12 December 2015

TYWKIWDBI continues to support Wikipedia - updated


[from 2009] This blog uses Wikipedia extensively as a quick source for reference material. We therefore made a contribution this morning to their annual fund drive. When we did so last year [2008] one reader sent us a list of the Top 10 Reasons Not to Donate to Wikipedia. We have read that list and elected to repeat our contribution this year.

Addendum: I don't know whether the following is worth moving "above the fold," but I'll give it a try. In response to my initial post above, I received the following admonishment -
Hey, I'll leave you a message again this year! Do you know what the key difference between the previous year's balance sheet and last year's balance sheet at the Wikimedia Foundation was?

Previous year's cash overage that was stuffed into the bank: $3 million.

Last year's cash overage that was stuffed into the bank: $6 million.

Thanks to donors like you with no more independent thought than a sheep within a flock, you just helped the Wikimedia Foundation stuff even more money into the bank, and NOT spend it on the program services that you "thought" it would be spent on.

I can't help it if you're stupid.
Now I'm a thrifty person in a thrifty family. We drive two cars that are combined 25 years old with a quarter million miles on them. We don't like to throw money around. But we generously tip servers in restaurants and donate to selected charities and otherwise disperse our money appropriately in response to received value. I made what I consider to be a rather modest contribution to Wikipedia/Wikimedia as a token of thanks for saving me hundreds of hours of searching the net for information.

The primary argument at the anti-Wiki link seems to be that too much of donated money goes into the pockets of Jimmy Wales, Amazon, Google, and other corporations because of excessive salaries and referred business. Mr. Wales makes $400K. So what? Good for him. There are a hundred college football coaches who make more than that.

I found the football coach salaries just now in 5 seconds using Google. Google gets some of my paltry donation? Fine. Great. I Google every day of my life. Amazon? They can have some money. Why is someone so concerned re my giving money that he takes the time to write a message on my blog to reprimand (and try to insult) me???

Perhaps it's not just the money. There are allegations that Wikipedia "pollutes the minds of children" because they have articles about... sex. Someone writing the anti-Wiki material has gone to great length to collect all of the salacious Wiki entries in one place (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, know what I mean...) Perhaps if Wiki were eliminated, then all these aberrancies of behavior would disappear from life? From the internet? Children could get their information from schoolmates instead?

There are inaccuracies in Wikipedia! Really??? Not as reliable as the Encyclopedia Brittanica? Control of the information is in the hands of a few selected editors who perhaps have personal agendas they wish to promote? The Illluminati of cyberspace?

I'm not going to waste any more time on this rebuttal. There's a whole new day's worth of new stuff out there for me to search for blogworthy topics. Bye now.

Addendum:  Reposted from 2009, after making a contribution for 2012.  TYWKIWDBI also made contributions in 2010 and 2011, but I think this old post best explains the controversy.

Addendum:   Reposted yet again, because I continue to make modest annual contributions.  Some readers have suggested I put a "tip jar" on TYWKIWDBI.  Personally I'd prefer that you send such donations to Wikipedia.  (p.s. - for completeness, here are this year's counterarguments).

33 comments:

  1. Thanks for ignoring the biased article criticizing Wikipedia. It has clearly steered away from reporting what is Wikipedia's position on each of the issues because they know for sure that if they do, the readers will find logic and reason in it and see through the malice in the article. Most of the comments in it are factually wrong, misleading, or otherwise overblown.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for the link, TYWKIWDBI.

    I've actually been a regular reader here for better than a year now.

    I love this blog.

    -Rand Montoya, Wikimedia Foundation

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hey, I'll leave you a message again this year! Do you know what the key difference between the previous year's balance sheet and last year's balance sheet at the Wikimedia Foundation was?

    Previous year's cash overage that was stuffed into the bank: $3 million.

    Last year's cash overage that was stuffed into the bank: $6 million.

    Thanks to donors like you with no more independent thought than a sheep within a flock, you just helped the Wikimedia Foundation stuff even more money into the bank, and NOT spend it on the program services that you "thought" it would be spent on.

    I can't help it if you're stupid.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Here's the audit data, if you don't believe me.

    Also, fundraising inefficiency quadrupled last year at the WMF. Way to go!

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/4/4f/FINAL_08_09From_KPMG.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  5. I noticed that since you cannot refute the points made in the "Ten Reasons Not to Donate to Wikimedia" page, that you decide to completely ignore it.

    --Jonas Dalton Rand

    ReplyDelete
  6. @Contra (Jonas),

    I decided to ignore the points, but not because I cannot refute them.

    I don't waste my time when I can see clearly that the statements made are already so biased and overblown. If someone had honestly taken the time to investigate the facts, they wouldn't have arrived at these conclusions.

