Wikipedia: Pennies for Our Thoughts


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Even at this time of year, there is no rest for the Wiki.

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia that allows collaborative editing of its content, is seeking funds to cover its operations. This is because Wikipedia is a non-profit. Anyone who visits the site regularly, and pays attention, might notice there are no ads on Wikipedia to support its operations and staff of 95 people.

But as we know, few good things in life are free. If a web site carries advertisements, it might not need our donations, but we are surely paying. Any online ad is likely the direct result of our previous web activity, which was tracked, parceled and sold to marketers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing until it becomes an annoyance. (Seriously, how many ceiling fans am I gonna buy? Enough already.)

So Wikipedia, comparing itself to a library or a public park, eschews advertisements. That means it has to get its money elsewhere. As a regular user, I noticed a few weeks ago a request by founder Jimmy Wales to make a donation. So I did.

This week I got a follow-up email from Wales, with the message line, “Can you share this?” So just like Wikipedia today is sharing a free article about Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, I am sharing excerpts from his note:

Dear Lisa,

Here’s how the Wikipedia fundraiser works: Every year we raise just the funds that we need, and then we stop.

Because you and so many other Wikipedia readers donated over the past weeks, we are very close to raising our goal for this year by December 31 — but we’re not quite there yet. . . .

. . . Google might have close to a million servers. Yahoo has something like 13,000 staff. We have 679 servers and 95 staff.

Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and serves 470 million different people every month – with billions of page views.

Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.

When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.

Thanks again for your support this year. Please help spread the word by forwarding this email to someone you know.

Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia Founder

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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