Wikipedia, unlike Google and Government, is but an unnecessary evil.
Getting on Wikipedia now you will most likely run into one of those, “Click here for a personal appeal from Jimmy Wales.” Who, of course, is the founder to Wikipedia. After he stuffs you full of self-righteous, gewy, kumbya trash, he asks you to hand over 4 billion dollars. Well he doesn’t want every individual to give him 4 billion dollars, he just wants us to collectively get him 4 billion dollars. That’s not selfish, right?
I mean, what does it really cost to run that site? He even boasts at the beginning of his pitiful plea, “I’m a volunteer,” “I don’t get paid a cent,” bla, bla, bla. Slowly and carefully building a false façade of altruism. He also notes that none of the people who work for Wikipedia get paid. So why does he need money? He’s built a site that runs itself with the help of employees and millions of contributors.
Okay, okay, I know, he has to pay for the domain of his blog and several other branch sites. Jimbo states, “If all of Wikipedia’s 400 million users would donate $10 each, we would have 100 times the amount of money we need. We’re a small organization, and I’ve worked hard over the years to keep us lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.” Okay, so you would like to have $4 billion — I can understand that — but it takes $40 million just to run the place? And even if it did take 40 million to run the site, he’s asking for $4 billion? What happens to the other $3.96 billion dollars? Are you sure you don’t get paid a cent? Or do donations count as salary?
He also claims in a different grovel for money, “If everyone reading this donated a dollar, we would be able to keep Wikipedia strong, secure, and ad-free.” But is there a “donate one dollar” option in the donation box? Nope. I’ve noticed a difference though, when you click on one of the header appeals the donation box is different from when you go to the normal “donate to Wikipedia” page. The header appeal has an option of $5, but just your every-day donation box starts at $20. Weird.
Thomas Sowell has some words of wisdom when dealing with Non-profits that claim to be heavenly angels who’s only weapon is their appeal:
The fact that some organizations’ income is called profit and other organizations’ income does not change anything economically, however much it may suggest to the unwary that one institution is greedy and the other is not. Many heads of non-profit organizations recieve far more money in salary than the average owner of a store or a restaurant receives in profits.
…[T]he money received by a non-profit organization primarily from…donors and — indirectly — from the taxpayers who pay the additional taxes made necessary by the tax exemptions of non-profit organizations. That gives the managers of non-profit organization far more room to do what they want…The fact that a non-profit organization can provide its services free or below cost virtually assures a market for its output…Despite a tendency in the media to treat non-profit organizations as disinterested, those non-profits which depend on continuing donations from the public have incentives to be alarmists, in order to scare more money out of their contributors.” –Basic Economics: A Citizen’s Guide to the Economy (Basic Books, 2004, 3rd Edition) by Thomas Sowell, p. 387-388.
You mean, “non-profits which depend on continuing donations from the public,” like Wikipedia? Wow! Where did their appeal go? Wikipedia has been known to be alarmist on issues such as climate change. And, despite their vision of putting unadulterated knowledge of the world into one URL link, they are known to have several other cases of bias on their articles. (Yes, smack me on the head, that was a link to “Conservapedia” but the biases are well documented.) Wikipedia seems to look a lot less paradisaical, especially when they lock a page so that now Wikpedia frames the debate and gets to say what is true. What happened to openness?
Wikipedia is used by many people as a starting point (and, unfortunately, sometimes an ending point) for research, or just random information. Can you trust it? No, not really. At least, not on controversial issues. With the ability for anyone to edit Wikipedia it has become a political battle ground rather than an ambrosial data base. If everyone was basically good, if we lived in Utopia, Wikipedia would work. But since politics exists, it doesn’t. They might have a date or an established fact you can get anywhere else, but it’s not a source for objectivity on hot topics.
Wait, if Wikipedia is only good for information I can get anywhere else, doesn’t that mean it’s effectively pointless? Yep.