I just did something I’ve never done before. I donated to Wikipedia. I did it because they asked, because they can’t exist without donations, and because I want them to continue to exist—because the free give-and-take of information makes the world a better place, and I like the way Wikipedia enables Web users to freely give and take information.
Why am I telling you this on a blog about writing? Writers depend on access to information. I know that Wikipedia lacks authority—crowdsourcing has flaws—but Wikipedia has a unique value. Anyone can get quick, helpful answers there to round out the information available elsewhere. I do it all the time. When I see flaws, I can fix them. So can you.
If Wikipedia makes your life better, too, please read on. Here’s a letter, posted on the donation page, from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and serves 500 million different people every month – with billions of page views.
Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia.
Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.
When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission efficiently.
If everyone reading this donated $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. But not everyone can or will donate. And that’s fine. Each year just enough people decide to give.
This year, please consider making a donation of $5, $20, $50 or whatever you can to protect and sustain Wikipedia.