, the commercial offshoot of Wikipedia, has launched a range of free tools for bloggers and publishers that want to build collaborative features into their sites.

The service, called OpenServing, will offer free software, content and hosting to its subscribers, who can also keep all of the advertising revenues they generate from the apps they develop.

Sites using the tools are only obliged to display links to Wikia’s website, which itself is advertising supported.

The service is using the technology of, which Wikia bought earlier this month. The company also plans to use the same model to distribute other forms of open source software, and is looking for volunteers to help it to do so.

So how will it earn money? In an interview with Techcrunch, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said OpenServing users would provide “content-relevant” links to other parts of the Wikia network, which sounds like it could be developed into something akin to Google’s revenue model.

But in the company’s statement, Wales said Wikia would basically wait and see what revenue streams presented themselves: “We don’t have all the business model answers, but we are confident – as we always have been – that the wisdom of our community will prevail.”

We’re still not sure that crowds are particularly wise.

As much as anything this looks like a sturdy SEO play, with Wikia set to attract lots of links from content-heavy websites. Wikia itself makes money from advertising so greater visibility in the search engines and referrals from OpenServing websites will help it generate additional revenue.