back to article Will Wikipedia honour Jimbo's promise to STOP chugging?

Will Wikipedia halt its guilt-inducing appeals for cash, as Jimmy Wales promised it would, once it reaches its fundraising goal for this year? This week the Wikimedia Foundation smashed through the $25m target it had set for its "December sprint" – with a full 15 days of the month left. On December 3, Wiki’s globetrotting …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    All pigs are born equal, just some are more equal than others.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Mushroom

      SQUEEEE!

      Seriously, there STILL isn't any mentally sane way to enter reference information on Jimbo's Forever Train Ride. Hasn't been for 15 years or so.

      On a site that insists on "citations" and "references" one would think they would get an ulcer, I mean an intern to work on it a bit for a few dollars. NOPE! NADA! NOTHING HAPPENS!

      It's just an embarassement and reaching the "retarded bad" levels of the Firefox print menu or the file picker for that matter.

  2. Erik4872

    All big non-profits have this problem

    Working for a not-for-profit entity does not necessarily mean you're getting paid in soup kitchen meals and eternal salvation. When a charity or other organization gets big, most of them do end up operating like for-profit businesses as far as compensation. Big charities "need" big name executives to run things, and yes there is a lot of quid pro quo favor-granting. There are often controversies with the Red Cross, Salvation Army and such that spend too much per donated dollar on operating expenses, and I fully expect Wikipedia is in the same boat.

    That said, I do give money to them every year. I find Wikipedia one of the more useful Internet resources out there, simply because my brain likes to snack on knowledge. If I'm looking for a decent overview of a non-controversial subject, it's a great resource. It's also a time sink -- I wound up spending a few hours last month looking up some engineering term I heard, then getting sucked into the world of Great Lakes shipping before looking at the clock and saying "oh well, I didn't need to sleep tonight anyway."

    I think it's better to let them have a little excess cash than turn the whole thing over to, say, Thomson Reuters or one of the scientific publishers, who will rent-seek subscription fees out of everyone.

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: a little excess cash?

      Is about 98% extra only a little excess?

      1. LDS Silver badge

        Re: a little excess cash?

        Many abroad may not know that the Vatican (and other approved religions) in Italy receive 8‰ directly from citizens annual income tax (yes, the state here still collects money for the church).

        Taxpayers need to indicate to what religion they want those many paid to (about only half of them do), but the money of those who didn't indicate anything, will be again paid to religions, divided using the percentage of those who indicated it. You may easily guess the Vatican gets the largest share. Well, 80% of those money (more or less about *a billion*) are used for funding the Vatican and Italian Church expenses. Only 20% is used to help the needing people and the poor.... often through unpaid volunteers. So, really, nothing new, Jimbo just copied from those who had two thousand years to perfect the system... but hey, they do it for your soul...

      2. Oh Homer
        Headmaster

        "Too Much Money!"

        I'm just trying to understand what motivates people to cry foul at entities funded by voluntary donations, which supposedly make "too much money", whilst remaining remarkably unconcerned by a world filled with corporations that engage in blatant profiteering.

        Where is this mythical beast whose prices (or voluntary donations) bear any correlation whatsoever to its actual costs?

        Bankrupt, most likely.

        I believe your startling discovery is called "capitalism", or as realists would call it, a common and inescapable fact of life.

        The "socialism" jibe is funny, though. Wikipedia is motivated by academic principles, not political ones. Right wingers always seem to have difficulty making that distinction.

        However, just like everyone else in the capitalist world, it also needs money, and just like everyone else it doesn't place any arbitrary limitations on how much. Why should it? Jimmy Wales is waving a book, not a Red Flag. The difference is this book is completely free to read, unless you actually volunteer to donate money (or your time, by way of voluntarily contributing articles).

        I must have missed something here, or perhaps you're working from an entirely new definition of "voluntary" that I'm unaware of.

        This is a very different proposition to demanding payment as an absolute condition for access to goods and services, then manipulating the price to "as much as the market can bear", regardless of actual costs.

        Wikipedia doesn't "demand" anything in particular from you. It doesn't set a price, overinflated or otherwise. Access is unconditionally free. If you want to donate then you can, and it doesn't impose an arbitrary limitation on that either.

