Wikimedia Foundation

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Logo of the Wikimedia Foundation
Type 501(c)(3) charitable organization
Founded St. Petersburg, Florida, United States
June 20, 2003 (2003-06-20)
Founder(s) Jimmy Wales
Key people Jan-Bart de Vreede, Chair of the Board[2]
Sue Gardner, Executive Director
Area served worldwide
Focus(es) free, open content, wiki-based internet projects
Method(s) Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikidata, Wikivoyage, Wikimedia Incubator and Meta-Wiki
Revenue Increase US $48.6 million[3]
Expenses negative increase US $35.7 million[3]
Volunteers 350,000 (2005)[4]
Employees 142 (as of September 2012)[5]

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is a non-profit and charitable organization headquartered in San Francisco, California that operates several wikis. The foundation is mostly known for operating Wikipedia, an Internet encyclopedia which ranks in the top-ten most-visited websites worldwide.[6] The organization was founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, as a way to fund Wikipedia and its sister projects through non-profit means.[7][8] Besides Wikipedia, the foundation also operates Wiktionary, Wikiquote, Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, Wikidata, Wikivoyage, Wikimedia Incubator, and Meta-Wiki. It also owned the now-defunct Nupedia.

Today, the foundation employs more than 142 employees with revenues of US$48.6 million and cash equivalents of US$22.2 million.[3] Sue Gardner leads the foundation as its executive director, while Jan-Bart de Vreede serves as chairman of the board.


The Wikimedia Foundation falls under section 501(c)(3) of the US Internal Revenue Code as a public charity. Its National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) code is B60 (Adult, Continuing Education).[9][10] The foundation's by-laws declare a statement of purpose of collecting and developing educational content and to disseminate it effectively and globally.[11]

The Wikimedia Foundation's stated goal 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.[12] This is possible thanks to its Terms of Use (updated and approved on June 2009, to adopt CC-BY-SA license).


On 2001, Jimmy Wales, an Internet entrepreneur, and Larry Sanger, a software developer, founded Wikipedia; an Internet encyclopedia. The project was originally funded by Bomis, Wales' for-profit business. However, as Wikipedia's popularity skyrocketed, revenues to fund the project stagnated. Since Wikipedia became a drain on Bomis' resources, Wales and Sanger, thought of a different way to fund the project - charity.[7] The Wikimedia Foundation was created from Wikipedia and Nupedia on June 20, 2003.[8] It applied to the United States Patent and Trademark Office to trademark Wikipedia on September 17, 2004. The mark was granted registration status on January 10, 2006. Trademark protection was accorded by Japan on December 16, 2004, and, in the European Union, on January 20, 2005. Technically, a service mark, the scope of the mark is for: "Provision of information in the field of general encyclopedic knowledge via the Internet."[citation needed] There are plans to license the use of the Wikipedia trademark for some products, such as books or DVDs.[13]

The name "Wikimedia" was coined by American author Sheldon Rampton in a post to the English mailing list in March 2003.[14]

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, which also acquired the domain names "" and "".[citation needed]

In April 2005, the US Internal Revenue Service approved the foundation as an educational foundation in the category "Adult, Continuing Education", meaning all contributions to the foundation are tax-deductible for U.S. federal income tax purposes.

On December 11, 2006, the foundation's board noted that the corporation could not become the membership organization initially planned but never implemented due to an inability to meet the registration requirements of Florida Statute. Accordingly, the bylaws were amended to remove all reference to membership rights and activities. The decision to change the bylaws was passed by the board unanimously.[15]

On September 25, 2007, the foundation's board gave notice that the operations would be moving to the San Francisco Bay Area. Major considerations cited for choosing San Francisco were proximity to like-minded organizations and potential partners, a better talent pool, as well as cheaper and more convenient international travel than is available from St. Petersburg, Florida.[16][17][18]

The one billionth edit to a Wikimedia project took place on April 16, 2010.[19]

In 2013, the Wikimedia Foundation has abandoned efforts to combat explicit pornographic content on Wikipedia because its board members were not able to reach a consensus on a technical matter.[20]

First appointments

In April 2009, the Wikimedia Foundation conducted a Wikipedia usability study questioning users about the editing mechanism.[1]

In 2004, the foundation appointed Tim Starling as developer liaison to help improve the MediaWiki software, Daniel Mayer as chief financial officer (finance, budgeting, and coordination of fund drives), and Erik Möller as content partnership coordinator.

