It is my honor to introduce Abstract Wikipedia, a new project that has been unanimously approved by the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees. Abstract Wikipedia proposes a new way to generate baseline encyclopedic content in a multilingual fashion, allowing more contributors and more readers to share more knowledge in more languages. It is an approach that aims to make cross-lingual cooperation easier on our projects, increase the sustainability of our movement through expanding access to participation, improve the user experience for readers of all languages, and innovate in free knowledge by connecting some of the strengths of our movement to create something new.
This is our first new project in over seven years. Abstract Wikipedia was submitted as a project proposal by Denny Vrandečić in May 2020  after years of preparation and research, leading to a detailed plan and lively discussions in the Wikimedia communities. We know that the energy and the creativity of the community often runs up against language barriers, and information that is available in one language may not make it to other language Wikipedias. Abstract Wikipedia intends to look and feel like a Wikipedia, but build on the powerful, language-independent conceptual models of Wikidata, with the goal of letting volunteers create and maintain Wikipedia articles across our polyglot Wikimedia world.
The project will allow volunteers to assemble the fundamentals of an article using words and entities from Wikidata. Because Wikidata uses conceptual models that are meant to be universal across languages, it should be possible to use and extend these building blocks of knowledge to create models for articles that also have universal value. Using code, volunteers will be able to translate these abstract “articles” into their own languages. If successful, this could eventually allow everyone to read about any topic in Wikidata in their own language.
As you can imagine, this work will require a lot of software development, and a lot of cooperation among Wikimedians. In order to make this effort possible, Denny will join the Foundation as a staff member in July and lead this initiative. You may know Denny as the creator of Wikidata, a long-time community member, a former staff member at Wikimedia Deutschland, and a former Trustee at the Wikimedia Foundation . We are very excited that Denny will bring his skills and expertise to work on this project alongside the Foundation’s product, technology, and community liaison teams.
It is important to acknowledge that this is an experimental project, and that every Wikipedia community has different needs. This project may offer some communities great advantages. Other communities may engage less. Every language Wikipedia community will be free to choose and moderate whether or how they would use content from this project.
We are excited that this new wiki-project has the possibility to advance knowledge equity through increased access to knowledge. It also invites us to consider and engage with critical questions about how and by whom knowledge is constructed. We look forward to working in cooperation with the communities to think through these important questions.
There is much to do as we begin designing a plan for Abstract Wikipedia in close collaboration with our communities. I encourage you to get involved by going to the project page and joining the new mailing list . We recognize that Abstract Wikipedia is ambitious, but we also recognize its potential. We invite you all to join us on a new, unexplored path.
Katherine Maher (Executive Director, Wikimedia Foundation)