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Wikimedia Foundation

Mission Statement

To empower every single human being with the ability to freely share in the sum of all human knowledge.

The mission of the Wikimedia Foundation is to empower and engage people around the world to collect and develop educational content under a free license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

Wikimedia is a non-profit charitable corporation organized under the laws of Florida, USA. Fully audited, The Wikimedia Foundation is now listed as a charitable organization at Guidestar and its partner sites. The Wikimedia Foundation has 501(c)(3) tax exempt status in the United States.

The existence of the Wikimedia Foundation was officially announced by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on June 20, 2003. The bylaws of Wikimedia Foundation Inc. are available online.


To develop vehicles and resources that enable the global community to collect and develop neutral educational content under a free content license or in the public domain, and to disseminate it effectively and globally.

First, the Wikimedia Foundation owns the Wikimedia servers along with the domain names and trademarks of all Wikimedia projects and the MediaWiki software. It generally supports all the costs of having the projects up and in working order. Contributors retain the copyright to their own content but must release it under a free license, most commonly the GNU Free Documentation License, allowing anyone to continue to use it for any purpose, in perpetuity. Through this principle of free content, we ensure that our work will never be lost to humankind.

The Foundation also plays an important innovative part in further developing the projects, connecting people, promoting collaboration with other parties, and so on. In particular, each of our projects has unique technological requirements, which are met by our small but efficient team of software developers. The highest priority in 2007 will be a renewed focus on quality assurance. This will include mechanisms to identify trusted versions of content such as Wikipedia articles.

Ensuring success in all endeavors of the Foundation will make it necessary to collaborate with organizations and companies around the planet. Our financial planning includes professional staff who will pursue such strategic partnerships, as well as coordinate our growing network of chapter organizations in various countries.

Facts & figures you should know about Wikimedia[edit]

The Foundation

  • The Wikimedia Foundation is a non profit organization which hosts several free-content projects on the internet.
  • Our projects include Wikipedia, Wikisource, Wikinews, Wikiquote, Wikispecies, Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikimedia Commons, and Wikiversity.
  • Wikimedia Foundation was chartered to develop and maintain the necessary infrastructure for the growing online projects. The corporation, established in the state of Florida, owns the servers and other assets and insures the organizations's expenses are paid.
  • Local chapters have been set up in France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, and Switzerland to support and promote the projects on a national level.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation currently has an office in St. Petersburg Florida, and has only 6 employees. The Foundation also relies on the help of volunteers.
  • The Wikimedia Foundation relies entirely on public donations and grants.
  • Currently, Wikipedia is our most popular wiki. As Wikipedia grew, sister projects were founded to enhance the content of the encyclopedia. Many of these have taken on a life of their own, though they are all part of the Wikimedia family, and there is constant cooperation between them.

Free Content

  • Content in Wikimedia Foundation projects are licensed under copyleft licenses. This means the content is "free content," and may be used for any purpose by anyone. This includes broadcasting and commercial uses.
  • Each contributor to the project agrees to license their contributions under one or more free licenses, such as the GNU Free Documentation or the Creative Commons License. These licenses are designed to allow reuse of the content by others, as well as modification of the material. They do have some restrictions, particularly that any use of the material must also be licenses freely, and that the authors (or their designated agent,such as the Foundation itself) are credited.
  • Using this free content model, articles are able to be modified rapidly and repeatedly by contributors to the projects, letting each author build on the material provided by earlier editors.
  • Articles tend to grow, with large sections splitting off to become their splitting off to become their own related articles.
  • The ability to modify, expand, or delete information

Who are the People in Our Community

  • Any can edit or add content to any of our projects. As a result, no entry has a single author. Instead, 10 or even hundreds of people work together, sharing what they know to edit and improve the content. The result is never-ending work in progress, always getting better through time.
  • Contributors can create an account with a user name and a password, but this is not required. Much of our best work comes from aonymous users, many of them just passing through, who notice a little something that they can tidy up.
  • Many of them become hooked and are soon an integral part of the Wikipedia volunteer community.

NPOV Policy Our neutral point of view policy encourages people from diverse backgrounds to work together. When disputes arise, we have mechanisms in place to resolve them amicably.

