Wikimedia Foundation

2007 Schools Wikipedia Selection. Related subjects: Websites and the Internet

Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Logo of the Wikimedia Foundation,
designed by Wikipedia user "
Type Not-for-profit corporation
Founded June 20, 2003
Headquarters United States St. Petersburg, Florida, USA
Key people Florence Nibart-Devouard, Chair of the Board
Jimmy Wales, Chairman Emeritus
Erik Möller, Executive Secretary
Michael E. Davis, Treasurer
Tim Shell, Vice-Chair
Brad Patrick, Counsel
Danny Wool, Assistant
Brion Vibber, Chief Technical Officer
Industry Internet
Products Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks (including Wikijunior and Wikiversity), Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, and Meta-Wiki
Revenue non-profit
Employees 5 paid employees

The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is the parent organization of the Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks (including Wikijunior), Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, and Meta-Wiki collaborative projects. It is a not-for-profit corporation based in St. Petersburg, Florida, USA, and organized under the laws of the state of Florida. Its existence was officially announced by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, who was hitherto running Wikipedia within his company Bomis, on June 20, 2003. Its approval by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, by letter in April 2005, as an educational foundation in the category "Adult, Continuing Education" means all contributions to the Wikimedia Foundation are tax deductible for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

Foundation goals

The goal of the Wikimedia foundation is to develop and maintain open content, wiki-based projects and to provide the full contents of those projects to the public free of charge.

In addition to the multilingual general encyclopedia Wikipedia, the Foundation manages a multi-language dictionary and thesaurus named Wiktionary, an encyclopedia of quotations named Wikiquote, a repository of source texts in any language named Wikisource, and a collection of e-book texts for students (such as textbooks and annotated public domain books) named Wikibooks. Wikijunior is a subproject of Wikibooks that specializes in books for children.

The continued growth of each of the Wikimedia projects is dependent mostly on donations but the Wikimedia Foundation tries to increase its revenue by finding alternative means of funding such as grants and sponsorship.

The Wikimedia Foundation is a 501(c)(3) with a vision to bring a free and accurate encyclopedia to every single person on the planet. This includes people who currently do not have electricity, computers, Internet access, or even clean drinking water. All proceeds from donations, as with all proceeds from all Foundation fundraisers, are fully dedicated to that charitable purpose.

Foundation history and growth

The name "Wikimedia" was coined by Sheldon Rampton in a post to the English Wikipedia's mailing list in March 2003. The name has been criticized for its similarity to the name of Wikipedia and the software it runs on, MediaWiki; this sometimes leads to confusion among people new to the project.

With the Foundation's announcement, Wales also transferred ownership of all Wikipedia, Wiktionary and Nupedia domain names to Wikimedia along with the copyrights for all materials related to these projects that were created by Bomis employees or Wales himself. The computer equipment used to run all the Wikimedia projects was also donated by Wales to the Foundation. The domain names and were secured for the Foundation by Wikipedia contributor Daniel Mayer. Wikimedia's bandwidth and power are covered by donations to the project from various companies and individuals.

In January 2004, Jimmy Wales appointed his business partners Tim Shell and Michael Davis to the Board of the Wikimedia Foundation. In June 2004, an election was held for two user representative Board members. Following one month of campaigning and two weeks of online voting, Angela Beesley and Florence Nibart-Devouard were elected to join the board; they were re-elected in July 2005. Wales and Beesley later launched a startup company, Wikia, which is affiliated with neither Wikimedia nor Bomis, though it donates to Wikimedia.

Later, other official positions were developed: Tim Starling was appointed Developer Liaison to help improve the organisation of the development of the MediaWiki software, and Daniel Mayer was appointed Chief Financial Officer to help keep a budget and coordinate fund drives. Erik Möller had been the Chief Research Officer, but resigned in August 2005 due to differences with the board. James Forrester was subsequently appointed to the position.

On June 16, 2006, Brad Patrick, theretofore a practicing attorney engaged in pro bono work with the Foundation, was named as general counsel and interim executive director; in the latter capacity, Patrick was designated to assist the Board in its search for a permanent executive director.

On July 1, 2006, Angela Beesley resigned from the board effective upon election of her successor, expressing concern about "certain events and tendencies that have arisen within the organisation since the start of this year," but stating her intent to continue to participate in the Wikimedia projects, and in the formation of an Australian chapter. After her resignation, a special election was held and the winner, Erik Möller, will finish Angela Beesley's term, ending with the ordinary 2007 election.

Board of Directors

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