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Posted by on Jan 5, 2009 in Media, Miscellaneous, Society | 1 comment

Donors Rush To Save Wikipedia From Advertisements

jimmy wales

Wikipedia’s founder, Jimmy Wales’s gambit has paid off. He made a direct appeal to the users of this free online encyclopaedia to help him raise $6m (£4.1m) to cover its running costs for 2009 or be prepared to see advertisements splashed all over this pioneering, innovative and valuable referral website. And, boy, what a response Wikipedia got from its viewers/wellwishers!

This story would have delighted Mahatma Gandhi who most of his life propagated that newspapers should be ad-free. Even in the newspapers he edited in South Africa and India for decades he kept the advertisers away. He strongly believed that Press freedom can only be achieved if the readers contributed towards the running of their newspapers. (See here…)

“In his letter, which was posted online on 23 December, Mr Wales wrote: ‘Wikipedia is different. It’s the largest encyclopaedia in history, written by volunteers. Like a national park or a school, we don’t believe advertising should have a place in Wikipedia. We want to keep it free and strong, but we need the support of thousands of people like you. I invite you to join us: Your donation will help keep Wikipedia free for the whole world’,” reports The Independent.

“And his tactic worked. In the following 24 hours the site received 8,186 donations, compared to just 800 the previous day. Before his appeal the site, which attracts about 254 million visitors a month, was receiving about $30,000 a day, but that rose to more than $215,000 after the letter was published.

“And, on 1 January, the total crept past the crucial $6m mark. Many of the donations came from individual users and were from as little as $5. The largest was an annual pledge of $1m for three years, and an anonymous donation of $250,000 was also received.

“Arcadia, a grant-making group based in London, gave $100,000. Jay Walsh, a spokesman for Wikipedia, said: ‘We’re really thrilled that people have come out in force and made a clear statement that they care about this cause and they care about Wikipedia, even though we were kind of nervous after the economic news became really clear’.

“Wikipedia was founded by Mr Wales and Larry Sanger in 2001 with a format that allows pages on topics to be created and edited by the public. It has an editing team of 150,000 volunteers, but just 23 members of staff. In eight years the site has grown to 12 million pages.” More here…

Photo above of Jimmy Wales courtesy The Independent/Getty.