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Author Topic: Wikipedia's yearly donation campaign; Time to accept Bitcoins?  (Read 14464 times)
DeathAndTaxes
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Gerald Davis


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November 25, 2011, 01:48:16 PM
 #21

I can imagine their stance, to be honest. They are interested, but don't want to throw a team of lawyers at it right now, rather waiting for someone else to do it.

Wikimedia always tries to remain a neutral stance. If at some point Bitcoin is attacked or declared illegal by some government, they absolutely do not want to get caught in the crossfire. If they are holding bitcoins at that point, that would force them into bitcoin's camp.

I don't get this.

Use Bitpay.  Donators pay in Bitcoins.  They get paid instantly in USD (or whatever fiat they consider the least worthless).

They never gold a single Bitcoin for a single second. It would be like saying we can't accept Paypal because if Paypal is declared illegal we would be holding worthless Paypal bucks.
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November 28, 2011, 05:32:29 PM
 #22

I don't even got a response from Wikipedia regarding my request to pay with bitcoins. I guess they do not want donations.

So what if they were caught in a legal 'crossfire' ? How on earth would anyone attack wikipedia as long as they honestly
reported all their income, even though this was in USD, BTC or in the form of a laptop ? What kind of legal troubles could
they possibly get?

What I think this is: Inertia

Anytime you suggest anything new to a company or a group, or even individuals, there's this negativity to embrace it, many
want to wait 'till larger companies' accept it, 'till it becomes more widespread', 'till it becomes more accepted' etc.

Thing is, we're all part of the change. If we just wait, nothings happens, someone somewhere needs to take the steps to
implement new things, new technology and new methods.

For instance, if my memory serves correct, hole cards for hotel doors was an scandinavian invention, but no hotel in scandinavia
wanted to test it out, they were all satisfied using keys.

Then the inventors went to america and did a test with some hotels, it worked great, and soon after the entire world used these
systems. They're now obsolete in most parts of the world, but you get the idea.

If wikipedia were to recieve 100K USD worth of bitcoins in one year, this would not be enough for any governmental entity to
take action against wikipedia.

My guess is that the people making the decisions are reluctant to change and reluctant to new technology. And wikipedia wants
to 'stay neutral'. How on earth can we know that they do stay neutral. What if some oil company pays them a few million dollars,
would that bide for 'neutrality' ?

Would wikipedia have honest trustworthy articles about that oil company and the doings of that company ?

Adding to the stubbornness and unwillingness to change and adapt is the fact that wikipedia does not want to accept advertisers.

It's a huge site, with lot's of customers. If they wanted to, they could hire a couple of persons full time that could run the PR-division,
these people could then develop a model for putting ads on wikimedia pages, and having clear guidelines and rules about what is
allowed to advertise for could help wikipedia financially.

For instance, when I do a search for London, there could be a few discreet commercials for hotels, flights, car rentals etc. The
companies would have to pay Wikipedia for commercial spots. Obviously this would have to be implemented in a smart way and
such that people did not start finding wikipedia annoying.

And for those that absolutely hate commercials, it could be possible to turn off the commercials with having a registered account
and ticking off that option.

When you have an insane amount of visitors to a web-site, you're unwilling and unable to monetize on it, and in addition you won't
accept donations because it's in some 'weird' currency, then I question is wikipedia is not undercutting their potential ?
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November 28, 2011, 10:08:56 PM
 #23

I don't even got a response from Wikipedia regarding my request to pay with bitcoins. I guess they do not want donations.

When you have an insane amount of visitors to a web-site, you're unwilling and unable to monetize on it, and in addition you won't
accept donations because it's in some 'weird' currency, then I question is wikipedia is not undercutting their potential ?

  Maybe they finally got tried of responding or assumed it was all spam since it was in such a short timespan.? :/  Did anyone else not get a response back?


  Aye, this aspect of it makes me wonder as well. Of course, I am only vaguely familiar with all the guidlines regarding how non-profits are allowed to generate income. I certainly agree it undermines their potential. I am just not sure if it is an unwillingness to look at other options or if there are sincere legal hurdles that make such a prospect difficult to implement.

  I'm going to keep poking until I get an answer or someone more knowledgeable can attest to the difficulties or lack there of. If nothing else, knowing what road blocks are in the way of a non-profit utilizing Bitcoin donations will help the community in other endeavours.

