[Foundation-l] Putting the Foundation back in WMF

Brian McNeil brian.mcneil at wikinewsie.org
Fri Nov 23 11:19:57 UTC 2007

I'd like to see the Foundation have a "security blanket" too. Although, the
way I see this is you're more likely to get support from developing
countries before you get it from the developed - in terms of a government
actually giving money.

I'm curious about what impact a project like Wikipedia has on a country's
economy. The database of information at your fingertips has to save a
fortune in research costs for companies all over the world, and from my
perspective I'd be delighted to see a portion of my taxes - no strings
attached - going to the Foundation.

If WMF can survive for another five or so years then the first kids who get
the OLPC XO machines will be seriously starting to contribute in their
native languages. I actually expect a far higher uptake of editing from
these groups than developed countries; also a lower level of vandalism,
because people who have very little value what they have. One of the first
things the OLPC pilot projects have done is introduce the students to wiki
technology. Why? It is the foundation of what the Internet was initially
meant to be - a two way process, information exchange. Uruguay has ordered
100,000 XO machines and plans to have one in the hands of every child within
3-4 years. If they achieve their goal then these kids will be better
connected than many in the developed world. They can't afford to donate, and
it isn't immediately obvious that WMF is helping them. Yet, even with 0.1%
of these kids becoming Wikimedians that's another 400 contributors in their

I know I'm rambling here, but I think there's another fundraiser blog post
in "providing information to the developing world". People in the developing
world need practical information, and they can share it via wiki. Simple
things like the cheapest way to dig a reliable well, or how to efficiently
irrigate a crop are the things that interest them. Ways to incrementally
improve their standard of living because they learn something new.

_in_India%3B_Uruguay_orders_100%2C000_machines, is Wikinews' article on the
OLPC, with Uruguay's order for 100,000 not given a great deal of prominence.
I expect in 5 or so years Uruguay's economy will start to see the payoff
from investing in OLPC, and a significant percentage of the students who've
got the machines will rely on Wikipedia as well as contribute to it.

Projects like OLPC are going to be world-changing for some countries, and
the information available from sites like Wikipedia is going to be a part of

Brian McNeil
-----Original Message-----
From: foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org
[mailto:foundation-l-bounces at lists.wikimedia.org] On Behalf Of phoebe ayers
Sent: 23 November 2007 11:26
To: Wikimedia Foundation Mailing List
Subject: Re: [Foundation-l] Putting the Foundation back in WMF

On Nov 21, 2007 5:58 PM, SJ Klein <meta.sj at gmail.com> wrote:
> Lars,
> On Fri, 16 Nov 2007, Lars Aronsson wrote:
> > there, as a reserve for future meager years?  If the interest rate
> > is 4% then a fund which is 25 times bigger than the budget can
> > support it in whole for ever.  But even a smaller fund might be a
> > good help.  Should donors be given the option of giving to the
> > current budget or giving to the fund?  Has this been discussed?
> This does come up from time to time.  It is tremendously important.
> Being able to choose to give to a limited fund or trust for core
> sustenance would be a great thing.
> I would fundraise aggressively for a trust to support core Wikipedia
> sustenance for the next century.

I completely agree with this.

While I don't doubt that if the announcement was made that "Wikipedia
was going off the air tomorrow", a few wealthy donors would probably
step up, it's awfully hard to be fully independent under those
circumstances. And being able to guarantee baseline minimum operation
would free up fundraising for other areas, as well; many grants, for
instance, don't fund day-to-day operating expenses. It would also
lessen the potential for having to make hard choices when the
fundraisers didn't do well.

A long-term Wikimedia Endowment, specially for keeping the sites up
and backed up and nothing else, could conceivably be of interest to
many donors that wouldn't normally consider giving, as well; academic
institutions, perhaps, or groups concerned with the preservation of
information. Such a project deserves a separate, thoughtful, dedicated
fundraising effort until it happens.

-- phoebe

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