorrent running after your download is finished.”