  Cheers

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November 28, 2011, 10:23:41 PM
 #24


[snip]


I just resent my previous mail sent about a week ago, so I will see if I recieve an answer now.

If I ran a non-profit organization website, I sure would have accepted bitcoin or any other way
somebody wanted to support my organization.
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November 29, 2011, 02:19:16 AM
 #25

Quote
Dear Max,

Thank you for your email. We have been looking into accepting BitCoins for some
time now, but at present we don't have the staff available to process BitCoin
payments as well as Direct Debits, Paypal and cheque/postal orders. There are also
concerns as to whether or not accepting BitCoins would be acceptable to the
Charities Commission - the currency is untraceable, which is something that the
Charities Commission may not be entirely happy with! That said, I'll put your
question forward to the Board, and they'll look into it.

Sincerely,

This can be solved in an instant by requiering the donor to fill in a email/name and phone number.
There you go. Not anonymous anymore.

So they mean that organizations that go out and ask for donations from people on the street should not take them because those people who give are anonymous? Are they kidding or do they not understand the foundation of independent organisations and donations?

It would be much better for them to get their money ONLY anonymously and here is why.

Case 1.

Lets say that google or apple would give them $millions for each year, during a few years.
That one or two single companies stand for 80% of their budget. They become dependent on these money since those are the money that payes their server costs etc.

Now this means they cannot mention any bad things about Apple/google/facebook, such as them using sweatshop workers or whatever because they now find themselves in a dependency situation.

Its almost like if Apple/google/facebook would bribe them.

Case 2

Even worse, lets say a mafia organisation or criminal individual gives them huge amounts of money non anonymously for a few years. Perhaps they dont even know yet that the person/organization is bad yet.

This buyes the mafia organisation good credibility and creates a dependency situation for wikipedia and associates them with this entity.
It also means that they can no longer take those well used money once this organisation is revealed to be a bad one and that their wikipedia name is dragged in the dust.

If they would they can no longer claim to be independent since they accepted/accepts donations from this entity.

What if Usama Bin Ladin was one of their biggest donators before or during the attack? How would that affect their brand?
Or lets say they were an old organization and Hitler was revealed to be one of their founding donators?

However if the donations was only given anonymously they could allways claim to be independent!
Since they would never know who give them money.

So another problem with not accepting anonymous money is that this acctually gives them the problem of having to turn down money from
certain organisations just to be able to claim that they are independent.

Acctually they should turn down money from non anonymous persons and companies etc just to be able to be trustworthy.
This means that they will get less money and be able to do less good. Not improving the world as much as they could.

This in fact is very important for a organization that wants to claim that we should trust their information to not be biased or censored.

So the truth is that its acctually way better for a independent media company to get anonymous donations, since this free them from any suspicion of dependency and links both now, in the future and in the past.
And it means that we can trust them to be as independent as possible and they are free to write what ever they want.

The fact is that they should preferably ONLY accept anonymous donations for the sake of independency.

I would say this.

Do not trust a media organisation that do not ONLY accept anonymous donations.

And if they still dont want anonymous money, they can simply ask for name and id number but they are not trustworthy anymore.

So this decision from wikipedia to not accept Bitcoins makes them not trustworthy anymore.

They cannot claim to be an independent trustable organisation until they only get anonymous donations such as Bitcoins or cash.


Or they can accept Bitcoin, and instead of converting it to cash, use the funds to buy coffee via BitBrew http://bitbrew.net/, coffee for the office of which they're going to buy anyway using cash that was donated. http://bitbrew.net/ can even cut them the best deal possible without cutting into their profit margin. Everyone wins: Wikipedia get donations from Bitcoiners of which they may not be getting the old standard way; Bitcoiners may feel obligated to now donate to Wikipedia; Wikipedia's office has a coffee slush fund; http://bitbrew.net/ gets to sell more coffee; We continue to use Wikipedia, for it's growing with the help from our donations; Others see the Bitcoin option on Wikipedia and further investigate, possibly creating another Bitcoin convert; More organizations become keen on the idea of implementing the Bitcoin donation option to help pay for their coffee slush fund.

