Visit any Wikipedia page and you'll see at the top a big, bold font personal appeal from site founder Jimmy Wales who once again is asking for handouts. His plea starts off by letting visitors know Wikipedia is the No. 5 website in the world, serving 454 million people each month and dishing out billions of page views. Maintaining its modest army of 400 servers and 95 staff costs money, and advertising has no place on Wikipedia, Wales says. As for your cash, well, that's a different story.
If you’re a regular to Wikipedia you might have noticed the donation appeals from founder Jimmy Wales scattered around the page. These images tend to stick out a bit more than your average web ad because the service is not only famous for being free, but free from the usual advertising clutter found on most sites.
The goal of $16 million was an ambitious one, but we are happy to report we now have confirmation that the world’s collective encyclopedia has met its target and will live on for another year. According to Wales more than 500,000 donations were made during the drive with an average size of $22.
"This year is a little more incredible than most because this year we celebrate Wikipedia's tenth anniversary," Wales wrote. "It's so important that we kick the year off just like this: by fully funding the Wikimedia Foundation's budget to support Wikipedia and all the sister projects as we head into the next decade of our work together. This fundraiser had all the ingredients of what we love about Wikimedia projects: people come together, contribute what they have, and together we do something amazing," Wales wrote. He also pointed out that it's not too late to pitch in.
$16 million is a lot of cash but you have to admit, when you consider the bandwidth bill they must be paying each month it doesn’t sound like Wales or anyone at the Wikimedia foundation is squandering resources.
There have been some in recent months that claimed Wikipedia was slowly dying. The non-profit that runs the popular user-created encyclopedia apparently hasn't gotten the message. Wikimedia plans to add 44 employees, doubling their current staff. They will also raise $20 million to further develop Wikipedia.
Wikimedia believes it can more than double visits to their sites by 2015. This could be accomplished by expanding Wikipeda into developing nations in Africa, Central America, and Asia. This will mean creating new versions of Wikipedia in less represented languages.
Wikipedia's editors have been making noise about the lack of new editors on the site. As such, part of this five year plan will involve investigating ways to attract new contributors and retain them once they appear. It's all pretty ambitious. Do you still find Wikipedia as useful as you did a few years ago?
Wikimedia administrators have been hotly debating the hosting of pornographic content on Wikimedia Commons for some time. Until now Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has remained silent on the matter, but in a new post on his user talk page he makes his position clear. "Wikimedia Commons admins who wish to remove from the project all images that are of little or no educational value but which appeal solely to prurient interests have my full support," Wales wrote.
There has been no official word from the Wikimedia Foundation, which has control over the Wikipedia project, but now that Wales has made his position known the outcome seems assured. Wales also restarted the Commons: Sexual Content page, which tracks inappropriate content on the site.
Wales did attempt to assuage fears of a wholesale removal of legitimate content later in his post saying, "We should keep educational images about sexuality - mere nudity is not pornography - but as with all our projects, editorial quality judgements must be made and will be made - appropriately and in good taste." So should the Wikimedia Foundation be removing legal pornographic content from the site?
To everyone who donated to Wikimedia and helped the non-profit organization reach its goal to raise $7.5 million, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has a message for you: "Thank you." After you're finished patting yourself on the back, go ahead and reach back into your pocket, because Wales isn't finished soliciting donations.
"As of December 31, 2009, we have reached our campaign goal of $7.5 million USD," Wales wrote on Wikimedia's donation page. "Thank you to all who have donated! Your continued donations will support Wikimedia's long-term operations and growth, cover contingencies, and allow us to fund new projects and activities"
"Today, I am asking you to make a donation to support Wikipedia," Wales continues.
As is often the case with those soliciting donations, Wales' appeal is difficult to avoid. If you've been to Wikipedia lately (and let's face it, the site shows up on just about every Google search), then you've undoubtedly noticed the banner on top of every entry that reads in big, bold letters "Please Read: A personal appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales."
The donations, says Wales, are necessary to keep the social encyclopedia free of charge and devoid of advertising, though this time around he doesn't mention how much he'd like to raise. Nor does he say if he'll go on to ask for handouts for Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikispecies, and every other Wikimedia project.