Monday, March 17, 2008

Open Source Trouble at Wikipedia?

Until recently, however, Wikipedia was run more like a storefront community center than a digital-age powerhouse. What was a nine-person operation — a top 10 Web site had a paid staff of less than 10 — has just recently grown to a 15-person operation. Last year’s $2.2 million budget grew to $4.6 million this year.

“A surprising number of people don’t even know it is a nonprofit,” Ms. Gardner said. “They say, ‘How do they make their money, anyway?’ They assumed there were ads or some other way.” In fact, the project relies on fund-raisers, and its latest one, Ms. Gardner said, received donations from 45,000 individuals, with a $30 average contribution.

Mr. Wales and the board of the Wikimedia Foundation have tried to professionalize the project, moving its offices from St. Petersburg, Fla., to San Francisco, to be near the talent, entrepreneurial spirit and wealth of Silicon Valley. The board of seven trustees, made up of appointed and elected members including Mr. Wales, has brought in new administrators, beginning with Ms. Gardner, a former journalist who had run the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s Web site.


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