    Wikipedia is asking for charity donations, not enacting a law for "Wikipedia Tax". If you don't feel like donating, don't donate (it's your money). You have the right to free speech and you had yourself heard. I went through the arguments and found them to be without merit. I have all rights to ignore them and continue with life.

    Disclaimer: I have been a Wikipedian for a long time, though never held any posts. I don't donate money to Wikipedia, I prefer donating time by editing articles.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ambuj, you do actually make a good point that the page in question is a bit overblown. That's the result of me having cobbled together that list from several sources, some more polemical than me. If I get some free time, I might try to update the list and make more sober the tone. For example, we might wish to examine why Charity Navigator (an independent evaluation service) rated the Wikimedia Foundation as only 2 out of 4 stars for operational efficiency.

    You wouldn't just ignore an unbiased assessment such as Charity Navigator's, would you, Ambuj?

    ReplyDelete
  8. FWIW, I checked Charity Navigator. It's interesting that they don't include themselves in their ratings:

    "Why not? Charity Navigator was originally funded by the New York philanthropists, John and Marion Dugan... Since the Dugans were Charity Navigator's sole funders, we were required to register with the IRS as a 501 (c) (3) private foundation. This designation differs from the public charities that Charity Navigator evaluates, which have a broad-base of financial support from the general public. The IRS requires that private foundations file a Form 990-PF, which is different from the document public charities file. This makes it impossible for us to compare the financial performance of private foundations, like Charity Navigator, to public charities."

    So I looked at their IRS form 990-PF. They had revenue of $999,879 and used $364K of that to compensate officers and directors and $314K for salaries of other employees and $135K for pension plans and employee benefits.

    Depending on how many employees they have, they appear to be doing quite well.

    ReplyDelete
  9. You do realize that a key difference between the Wikimedia Foundation and Google and Amazon and Encyclopedia Britannica is that the WMF is a non-profit charity? I hold to a higher standard the accounting practices of charities than I do commercial enterprises. That you didn't seem to make any distinction and that you donate as a "thank you" for saving you time and effort, regardless of what will be done with that money to further the cause of reputable knowledge management on the Internet... it speaks volumes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Gregory (and others) - a foundation typically functions by "stuffing money into a bank" (or investments) and living off the interest / dividends - - thus indefinitely rather than having to constantly raise funds once a sufficient amount has amassed.

    You can learn more about foundations here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_(nonprofit_organization)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Is that you, DiPierro? Yeah, I know that "foundations" of the ilk of Main Line money families often run that way. But, again, I hope for better from something that is "very obviously an educational charity" (go ahead, Google it), as the Wikimedia Foundation asserts that it is.

    ReplyDelete
  12. A contribution to an organization is a totally personal voluntary decision - and not subject to the review or biases of others. That is the way things were done in this country before some folks decided to let government make the decisions of what they do with my tax dollars.

    Bravo, Stanley

    ReplyDelete
  13. Wikipedia is useful. People will support organizations for which they have a use. Get over it, douchebags.

    ReplyDelete
  14. The Wikimedia Foundation is now downgraded to just ONE STAR out of a possible four in "organizational efficiency", by Charity Navigator. Only 41 cents of every donated dollar go toward program expenses.

    In other words, 59% of WMF revenue doesn't do anything to fulfill the mission of the organization.

    Keep that money flowing, sheep!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mr Kohs conveniently overlooks the fact that Wikimedia's overall rating is three stars out of a possible four.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=11212

    ReplyDelete
  16. Of interesting note:

    Mr. Kohs is the founder of a website called "My Wiki Biz" which is obviously in direct competition with Wikipedia. Any comment or article of his about wikipedia is obviously heavily biased.

    One cannot take anything that he has to say against wikipedia seriously, as there is blatantly a conflict of interest.

    This is extremely bad PR on your part Mr. Kohs. Because of this, I refuse to even visit "My Wiki Biz" even though the idea behind it is appealing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Its kind of telling that there hasn't been an entry on the WikiBiz blog in almost 6 years, and from the small sampling I took of the links he has to WikiBiz, only about 1/3 are active.
      Even his Marketing blog hasnt had a post since 2013.

      Delete
    2. I like how the critical cowards always hide behind "Anonymous" or some silly pseudonym. How can you possibly say that I have a conflict of interest with respect to Wikipedia, when less than 2% of my income derives from wiki-related activity, and without Wikipedia, it would be less than 0.5%?

