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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 San Francisco, California, USA. Its existence was officially announced by Wikipedia system operator Jimmy Wales, who was hitherto maintaining the Wikipedia server 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.
The Foundation's executive director, Sue Gardner, says of it:
- The Wikimedia Foundation is a weird organization, full of contradictions and ambiguity and messiness.
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 wikimedia.org and wikimediafoundation.org 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. Template:Wikinewscat 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.
Patrick has since resigned.
Template:Wikinewscat 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.
Move to San Francisco
In late 2007, the Foundation up and moved to San Francisco. The Foundation management has attempted to keep secret the exact location of the office.
In mid-July 2008, a minor controversy erupted on Wikipedia when a loyal Wikipedian attempted to upload a photo of the Foundation's new office location. The photo was released under the terms of the GFDL that Wikipedia has so depended on for the freedom of information ("information wants to be free"), so therefore re-publishing it is not a crime. Even though posting it on Wikipedia would appear to be some kind of unsympathetic act. Blogger Luna Santin wrote all about it.
Wikimedia coordination and projects
The launch dates shown below are when official domains were established for the projects and/or beta versions were launched; preliminary test versions at other domains are not considered.
- Encyclopedia containing more than 5 million articles in 250 languages (launched 2001-01-15).
- Dictionary cataloging meanings, synonyms, etymologies and translations (launched 2002-12-12).
- Collection of free educational textbooks and learning materials (launched 2003-07-10).
- Collection of quotations structured in numerous ways (launched 2003-07-10).
- Project to provide and translate free source documents, such as public domain texts (launched 2003-11-24).
- Wikimedia Commons
- Repository of images, sounds, videos and general media, containing more than 700,000 files (launched 2004-09-07).
- Wikimedia Incubator
- Used to test possible new Wikimedia projects and new languages for existing projects.
- Directory of species data on animalia, plantae, fungi, bacteria, archaea, protista and all other forms of life (launched 2004-09-13).
- News source containing original reporting by citizen journalists from many countries (launched 2004-12-03).
- Courses, course materials, tests. Announced to go into beta testing, little has been officially decided on its structure (launched 2006-08-15).
Recent project history
- September 7, 2004: The Wikimedia Commons was launched.
- December 3, 2004: After a brief demonstration phase in November, the English beta version of Wikinews became operational. Wikinews is meant to be a free content news source which allows anybody to report news on a wide variety of subjects.
- April 2005: 501(c)(3) non-profit status granted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service with the NTEE Code: B60 (Adult, Continuing Education).
- November 2005: Wikimedia awarded membership in the World Technology Network.
Board of Directors
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees, last modified October 27, 2006
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation Current Staff, last modified October 2, 2006.
- ^ a b "Wikimedia Foundation Annual Report". Wikimedia Foundation. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/2/28/Wikimedia_2006_fs.pdf. Retrieved 2006-11-21.
- ^ "Wikimedia Foundation". Wikimedia Foundation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation. Retrieved 2006-12-12.
- ^ Wikipedia English mailing list message, March 2003.
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation mailing list message, August 2005.
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation press release
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation mailing list message, July 2006
- ^ Wikimedia Foundation mailing list message
- Wikimedia Foundation website
- Wikimedia Foundation bylaws (PDF file)
- Corporate Charter of Wikimedia Foundation Inc. two page TIFF file located on Florida Department of State, Divisions of Corporations web site
- Public Record for Wikimedia Foundation Inc. from Florida Department of State web site
- Sheldon Rampton's WikiEN-l post
- Interview with Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia Founder
- 2005 IRS Form 990 for the Wikimedia Foundation
- "WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION, INC." is registered as a Florida Non Profit entity with the Division of Corporations of the Florida Department of State