In May 2005, the foundation announced the appointment of seven people to official positions:[21]

  • Brion Vibber as chief technical officer (Vibber was also an employee of the Foundation, with other duties)
  • Domas Mituzas as hardware officer
  • Jens Frank as developer liaison
  • Möller as chief research officer
  • Danny Wool as grants coordinator
  • Elisabeth Bauer as press officer
  • Jean-Baptiste Soufron as lead legal coordinator

In January 2006, the foundation created several committees, including the Communication Committee, in an attempt to further organize activities essentially handled by volunteers at that time.[22] Starling resigned that month to spend more time on his PhD program.

Notable employees

A workers area at the Wikimedia Foundation's San Francisco headquarters
The location of the Wikimedia Foundation's San Francisco headquarters

The foundation's functions were, for the first few years, executed almost entirely by volunteers. In 2005, it had only two employees, Danny Wool, a coordinator, and Brion Vibber, a software manager. Though the number of employees has grown, the foundation's staff is still very small, and the bulk of foundation work continues to be done by volunteers.

As of October 4, 2006, the foundation had five paid employees:[23] two programmers, an administrative assistant, a coordinator handling fundraising and grants, and an interim executive director,[24] Brad Patrick, previously the foundation's general counsel. Patrick ceased his activity as interim director in January 2007, and then resigned from his position as legal counsel, effective April 1, 2007. He was replaced by Mike Godwin, who served as general counsel and legal coordinator from July 2007[25] until 2010.

In January 2007, Carolyn Doran was named chief operating officer and Sandy Ordonez joined as head of communications.[26] Doran began working as a part-time bookkeeper in 2006 after being sent by a temporary agency. Doran later left the foundation in July 2007, and Sue Gardner was hired as consultant and special advisor (later CEO). Her departure from the organization was cited by Florence Devouard as one of the reasons the foundation took about seven months to release its fiscal 2007 financial audit.[27]

In January 2014, a Wikimedia Foundation employee named Sarah Stierch was fired over accusations that she was paid to edit Wikipedia on behalf of clients. Danny Wool, officially the grant coordinator but also largely involved in fundraising and business development, resigned in March 2007. Wales was accused by former Wikimedia Foundation employee Danny Wool of misusing the foundation's funds for recreational purposes. Wool also stated that Wales had his Wikimedia credit card taken away in part because of his spending habits, a claim Wales denied.[28] In February 2007, the foundation added a new position, chapters coordinator, and hired Delphine Ménard,[29] who had been occupying the position as a volunteer since August 2005. Cary Bass was hired in March 2007 in the position of volunteer coordinator. In May 2007, Vishal Patel was hired to assist in business development.[30] Oleta McHenry was brought in as accountant in May 2007, through a temporary placement agency and made the official full-time accountant in August 2007. In January 2008, the foundation appointed three new staff: Veronique Kessler as the new chief financial and operating officer, Kul Wadhwa to replace Vishal Patel as head of business development, and Jay Walsh as head of communications.

In June 2008, the foundation announced two staff additions in fundraising: Rebecca Handler as major gifts officer and Rand Montoya as head of community giving.[31] Soon afterward, Sara Crouse was hired as head of partnerships and foundation relations.[32] In fall 2008, the foundation hired three software developers: Tomasz Finc, Ariel Glenn, and Trevor Parscal.[33]

In May 2011, the foundation had 65 employees. A list of Wikimedia Foundation staff can be found at the Wikimedia Foundation's staff page.

According to Business Insider, "In September of 2012, there was a quite a bit of media attention surrounding two Wikipedia employees (yes, they do have some paid personnel – including Jimbo who makes more than $50K per event where he is a speaker) who were running a PR business on the side and editing Wikipedia on behalf of their clients."[34]

Corporate governance

Board of Trustees

The board of trustees has ultimate authority of all the businesses and affairs of the foundation. It is composed by ten members:

  • three which are elected by the community encompassed by all the different Wikimedia projects,
  • two which are selected by the regional and local chapters,
  • one emeritus for the foundation's founder, Jimmy Wales, and
  • four which are appointed by the Board itself.[35]

The current members of the board are as follows:[36]

Name: Jan-Bart de Vreede
Position: Chairman of the Board
Residence: Gouda, Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
Occupation: community manager, product manager
Selection: appointed by the board
Date its term expires: December 2013
Before WMF: product manager at the Kennisnet Foundation, a publicly funded Dutch organization tasked with the promotion of information technology use in education to help solve some of the major challenges in the field.

