We interrupt our Chile travelogue for the following important Public Service Announcement:
I donated to Wikipedia and got an e-mail they wanted me to email to a few friends. I thought I’d send it through my social media channels instead:
Your donation covers not only your own costs of using Wikipedia, but also the costs of other Wikipedia readers.
Like the retired farmer in upstate New York who’s using Wikipedia to study the science of sludge, and the student in Kuala Lumpur who’s researching organic chemistry. The British mechanic who, after he broke his back in an accident, used Wikipedia to retrain himself as a web developer. The civil servant in Finland who set up an offline version of Wikipedia for a small school in Ghana. And the father in Mexico City who takes his little daughters to the museum on weekends, and uses Wikipedia to help them understand everything they’re seeing there.
Wikipedia’s job is to bring the sum total of all human knowledge to everyone around the world in their own language. That’s a pretty audacious mission, but with 30 million articles and 287 languages, I’d say that thanks to you and people like you, we are getting there.
On behalf of the Wikimedia Foundation, and the half-a-billion other Wikipedia readers around the world: thank you. The fact that you are helping to pay the costs of running Wikipedia means it can stay ad-free and independent of bias, focused solely on helping its readers. Exactly as it should be.
You may have noticed that for the first time this year we’ve tweaked our fundraising so that most people will only see the banners a handful of times, instead of for weeks. That’s deliberate: we don’t want people to get irritated by too many appeals. But it does mean that fewer people will figure out we’re a non-profit, and that we want their help. So if you’re willing, I’d appreciate if you’d help spread the word by forwarding this e-mail to a few of your friends.
And I’d love if you’d try joining us in helping to write Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s written entirely by volunteers — tens of thousands of ordinary people around the world, exactly like us. If you see a typo or a small mistake on Wikipedia, please fix it. If you know anything worth adding, please add it. Some people find it remarkably satisfying, and maybe you will too.
Thank you again. I very much appreciate your trust in us, and I promise you: we will use your money carefully and well.
Many employers will match employee contributions which doubles your donation: please check with your company to see if they have a corporate matching gift program. You can follow us on Twitter, identi.ca or Google+, like us on Facebook and read our blog. Here is the Wikimedia Foundation annual report for 2011-12, the Wikimedia Foundation annual plan for 2013-2014 and the Wikimedia Foundation’s five-year strategic plan. You can also now buy Wikipedia merchandise at shop.wikimedia.org.
While Wikipedia isn’t perfect and shouldn’t always be relied on as a single source, I think it makes a great starting point. Nearly every article I’ve seen has good bibliographies that can be used for further exploration. I also think it is a major pop-culture repository and this is a good thing.
Even if you can only afford $5, that will help Wikipedia in its mission.