Monday, February 12, 2007

Wikipedia: Out of Cash....Really?

Florence Devouard, chairwoman of the Wikimedia Foundation, has touched off a tempest with her suggestion in a talk at the Lift07 conference that Wikipedia has funding for only another quarter and "might disappear" if donations don't pick up.

Dire stuff ... if true.

According to this post by media producer Philippe Mottaz, Devouard told the audience: "At this point, Wikipedia has the financial resources to run its servers for about 3 to 4 months. If we do not find additional funding, it is not impossible that Wikipedia might disappear."

Nick Carr picked up the thread and wove it into a post headlined "Wikipedia's cash crunch," at which point Wikimedia spokesperson Sandy Ordonez stepped up with this attempt at backpedaling:

"Ms. Devouard's comment was taken out of context," Ordonez claims, although it's difficult to imagine the context in which "might disappear" could be taken differently. "Wikipedia will not be closing any time soon. Ms. Devouard was simply referring to the ongoing, pressing needs for funds that Wikipedia, like most nonprofit organizations, face. Ms. Devouard was attempting to showcase how, because of our global reach, Wikipedia needs to be much more creative in its fundraising efforts."

On the last score there can be little dispute.

But why the talk about disappearing?

As this blogger suggests, Wikipedia's disappearance is an absurd suggestion for the simple reason that it's worth about a zillion dollars as a marketable asset. Of course, Google Wikipedia would be an entirely different beast.

Hyperbole aside, there can be little doubt that the organization is indeed strapped for cash. Its worldwide operations now require 350 servers and they don't run themselves.

When you think about the impact that Wikipedia has had upon our society - not all of it good, certainly - it's astounding that the organization tasked with keeping it afloat has to resort to bake sales and begging. When last we checked in on Wikipedia's fundraising efforts they were closing in on a $1 million, with the current total about $1.1 million. They say they need $5 million a year to sustain operations.

interesting, for starters, i cant even imagine living without Wiki (Cmon! do you really think all those people pretending to be know-it-all drop from sky?) it actually brings up some nostalgia, a long time ago, i remember reading a Column in CHIP (Indian version) written by my favorite journalist: Charles Assisi , he pointed how if Google buys out Wikipedia (or starts to stick it's grubby paws in it) how Wiki would eventually melt into Google groups of some similar rubbish like it. really, i love Google but i certainly can't stand them Eating Wiki like they did to YouTube (thought, i really couldn't care less about YouTube) whatever happens, it will surely cause a shockwave on the net, if you're rich or have few bucks to spare. go to Wikipedia's Donation section and make yourself useful.

Source for the original news: NetworkWorld

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