In case you haven’t relied upon Wikipedia (I still contend it is NOT a four-letter word.) as an information resource lately, you may not have seen the banner asking you to read the message from Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales.
Visit ANY Wikipedia page and click on the banner link and Jimmy’s message states:
An appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales
I got a lot of funny looks ten years ago when I started talking to people about Wikipedia.
Let’s just say some people were skeptical of the notion that volunteers from all across the world could come together to create a remarkable pool of human knowledge – all for the simple purpose of sharing.
No ads. No agenda. No strings attached.
A decade after its founding, nearly 400 million people use Wikipedia and its sister sites every month – almost a third of the Internet-connected world.
It is the 5th most popular website in the world – but Wikipedia isn’t anything like a commercial website. It is a community creation, written by volunteers making one entry at a time. You are part of our community. And I’m writing today to ask you to protect and sustain Wikipedia.
Together, we can keep it free of charge and free of advertising. We can keep it open – you can use the information in Wikipedia any way you want. We can keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone.
Each year at this time, we reach out to ask you and others all across the Wikimedia community to help sustain our joint enterprise with a modest donation of $20, $35, $50 or more.
If you value Wikipedia as a source of information – and a source of inspiration – I hope you’ll choose to act right now.
All the best,
P.S. Wikipedia is about the power of people like us to do extraordinary things. People like us write Wikipedia, one word at a time. People like us fund it, one donation at a time. It’s proof of our collective potential to change the world.
On the right-hand side of the page is a form to select and send your tax deductable donation of $20, $35, $50 or $100, or you can use your credit card, and even PayPal.
Talk about hard times! I won’t question Mr. Wales’ statement that “Each year at this time, we reach out to ask you … to help sustain our joint enterprise….” But, in my personal experience, I have NEVER seen this banner or this appeal for funding support. And, I’ve made no secret about being a Wikipedia user. I’ve actually been a contributor to Wikipedia in the not too distant past. (IMHO Wikipedia fills an important niche in providing information of not too critical nature. I can’t say I would use Wikipedia for medical information, but as far as preparing for a trip to Hoboken, NJ – SURE!)
My real point is that if Wikipedia has to solicit for funds, that is a sure sign that times are tough. If times are hard for Wikipedia, it’s no wonder that times are hard for funding our local libraries. The ONLY good news is that the funding sources are totally different pots of money.
Believe it or not, the appeal to respective supporters may be very similar between Wikipedia and your local library, in that; “Together, we can keep it free of charge and free of advertising. We can keep it open – you can use the information in Wikipedia any way you want. We can keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone.”
Doesn’t that sound like an appeal you could make to your library supporters? Keep it open. That’s an appeal we constantly make! Keep it free of advertising. Seriously, in this 21st Century climate, commercial advertising in the public library is NOT a far stretch of the imagination. You can use the information … any way you want. Isn’t that exactly what we sell! Keep it growing – spreading knowledge everywhere, and inviting participation from everyone. More of what we espouse – growth, spreading knowledge, and participation from everyone. This is a spot on message!
IN my estimation – This is NOT your Grandpa’s advocacy! Times have changed, issues have changed, needs have changed. Advocate any way that reaches your funders!