Friday, October 26, 2007


If you've looked at Wikipedia lately, you've seen the irritating, ugly, and utterly-without-redeeming-social-value begging notice. Wikipedia wants your money, again and again and again. These fundraisers are endless because Wikipedia won't sell a few ads to raise the few bucks truly needed to keep the site running.

Florence Devouard, an apparatchik appointed by Jimbo to some highfalutin position, huffs: "Advertising is out of the question: it’s a moral issue for us." Of course, morality is relative. Florence doesn't mind the obnoxious advertising for the fundraiser on top of every WP page. After all, that advertising pays her travel expenses.

And it pays a lot of other expenses. Wikipedia's budget has exploded to $4.6 million. In 2004 the budget was $79,200. Yes, the encyclopedia is bigger, but it still gets almost all its real labor for free, from saps like me. What's happened is that a sizeable bureaucracy of people like Florence has growed like Topsy. Right now the WP bureaucracy is moving to San Francisco, a ridiculously unnecessary expense that will chew up hundreds of thousands of dollars better spent on hardware to keep the encyclopedia running.

If I sound like a pinchpenny curmudgeon, that's because somebody should start pinching a few pennies at WP. The most recent audit suggested, very mildly, that the organization develop "basic year-end bookkeeping and accounting" skills. Amen, brother auditor. It might help if a green-eyeshade guy began holding down expenses.

All that said, I chipped in fifty bucks anonymously - though I guess it's not anonymous anymore. That makes $175 I've given in three different fundraisers. I shouldn't encourage them, but I do. Just don't tell me about that African kid we're supposedly writing the encyclopedia for, Jimbo. I'll pay an extra $50 if you promise to shut up about that kid forever.

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