[Wikimedia-l] Let's accept Bitcoin as a donation method

James Alexander jamesofur at gmail.com
Wed Dec 11 08:50:16 UTC 2013

[completely personal opinion]
To be totally, completely, honest I don't really want us to collect it...
and at this point it's mostly for personal reasons.

First off this isn't really a huge new push to get us to accept bitcoin,
they have been doing this ever 5-6 months in an organized fashion
(frequently, but probably not always, started by some of the big bitcoin
bloggers or payment providers) since at least 2010 when I was involved in
the fundraiser generally trying to shame us and force us to accept it. The
pushes generally include asking everyone to send fundraising emails and
writing as many articles about it as possible. Every time it happens people
say that they are getting angry and it's "a thing". This is actually a
relatively minor burst of activity compared to the past couple years though
the fact that it is happening is to be expected given the fundraiser push
for the end of the year and the publicity that brings.

Part of me wants to say that it just isn't worth the effort. While I'm not
in the FR team anymore so things may have changed the effort to integrate a
new payment system is not tiny because it's actually very important for us
to have automatic tracking into our donation system etc. We used to have
multiple random payment e-wallet/payment methods spread out because people
had created different accounts and they were insanely difficult to keep
track of.

That said while I don't think the effort involved here is
tiny/insubstantial the real reason I don't want to do it is because, at
this point, it's seemed more and more like people wanted us to accept
bitcoin more as a political statement then anything else. That is not our
job, that is not our role, and I do not appreciate someone attempting to
use us to make themselves look more mainstream and accepted. During the
2011 fundraiser the campaign focused on the fact that we accepted
'currencies of anti internet countries' but wouldn't accept bitcoins. We
had integrated an enormous amount of different currencies (though each
individual one was not much work it was really just the original
integration that took forever). The articles and comments at the time
seemed very clearly to me to try and imply that we should not be accepting
these currencies (making it much harder for users in those countries to
give) because they were 'anti internet' and we should accept bitcoin
because it was 'pro internet'. I'm sorry, that's just not how we should be
making decisions.

The articles since then have not seemed any different (and have, perhaps,
seemed even more angry) every time I see stories asking us, or anyone for
that matter, to accept bitcoin it's always couched in the idea that "oh X
and Y accept it so why won't YOU!" and it is very clear that if we start
accepting it every story will include some variation of "Wikipedia accepts
it and therefore how can you say it isn't mainstream!". Very few (i'm sure
they exist, but I haven't found them) of the articles talk about how much
money the non profits or companies are making, they are all about trying to
make a point and prove that we should accept bitcoin because... 'freedom'..
That isn't our job and, again, I don't like people who seem to be out to
use our name for their gain.

Sorry for the bit of a ramble here :-/ at this point whenever I see another
one of these pushes I want to accept bitcoin less and I respect the bitcoin
community a bit less. It's a great idea (with some flaws, but a great idea
none the less) but...this is not how to make it a respectable currency...
it's how to make it look like a niche toy beloved by people trying to push
an agenda :-/


On Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 12:20 AM, David Gerard <dgerard at gmail.com> wrote:

> On 10 December 2013 23:13, Tim Starling <tstarling at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > On 11/12/13 06:58, Tomasz W. Kozlowski wrote:
> >> I'm sure those reading this list can Google the topic themselves, so I
> >> won't link to the many angry discussion that are taking place on the
> >> interwebs right now;
> > I tried Googling, including news and blog searches, and couldn't work
> > out what you are talking about. Maybe you should provide links.
> tl;dr Bitcoin fans really, really want Wikimedia to accept Bitcoin
> donations; Wikimedia is not so interested, but haven't sent a big
> Monty Python-style trademark foot down on Bitpay as yet. Nobody else
> is very aware.
> - d.
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