Wikipedia Needs 6 Million Dollars?

image You might have noticed recently that Wikipedia wants you (again) to fork over some cash in the form of a donation (click the screen shot right for larger image). This is nothing new, but what is new is that they have a goal of six million dollars.

And they already have over 2 million.

Can anyone tell me why the Wikimedia Foundation needs SIX MILLION DOLLARS and moreover how it would be applied? Does anyone know of the long-term project goals so we know the cash won’t be pocketed for a fleet of new BMWs and a house in Malibu?

On read of the personal appeal, does this sound like something that’s worth SIX MILLION DOLLARS (especially considering there are no charities listed and no causes listed)?

If I drove over to the Wikimedia Foundation office in St. Petersburg Florida and asked them about how they’re going to spend SIX MILLION DOLLARS, do you think they’d show me the door just for inquiring?

Makes one wonder.

Comments

  1. Magnus Manske says:

    OK, I’ll take the bait.

    Financial plan and link to details, for anyone who can read:
    http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/2008-2009_Annual_Plan_Questions_and_Answers

    Now that we have established what $6M are needed for, would the OP please name one other top 10 website that is run with that little money? For most to 100 sites, budget is /much/ more.

    So, you have been shown the door by the Wikimedia Foundation in St. Petersburg? Strange, since they have moved to San Francisco quite a while ago:
    http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Contact_us

    Either the OP is not able to find obvious web pages, or not willing to. Sad. Are you paid for this?

    • Read the financial plan. It’s all summed up in the first answer: “…In general, spending has increased every year, as the projects and the organization have grown.” Yeah. “In general”. Nice. Nice and vague. And every figure listed in generalized and establishes nothing. It is not an official fiscal report; nothing is itemized line by line.

      I really like how you just use the generic term “website” as if corporate publicly traded tech companies and non-profits are exactly the same. Why don’t you try getting a list of the top 10 *non-profit* sites specifically instead of just lumping them into “websites” as if they’re all the same. Get a clue.

      There aren’t any “OP’s” here. Why you use that phrase to describe blog authors is beyond me. Sad.

    • easybullet says:

      the whole point of the article is that wikipedia is just asking for money and not bothering to let anyone know why.
      i mean, its probably obviously for the running costs, but Wiki doesnt even give a link to the reasons why they need the money and also the breakdown of costs.

      you it seems have searched and found this info, but not everyone can be expected to do that.

      if youre gonna fork out cash to a company, you would like to know what they are gonna do with it.
      a link to a simple breakdown of costs would do the job. but they didnt do that. I actually find it kind of rude to ask for money and not say why or where its going.

  2. I can’t see the appeal of Wikipedia myself. Because it can be edited by anyone there is so much misleading information on there and for that reason it certainly cannot call itself an authority site.

    • Wikipedia is the largest encyclopedia of information anywhere. A study showed that the encyclopedia britanica and wikipedia in terms of accuracy are extreamly close. Just because people can edit it doesn’t mean that others can’t contest the new revisions and changes. Only information that people agree upon generally make it into mainstream articles. This may be a shocker but much of the “main stream” information you recieve is manipulated heavily.

  3. They post their annual reports. Find out for yourself.

    http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Donate/Transparency/en

    • Read it. Doesn’t explain why they need six million dollars.

      • My sentiments exactly.

        Copied/pasted directly from the linked page above:

        Mission Statement of the Wikimedia Foundation
        The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a **free** license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally…
        …The Foundation will make and keep useful information from its projects available on the Internet **free** of charge, in perpetuity.

        I’m seeing the word ‘free’ mentioned twice here. If they are after $6 million in “donations”, I’d have to say that in the grand scheme of things, the collection and development of “educational content” is in fact, *NOT* free, but actually costs $6 million. Yes?

        • This is exactly the point I’m referring to.

          I do understand there’s that (in)famous phrase that all non-profit org’s say: “We have operational costs.” You can’t operate a non-prof and not have those.

          However..

          Does the operational cost of current and future projects for Wikipedia/Wikimedia Foundation *truly* cost six million bucks? That’s what I’m referring to.

  4. One of the big issues, which *definitely does* cost a lot of money, is server infrastructure and bandwidth. Many, many technical features and useful tools are disabled on the English Wikipedia because, well, there aren’t enough server resources to run them given their lower priority. If you look at their Annual Report ( http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/2/2a/WMF_20072008_Annual_report.pdf ), they note that of the ~$6M, nearly half of it is going straight to technology. That’s nearly three million dollars of: buying new and faster servers to handle the sheer technical demand, salaries for more developers to improve the software, and making sure useful services like the widely-used Wikipedia database dumps actually work (currently, the database dumps that allow people to download Wikipedia fail on a routine basis due to the huge size of the database).
    Operating costs could perhaps be better, but they include important issues like, you know, actually *paying* the people who do the accounting, and bank fees, office space, and legal counsel. While travel costs might be an issue, it’s worth considering that the Board gets together face-to-face only around three times a year.
    The budget also includes a *lot* of room to scale back. Even if the goal is missed by millions, the Foundation won’t suffer: many of the improvements planned will simply be delayed.

