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Press Releases

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Make your Wikipedia donations count

By the Masked Maggot and Gregory Kohs

It’s that time of year again. The full-contact sport of Christmas shopping is reaching its peak, meteorologists are waxing on about polar vortices, and the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is asking you to donate money (to pay for “servers, power, rent, programs, and staff”). If you use Wikipedia and appreciate its content and functionality, should you donate money to the WMF? The informed donor understands that the WMF spends your money on just about everything except improving Wikipedia’s content, which comes as a surprise to uninformed donors. If you do decide to give a cash donation to support Wikipedia, this year we suggest not donating to the WMF, but instead contributing directly to the Wikipedians who write the actual Wikipedia articles you find most useful. Later, we’ll show you how.

What is the Wikimedia Foundation, and why do they ask for money?


The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that was formed in 2003 to support the community-written encyclopedia Wikipedia. It had become clear to Jimmy Wales (who was the Internet entrepreneur who underwrote Wikipedia’s limited budget up until then) that trying to monetize Wikipedia with advertising or paid sponsorships would be too disruptive to the community of writers. Indeed, nearly the entire team working on the Spanish-language Wikipedia jumped ship in 2002 in response to even a mild suggestion that Wales’ company might run a few ads on Wikipedia pages, to help pay for staff. For the first several years of its operation, the WMF did genuinely support the Wikipedia community. The WMF remained a small organization with just a few employees to help organize the volunteer writers, photographers, and administrators, maintain and expand the servers, and support the (mostly volunteer) programmers who worked

…continue reading Make your Wikipedia donations count

Wikimedia UK governance review finds significant failings

By Andreas Kolbe

Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia UK team, circa 2010

The publication on 7 February 2013 of an independent report on Wikimedia UK governance, commissioned jointly by Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK, was covered the following day by Civil Society Media’s Governance magazine (“Wikimedia UK trustees have been ‘too involved’ to effectively govern charity”), aimed at charity trustees, chief executives and company secretaries, and by Third Sector (“Review urges major overhaul of governance at Wikimedia UK”), a UK magazine specialising on the voluntary and non-profit sector.


The review, performed by management consultancy Compass Partnership, was paid for by the Wikimedia Foundation. It was commissioned in October of last year, in the wake of media controversy and community discussions around the Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia outreach projects. A key part of the dispute, Governance said, was—

“ an intellectual property dispute over QRpedia, a mobile web-based system using QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles, that was developed by former chairman Roger Bamkin (who resigned as a trustee in 2012) and contributor Terence Eden. ”

Bamkin had undertaken a paid consultancy for the Monmouthpedia project, which involved the use of QR codes, resulting in a conflict of interest that according to report authors Compass Partnership was not drawn to the attention of legal staff at the Wikimedia Foundation who dealt with trademark applications. Bamkin then also charged for consultancy fees in relation to Gibraltarpedia, leading to a further conflict of interest which eventually resulted in his resignation from the Wikimedia UK board in September 2012.

As stated by Jay Walsh, Senior Director of Communications, on the Wikimedia Foundation blog,

“ The Foundation and Wikimedia UK saw the potentially damaging effect of these matters and we ordered this review and report. We both expect

…continue reading Wikimedia UK governance review finds significant failings