Disclaimer: This article is my personal viewpoint on Wikipedia's donation request. Others may have a different viewpoints and I fully respect for them as well.
Usually, I wake up around 6-6: 30 am. But today I had a little early morning, around 4:30. I prepared a strong coffee, which gave my mind a sharp freshness. I thought I would use this morning's freshness to pen-down a new article.
So I just walked into my work-desk, flapped on my laptop, and tried to research the topic that had been on my mind for the last few days.
When I started googling, the first link to appear in the result was from Wikipedia. I am a long-time fan of Wikipedia for its simple yet powerful content. So I clicked on the link to find out some basic information.
To my surprise, while I was reading the material, there was a notice on top left corner of which Wikipedia was asking me for donations.
Wikipedia asking me for donation? But they have $60 Million cash reserve with them so why do they need my money.
I used to think that Wikipedia is the world's largest repository of information. They must have a lot of business, resources, money, and what not? They are the competitor of Amazon, Google, or Facebook in the Internet business.
Then why are they asking for money for the free content that other people are contributing to Wikipedia’s site?
Then I thought that it might be my assumption. Perhaps the reality is somewhat different. So I decided to do a quick check. And at last, my query converted from "Why is this big company asking for money?" to "Why haven't I contributed to this big company yet?".
Yes, they are big, very big but not because of resources and money. They are large because they have the world's largest Internet writers and readers community.
Wikipedia is a subsidiary of the non-profit organization "Wikimedia"
Some facts about Wikipedia:
15 January 2001 , Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger started this website to create world's largest community driven free Encyclopaedia.
About 1.5 billion users visit Wikipedia every month. It is the 5th most crowded website in the world.
Wikipedia ranks 14th in Alexa ranking.
Currently 54 million articles are available in this vast encyclopaedia, of which 6 million are in English only.
300 languages are supported on this website. Even the articles in many regional languages are available.
Worldwide it has 1.28 lakh, active contributors. They regularly update the content and help to keep it in a strong position in terms of authenticity and fairness.
Almost every new important event or information gets registered in this portal within a few minutes.
They do not run any advertisements on this platform and it will remain the same forever (as they promised).
What will Wikipedia do with my money?
All these magnificent numbers is a challenge to sustain such a spectacular initiative.
They have 5 data centers worldwide, with hundreds of servers running behind them. In addition, a rich technological infrastructure is supporting the website so that it can always be up and running to serve billions of users without delay.
The expense in developing and maintaining such a scaled website is high. For an open-source platform and a non-profit organization, there are only a few options available to sustain:
Either they sell the organization,
Or start other’s advertisements on the portal to make good money out of it,
Or adapt a subscription-based business model where a customer needs to pay a monthly fee to read the article,
Or they contact their users directly for a monetary contribution to keep them open-source or non-profit organization forever.
Out of all of the above options, I found the last approach most suitable, and my reasons for it are on my fingertips as well:
I do not like an advertisement popping out when I am reading a thoughtful article.
I do not like biased articles. If Wikipedia would be sold for monetary reasons, such articles might grow in it.
The owner company can use it as a profit-making platform and then the whole purpose of the “volunteer-driven” encyclopaedia will be defeated.
I don't want Wikipedia in a subscription-based model as well because there are a lot of underprivileged people in the world who need free and authentic knowledge on the Internet.
So if we can contribute a few bucks to Wikipedia to run its servers forever, it will be our contribution to the whole world.
It is true that they have a good $60M cash reserve but it is also true that they have to think for a long term goal. In future I may have a different opinion but my current opinion is in the favour of this donation.
So today I contribute a few bucks to Wikipedia which always makes me rich with knowledge.
Also, this article is a small attempt to highlight the importance of contributions to Wikipedia.