Name: Phoebe Ayers
Position: Vice Chairwoman of the Board
Residence: Davis, California
Nationality: American
Occupation: librarian
Selection: selected by the community
Date its term expires: July 2015
Before WMF: reference, instruction and collections librarian at the University of California, Davis, specializing in computer science, physics and engineering information resources.

Name: Alice Weigand
Position: Member of the Board at-large; Chair of the Governance Committee
Residence: Duesseldorf, Germany
Nationality: German
Occupation: personal aide, IT manager
Selection: selected by the chapters
Date its term expires: July 2014
Before WMF: personal aide to the mayor of Meerbusch; head of Meerbusch's information technology department.

Name: María Sefidari
Position: Member of the Board at-large
Residence: Madrid, Spain
Nationality: Spaniard
Occupation: academic
Selection: selected by the community
Date its term expires: July 2015
Before WMF: founding member and first Vice-President of the Wikimedia España chapter.[37]

Name: Ana Toni
Position: Member of the Board at-large
Residence: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality: Brazilian
Occupation: chief executive officer
Selection: appointed by the board
Date its term expires: December 2014
Before WMF: Chairwoman of Greenpeace International.

Name: Patricio Lorente
Position: Member of the Board at-large
Residence: La Plata, Argentina
Nationality: Argentine
Occupation: social entrepreneur
Selection: selected by the chapters
Date its term expires: July 2014
Before WMF: former President of the Wikimedia Argentina chapter

Name: Bishakha Datta
Position: Member of the Board at-large
Residence: Mumbai, India
Nationality: Indian
Occupation: writer, filmmaker, social entrepreneur
Selection: appointed by the board
Date its term expires: December 2014
Before WMF: more than 20 years of experience with international non-profit organizations; co-founder and executive director of Point of View.

Name: Samuel Klein
Position: Member of the Board at-large; Chair of the Human Resources Committee
Residence: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality: American
Occupation: physicist, software developer, instructor, social entrepreneur
Selection: selected by the community
Date its term expires: July 2015
Before WMF: Director of Outreach at the One Laptop per Child Foundation.

Name: Jimmy Wales
Position: Member of the Board at-large
Residence: St. Petersburg, Florida
Nationality: American
Occupation: Internet entrepreneur
Selection: emeritus
Date its term expires: December 2013
Before WMF: co-founder of Wikipedia.

Name: Stu West
Position: Member of the Board at-large; Chair of the Audit Committee
Residence: San Francisco, California
Nationality: American
Occupation: executive
Selection: appointed by the board
Date its term expires: December 2013
Before WMF: senior executive roles at TiVo, Yahoo!, InfoSpace, and J.P. Morgan Chase.

Board members at Wikimania 2012 in Washington, D.C.
  • In January 2004, Jimmy Wales appointed his business partners Tim Shell and Michael E. Davis to the foundation's board.
  • 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.
  • In July 2005, Beesley and Nibart-Devouard were re-elected to the board.
  • On July 1, 2006, Beesley resigned from the board effective upon election of her successor, expressing concern about "certain events and tendencies that have arisen within the organization 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. A special election was held in September to finish Beesley's term, ending with the mid-2007 election. The election was won by Erik Möller.
  • In October 2006, Nibart-Devouard replaced Wales as chair of the Foundation. On December 8, 2006, the board expanded to seven people with the appointments of Kat Walsh and Oscar van Dillen. Effective December 15, 2006, Jan-Bart de Vreede was appointed to replace Shell.
  • In the June 2007 election, Möller and Walsh were reelected; van Dillen, who ran for re-election, was narrowly defeated by Frieda Brioschi.
  • Davis left the board in November 2007. Nibart-Devouard's elected term expired in June 2008. The appointed terms for Wales and de Vreede expired in December 2008. Brioschi's and Walsh's elected terms expired in June 2009.
  • In December 2007, Möller resigned from the Board of Trustees, and was hired as the foundation's deputy director by the executive director.
  • In February 2008, Florence Devouard announced the addition of two new board members: Michael Snow, an American lawyer and chair of the Communication Committee; and Domas Mituzas, a Lithuanian computer software engineer, MySQL employee, and longtime member of the core tech team.[38]
  • In April 2008, the board announced a restructuring of its membership, increasing the number of board positions to 10 overall, as follows:
    • Three community-elected seats
    • Two seats to be selected by the chapters
    • One board-appointed 'community founder' seat, to be occupied by Jimmy Wales
    • Four board-appointed 'specific expertise' seats[35]
  • In the June 2008 board election, Ting Chen was elected for a one-year term, then in September Frieda Brioschi resigned to be elected at the board of Wikimedia Italia.
  • In the August 2009 board election, Ting Chen was re-elected, while Kat Walsh and Samuel Klein were elected, effective until July 2011.
  • In the July 2010 board election, Michael Snow was replaced as chair of the board, although he retains his place on the Advisory Board.
  • In the June 2011 board election, Ting Chen, Kat Walsh, and Samuel Klein were re-elected.
  • In the June 2012 board election, Patricio Lorente and Alice Wiegand were elected.[39]
  • In the December 2012 special meeting, Bishakha Datta was re-elected.[40]