The Wiki Technology

The key to our projects is the innovative, and relatively new software known as Wiki. Created by Ward Cunnigham, who is currently on our Advisory Board, this software makes it possible to create a dynamic website, in which all users can edit a webpage quickly and easily, using their personal web browsers. Its easy. It's fast. It's a wiki!

The wiki language, known as wikitext, is much simpler than HTML. It is practically intuitive, so that anyone can learn it in just a few minutes. For example, to italicize text, a user needs to surround it with two apostrophes.

The software used by Wikipedia i sknown as Mediawiki, and was developed with the specific goal of creating an encyclopedia in mind. Today, Mediwiki software is distributed under a General Public License (GPL). It is used by many other wikis, though Wikipedia is still the largest wiki in existence.

How do I become a Wikipedian? Its very easy. All you have to do is go to Wikipedia and begin to edit. Add something you know, expand an article or simply improve its style.

The GNU Free Documentation License Text and most images contributed to WIkipedia is considered to be free content under the GNU Free Documentation License (GDFL). This means that content can be freely used, freely edited, freely copied, and freely distributed.

   * Republication and distribution must be allowed
   * Publication of derivative work must be allowed
   * Commercial use of the work must be allowed
   * Acknowledgement of all authors/contributors of a work may be required.
   * Publication of derivative work under the same license may be required.
   * Use of open file formats free of digital restrictions management may be required.

The Advisory Board The Advisory Board is comprised of 18 individuals well known in their respective fields. Essentially, they provide the Foundation with their expertise and consultation. Geographically diverse, the members are located in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.

Board members include:

  • Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the Wiki technology;
  • Rebecca MacKinnon, former Bureau Chief of CNN Beijing and Tokyo;
  • Erin McKean, Chief Consulting Editor for the Oxford University Press American Dictionaries;
  • Benjamin Mako Hill, Debian hacker and author of the Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible and The Official Ubuntu Book.

All works on Wikisource must be in the public domain or released under a license compatible with the GFDL. It is the responsibility of the contributor to assert compatibility with Wikisource's license. Failure to do so may result in the deletion of the text and potential banning of the user if they persist in violating this. A template should be used on the source material page to indicate the licence that the source material is posted under.

Board of Trustees The Wikimedia Board of Trustees is the ultimate corporate authority in the Wikimedia Foundation Inc., and has the power to direct the activities of the Foundation. The Foundation bylaws may be seen at Wikimedia Foundation bylaws. Other policies set by the Board may be seen at policies.

The Foundation manages the Budget, which pays primarily for computer equipment and hosting. Other costs include human resources necessary to the running of the Wikimedia projects, though most people are volunteers. This site includes a list of notes from Board meetings .

The latest Board decisions may be found at resolutions.

How is the revenue spent?

The majority of WMF expenditures support our programs. Foremost are our expenses for the hardware and bandwidth that keep our websites up and running.

The single greatest expenditure for WMF is hardware, followed by hosting and bandwidth costs. The WMF has seen its inventory of computer hardware increase steadily to meet demand. Here is a frequently updated status of this hardware: Wikimedia hardware status.

The main reason for the increase is our growth in traffic. At the end of the year 2006, Comscore listed "Wikipedia Sites" as the number six site in the world, measured by unique visitors (*). Wikipedia, our flagship website, received about 285,000 page views per minute. The WMF is concerned about the capitalization and operational commitments necessary to keep these systems running reliably. These costs alone will exceed $2.5 million in the year 2007. (*) Excludes traffic from mobile phones, PDAs, and public computers such as Internet cafes.

Domain registration and trademarks are another part of Wikimedia's expenditures. The Foundation already owns some of its active and secondary/tangentially-related domain names, while others are still free or already owned.

Due to the increase in office staff, administrative costs increased. Overall, however, the allocation of expenses for fundraising is low, due to WMF's reliance on online donations for the majority of its revenue. WMF does not engage in "direct mail" advertising campaigns. Given WMF's presence online, it makes sense to communicate and ask for donations in the same virtual space. To date, it has been effective.

Costs have been kept low in the past three years, in particular because the largest majority of people helping are volunteers.

Reliability of our Projects

Self correcting