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How do I help build Wikipedia?
Thank you for your interest in helping to improve Wikipedia. Wikipedia relies on volunteers who generate and maintain all content as well as creating policies and guidelines to govern the site. It is a collaborative project, with people from all over the world bringing their skills and interests to join in the compilation and dissemination of knowledge to everyone, everywhere, free of charge. The other projects we maintain are also collaborative, crowd-sourced projects that rely on volunteers.
There are a number of ways you can join in.
- Do you like to research or write? Did you know that you can contribute to Wikipedia's articles directly? Each language Wikipedia has information about contributing to in the links on the side, sometimes under a pull-down title like "Interactions". The English Wikipedia's tutorial is en:Wikipedia:Tutorial.
- Do you like to take photographs? Draw pictures? Design charts, maps or put together audio files? There is a place for you, too! Media files that you have created which have encyclopedic value and which you're willing to donate can be uploaded to Wikimedia Commons, where they can be used on Wikipedia and other Wikimedia Foundation projects, as well as elsewhere! See How to create an account (short intro by Maggie Dennis).
- Are you a programmer or web developer or interested in becoming one? Did you know that even the software Wikipedia uses is largely developed by volunteers? If you're interested in pitching in there, please see How to become a MediaWiki hacker.
Since the Wikimedia Foundation is an online service provider, not a publisher, we do not actually take an active hand in governing the communities. Most of its policies and practices are created by volunteers, who can best help if you have questions about the volunteering experience. If you would like more information, you may want to visit the "help" forums linked on the left hand side of each page on our website to learn where questions can be addressed to the community, or you might want to write firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something wrong is being done on a Wikimedia project, how do I fix it?
Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia (as explained at Wikipedia:Introduction), and so anyone may edit its articles. It does have policies governing article development, which were also created by community collaboration. In a nutshell, information in articles must be verifiable to reliable sources, as defined by the community, and must be written from a neutral point of view, representing all majority and significant-minority views fairly and without bias. (See Wikipedia:Five pillars.)
There is no central authority over Wikipedia. The Wikimedia movement is based in part on the premise that good articles are achievable through the checks and balances editors provide for each other. When editors disagree on how to achieve these goals, they must resolve disputes through consensus, drawing on the wider community where necessary. You can read more about the dispute resolution processes at WP:DR. A list of ways people can seek dispute resolution can be found at Wikipedia:Dispute resolution requests. You will note in reading those pages that dispute resolution process also exist to resolve behavioral disputes - if editors believe that others are obstructing the proper development of Wikipedia, the community is the avenue of appeal for that as well.
If you believe that article content is being developed in a manner inconsistent with the policies discussed above, or that editors are obstructing the proper development of Wikipedia, I would encourage you to join the community in working through the issues within the dispute resolution process. You don't even need to log in to edit, although creating an account gives you more options and helps you keep track of your contributions. You can create an account at en:Special:UserLogin/signup. Wikipedia:Introduction and Wikipedia:Tutorial are useful reading for newcomers. I would encourage you to refer back to the Five Pillars, linked above, and especially the fourth section in your engagement with others, as following these principles is generally very helpful in successful collaboration.
Where do donations come from?
- The Huffington Post wrote on February 6 that Wikipedia donors are most likely to be from India: . Is that true? Where do most donors live? Where does most of the money come from?
Wikipedia and the other projects rely on the generosity of donors from all over the world. In 2011, money was donated from over 200 different countries. Donors from India have certainly been generous in their support, with 39,000 people investing in the mission. However, India is not the country that produces the most donors to support Wikipedia and its sister projects.
It seems that this misunderstanding may arise from some confusion about a recent survey. The Wikimedia Foundation surveyed readers, not donors, and the readers who responded were asked about their willingness to donate. In their responses, readers from India (42%) expressed the strongest interest in donating to Wikipedia. This does not, however, reflect the actual demographic distribution of donors to the movement.
In 2011, most of the donors to support the movement were located in the United States of America, with 535,666 people donating. Other countries with a high number of donors - over 39,000 - include Germany (more than 160,000), Italy (77,200), Canada (58.141), Australia (43,857), the United Kingdom (more than 45,000), and Russia (42,693). The United States is also the country that donates the largest amount of money, with donations totaling $14,398,721 USD in 2011. Germany was second in dollar amount. While all of the figures may not yet be in for the fundraiser that was held at the end of the year, as of this writing their total tally for 2011 is $5,430,724 USD. Also filling out the top five were the United Kingdom, France, and Canada, where donations totaled $1,682,151 USD, $1,345,933 USD and $1,334,899, respectively.