I recently wrote this: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=52543.msg628529#msg628529

Quote
For sake of argument, let's say Wikipedia is a new idea and Bitcoin has been around for a few years with a proven track record. Jimmy Wales would be knockin' on the proverbial Bitcoin door asking how to get one of those Bitcoin donation buttons on his Wikipedia site. He would be expressing to us how his idea will change the world on how knowledge will be shared globally. How his pet project is open source and run by volunteers, but desires donations for R&D, servers, etc. I sincerely doubt we would reply with a thanks, but no thanks, for considering Bitcoin.
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November 29, 2011, 02:43:16 AM
 #26


To Wikipedia folks if you are reading this:

I use Wikipedia a lot and would/could/should donate, but I've had a couple of beefs over the years.  These are mostly associated with your editors sometimes being caught displaying personal motives which conflict with the free flow of balanced information.  The situation of Israel, and with naked short selling come to mind.

All the same, I use the service enough to support it (in spite of the laughable pathetic look on the Jimmy's face which graces each page.)  I don't give two shits about tax right-offs and I want to foster the use of Bitcoin.  The BS about Bitcoin taking to much effort is just that.  So, if you accept Bitcoin, I'll pony up some charitable giving on your behalf.


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November 29, 2011, 04:29:36 AM
 #27

And it means that we can trust them to be as independent as possible and they are free to write what ever they want.

The fact is that they should preferably ONLY accept anonymous donations for the sake of independency.

I would say this.

Do not trust a media organisation that do not ONLY accept anonymous donations.

And if they still dont want anonymous money, they can simply ask for name and id number but they are not trustworthy anymore.

So this decision from wikipedia to not accept Bitcoins makes them not trustworthy anymore.

They cannot claim to be an independent trustable organisation until they only get anonymous donations such as Bitcoins or cash.

Couldn't the big, evil, bribe-happy company who donated bitcoins easily prove to wikipedia that they control the address that sent the money?
That could lead to wikipedia being just as controlled by donators, while being less open about it (since the Money donated by Evildyne Industries reveal would likely happen over the phone instead of through a semi-public non-BTC transaction).

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November 29, 2011, 02:26:32 PM
 #28

Couldn't the big, evil, bribe-happy company who donated bitcoins easily prove to wikipedia that they control the address that sent the money?
That could lead to wikipedia being just as controlled by donators, while being less open about it (since the Money donated by Evildyne Industries reveal would likely happen over the phone instead of through a semi-public non-BTC transaction).

This is a good point. All it boils down to is the integrity of the people running an organization, and then you again have the dilemma of funding. What if you need 1 million USD to operate for one year, and you've only collected 200K, then some big company offers to pay the remaining 800K. Will you accept that offer, and perhaps compromizing your integrity and neutrality, or will you reject the offer, and struggle to get other donators?

One possible way is to state explicitly that no amount of money offered will make you give the donator any special treatment, but then again, the whole point of donating huge sums of money are usually to achive some level of influence on the organization you donate to.

I believe there are genuine corporations and individuals that will donate larger sums, not expecting anything back, but more ofte I guess they do in fact expect something in return.
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Gerald Davis


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November 29, 2011, 03:51:28 PM
 #29

This is a good point. All it boils down to is the integrity of the people running an organization, and then you again have the dilemma of funding. What if you need 1 million USD to operate for one year, and you've only collected 200K, then some big company offers to pay the remaining 800K. Will you accept that offer, and perhaps compromizing your integrity and neutrality, or will you reject the offer, and struggle to get other donators?

The interesting this about Bitcoin is although it can be anonymous it doesn't have to be.  Hypothetically wiki-leaks donations could be very public. Through use of Blockchain and requiring digital signatures (possible from a CA for amounts over say  500 BTC).  This would provide public insight into where the big money is coming from.

If the Microsoft articles all seem to have a pro-Microsoft slant and you can search block chain and digital signature lists and see Microsoft gave $2.5 M this year well you can put 2 and 2 together.
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December 02, 2011, 02:50:15 PM
 #30

I'm not really understand a problem. If wikipedia do not accepts bitcoins directly, why not do it indirectly?

I propose experiment: I will send $5-$20 donations to wikipedia on your behalf. I will send them in advance, using your e-mail in correspondent field. When you will receive the receipt, you will transfer me appropriate amount of bitcoins. USD/BTC exchange rate is up to you. I shall be grateful for explanation how you calculate this rate.