Advisory board

The Advisory Board is an international network of experts who have agreed to give the foundation meaningful help on a regular basis in many different areas, including law, organizational development, technology, policy, and outreach.[41] As of August 2013, the members are:


The foundation is supported by five standing committees of which three are led by members of the board. These are:

  • The Affiliations Committee which advises and makes recommendations to the Board of Trustees regarding the recognition and existence of national and sub-national chapters, thematic organizations, and user groups.[42] The committee is chaired by Bence Damokos.
  • The Audit Committee which assists the Board of Trustees in its general oversight of the foundation's accounting and financial reporting processes, audits of the financial statements, and internal control, and audit functions. The committee also oversees the relationship with the independent auditor selected by the foundation, and provides advice, counsel, and general direction, as it deems appropriate, to the foundation's management and auditors on the basis of the information it receives, discussions with the auditor, and the experience of the committee’s members in business, financial and accounting matters. The committee is chaired by Stu West.
  • The Funds Dissemination Committee (FDC) which makes recommendations to the foundation for funding activities and initiatives in support of its mission.[43] All funds raised via the Wikimedia project sites are distributed via the recommendations of the FDC, with the exception of the foundation's core operating costs and the operating reserve.[43] The committee is chaired by Dariusz Jemielniak.[44]
  • The Governance Committee which ensures that the Board of Trustees of the foundation fulfills its legal and fiduciary obligations, as well as helping in improving its governance, efficiency and effectiveness over time. The committee is chaired by Alice Weigand.
  • The Human Resources Committee which assists the Board of Trustees in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities through the implementation of sound compensation and personnel policies and practices. The committee is chaired by Samuel Klein.

Projects and initiatives

Wikimedia projects

In addition to Wikipedia, the foundation operates other wikis that follow the free content model with their main goal being the dissemination of knowledge. These include:

Name: Wikibooks
Description: collection of textbooks
Name: Wikinews
Description: online newspaper
Name: Wikispecies
Description: taxonomic catalogue of species
Name: Wikidata
Description: knowledge base
Name: Wikipedia
Description: online encyclopedia
Name: Wikiversity
Description: collection of tutorials and courses, while also serving as a hosting point to coordinate research.
Name: Wikimedia Commons
Description: repository of images, sounds, videos, and general media.
Name: Wikiquote
Description: collection of quotations
Name: Wikivoyage
Description: travel guide
Name: Meta-Wiki
Description: central site to coordinate all Wikimedia projects.
Name: Wikisource
Description: digital library
Name: Wiktionary
Description: online dictionary and thesaurus


Each year, an international conference called Wikimania brings the people together who are involved in the Wikimedia organizations and projects. The first Wikimania happened in Frankfurt (Germany), in 2005. Nowadays, Wikimania is organized by a committee supported usually by the national chapter, in collaboration with the Wikimedia Foundation. In 2013, Wikimania took place in Hong Kong. In 2014, Wikimania will take place in London.