      Delete
  17. Actually, you can find out about "MyWikiBiz" without visiting the site itself:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MyWikiBiz

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know... He's so cute :)

      [MyWikiBiz is a wiki directory that allows people and enterprises to write about themselves. The brand began as a service creating Wikipedia articles for paying corporations; the founder and owner of MyWikiBiz, Gregory Kohs, was soon blocked from Wikipedia. As of August 2011, the MyWikiBiz directory contained over 70,000 pages of content about corporations and individuals. The business is headquartered in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

      Professor Jonathan Zittrain of the Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society discussed the case of MyWikiBiz in his book The Future of the Internet – And How to Stop It. Kohs appeared on Attack of the Show! on January 25, 2007, and discussed MyWikiBiz. Heise Online expressed a suspicion that while MyWikiBiz's "attempted corporate infiltration" of Wikipedia was discovered, MyWikiBiz was not an isolated case.]

      Delete
  18. I haven't donated to Wikipedia, but I applaud your decision to do so, Minnesotastan. If a person regularly benefits from an organization's services, it's the right thing to do. The point of donating isn't to show your approval of their money management style, it is because they've benefited you.

    I went through this over PBS. I don't have cable, and PBS channels are really the only thing on non-cable TV worth watching. I had avoided donating for years and had lots of reasons - the fundraising drives were annoying, etc. Then it hit me that I was greatly benefiting because of their work. The other issues were irrelevant -- I owed them some support. So I give to them because of it. Probably not enough, but a little.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I've given them fifty bucks, and even more glad to do it if it makes a bitter nerd who seems to be in love with sophistry even more frustrated.

    Take that.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Unless an organization promotes bigotry/hate crimes etc- I figure where someone spends their money is their business. Are there more important causes than the SPCA (ASPCA) where I choose to donate? Maybe. I don't care. I choose to give my money to causes or organizations that matter to me. If I deem literacy charities are where I choose to spend my money versus cancer charities that's my business. Not an excuse for someone to name call and act like a pompous ass.

    That's the beauty of freedom. You can spend your money how you wish. Want to buy a fancy name brand purse that's ugly and only redeeming value is the name brand? Go ahead. I wouldn't- but you might think I'm fool to buy so many books. It doesn't matter. It's MY money.

    Seriously people. Grow up.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This is ridiculous Kohs , I am very grateful for foundations such as Wikipedia for sharing knowledge with the world ! Whether one can afford to donate or not , it's a free service anyone with internet access can use to further their knowledge of the world. Shame on you Kohs for your obvious contempt for the sharing of information to the common people!
    Thank you Stan for your support and contribution to the enlightenment of all in monetary funds and in the form of your most informative blog , thank you !

    ReplyDelete
  22. People ignorantly or deliberately fail to realize that a prudently managed non-profit organization tries to build reserves that are sufficient to allow operating expenses to be derived from the interest and/or earnings of such reserves. This allows the organization to survive uncertain economic times when donations are likely to be harder to obtain. The fact that many believe that cash holdings are the mark of a stingy person and/or company sadly illustrates why our U.S. national debt looks to become permanent.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi
    I'm probably equally thrifty as you. I donated $3 bucks per year when I didn't have a job and $20 when i did. My car is 1898 with nearly half a million Km on it and ive owned it nearly 20 years. My motorbike has over 100,000 on the dial and i do all its servicing.

    Wikipedia is a foundation which i respect, the commenter you quoted seems to represent everything wrong with modern USA.

    Love your work here

    Nest Wishes

    ReplyDelete
  24. I looked at the stats, there really was some pretty poor working capital management in 08/09. Their current year stats look much better (admittedly just at a glance, didn't check the ratios) because they at least don't seem to just be sitting on the cash now.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I'll give to wiki again when they address their editor gender imbalance.

    http://www.newstatesman.com/lifestyle/2015/05/wikipedia-has-colossal-problem-women-dont-edit-it

    ReplyDelete
  26. I donated this year, and I will do so again. What a wonderful tool Wikipedia is.

    Salary envy is such an ugly thing. When you said that Jimmy Wales makes $400k, my first thought was that for such a great company that educates so many, that seems pretty darn low.

    ReplyDelete
  27. The Wikimedia Foundation's unspent assets (after expenditures) is now at $78 million. Yet, you fools keep giving them more money. For what purpose? Is it like a big Jenga game, where you're trying to see if your $20 contribution will topple over a pile of hundreds that they've stacked up on a computer server?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apple has around $33 billion in cash reserves, yet us fools keep giving them our money as well.

      We're such suckers.

      Delete
    2. Apple pays taxes. Apple innovates new technologies that spur new jobs. The Wikimedia Foundation doesn't do either of those things. Citizens need to hold tax-exempt non-profits to a high standard of fiscal honesty.

      Delete
  28. Gregory - I can tell you really care about this. BUT it's obvious you're changing no opinions here so maybe pursue an issue you care about that CAN be changed?

    ReplyDelete

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