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Wikipedia parent launches fundraising campaign

November 5, 2008 | 12:25 pm

Wikimedia office With 30 million unique visitors a day, Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites out there. But it's also frequently cash-strapped because it doesn't run advertising. Today it launched its annual fundraising campaign, asking users to donate online. The Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia, says it hopes to raise $6 million by Jan. 15, the site's eight-year anniversary. Last year, it raised $1.5 from users, but got grants from foundations and donations from wealthy donors as well.

Wikimedia is already partway to its goal: It has raised $2 million from organizations such as the Sloan Foundation and the Stanton Foundation.

The money raised will go toward operating costs, as well as projects designed to encourage more people to edit articles for the encyclopedia and raise the quality of those already written. Executive Director Sue Gardner said she hoped that by 2020 the Wikipedia user base would reach one in three people around the world that one in 10 people would be active participants.

Recruiting fresh faces could be necessary, as some members talk about a "malaise in the community" and the need for more editors to maintain quality content. As part of a public pat on the back, Wikimedia also is encouraging users to submit stories about how Wikipedia has made their lives easier. The organization will put the most compelling stories on the Wikimedia blog, so if you were about to write in about how Wikipedia allows you to while away the work day reading detailed descriptions of "Entourage" episodes, you probably don't have much of a chance of getting featured.

-- Alana Semuels

Photo: The offices of the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco. Credit: Robert Durrell / Los Angeles Times