Fundraising 2011/Alan Letter/systems consultan
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On Wikipedia, I’ve created 2,463 articles. All of them for free.
I’m a systems consultant, working with very large-scale financial computer systems. If the time I’ve spent on Wikipedia were converted to money, it would add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for me.
But money is not the incentive here. You deal in a different currency on Wikipedia. The information is gladly provided by me and thousands of other editors who are happy to create it. We all know the world is better off because that information is freely available.
Of course, the infrastructure supporting that free information is not free, and that’s why once a year we ask for donations. There are no ads on Wikipedia, there’s nothing flashing, there’s nothing on the side of the page, we’re not trying to sell you anything. Wikipedia is untainted by commercial transactions.
We just need your support with $5, €10, ¥1000 or whatever you can afford to keep this information coming to you.
The infrastructure that supports our work, hosted by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, is about as bare-bones as it gets. Google might have close to a million servers. Yahoo has something like 13,000 staff. We have 679 servers and 95 staff.
Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and serves 470 million different people every month – with billions of page views.
The way the economy is built, we assume people only work for money. How else do you get someone to show up for work if they don’t get paid?
At Wikipedia, the will to cooperate and improve knowledge has been harnessed to create an invaluable resource. Culture is not up to the highest bidder. You get unbiased, accurate information. Organized in a thorough fashion, well-documented, well-referenced, up-to-date, whenever you want it.
That seems like a tremendous bargain to me.