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.
Swaraaj Chauhan describes his two-decade-long stint as a full-time journalist as eventful, purposeful, and full of joy and excitement. In 1993 he could foresee a different work culture appearing on the horizon, and decided to devote full time to teaching journalism (also, partly, with a desire to give back to the community from where he had enriched himself so much.)
Alongside, he worked for about a year in 1993 for the US State Department’s SPAN magazine, a nearly five-decade-old art and culture monthly magazine promoting US-India relations. It gave him an excellent opportunity to learn about things American, plus the pleasure of playing tennis in the lavish American embassy compound in the heart of New Delhi.
In !995 he joined WWF-India as a full-time media and environment education consultant and worked there for five years travelling a great deal, including to Husum in Germany as a part of the international team to formulate WWF’s Eco-tourism policy.
He taught journalism to honors students in a college affiliated to the University of Delhi, as also at the prestigious Indian Institute of Mass Communication where he lectured on “Development Journalism” to mid-career journalists/Information officers from the SAARC, African, East European and Latin American countries, for eight years.
In 2004 the BBC World Service Trust (BBC WST) selected him as a Trainer/Mentor for India under a European Union project. In 2008/09 He completed another European Union-funded project for the BBC WST related to Disaster Management and media coverage in two eastern States in India — West Bengal and Orissa.
Last year, he spent a couple of months in Australia and enjoyed trekking, and also taught for a while at the University of South Australia.
Recently, he was appointed as a Member of the Board of Studies at Chitkara University in Chandigarh, a beautiful city in North India designed by the famous Swiss/French architect Le Corbusier. He also teaches undergraduate and postgraduate students there.
He loves trekking, especially in the hills, and never misses an opportunity to play a game of tennis. The Western and Indian classical music are always within his reach for instant relaxation.
And last, but not least, is his firm belief in the power of the positive thought to heal oneself and others.