At The Register, Andrew Orlowski looks at the way Wikipedia is funded and explains why they don’t actually need to pester you for donations (but do anyway):
It’s that time of year again. As the Christmas lights go up, Wikipedia’s donation drive kicks off. Wikipedia claims that the donations are needed to keep the site online. Guilt-tripped journalists including Heather Brooke and Toby Young have contributed to Wikipedia in the belief that donations help fund operating costs. Students, who are already heavily in debt, are urged to donate in case Wikipedia “disappears”.
But what Wikipedia doesn’t tell us is that it is awash with cash — and raises far more money each year than it needs to keep operating.
Donations are funding a huge expansion in professional administrative staff and “research projects”. Amazingly, this year for the first time Wikipedia — the web encyclopaedia anyone can edit — has even found the cash to fund a lobbyist.
All this has been met with dismay by the loyal enthusiasts who do all the hard work of keeping the project afloat by editing and contributing words — and who still aren’t paid. For the first time, Wikipedians are beginning to examine the cash awards — and are making some interesting discoveries.
First, let’s have a look at the finances.