(Thanks to the Head of Annual Fundraiser Megan Hernandez for her assistance with this response. Dollar amounts are taken from the still evolving chart "2010-2011 Fundraiser by Country". Numbers are preliminary and may change, as not all bank transfers and checks have been tallied. Precise figures for numbers of donors throughout the year are not currently available for some areas where local chapters conducted fundraising, but in Germany and the United Kingdom the numbers known exceed 39,000.)
While certain countries may have greater numbers of donors and may collect higher amounts, the Wikimedia Foundation recognizes and appreciates the contributions of individuals everywhere. Its mission is global, and its supporters are global as well; whether one donor in Djibouti or 6,500 in Poland, $5 USD in Tonga or $748,258 USD in Japan, every donor and every dollar represents commitment to our shared dream of a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
Finance: The difference between charging for services and asking for donations
What's the difference between selling Wikipedia and asking for donations? Are the projects really "free" if you ask for money from people who read it?
The Wikimedia Foundation's core mission is to encourage the growth, development and distribution of educational materials and to provide these to the public free of charge. The Foundation does not want to limit access to these educational resources to those who can afford to pay and are in fact always looking for more ways to get the information out there, even to people who do not have access to the internet. The difference between asking for donations and charging for Wikipedia and the other projects is that the donor model allows the Foundation to gather enough revenue to continue offering the projects without requiring payment. People can contribute financially if they are able and so inclined, but if they are not in position to pay can continue to access the resources for free.
Foundation: Where does the Foundation stand on the "Stop Online Piracy Act"?
Because the Wikimedia Foundation is based in the United States, it is subject to U.S. law, and the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act has caused a lot of conversation amongst the volunteers who support our projects. The Foundation has been asked by several to clarify its position on the bill, and General Counsel Geoff Brigham released a statement on the Wikimedia Foundation blog detailing some of his thoughts about it and its potential impact.
Finance: Why don't you advertise?
The Wikimedia Foundation is occasionally asked why it doesn't turn to advertising to raise the money it needs.
The Foundation is not against the world of online advertising or against other organizations that host ads, but it does not believe that advertising belongs in a project devoted to education, particularly one that is driven by the values consistent with a balanced, neutral encyclopedia. The global volunteer community has always felt that advertising would have a major effect on our ability to stay neutral and that ultimately ads would weaken the readers' overall confidence in the articles they are reading. Even if advertisers put no pressure on us to slant articles to their favor, readers may fear that they exert an influence, consciously or otherwise.
In addition, the Foundation has strong views about reader privacy. Current models for web advertising are inconsistent with these, particularly contextual advertising, which reads the content you are viewing. The Foundation also thinks it intrusive to deliver ads to readers based on their geography.
If you'd like to read more about the history of discussions about advertising Wikipedia - including both pros and cons - the volunteer community has written a page about it at Wikipedia:Advertisements.
How does the Wikimedia Foundation support diversity?
- What is the Wikimedia Foundation's policy on "affirmative action", in both hiring and editing practices? How does it promote diversity?
The Wikimedia Foundation is committed to equality. Its non discrimination policy prohibits discrimination against prospective users or employees on the basis of race, color, gender, religion, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, or any other legally protected characteristics. In accordance, in keeping with its policy on pluralism, internationalism, and diversity, it solicits employees and contractors from around the world and takes proactive steps to create from the resulting diverse community of employees and contractors a cohesive, functioning team.
In terms of volunteer contributions, that non discrimination policy is built into the way our website works. Reading and editing our projects is open to people without any regard to their race, color, gender, religion, or other personal factors; because we do not require demographic information from volunteer contributors, we do not know this information about the people who choose to edit. That doesn't mean that the Wikimedia Foundation is uninterested in this information. We do conduct surveys of editors which explore in part the diversity of the editing community. The first such study was conducted in April 2011; the results can be read here. Demographic information begins on page 18. A second survey was conducted later in 2011, with results here. Demographic data begins on page 5. Reporting on the 2012 editor survey is currently ongoing; we will have a better idea of the demographic trends of our volunteer contributors after this is complete. (You can read more about this, and also see the results when posted, here.)
One of the ways we are working to encourage diversity is in raising our profile around the world, making sure that as many people as possible are aware of and have access to our projects. For instance, with Wikipedia Zero we seek to reduce barriers to accessing and contributing to free knowledge in developing countries by helping to coordinate mobile access to Wikipedia free of data charges. For many readers in developing countries, their primary (and often only) access to the internet is via mobile. You can read more information about this program at Mobile partnerships.
Does the Wikimedia Foundation actively support a free and open Internet? How?
Does the Wikimedia Foundation actively support a free and open Internet? How?