So, all you need to do is to reply in this topic with following information:
  • donation size (from $5 to $20)
  • your e-mail (if you don't want to publish it, then send it by private message, but please provide the number of your post, so I can link your email with other donation information)
  • exchange rate (anyone you feel be fair)
  • explanations where you get exchange rate from (optionally, but I asking to provide it if it is not very hard for you)
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December 02, 2011, 03:36:39 PM
 #31

You missed the point.  The point isn't about how to get money to them, there are already websites setup for that.  It's about getting them to take bitcoins.   

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December 02, 2011, 03:43:12 PM
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It's about them refusing our donations, makes no sense. You want to give them something and they refuse it, but meanwhile they ASK for donations...
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December 14, 2011, 04:36:06 PM
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I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously. 
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December 14, 2011, 04:43:36 PM
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I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously. 

Legal requirements for being a registered charity exclude Bitcoin. Laws exclude Bitcoin.

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December 14, 2011, 05:16:35 PM
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I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously. 

Legal requirements for being a registered charity exclude Bitcoin. Laws exclude Bitcoin.

it's the other way around, laws don't include bitcoin

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December 14, 2011, 07:08:29 PM
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Legal requirements for being a registered charity exclude Bitcoin. Laws exclude Bitcoin.

Name the laws that specifically exclude bitcoin.  This is nothing but an assumption on part of Wikipedia.  An assumption that goes against its own philosophy: "be bold".

As far as I can tell, it is not illegal for a charity to accept any valuable as a donation that isn't fiat money, as long as the charity declares it.

Also, laws differ from country to country.  WMF has 38 local chapters. Perhaps we should try our luck with those?
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December 14, 2011, 09:15:16 PM
 #37

I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously. 

Legal requirements for being a registered charity exclude Bitcoin. Laws exclude Bitcoin.

Not at all.  Laws may (possibly) forbid or make it hard to claim a tax deduction of money given via bitcoin but not make it illegal to accept bitcoin.  If wikipedia is willing to accept it, someone could give them a house, a VHS copy of TJ Hooker,  something virtual or even a commitment of work. 

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December 14, 2011, 11:17:18 PM
 #38

I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously. 

This is exactly what I was trying to point out. How the hell were you able to do it with fewer words?  Wink
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December 14, 2011, 11:49:37 PM
 #39

In most countries there are definitely no legal issues with Bitcoin. I'm starting a company with various Bitcoin-related services, based in Finland, and I actually had to ask about this. I made an enquiry to the Finnish financial supervisory authority and they said to me, in very clear Finnish, that bitcoins are not money. From their perspective bitcoins are simply computational units, a virtual commodity. So not only is it not illegal, the financial authorities do not even care. They said it's "not our jurisdiction".

This could obviously change and we've seen exchanges struggle with banks. My next challenge is to get a bank account in Finland that'll be stable. I will explain to them my intentions completely from the start so there are no surprises. Hopefully I will not run into any major obstacles.

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December 16, 2011, 04:49:37 AM
 #40

I'm a bit disappointed at this. Wikipedia was a disruptive technology desperately trying to find ways to bootstrap itself, not even a decade ago. Back in 2004-2005 large organizations didn't take Wikipedia seriously just like Wikipedia doesn't take Bitcoin seriously now. Wikipedia also had to face their fair share of excrement being slung at them from the mainstream media, when they were new. They should know what it's like.  Why don't they give Bitcoin a chance? It isn't any more of a hassle accepting Bitcoin than accepting other non-monetary donations.  Ideologically, Bitcoin and Wikipedia are quite similar and could benefit each other tremendously.  

I'm curious in reading past articles about Wikipedia seeking funding during their early stage. Do any exist and where? I'm guessing there was a time when they were struggling financially and would have welcomed any type of funding tossed their way.

Them saying 'thanks, but no thanks' in having Bitcoin donations help augment their $14,490,000 contribution fund (pdf source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9f/AR_web_all-spreads_24mar11_72_FINAL.pdf), still sits ill with me.

They openly welcome a $1.00 donation via PayPal, of which they recognize only $.67 after PayPal takes their cut. Yet they don't want to even find a way around not accepting Bitcoin with virtually no fee, a fee that may be arranged to equal 0%.

They keep this up, I'll just dust off my almost complete set of Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia, and refrain from using their site or, at the very least, falsely claim to not use them.

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Attention Non-profits: By choosing Bitcoin as a donation option, you'll incur no transfer fees, thus receiving 100% of donations in kind, thereby keeping in the spirit of giving--to those in need.
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