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The Thin Bright Line

By Gregory Kohs

This blog post is one of a five-part series of investigative reports by Gregory Kohs, documenting conflicts of interest among individuals and organizations who have financial ties with the Wikimedia Foundation.

The first report is The Thin Bright line The second report is Wikipedia donors feel entitled to more than a mug or a tote bag The third report is Business as Usual The fourth report is Wikipedia’s Friends With Benefits The fifth report is Look who’s visiting the WMF

How many people or organizations donate more than $5,000 in support of Wikipedia? According to a recently published annual report (July 2012 through June 2013) of the Wikimedia Foundation, 166 did so.“There is a very simple ‘bright line’ rule that constitutes best practice: do not edit Wikipedia directly if you are a paid advocate.” — Jimmy Wales

In January 2014, the Wikimedia Foundation published its official 2012-2013 annual report, celebrating ten years of the foundation’s management of Wikipedia and its sister projects. The report is only two pages long, constructed in that annoyingly tall “infographic” layout that makes it nearly impossible to print out and read on paper without a magnifying glass. Toward the bottom of the report, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) lists all of the donors who gave a gift of at least $1,000. Regardless of the documented fact that the WMF spends less than 51% of its revenues from donations on the actual program services that every 501(c)(3) is required to report as accomplishing the organization’s mission, it is nearly impossible to find a substantial donor to the WMF who expresses any concern at all about this abysmal program efficiency ratio. (Most legitimate charitable educational organizations aim for program efficiency ratios north of 80% or even 90%, not 51%.) Why would donors to the WMF

…continue reading The Thin Bright Line