Strategic Plan

Video explaining the Wikimedia Strategic Plan
The Wikimedia movement as a mindmap (2013)

In response to the growing size and popularity of Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a Strategic Plan to improve and sustain the Wikimedia movement. The plan was announced in July 2009, followed by a process of interviews and surveys with people from across the Wikimedia movement, including board of trustees, members of staff and volunteer editors.[45] After wide consultation, the ongoing plan was intended to be the basis of a five-year plan to further outreach, improve content quality and quality control, and optimising operational areas such as finance and infrastructure.[46]

Wikipedia Usability Initiative

In December 2008, the Wikimedia Foundation announced a restricted donation grant of $890,000 from the Stanton Foundation, to improve Wikipedia's accessibility.[47] Later named the Wikipedia Usability Initiative, the grant was used by the Wikimedia Foundation to appoint project-specific staff to the technology department.[48]

A series of surveys were conducted throughout 2009. This began with a Qualitative Environment Survey on MediaWiki extensions, followed by a Qualitative Statistical Survey focusing on volume of edits, number of new users, and related statistics. In March 2009, a Usability and Experience Study was carried out on new and non editors of the English Wikipedia. The aim was to discover what obstacles participants encountered while editing Wikipedia, ranging from small changes to more complicated syntax such as templates. The study recruited 2500 people for in-person laboratory testing via the Wikipedia website, which was filtered down to ten participants. The results were collated and used by the technology team to improve Wikipedia's usability.[49] The Usability and Experience Study was followed up by the Usability, Experience and Progress Study in September 2009. This study recruited different new and non editors for in-person trials on a new Wikipedia skin.[50]

The initiative ultimately culminated in a new Wikipedia skin named Vector, constructed based on the results of the usability studies. This was introduced by default in stages, beginning in May 2010.[51]

Public Policy Initiative

In May 2010, the Wikimedia Foundation announced the Public Policy Initiative, following a $1.2 million donation by the Stanton Foundation. The Public Policy Initiative was set up to improve articles relating to public policy-related issues.[52] As part of the initiative, Wikipedia collaborated with ten universities to help students and professors create and maintain articles relating to public policy.[53] Volunteer editors of Wikipedia, known as "ambassadors", provided assistance to students and professors. This was either done on campus sites or online.[54]


(dark blue) are existing chapters. (dark turquoise) indicates a chapter has been board approved but not yet founded. (green) indicates a chapter is in the planning stages. (light blue) indicates a chapter in discussion.

Wikimedia chapters are national (or in some cases sub-national) not-for-profit organisations created to promote the interests of Wikimedia projects locally. They support the foundation, the Wikimedia community and Wikimedia projects in different ways—by collecting donations, organizing local events/projects and conducting outreach.[55] The chapters are independent of the Wikimedia Foundation with no legal control of nor responsibility for the Wikimedia projects. The organisations are recognised and overseen by a Chapters Committee; following approval they enter into a "Chapters Agreement" with the foundation.[56][57] As of April 2012 there were 39 recognised Wikimedia chapters.[58]

Disputes and lawsuits

Many disputes have resulted in litigation[59][60][61][62] while others have not.[63] Attorney Matt Zimmerman stated, "Without strong liability protection, it would be difficult for Wikipedia to continue to provide a platform for user-created encyclopedia content."[64]

In December 2011, the Foundation hired Washington, DC lobbyist Dow Lohnes Government Strategies LLC to lobby the United States Congress with regard to "Civil Rights/Civil Liberties" and "Copyright/Patent/Trademark."[65] At the time of the hire the Foundation was concerned specifically about a bill known as the Stop Online Piracy Act.[66]

In October 2013, a German Court ruled that the Wikimedia Foundation can be held liable for content added to Wikipedia.[67]


Interview with Garfield Byrd, Chief of Finance and Administration at the Wikimedia Foundation. Recorded October 7, 2011
Wikimedia Foundation financial development 2003–2013

The Wikimedia Foundation relies on public contributions and grants to fund its mission.[68] It is exempt from federal income tax[68][69] and from state income tax.[68][70] It is not a private foundation, and contributions to it qualify as tax-deductible charitable contributions.[68] The continued technical and economic growth of each of the Wikimedia projects is dependent mostly on donations but the Wikimedia Foundation also increases its revenue by alternative means of funding such as grants, sponsorship, services and brand merchandising. The Wikimedia OAI-PMH update feed service, targeted primarily at search engines and similar bulk analysis and republishing, has been a source of revenue for several years,[68] but is no longer open to new customers.[71] DBpedia was given access to this feed free of charge.[72]

Since the end of fiscal year ended 2004, the Foundation's net assets have grown from $57K[73] to $45.2M at the end of fiscal year ended June 30, 2013.[3] Under the leadership of Sue Gardner, who joined the Wikimedia Foundation in 2007, the Foundation's staff levels, number of donors and revenue have seen very significant growth.[74]

