Wikipedia’s funding mechanism used to be simple:
If you approach Light City by air—and there is no other way of approaching it, no roads, no port facilities—if you don’t fly they don’t want to see you in Light City—you will see why it has this name. Here the sun shines brightest of all, glittering on the swimming pools, shimmering on the white, palm-lined boulevards, glistening on the healthy bronzed specks moving up and down them, gleaming off the villas, the hazy airpads, the beach bars and so on.
Most particularly it shines on a building, a tall beautiful building consisting of two thirty-storey white towers connected by a bridge half-way up their length.
The building is the home of a book, and was built here on the proceeds of an extraordinary copyright law suit fought between the book’s editors and a breakfast cereal company.
However, the breakfast cereal lawsuit money is apparently running out. That is the only reasonable explanation for the fundraising letter pasted below.
If you haven’t donated to Wikipedia and have ever used it, please send them money. You know that no matter how much you or your friends may make fun of the site, you use it, and it is probably the greatest repository of human knowledge there ever has been.
Nobody needed to make Wikipedia. It was made and is maintained almost entirely by volunteers. And to keep it going and keep it free and public, users need to chip in. I thank you all for donating to this blog earlier in the year. Now, I ask you to please consider giving money to Wikipedia.
Click here to go throw them a few lucas, wouldn’t you?
Here’s the pitch:
Here’s how the Wikipedia fundraiser works: Every year we raise just the funds that we need, and then we stop.
Because you and so many other Wikipedia readers donated over the past weeks, we are very close to raising our goal for this year by December 31 — but we’re not quite there yet.
You’ve already done your part this year. Thank you so much. But you can help us again by forwarding this email to a friend who you know relies on Wikipedia and asking that person to help us reach our goal today by clicking here and making a donation.
If everyone reading this email forwarded it to just one friend, we think that would be enough to let us end the fundraiser today.
Of course, we wouldn’t turn you down if you wanted to make a second donation or a monthly gift.
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.
Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn’t belong here. Not in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others.
When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising, but I decided to do something different. We’ve worked hard over the years to keep it lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.
Thanks again for your support this year. Please help spread the word by forwarding this email to someone you know.