    Oh, and to address your main point “Can anyone tell me why the Wikimedia Foundation needs SIX MILLION DOLLARS and moreover how it would be applied? Does anyone know of the long-term project goals so we know the cash won’t be pocketed for a fleet of new BMWs and a house in Malibu?” yes, it’s obvious. Continuing to run the biggest non-profit website on the Internet, helping work through applications such as DVD or USB-stick releases, special selections for schools, and other positive ideas are high on the list, and the Foundation is quite transparent about their finances and release their annual audits publicly.

    This of course avoids silliness such as “no charities listed and no causes listed”; the Foundation *is* a charity (as evidenced by their 501(c)(3) status), and their cause is obvious: to promote the development of freely-reusable educational resources and make them available to people free of charge. By “free” what’s often meant is not so much like “free beer” as “free speech”: Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and can be reused without many of the traditional problems of copyrighted content. Be careful that you don’t confuse “free beer” issues with “free speech” issues.

    • I’ve worked for a couple of high traffic sites before. Trust me, server infrastructure and bandwidth is not as expensive as you think. It may have been a couple of years ago, but not anymore.

  5. lespaul20 says:

    I guess Wikipedia is not the same as every other like organization. The Red Cross got 3 billion in donation in 2006.

    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2007/14/pf_07charities_American-Red-Cross_CH0013.html

    Like someone else said, the infrastructure is expensive. I would assume you know that enterprise equipment is much more expensive than consumer equipment.

    • The only – and I mean only – similarity between RC and Wikipedia is that they’re both non-profs and that’s where it stops.

      RC deserves 10 times the amount in donations because they save lives daily. If you want to spew bile forth about infrastructure costs about the RC, go right ahead. That org shows non-profit in its absolute best light by caring for humanity, unlike Wikipedia that has an online encyclopedia wrought with online vandalism.

      Don’t insult the RC by comparing them to Wikipedia. Don’t even go there.

      • To devalue the Wikimedia project on the basis that it isn’t “serving humanity” is wrong on the highest level. I don’t believe RC and Wikimedia are comparable but thats not because of a difference in magnitude – its because the goals are different. They are both absolute necessities. What good is it to have your life saved by someone in the RC if you are still condemned to live without any chance of self-education?

        Better dead than dumb

  6. Paul V. Sheridan says:

    Wiki is the scum of the earth; which is really an insult to both scum and the earth. When I tried to advise them on a scientific entry that was CLEARLY flat-out wrong, they barred me from further alleged “open access” interaction. As such, at their most fundamental level, they’re LIARS. You either cowtow to their agenda or buzz-off. That’s why we called it Wikiscum, and their need for more cash with NO real justification says it all. They’re a bunch of punks, and you can tell them I said so!

  7. None of the angry responses to Rich’s article are providing any rationale to their anger. You’re all acting like he condemned Wiki and everything they do. He didn’t. He (along with ANYONE who has any knowledge of the business world) questions why on Earth they would ask for 6 million dollars but not state where that money is going.

    Do I think Wikipedia is a great non-profit and deserves donations? Absolutely.

    Will I be donating to a non-profit that doesn’t clearly define how and where the money will be used? Absolutely not.

    • But they did state it, at least as good as every other charitable org.

      No one is forcing any one to donate so why does it matter what they are asking for? I haven’t seen any reference on what they should be spending just that they shouldn’t. While Rich didn’t condemn Wikipedia there was a slightly envious overtone that Wikipeida my actually get the 6 million that it apparently doesn’t need.

      As to clearly defining where the money goes, to keep with my example, the Red Cross doesn’t itemized any more than Wikipedia does. At least in way that donors can easily get to them. Leaving any financial corruption just as much as a possibility as to Wikipedia execs driving nice cars. Red Cross isn’t a great example because they are not classified legally the same way.

      PETA would have been a better example. They aren’t anymore specific on their site as Wikipedia is and there expensive are a lot more($30million) and I think the cause is about $40 million over budget.

      The Wikimedia Foundation is who is actually asking for money, not just the encyclopedia. So there is more than one entity involved.

      So Adam, if you can find a org classified the same as Wikimedia that itemizes expenses I happily reevaluate my position.

  8. Maybe Wikipedia needs to advertise more or cut expenses, like the rest of the internet websites that are going through rough times.

    Its time to get real Wikipedia.

  9. I’m going to shed some humor on this post instead of another useless comment. Take note at the end :)
    http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1830262

  10. Have to agree with several others here. , I’m appalled at what appears to be a money grab.

    Sadly, while I’m pro knowledge distribution I can’t help feeling that I’m reading nonsense when I “consult” wikipedia. Half the time there are more “citation needed” disclaimers than factual, and verifiable, evidence backing up a claim.

