Is Wikipedia worth kicking in a few bucks for?

No matter what I call up on Wikipedia today, at the top of the page is a big link to this:

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,

Jimmy Wales

Founder, Wikipedia

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.

Wikipedia is to me probably the most useful thing on the Web, or perhaps tied with Google for that distinction.

A lot of people badmouth it — but while it may have its flaws as a result of being open to the world, it also stands as a more complete, and certainly more up-to-date, source of information than anything I’ve ever seen.

Sure, the thrust of an article can be bent by the bias of the unknown author, but hey, the same was true of encyclopedias — which were dead, pitiful little things by comparison.

Wikipedia has no equal when it comes to being a reliable source for basic, factual info, as a check for one’s own memory. It’s the quickest way to find out the little things that may nag you, such as “who was Al Smith’s running mate in 1928?” or “who wrote ‘Soldier of Love (Lay Down Your Arms)’?” Or “who was The Beatles’ manager before Brian Epstein?”

Maybe things like that don’t bother you, but they do me.

Maybe, if I can sell another ad or two, I should kick in a few bucks…

9 thoughts on “Is Wikipedia worth kicking in a few bucks for?

  1. Jesse S.

    Yes, you should. If not for the value as a reference material, than as the greatest social experiment of the decade.

    Now if someone would just get Wikibooks ball rocking and rolling we would have great, “free” learning texts. The idea of a kid having access to any subject no matter how poor their school district is, just makes me giddy. Man, do I envy today’s kids.

  2. Nick Nielsen

    I’ve used Wikipedia for years. It’s infinitely easier that schlepping a half-ton of out-of-date-as-soon-as-they-were-printed reference books and encyclopedia sets everywhere I go.

  3. Hunter

    I use it numerous times daily. A science teacher from the States visited us last year and she said they discourage their students from using it but I got the feeling that she was about 5 years behind.

    Twenty years ago I might spend three hours trying to find out one bit of info for a technical document I was editing. Now it might take all of 10 seconds. Great for acronyms too.

    Wiki haa got to be the No. 1 tool of corporate and technical writers. As far as I know it hasn’t steered me wrong once.

  4. Kathryn "Blue" Fenner

    Heck, in another year, Wikipedia will BE my newspaper. What’s left in The State that I can’t get from the source better–a few articles on city politics, Cindi’s analyses, and Amanda McNulty…

    They even shut down the Real Estate section….and we have two days of “newsletter” papers now…


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