[Wikimedia-l] [Wikimedia Announcements] Celebrating ten years of Wikimedia Foundation

Jay Walsh jwalsh at wikimedia.org
Thu Jun 20 20:21:54 UTC 2013

Dear friends,

I have the awesome pleasure of notifying everyone today of a special
anniversary. Ten years ago today, Jimmy Wales announced the creation
of the Wikimedia Foundation on the still pretty new Wikipedia-l
mailing list.

Today you'll find a blog post (also posted below) that looks back on
an extraordinary 10 years of growth for the Foundation, our projects,
our movement organizations, and our volunteer community.

Birthdays are often one-day-focused things, but like our recent ten
year anniversary of Wikipedia, I know we'll be thinking about this
incredible milestone over the entire coming year. We look forward to
hearing your reflections and thoughts about the Foundation - whether
your contact with the org started ten days ago or ten years.

Thank you for being a part of the Foundation and part of the Wikimedia
movement. Here's to another huge ten years!


Ten years of supporting free knowledge

Posted by Jay Walsh on June 20, 2013

Ten years ago today, on June 20, 2003, Jimmy Wales announced the
founding of the Wikimedia Foundation. He entrusted the new nonprofit
with the operation of Wikipedia, launched two and a half years prior.

Wales recalled the early days of Wikipedia and marveled that it has
grown to be such an important and ubiquitous source of free
information for the world. “It is hard to imagine that in 2003,
Wikipedia was still running on just two servers – which I used to
administer myself in the beginning,” said Wales, who noted that he
founded the Wikimedia Foundation because he believed Wikipedia would
need the support of a stable and trusted institutional base for years
to come.

The Wikimedia Foundation’s second Board of Trustees (photo taken at
Wikimania 2006). From left to right: Tim Shell, Florence
Nibart-Devouard, Jimmy “Jimbo” Wales, Michael Davis, Angela Beesley

“Ten years later, the Foundation continues to fulfill that role,
thanks to the trust of our millions of donors, the hard work of its
staff, the thoughtful oversight enacted by my fellow Board of Trustees
members and last but not least the many thousands of volunteers who
not only manage and build our projects, but also take an active part
in the governance of the Foundation,” Wales said.

Those two early servers, which belonged to Jimmy Wales’ company at the
time, have now grown to more than 800 servers operated by the
Wikimedia Foundation. They are the backbone of the free knowledge
projects that serve over half a billion readers each month, with 21
billion monthly pageviews. The Foundation also provides the legal
basis for projects, defending them against legal threats and
protecting the trademarks that have come to represent the global
community’s work.

The name “Wikimedia” had been suggested earlier in 2003 by Wikipedia
editor Sheldon Rampton for an endeavour that would “use Wiki-style
rules to enable public participation in the creation and editing of
all kinds of media: encyclopedias and other reference works, current
news, books, fiction, music, video etc.”

During the following decade, Wikipedia was joined by several sister
projects to realize parts of the vision of a world in which every
single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge. The
Foundation continues to work on creating a richer Wikimedia experience
beyond text, making use of the web’s expanding possibilities. It has
also taken on the challenge of sustaining and increasing editor
participation, with projects such as the VisualEditor, the most
complex software development project undertaken by the Foundation so
far, which is already being live-tested on numerous language versions
of Wikipedia, and slated for a full rollout next month.

As part of its commitment to increase access to free knowledge, the
Wikimedia Foundation has launched Wikipedia Zero, a program to
convince telecommunications operators to waive data charges to
Wikipedia for the billions of people around the world whose primary
opportunity to access the internet is via a mobile device. Keeping up
with the mobile revolution on the internet, the Foundation has
upgraded Wikipedia’s interface for mobile users, including introducing
a “Nearby” feature and starting to enable contributions from mobile

Wikimedia Foundation staff (September 2012)

Erik Möller, a volunteer Wikipedian in Germany in 2003, and today the
Deputy Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, highlighted the
importance of this programmatic work. “Today, the Wikimedia Foundation
is well positioned to modernize the user experience and the
infrastructure supporting our projects, while dedicating all its
efforts to the public, working transparently, and releasing code as
open source,” said Möller. “This wouldn’t be possible if Jimmy hadn’t
laid the foundation 10 years ago to dedicate the operation of
Wikipedia and our other projects to a non-profit organization,
supported by a community of donors.”

The Foundation works with a global network of chapters, affiliates and
volunteers in achieving its mission. Several grants programs exist to
support smaller projects by individuals and groups. Last year saw the
launch of the Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC), entrusted with
reviewing larger funding requests from movement organizations and
giving recommendations on the most effective use of donation money to
achieve the movement’s goals. The FDC is volunteer-driven, and two of
its seats are currently up for election by the community, as are three
seats of the Board of Trustees. If you are an eligible Wikimedian,
don’t forget to cast your vote until June 22!

As for Wales, who could have made Wikipedia a commercial venture and
monetized the site’s content with advertising, the decision to
safeguard the future of the Wikimedia projects with a non-profit
couldn’t have been a wiser. “Wikipedia is something special. I like to
compare it to a temple for the mind: A place we can all go to think,
to learn, to share our knowledge with others,” he said.

“The Wikimedia Foundation is here to preserve and nurture that place,
and make sure that Wikipedia remains a shining example of openness and
freedom, a public good that is part of many people’s daily life around
the globe.”

Jay Walsh
Senior Director, Communications

Jay Walsh
Senior Director, Communications
+1 (415) 839 6885 x 6609, @jansonw

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