Saturday, November 19, 2011

Google Co-Founder Donates $500,000 To Wikimedia

Even as WikiLeaks remains silenced by a lack of funds, another wiki is getting support from high-tech places. Wikimedia, the parent company of Wikipedia, just raked in $500,000 from two heavy hitters.

The Brin Wojcicki Foundation, started by Google co-founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki, awarded the half-million-dollar grant to the Wikimedia Foundation, which runs Wikipedia and its sister sites. The Wikimedia Foundation kicked off its eighth annual fundraiser on Wednesday.

"This grant is an important endorsement of the Wikimedia Foundation and its work, and I hope it will send a signal as we kick off our annual fundraising campaign this week," said Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation. "This is how Wikipedia works: people use it, they like it, and so they help pay for it, to keep it freely available for themselves and for everyone around the world. I am very grateful to Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki for supporting what we do."

Wikimedia Woos Donations

The Wikimedia projects reach more than 477 million unique visitors around the world every month, according to comScore, making Wikipedia the fifth most-popular Web site in the world. Wikipedia is available in more than 280 languages and offers more than 20 million articles contributed by a global volunteer community of more than 100,000 people. The San Francisco-based Wikimedia Foundation is an audited, 501(c)(3) charity.

Rob Enderle, principal analyst at Enderle Group, is pleased to see the support for WikiMedia Foundation. In fact, he said, he donated money to the cause.

"It's a great thing to do. It has become one of the places where students and most of the rest of us now are getting much of our core information Relevant Products/Services. It is a crowdsourced kind of effort and it is not advertiser-supported," Enderle said. "The only way it survives, much like any public effort, is through public support."

WikiLeaks Silenced

By contrast, WikiLeaks, another wiki, has stopped publishing, at least temporarily. The controversial whistleblower Web site run by Julian Assange is having financial challenges. A video Relevant Products/Services on the home page of the site features Assange explaining the dire situation of the site he founded. During the past five years, he said, WikiLeaks has revealed millions of secrets that governments and corporations wanted to hide from people.

Banks started squeezing WikiLeaks in December 2010 after the site released 250,000 confidential cables to the public, a move that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called an attack on America and the international community. She said the leaks were a "tear in the fabric Relevant Products/Services" of responsible government, and the Obama administration was taking "aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information."

"WikiLeaks was branded a terrorist organization and it was locked down from anybody being able to use credit cards to make donations to the site," Enderle said. "I question the free-speech aspects of that. I don't think people should have been disallowed to donate to WikiLeaks. It's very difficult to donate to WikiLeaks now."

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