Can you imagine a world without Wikipedia?

Published: December 15, 2010

The resource may be in danger of financial ruin

“Wikipedia only works in practice. In theory, it’s a total disaster.”

Wikipedia, supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, has accumulated over 17 million articles in 262 languages as well as inspired copycats in Google and Facebook (see Google Knol and Facebook Community Pages). It still, however,  does not have money to keep the site running – nor does it want to charge money or display ads on its websites.

If you’ve been to the Wikipedia website lately, you might have seen a banner at the top of the page that says “Please read: A personal appeal from Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner.”

Wikipedia is one of the web’s hottest properties but it faces the same problem that has been faced by many internet startups: how does one monetise the site? Even commercial websites such as Twitter and the New York Times have had trouble trying to find revenue models for the web.

Wikipedia has opted to start a fund-raising drive hoping to turn more of its 400 million readers into donors. According to Wikimedia’s Gardner:

“We have to raise $8 million more. If all of our readers donated $1, the fundraiser would be over about four hours from now. But not everyone can or will donate, and that’s fine.”

While Britannica and Encarta sell their material on discs or books while having the same amount of “serious errors”, Wikipedia is used free of charge. Most of us will stop using Wikipedia if there is a subscription fee but none of us will be using Wikipedia next year as only half the fundraising goal has been reached with less than 3 weeks of the year remaining.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales’ advice should be heeded:

“If you value Wikipedia as a source of information – and a source of inspiration – I hope you’ll choose to act right now.”

I think this one is a no-brainer: save Wikipedia and donate $1 (approximately Rs85) with your credit card here!

Update: Wikipedia reached its stated goal on January 1, 2011. It will remain ad-free.


Hassan Asif

A sub-editor on the web-desk of The Express Tribune

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

More by this writer