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Omnipresent online encyclopedia Wikipedia has received a large gift from the founder of another famous internet institution.
Craig Newmark, the main man behind classifieds portal Craigslist, has donated $1 million to the Wikimedia Endowment, a collective action fund set up this year by the Wikimedia Foundation at the Tides Foundation with a goal of raising $100 million over the next decade.
Founded by Newmark in 1995, Craigslist has changed very little from a design perspective over the past two decades, but it remains a popular portal for individuals buying, selling, and advertising stuff. According to Alexa, Craigslist is the 11th most visited site in the U.S., not far behind Netflix, Reddit, and Twitter, but ahead of Bing, Pinterest, LinkedIn, PayPal, Tumblr, Instagram, and Walmart. eBay once held a stake in Craigslist, but sold it back to Craigslist last year.
Newmark is also the main operator of Craigconnects, a service that publicizes charitable organizations. And now Newmark is looking to plow some of his own cash into helping Wikipedia continue on its quest to provide free knowledge. “Wikipedia is where facts go to live,” said Newmark in a press release. “And everybody can access it for free. That’s really important.”
While $1 million is the largest donation yet specifically to the Wikimedia Endowment, larger sums have been given to Wikipedia’s parent organization, the Wikimedia Foundation. Google gave $2 million back in 2010, while the Stanton Foundation coughed up $3.6 million a year later. But the nonprofit organization, which doesn’t run third-party ads anywhere on its site, has come in for criticism for stockpiling money, leading some to question whether the generous public really should be donating tens of millions of dollars each year to support it. Despite that, the Wikimedia Foundation, and now the Wikimedia Endowment, are continuing to rake money in because people view it as a commercial-free fountain of information.
“Wikipedia is a record of what happened and what is happening in the world, and we need that historical record to make good decisions,” added Newmark. “Wikipedia’s democratic process allows everyone to contribute, but requires verifiable sources. That is vital at a changing time in our media culture. Wikipedia has the potential to become the people’s newspaper of record.”
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