In general, I do think Wikimedia should do this.


Wikimedia is in an extremely fortunate position: it can raise all the
money it needs from many small donors, and can expect to be able to do
so continually into the future. This is partially because it is a
great thing that many people value, of course, but it's partially by
accident because of the type of thing it is--a public resource that
most potential donors visit directly on its website, probably even
every day.

Part of that fortunate position is because of the work of other
organizations which have much less visibility--infrastructural
software, which silently and invisibly makes Wikimedia's work possible
and means we don't have to spend the resources we do take in
reinventing the wheel because they have already done it. The tools
that make it possible for us to create, edit, and display multimedia
content freely--whose users often download once and then have no other
contact with the organization's site or materials. The organizations
who are working with us to advance our common goals, but who do so
less visibly.

Almost none of these have the same ability to raise money as Wikimedia
does, even if they were doing so as effectively as possible, and this
is especially true if they also wish to minimize their dependence on
corporations and foundations with differing goals. But Wikimedia's
mission depends on their survival also--we are able to do what we do
more effectively because of them, and it seems only right that some of
the value we get from them should go back to supporting them.


(Disclaimer: I work for CC now, which has received a donation from
Wikimedia since my leaving the board; however, this is an opinion I've
held for a long time.)

On Tue, Apr 15, 2014 at 12:50 PM, Erik Moeller <> wrote:
> Hi folks,
> I'd be interested in hearing broader community opinions about the
> extent to which WMF should sponsor non-profits purely to support work
> that Wikimedia benefits from, even if it's not directed towards a
> specific goal established in a grant agreement.
> This comes up from time to time. One of the few historic precedents
> I'm aware of is the $5,000 donation that WMF made to FreeNode in 2006
> [1]. But there are of course many other organizations/communities that
> the Wikimedia movement is indebted to.
> On the software side, we have Ubuntu Linux (itself highly indebted to
> Debian) / Apache / MariaDB / PHP / Varnish / ElasticSearch / memcached
> / Puppet / OpenStack / various libraries and many other dependencies [2],
> infrastructure tools like ganglia, observium, icinga, etc. Some of
> these projects have nonprofits that accept and seek sponsorship and
> support, some don't.
> One could easily expand well beyond the software we depend on
> server-side to client-side open source applications used by our
> community to create content: stuff like Inkscape, GIMP and LibreOffice
> (used for diagrams). And there are other communities we depend on,
> like OpenStreetMap.
> So, should we steer clear of this type of sponsorship altogether
> because it's a slippery slope, or should we try to come up with
> evaluation criteria to consider it on a case-by-case basis (e.g. is
> there a trustworthy non-profit that has a track record of
> accomplishment and is in actual need of financial support)?
> I could imagine a process with a fixed "giving back" annual budget
> and a community nominations/review workflow. It'd be work to create
> and I don't want to commit to that yet, but I would be interested to
> hear opinions.
> MariaDB specifically invited WMF to become a sponsor, and we're
> clearly highly dependent on them. But I don't think it makes sense for
> us to just write checks if there's someone who asks for support and
> there's a justifiable need. However, if there's broad agreement that
> this is something Wikimedia should do more of, then I think it's worth
> developing more consistent sponsorship criteria.
> Thanks,
> Erik
> [1]
> [2] Cf.
> --
> Erik Möller
> VP of Engineering and Product Development, Wikimedia Foundation
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