        Again, why should it?

        Moreover, why should you care what other people do with their money?

        So Wikipedia makes a lot of money?

        Good.

        I'd rather it was going to Wikipedia than Fox News.

    2. Gregory Kohs

      Re: All big non-profits have this problem

      It doesn't surprise me that you find Wikipedia useful, given how easily you presented your own false dichotomy there. You know, the one where you presume that the only alternatives are:

      (A) The Wikimedia Foundation must have a little extra cash, or

      (B) Wikipedia must be turned over to a company that will run it with a subscription-based business model.

      Erik, did it not cross your mind that maybe there are other alternatives? Namely, that the Wikimedia Foundation could publicly admit that Wikipedia site maintenance and bandwidth costs about $3 million per year, and then return to its right-sized staffing levels of 2010 or 2011, trim annual budget to $15 million per year, and have no cause whatsoever to turn over the project to a corporate overlord?

  3. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
    Boffin

    "That means it’s on course to smash 2015’s fundraising record of $53,756,012.58."

    It already has smashed that figure. From the data provided, they're already at $61,169,910.61 for the year ($25,608,417.34 in December so far)

  4. druck Silver badge

    The WMF is well on the way to becoming the FIFA of free encyclopaedias.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You could always not use Wikipedia?

  6. John 104
    Childcatcher

    Why?

    It's always about the money.

    Wikipedia tries to paint itself as a noble endeavor to bring information to the masses. The reality is that a few up top use this as a guilt laden marketing campaign to line their wallets.

    In other news, the sky is blue.

  7. Gobhicks

    What to do?

    After years of using Wikipedia for free, this month I caved in and gave them £20. I paid by credit card so I guess I could get it back. Should I?

    1. Toastan Buttar

      Re: What to do?

      If you feel that £20 is fair payment for years of free use, then you shouldn't reclaim.

      I've paid into the fundraiser for at least the past three years, and I will keep doing so in order to keep it ad-free, if nothing else. It's one of my (if not THE) most used sites on a daily basis.

    2. Gregory Kohs

      Re: What to do?

      Gobhicks, if you don't revoke that donation, you are just PAYING for the privilege of appearing idiotic. This story and about a dozen others like it have clearly demonstrated that the Wikimedia Foundation is just wasting donor money at a rate that is at least a magnitude higher than the actual costs of maintaining the site and providing sufficient throughput to visitors. So, it's up to you. Do you want to be a useless sheep, or do you want to be a thinking individual able to form your own opinions?

  8. Brew

    If It Saves Your Bacon Appreciate It

    Say what you want about their fund raising efforts. As a member of the tech community Wikipedia has saved my bacon more times than I care to admit. I make a small contribution every year.

    1. Brew

      Re: If It Saves Your Bacon Appreciate It

      BTW, if you don't want nagging e-mails send the contribution by snail mail.

  9. Mage Silver badge

    Simple

    Stop giving money to Wikipedia. They don't need the $75m they raised. Actually they could probably run the place on a 1/4 of the 3M a year if they fired all the staff. None are needed. They certainly aren't helping the core activities.

    There are more worthy causes.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Simple

      Sad truth.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Simple

      I read their financial statements, they have $65 million in hedge funds, stocks, and other investments. They could sell those and run the website for another 20 years without anyone contributing a single dollar.

      Of course they could also abandon their $10m/year offices in San Francisco and run for another 4 years after selling their investments runs dry...

  10. rd232

    Missing the story

    ***This article is a stub. You can help El Reg by expanding it.***

    Yes,

    "*Money raised under the pretext of keeping Wikipedia online was spent on: “Legal defense to preserve your right to access, share, and remix knowledge, including court battles won over Wikimedia content in Brazil, Germany, France, and India,” the Foundation says. "

    https://blog.wikimedia.org/2016/11/29/wikimedia-foundation-annual-fundraiser/

    Which seems a worthwhile and relevant cause, seeing as there's not much point in Wikipedia being online if access to it is limited. How much was spent on that legal defense anyway? And if keeping the site online is $3m and legal defense is similar spending, where's the rest of it going?? The link implies coding and user research - is that really true?

