Why I Don’t Give Wikipedia Money

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I love Wikipedia. I absolutely love it. It’s helped me through so many areas of my life, so I proclaim my love for it without reservation. It’s helped me with my studies in secondary school, it kept helping me academically in university, and it helps me nowadays professionally. In fact, on many occasions when I just started blabbering what I remembered from my Wikipedia reading, it even helped my personal life by getting me the attention of beautiful girls who genuinely like to converse about the same topics I’m interested in. So you can believe me when I say I love Wikipedia.

But I refuse to donate money to it. And under their current model, you should as well. I remember Wikipedia from waaayyyyyy back. From before they started begging people for money, when they were really a “free” encyclopedia. The first time they did it to supposedly “keep Wikipedia ad-free and independent”, I hoped it would be a one-time round of donations. A one-time mistake that they would learn from. But I knew, in my heart of hearts, that the success the Wikipedia organisation found in people willing to show their love in monetary form, would only make Wikipedia’s decision-makers greedy for more.

And sure enough, the “ads” that started as minimally intrusive requests in their supposedly ad-free space began to become bolder, more audacious, and more demanding, to the point where they use phrases like “It’s that time of the year again”. Kind of like: you know what to do. Give us the money we need to stay open.

Well, I refuse to do that Wikipedia, and I wish every single Wikipedia lover in the world will join me in my refusal. Why? Because it’s lazy, unsustainable, and asks for money for the wrong reasons. For a website that supposedly promotes knowledge, it’s the most ignorantly destructive thing they could ever ask anyone to do.

Wikipedia asks for money to keep their lights on. To keep paying for the expenses of operating the free encyclopedia which brought the world so much good. This means that you give them a little money, they spend it all, then turn around and ask you for some more. I want your boycott of donations to them to encourage them to do what they SHOULD have done with their very first donation campaign.

I want them to start a donation campaign that’s not aimed at keeping the lights on for another year, but rather aimed at keeping the lights on for as long as there is internet in the world. I want them to ask for donations to build a trust fund. Two trust funds. or three. Or another, more stable type of revenue source, whatever. The point is, I want them to ask for money one last time, and then never again. I want them to ask for enough money to establish sources of income or revenue that can not only pay their bills year after year, but also build their reserves in case the world’s safest investments ever take a hit.

I know. That’s a much bigger campaign. A much longer one. The money required to build the kind of revenue streams I’m talking about is so much more than the money they beg from their audience every year. I haven’t crunched the numbers, but I know they’re big. But that’s just it. I believe in Wikipedia’s purpose. I believe in its readers. They…WE can raise the millions (or possibly even billions) needed to build the kind of stable revenue streams I’m talking about.

If Wikipedia’s managing organisation promotes a “never again campaign” I believe that many of those donating a dollar or two or five but can afford to donate more, will donate in the hundreds, possibly even the thousands. I know that if they commit to a transparent plan to build the most stable income streams that they possibly can, I would personally give them as much as I can afford, and I’ve never given them a cent in my life. Imagine how much those who are already donating money to them would give.

In the meantime, I beseech you to stop giving Wikipedia money that only serves a short-term goal. Their independence is already compromised and it gets worse with each new campaign every year. If you know someone who makes decisions for Wikipedia, please, PLEASE have them read this. Forget asking for donations to tide you over. Ask for donations to establish you forever. THEN, I’ll gladly pay you. And so I’m sure, will so many other Wikipedia readers.

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Abdallah Al Alfy

Abdallah Al Alfy

Writer, Commentator, Pharmacist, Some-time poet. Love me. I command it.