    Regarding the pleas to support (organized mendicancy in reality) an outrageous “budget”. Since these guys don’t understand their own behavior here’s a link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mendicancy.

    The “Board” should use video conferencing, the “all staff” meetings/travel should be eliminated as I’m sure they’re more boondoggle than anything else, the use of “FREE” should be removed from every description, and the salaries of all involved should be made public. Until these things are done, I can’t even consider donating a nickle.

    PS – even at this late date, there is still no reference to confirmed, demonstrable, and verifiable facts such as linking Bush/Cheney to donkey shat, proving beyond a doubt that wikipedia is inaccurate, inadequate, and not to be trusted.

  11. If you want genuine reference materials, you should go to educational institution site. You’d be a fool to trust contents possibly put together by a bunch of ten-year-olds without proper research.

  12. Happy Holidays says:

    I don’t even use or trust Wikipedia, why the hell would I want to donate to them? None of their entries even make sense. Seems like a lot of dribble and nonsense. Why they need 6 million dollars is beyond me.

  13. All I read in their article is.

    “we are free for everyone in the whole wide worlddddddd, but could you give me please some money. Pretty please? We are giving you “free” information.”

    sounds like begging to me and asking for money for a so called “free” service. IF it were free they would have funded themself somehow and gotten money in a different way. They might as well just charge in stead of beg for donations, but that’s just meeeeeeee.

    ps I need some donation for my ermmmmm beauty salon membership. yeah you can look at me for free, but I need to maintain it you see. So if you don’t mind donate some money to me please. I just need ermmm let’s say 1K. thank you ((i was kidding just mocking wikipedia))

  14. Cause Jimbo waste all on a orgie? xD

    what with the Bomis babe – financing Wikipedia? ;)

    Despite the often repeated claim wikipedia has no ads but many detailed article on nosense. Nerd, any f*cking pornstar which nobody except her virgin fan know about

    wikihistory
    Next he opened Bomis, an ‘Adult Content’ website, which was followed by Nupedia, which morphed into Wikipedia.

  15. Guess what!!!!??? AN another appeal for 7.5 million from wikipedia………….Duhhhh

  16. I can tell you Wikipedia uses about $9 M in bandwidth a year.

    That could be what they need it for.

  17. Why not advertise?

    A Google Ads bar at the bottom of the page will not affect the page…

    A while ago the founder of Wikipedia presented on TED that they don’t need money to run it, only $5,000 for one employee, and he was proud of that…

    I believe they should have been transparent and clarified what it is for upfront.

    Everyone wants to help but we also like to feel involved…

  18. I agree, anyway im pritty sure most things on wikipedia are from us, members of the public just sharing our knowledge, and a advert on the page wont hurt as long as no pop-ups.

  19. Wiki can go f-ck themselves, 7.5 million needed again? Surely got a tase of money after last years 6 mil! And don’t tell me bandwidth costs that much. And that’s not FREE site after all if they bitch and sponge off us anyway, can’t make it running, start advertising, for all I care.

  20. Mr. Charles T. says:

    Why so much hate?

    They don’t force you to give them money, and they chose not to force ads into a page already full of links. I think it’s a wise decision.

    Use or don’t use wikipedia, for whatever reason you can find. But why be angry after a simple demand? Even if it sounds like begging, and I agree it can become annoying, it’s nothing to hate over. Just ignore and don’t use the website if it’s that bad…

    By the way, 6 (or 7.5) million dollars is nothing. To run such a huge database (millions of pages constently linking themselves together, with a pretty sophisticated engine behind…) costs way over what they are asking… How much do you think Google spends on their search engine? My guess is you’d have a heart attack if you knew. Strangely, nothing is more simple for the end-user then a search engine. Same for wiki.

    Anyways, with enough research, you can see (globally) where the money is going. Now if you want something detailed with the salary of each technician and engineer, well then maybe you should join the board. No organization releases extremely-detailed financial information or plan, because they could be held liable afterwards based on the released information (releasing precise spending plans in an ever-changing environment is NOT a good idea and it is almost impossible to achieve such a plan, therefore they would loose some credibility over the process).

    Give or don’t give. Do you give to the Mormons? To the Christian Associations? To the Red Cross? To the Mozilla Foundation? To the Ronald McDonald’s Foundation? Do yoy give to charity? To homeless people? Maybe, maybe not. Well, each person has something which they believe in and in which they want give either time, either money, or both. I personnally believe in accessible education, I believe in the wikipedia concept, it does have many flaws, but I am confident it will continue to make progress. I gave to them. You don’t have to. But complaining and whining and asking stupid questions is just not right. “If you don’t like it, skip it”.

    (Note that my comment does not adress anyone specifically, it’s mainly a reaction to the general hatred that I read on this blog page)

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