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Missing the story

      And if keeping the site online is $3m and legal defense is similar spending, where's the rest of it going?? The link implies coding and user research - is that really true?

      Therein is the problem. If it's a not-for-profit company and registered in the States, they make as much money as they want (different taxes and regs on them though) and not account for it publically. If' it's a non-profit and registered in the States, it's a horse of an entirely different color.

      The problem is there's no transparency (seems to be the buzzword of late by lots of folks) and no accounting for where all that cash is going. Is Jimmy getting new Ferraris this week? Or paying some high priced coders? All expense vacation to some expensive resort for the board? Or serious legal fees and hardware purchases?

      It would be good for those donating to know how this money is actually being spent. From my perspective after scandals with certain charitable organizations of late, disclosure should be mandatory.

      1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Missing the story

        There is -some- transparency since charities must provide a basic outline of finances to the IRS, but its all useless for figuring out where the money is actually going. "Administrative Expenses" covers everything from health insurance to fuel for the private jet...

        Of course it doesn't help that KPMG, the company they use for auditing their books, is at least as corrupt as Arthur Anderson was right before their fall.

  11. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge
    Windows

    I'd settle...

    If they stopped nagging me after I'd donated. Still, that's the way with many charities today - keep plugging away at those who are already contributing. Sorry, folks I understand your motives, but it can be counterproductive.

  12. W4YBO

    The beg-a-thon has ended. I just looked up "Queen Liliuokalani", and didn't get tapped. 10:30 am EST

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Devil

      What a coincidence! Me neither. Although come to think of it that might also be because I unceremoniously RIP-hid the relevant <div> first time I saw it. It's unfortunate this way I'll also miss any requests for help if they ever genuinely go near-bust but perhaps they should have thought of that before crying wolf for the 101th time.

  13. davews

    Endless begging emails

    I donated to WP some years ago before I knew the situation. Since then every year I get a stream of begging emails from Jimmy which seem to get more and more desperate. I do donate to various charities but the tone of these means WP is no longer on my list.

    1. Joerg

      Re: Endless begging emails

      All charities organizations are frauds. They are all criminals stealing moneys.

      If you enjoy being enslaved and robbed thinking that you are really doing something good and that money will be used for a good cause then you must be beyond naive.

      1. David Webb

        Re: Endless begging emails

        Depends on the charity you donate to. I donate to the British Heart Foundation because I *know* they do awesome work, sure, a large amount of money is spent on non-charitable-stuff, but that's things like keeping their shops open or research, but if the money I pay the BHF helps even a little towards the stem cell research for heart repair I'll be happy.

        Donating money to help save lives = good

        Donating money to help a website steal content and use US laws as "fair use" for everything = bad.

        Donating money down the pub on a Friday to keep the landlord open = best.

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Endless begging emails

        F.U. Joerg and I hope you choke painfully on a ham sandwich.

  14. JN

    WMF:Fundraiser will continue, but with a Xmas break.

    The Wikimedia Foundation has posted an update. The short story: They are happy to have reached their target in record time, but will continue fundraising anyway – though they will take the banners down during Christmas, and then put them back up again at the end of the year.

    Quotes:

    "This year, we are happy to report we’ve reached our goal of US$25 million in record time. This is a testament to the importance of Wikimedia and how much support we have from people all over the world.

    "Given this momentum, we believe that it would be wise and worthwhile to continue to fundraise more in the month of December, for the following reasons: [...]

    "Here is what we will do: We intend to continue with the banners for a few more days. We would then take them down over the Christmas holiday, before making an end-of-year push in the final couple days of the year. (Many people choose to give at the very end of the year, and they are expecting to hear from us as usual -- so it is an opportunity to give people who plan to give the easiest means to participate)."

    Link: https://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/wikimedia-l/2016-December/085712.html

    1. Gregory Kohs

      Jimmy Wales a filthy, stinking, country-fleeing liar

      And with that announcement from Lisa Gruwell, Jimmy Wales is painted quite clearly as a liar:

      http://wikipediocracy.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=197830#p197830

  15. Jamesit

    Still showing up here in Canada.

  16. mahbodmoghadam

    This is why we built Everipedia - http://everipedia.com - being non-profit actually makes Wikipedia more discriminatory and corrupt, not less!

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