*The Economic Times : "Wikipedia enlists Indians to be the standard-bearers
for its fund-raising efforts"*

Open any of the 20 million articles on Wikipedia and the face on the banner
making an appeal for donations for the world's largest encyclopaedia will
not be that of *Jimmy Wales *but *Sengai Podhuvan*.

Podhuvan, 76, urges users to "consider pitching in Rs 100, Rs 200, Rs 300
or whatever you can" to "keep Wikipedia free" in a
tugging-at-the-heartstrings appeal that is the first of its kind by the
US-based Wikimedia Foundation that runs the world's most popular source of
general reference on the Net.

This sort of appeal by a Wikipedia author is not standard practice: founder
Wales is almost always the face of fund-raising. Moreover, Wikipedia has
enlisted several Indians to be the standard-bearers for its fund-raising
efforts for 2011-12. And for the first time, it is accepting donations in
rupees. "When users see the faces they will realise that anyone from India
can contribute, not necessarily money.

But if it works and everything suggests it is working, next year will have
many more," says *Hisham Mundol,* who leads the Wikimedia Foundation's
operations in India.

Wikipedia, which does not accept advertisements and is funded entirely by
donations, describes itself as the fifth most popular website on the planet
with more than one lakh contributors worldwide and 12 billion page views
every month. From India, there are some 2,000 contributors and 227 million
monthly page views.

Another Indian contributor who is helping Wikipedia raise funds is *Karthik
Nadar*, an 18-year-old student and part-time accountant from Mumbai.

On the evening of the bombings of the city in July 2011 that killed 26
people, he captured the horror on his phone and kept updating Wikipedia. In
his nearly two years as a contributor, he has helped write 2,000 articles.
"I get a kick out of being able to share information and learning," he

Wikipedia's tactic of widening the base of its fund-raisers stems from a
belief that Wales' appeal is waning. "In 2010, we began to see indicators
of banner and Jimmy fatigue," the Wikimedia Foundation wrote in its 2011-12
plan ending in June, for which it hopes to raise $30 million (Rs 150

The Indian touch, it seems, is paying off. Halfway through the fund-raising
campaign, the foundation has raised Rs 1.1 crore from India. Comparatively,
in the whole of last year, it raised less than Rs 1 crore from India.

Tinu Cherian

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