back to article Wikipedia Foundation exec: Yes, we've been wasting your money

The outbound exec of Wikipedia's tin-rattling nonprofit has admitted the organisation wastes public donations – and says procedures should be fundamentally changed to avoid corruption and self-interest. In a candid statement, Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, says she wants the worker bees rewarded …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. JimC

    What, pay the creators?

    They'll get in trouble with their sponsors if they move away from the principle that content should be provided by the naive exploited who should just be grateful to see their text visible in public...

    1. Turtle

      Re: What, pay the creators?

      "What, pay the creators?"

      If Wikipedia did so, then they'd no longer be Web 2.0.

    2. cyborg

      Re: What, pay the creators?

      I remember when geocities was around people were happy to make a hobby website on their subject of choice.

      Some people just have a passion to share their knowledge and experience on the things they care about without worrying about whether or not they can get microtransactions out of people.

      1. Turtle

        @ cyborg

        "Some people just have a passion to share their knowledge and experience on the things they care about without worrying about whether or not they can get microtransactions out of people."

        That's true, of course. But as long as Wikipedia is going to be throwing money around, shouldn't the people who actually create the content that draws people to Wikipedia in the first place get some of that money?

        And although they are willing to work for free, why shouldn't they have first claim on the income their work produces? That they are willing to work for free in no way makes it right for them to be exploited in the way that Wikipedia exploits them.

        Wikipedia raises tens of millions of dollars a year, which is many times more than their actual expenses. I've seem their expenses for hosting and bandwidth estimated at $2 million a year. Even if the cost has grown since that estimate was put together, the amount of unnecessary money they receive is astounding.

        Do you know many people who go to Wikipedia to administrators administrate, or do whatever it is that they do in order to justify their paycheck? Then why are *they* getting the money and not the people who create the articles that are the real reason for Wikipedia's popularity?

        1. cyborg

          Re: @ cyborg

          "And although they are willing to work for free, why shouldn't they have first claim on the income their work produces?"

          Well they gave anyway that right according to the licencing terms.

          If any individual feels that is not what they wanted they are entirely free not to contribute to Wikipedia.

          So really it's a problem that solves itself if you have a problem with Wikipedia:

          Don't donate. Don't contribute. Done.

          Besides that I disagree with the underlying assumption this is "work" and not "fun" just because someone is making money. The point being if one has already got the benefit of contributing should one really feel put out after the fact if someone else is making money off it? Some may be but then if that was a concern to you in the first place maybe pay more attention to these things? I can see why people would have a visceral reaction to this but really that doesn't fundamentally make whoever is making the money wrong. You were happy to contribute before, your happiness shouldn't be negated afterwards.

          For the record I have neither contributed nor donated to Wikipedia but I have seen various things I've written of use (mainly arcania on the ZX Spectrum and Z80 and Duke Nukem 3D) pop up on various places I didn't originally put them. With no realistic expectation of ever making money off these things in the first place I can't say that I am necessarily bothered if someone else does with the caveat that they are not selling them directly to people what they can get for free. For me the joy was in the writing and the publication and the fact that people found entertainment or use from them. If I had intended to make money off them then it would be another story but I didn't so it isn't.

  2. Zack Mollusc


    In these days of recession and bankruptcy, it is nice to see an organisation actually expanding into a proper business, with corruption, self-interest and now the token empty promises of jam tomorrow.

    Well done, Wikipedia. You have come a long way.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yay!

      @Zack - "Well done, Wikipedia. You have come a long way."

      Yup, they have come a long way - instead of thousands of broken links and misquoted references, they now have tens of millions of broken links and misquoted references.

      If they are going to pay editors, they should find some that can actually edit, instead of building the world's largest cesspool of misinformation, rumor, and outright slander. I shudder to think how incredibly stupid future generations will be if they rely on this kind of crap as an "encyclopedia".

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    (in the voice of Leonard Nimoy)

    The Wikipedia Foundation is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding Wikipedia Foundation.

    1. wowfood

      Re: (in the voice of Leonard Nimoy)

      For some reason Leonard Nimoy morphed into Morgan Freeman in my head.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh. Like any other charity.

    Someone, somewhere looks at the money and realises they could pay themselves either more than they're earning now or same thing for less time. As if by magic, a shopkeeper bureaucracy appears.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      our Charity (of which I'm one of the 5 founding directors), bar the 4 youth workers directly employed full time, pays bugger all out, in fact I estimate it costs me about £100 a year to help out as well as a few hundred hours per year.

      Not all charities are the same (usually the larger ones are the ones you are thinking of).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Odd...

        Agree, I was involved in setting up a charity several years ago and seem to recall that our articles specifically prevented the charity paying any of the directors/trustees who ran it anything other than expenses.

