Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia, recently gave a speech at BlockShow, a blockchain event in Berlin. During the event and in later follow-up interviews, reporters from Business Insider asked if Wikipedia would move into crypto or start an ICO. Wales replied that Wikipedia is “absolutely never going to do that” and has “zero interest”.
Wikipedia and its associated projects rely on volunteer editors, which means that monetary incentives aren’t in place—nor do they seem to be needed—to encourage contributions to the site’s content. However, Wikipedia functions as a non-profit and uses “banner campaigns” to raise money for the site, and it began cautiously accepting Bitcoin donations in 2014.
Wales has elsewhere advocated against regulating blockchain technology without being too enthusiastic about it, and in this most recent interview, he made clear his mixed feelings about the blockchain:
“I have reservations about blockchain. It’s a super-interesting technology, but it’s clearly a bubble with a lot of mania and hype around it.”
On a personal level, Wales himself is somewhat lukewarm towards crypto. In the past, he has claimed not to be actively investing in crypto, but has admitted that he has some “crypto here and there.”
But whatever Wales’ feelings are, there is evidence that Wikipedia-esque projects are moving towards compensation, often involving cryptocurrency. Wales recently created WikiTribune, a news site that employs journalists. The initial donations to WikiTribune were in Bitcoin. Those donations are used to pay journalists—however, those funds are apparently converted to USD first.
But competitors are blazing their own trails and are more than willing to start an ICO: Wikipedia’s co-founder, Dr. Larry Sanger, is building the EOS-based Everipedia with token rewards for content creation. Meanwhile, Lunyr attempts to compete as a “decentralized knowledge base” and is putting its tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Given the recent proliferation of ICOs, many of which fail, it is refreshing to see Wikipedia use Bitcoin in a case where nothing more is needed.
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