Readers' donations help Wikipedia avoid ads, access charges

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London, Jan 5 (ANI): A Christmas appeal by Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has helped the website avoid the compulsion to carry ads and introduce access charges, as concerned readers have successfully raised a whopping 6 million dollars to cover its running costs for 2009.

Jimmy Wales, the founder of the free online encyclopaedia, made a personal appeal after donations fell short to raise 6 million dollars, even after launching a campaign seeking donations on November 3 last year.

While money was coming in at the rate of about 30,000 dollars per day, it looked as if the drive would fail to meet its goal, as the website had just raised 1.5million dollars and was still short of 4.5million dollars to cover costs last year.

Wales' threat that the website would be forced to carry advertisements or charge for access hit the right chord with the readers, as the plea turned out to be the most successful online fundraising campaigns ever.

Wales took the reins of the campaign in his hands and published a personal appeal for donations on December 23, warning that the site might be forced to start carrying adverts and even introduce a subscription fee if the target was not met.

Currently, the site does not feature any advertisements and is free for everyone.

"Wikipedia is different. It's the largest encyclopaedia in history, written by volunteers. Like a national park or a school, we don't believe advertising should have a place in Wikipedia. We want to keep it free and strong, but we need the support of thousands of people like you. I invite you to join us: Your donation will help keep Wikipedia free for the whole world," the Independent quoted him as saying in the letter he posted online.

And his idea clicked, for the website received a humongous 8,186 donations within 24 hours, as compared to just 800 the previous day.In fact, before Wales' appeal went online, the site, which attracts about 254 million visitors a month, was receiving about 30,000 dollars a day.

However, the figure rose to over 215,000 dollars after the letter was published.

And, on January1, the total value crossed the crucial 6 million-dollar mark.

While many of the donations came from individual users, starting from as little as 5 dollars, the largest was an annual pledge of 1m dollars for three years.

In fact, an anonymous donation of 250,000 dollars was also received and Arcadia, a grant-making group based in London, doled out 100,000 dollars.

Jay Walsh, a spokesman for Wikipedia, said: "We're really thrilled that people have come out in force and made a clear statement that they care about this cause and they care about Wikipedia, even though we were kind of nervous after the economic news became really clear." (ANI)

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