    2. Spleen

      Like any charity that employs more than, say, 50 people then. I thought it was pretty obvious that Moiety was talking about national and supranational 'third sector' 'charities' of the likes of Oxfam, RSPCA, Greenpeace etc, not proper local charities.

    3. BillG

      The outbound exec of Wikipedia's tin-rattling nonprofit has admitted the organisation wastes public donation

      And I'm shocked, shocked, that gambling is going on in this establishment!

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Encyclopaedia Galactica

    The sum of all human knowledge by definition must include a knowledge of both corruption and bureaucratic waste and empire building!

    The best way way to write knowledgeably about anything is by having direct experience.

  6. WhoaWhoa

    Will there be a parallel article about El Reg?

    Would be interesting to compare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Since El Reg is a private business it would difficult for them to waste your money.

      They are free to waste their own money as much as they want.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Yeh. Hey, El Reg! Where's me money! I've spent ages composing, typing and editing this post - distilling my wisdom into these few sage words - and adding value to your site. And I want paying! Where's me dosh?

      And don't think you can fob people off with virtual badges, in order to keep all the money to yourselves either!

      Ooh shiny! What was that I was saying?

  7. Metrognome

    Still, for all its flaws it's refreshing to see the headhoncho airing the dirty linen as publicly as she has.

    And while it suffers from many flaws I still respect what it has achieved, especially thinking that private enterprises and governments hadn't come close.

  8. Buzzword

    Parallels with blood donors

    Paying the creators could backfire spectacularly. Like blood donors, many current editors contribute because they feel it's the right thing to do, not because they're paid for it. Where paid blood donations have been trialled, the quality of donated blood drops precipitously as all the petty drug users discover a quick way to make a few bucks, and the quality donors drop out because it no longer has any cachet.

    1. breakfast

      Re: Parallels with blood donors

      The Administrators, who I took the article to be considering paying, are the people who put in their time to managing the content users provide in addition to any content provision they are doing. One would hope that by the time someone was appointed to that role, they would have shown reasonable skill as editors.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not quite

    "Editors (or "Administrators" in Wiki parlance)"

    No. Editors are editors (registered with usernames or unregistered and known only by IP address at the time), administrators are a subset of the editors that have been given certain administration tools (locking pages, blocking editors etc)

    In theory they are supposed to be the more reliable and level-headed but they are only human and so fallible

    1. The Indomitable Gall

      Re: not quite

      What do you mean, "no"? Your argument is based entirely on the Wikipedia definition of "editor", whereas the Register is using the term "editor" as defined by the publishing/press industry. Of which they are a part.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: not quite

        well, the article now says:

        Contributors (or "editors" in Wiki parlance) are becoming increasingly feisty. A fortnight ago editors rebelled against

  10. Steve Crook

    Shock horror

    Money gets thrown away in waste or corruption in organisation that doesn't have proper controls over what happens to its money. Who knew?

    That the waste and corruption was revealed by someone who has just left the den of thieves is not exactly news either. Why is it that they never say ANYTHING publicly while they're in post? Why not try to do something about it first and then resign or get sacked?

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Maybe she did try internally, but was stonewalled at every turn and ended up resigning in disgust.

      Now she's saying why.

  11. RISC OS

    Yeah, wasting money paying you too...

    ...the real reson people can't be arsed anymore to add content is because the anal retards who spend their entire time reverting edits that anyone except them add...

    ... obviously none of these 'tards are interested in skeleton keys (read the first line)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah, wasting money paying you too...

      for reference, since someone has taken note:

    2. Notas Badoff
      Thumb Down

      Re: Yeah, wasting money paying you too...

      So the article has been vandalized with the same sub-standard humor three times this year. And you knew about it. And did nothing to help.

      And you are blaming who in particular?

      1. John 62

        Re: Yeah, wasting money paying you too...

        I tried to edit a Wikipedia article once and ran away, screaming in terror because of the horrific user interface.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wikipedia is corrupt, unreliable, unaccountable and non-transparent, that doesn't even follow its own policies.

  13. ForthIsNotDead

    Communisim at work

    See title.

  14. Just_this_guy

    Perhaps an alternative to deciding who to give the money to is to not ask for the money in the first place?

  15. Halfmad

    That's a lot of staff, a hell of a lot.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Rather than "Editors should get dosh" in the headline, it might have said "Editors want more tech support". That Wikipedian editors still have to struggle with basics like constructing tables, writing math symbols, and many other functions that should have been improved long ago, is a burning issue. Engineering support is expensive and labour intensive, and there is apparently a backlog of some ten thousand glitch reports to deal with.

    So rather than cash payments, the volunteer editors would probably be happy for allocations to more tech support (and even reserve funds) from donors. The volunteer aspect is essential to the culture.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022