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

John Vandenberg jayvdb at gmail.com
Thu Jan 9 03:05:56 UTC 2014

Thanks Erik for a well written overview.

Would it be possible for the WMF to give an estimate on what it would cost
to build and/or what the threshold of annual bitcoin donations would make
it worthwhile building. Someone might be interested in donating
specifically to have this built, or we could obtain pledges to donate to
see if the threshold can be reached.
On Jan 9, 2014 9:06 AM, "Erik Moeller" <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> On Thu, Dec 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM, Steven Walling
> <steven.walling at gmail.com> wrote:
> > In general, I would personally like it if the WMF avoided accepting
> > bitcoin. Today, bitcoin isn't really a functioning currency of exchange
> --
> > it's actually used more as an investment tool to create wealth that
> > naturally appreciates in value, like playing the stock market or buying
> > gold. Avoiding lots of risky investments is something our very competent
> > financial managers already steer clear of, and I see no reason to start
> > taking on more risk now.
> While this is true, a more pragmatic view is that, as long as BTC has
> value to some people, there's no harm in accepting it and transferring
> it to USD the moment we receive any, provided legal/financial issues
> can be addressed with reasonable effort.
> The strongest counter-argument is that we might not actually get a
> donation total that makes this worth our time. The Internet Archive
> has a single-use Bitcoin address that's received a total of <$30K at
> current (insanely high) exchange rates.
> But for me, the main reason not do this sooner is that it would have
> significantly fueled the Bitcoin speculative bubble, and WMF should
> remain neutral on the utility of Bitcoin. At this point though,
> whatever WMF does or doesn't do is just a small drop in the bucket of
> the overall Bitcoin mania, so I'm personally fine with a decision
> being made on pragmatic grounds alone.
> My own view is that Bitcoin has significant design flaws (built-in
> economic inequality, most rational actors will hoard rather than
> spend, doubtful long-term scalability, questionable value as an actual
> currency due to crazy volatility, tendency to centralize power with
> miners, rampant security attacks against BTC holders, etc.), but as
> long as no more severe technical flaws are discovered/exploited, at
> least some value will likely attach to BTC for some time to come, even
> if it's dramatically less than the current exchange rate.
> With that said, I fully defer to our fundraising team on this since
> it's a decision that should be made purely on cost/benefit grounds,
> perhaps by also comparing with other currencies that see relatively
> little use.
> The one unambiguous positive that I see coming out of Bitcoin mania is
> a renewed interest in peer-to-peer networks; the last time that
> happened was about 12 years ago, and it resulted in technologies like
> BitTorrent, Tor, various file sharing networks and many others being
> developed. Experimenting is, overall, a good thing, and no matter how
> this one plays out (and how exhausting a topic it can be given the
> idiocy of coverage about it), I'm optimistic that we will see positive
> ripple effects for the free culture movement.
> Erik
> [1] https://blockchain.info/address/1Archive1n2C579dMsAu3iC6tWzuQJz8dN
> --
> Erik Möller
> VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
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