What is the definition of “free”? Wikipedia looks to be more interested with its profit line lately than with teaching the world.
Despite having abundant resources in isolation, is requesting for more contributions and progressively transitioning to a for-profit type of operation. Behind-the-scenes big-name corporate sponsors and massive data transactions taint the platform’s picture-perfect image as the internet’s primary source for researchers and students alike.
Wikipedia, the world’s most popular non-profit online encyclopaedia, is urging its users to donate once more. You’ve probably noticed the banner ads at the top of each page.
After ten years of fundraising, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) has already met its target of a $100 million endowment, five years ahead of schedule, providing “a permanent source of funding to ensure Wikipedia thrives for generations to come.” Critics are criticising the platform for not relying more heavily on what has previously been acquired.
This total includes gifts from mega-giants such as Amazon, Google, Facebook, and other huge tech companies, begging the question: why can’t more funds be found here? Why ask the readership?
Those playing by the book continually point to what they deem a very suspicious relationship with the Tides Foundation, one of the primary contributors to the $100 million endowment in question. When company events were put on hold due to the pandemic, the money allocated for them was simply transferred over to a “Tides Advocacy” fund.
The introduction of a for-profit daughter firm, Wikipedia, LLC, is much more concerning than the prior. This new platform will contain integrated services, which will be made feasible by selling the Wikipedia API to some of the previously named firms. Users will be able to read Wikipedia using, say, an Alexa device, thanks to these new functionalities.
Volunteers who have been with the agency for a long time are concerned. The platform’s origins may be traced back to the free transmission of knowledge. They are concerned that all of this extra money would encourage the wrong individuals to do things that would harm Wikipedia’s ethos.
In 2007, Wikipedia had 11 employees total. Now, that number is more than 500. The company is often boastful about the fact that their site runs no ads, aside from this fundraising call to action when the season is upon us. Users in India will be seeing them for the first time, causing many in the country to fear for the platform’s well-being.
These concerns are mostly unwarranted. So far this year, the Wikimedia Endowment and Foundation have surpassed their fiduciary targets by $17 million. Calling on users to “defend Wikipedia’s independence” is a far cry from the monolithic, all-knowing voice of reason that long-time Wiki readers want to hear again.
It’s one thing to have a rainy-day fund. Another example is excessively draining the system. If they actually want to build “knowledge equity” monetizing the platform is probably not the way to go. Nothing is crueller than a paywall when there was once an infinite quantity of knowledge to be freely consumed.