Wikimedia's financial statements up to 2012
Fiscal year Revenue Year-over-year ratio
Expenses Year-over-year ratio
Net assets Year-over-year ratio
(net assets)
Steady $80,129
Steady N/A
Steady $23,463
Steady N/A
Steady $56,666
Steady N/A
Increase $379,088
Increase 373.10%
negative increase $177,670
negative increase 657.23%
Increase $268,084
Increase 373.09%
Increase $1,508,039
Increase 297.81%
negative increase $791,907
negative increase 345.72%
Increase $1,004,216
Increase 274.59%
Increase $2,734,909
Increase 81.36%
negative increase $2,077,843
negative increase 162.38%
Increase $1,658,282
Increase 65.13%
Increase $5,032,981
Increase 84.03%
negative increase $3,540,724
negative increase 70.40%
Increase $5,178,168
Increase 212.26%
Increase $8,658,006
Increase 72.03%
negative increase $5,617,236
negative increase 58.65%
Increase $8,231,767
Increase 58.97%
Increase $17,979,312
Increase 107.66%
negative increase $10,266,793
negative increase 82.77%
Increase $14,542,731
Increase 76.67%
Increase $24,785,092
Increase 37.85%
negative increase $17,889,794
negative increase 74.25%
Increase $24,192,144
Increase 66.35%
Increase $38,479,665
Increase 55.25%
negative increase $29,260,652
negative increase 63.56%
Increase $34,929,058
Increase 44.38%
Increase $48,635,408
Increase 26.39%
negative increase $35,704,796
negative increase 22.02%
Increase $45,189,124
Increase 29.37%

In 2007, Charity Navigator gave Wikimedia an overall rating of three out of four possible stars[82] (one out of four in efficiency, which has been criticised[83]). Charity Navigator gave three out of four possible stars in overall rating for fiscal years 2008 and 2009 which improved to four-stars in 2010.[84] The current overall rating is four stars – three stars for Financial, four stars for Accountability and Transparency.[85]

There are both supporting and opposing arguments regarding whether Wikimedia should switch to an advertising-based revenue model.[86]


In March 2008, the Foundation announced a large donation, at the time its largest donation yet: a three-year, $3 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.[87]

In 2009, the Foundation received four grants – the first grant was a $890,000 Stanton Foundation grant which was aimed to help study and simplify user interface for first-time authors of Wikipedia.[88] The second was a $300,000 Ford Foundation Grant, given in July 2009, for Wikimedia Commons that aimed to improve the interfaces and workflows for multimedia uploading on Wikimedia websites.[89] In August 2009, the Foundation received a $500,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.[90] Lastly, in August 2009, the Omidyar Network issued a potential $2M in "grant" funding to Wikimedia.[91]

In 2010, Google donated $2M to the Wikimedia Foundation.[92] Also in 2010, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation pledged a $800K grant and all was funded during 2011.

In March 2011, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation authorized another $3 million grant to continue to develop and maintain the Foundation's mission. The grant is to be funded over three years with the first $1 million funded in July 2011 and the remaining $2 million is scheduled to be funded in August 2012 and 2013. In August 2011, the Stanton Foundation pledged to fund a $3.6 million grant of which $1.8 million was funded and the remaining is scheduled to be funded in September 2012. This is the largest grant received by the Wikimedia Foundation to-date.[93] In November 2011, the Foundation received a $500K donation from Google co-founder Sergey Brin and his wife.[94][95]

In 2012, the Foundation was awarded a grant of $1.25 million from Lisbet Rausing[94] and Peter Baldwin through Charities Aid Foundation, which is to be funded in five equal installments. The first installment of $250,000 was received in April 2012 and the remaining are to be funded in December 2012 through 2015.


The foundation employs technology including hardware and software to run its projects.


Diagram showing flow of data between Wikipedia's servers. Twenty database servers talk to hundreds of Apache servers in the backend; Apaches talk to fifty squids in the frontend.
Overview of system architecture, December 2010. See server layout diagrams on Meta-Wiki.
Wikimedia foundation servers

Wikimedia currently runs on dedicated clusters of Linux servers (mainly Ubuntu),[96][97] with a few OpenSolaris machines for ZFS. As of December 2009, there were 300 in Florida and 44 in Amsterdam.[98] Wikipedia employed a single server until 2004, when the server setup was expanded into a distributed multitier architecture. In January 2005, the project ran on 39 dedicated servers in Florida. This configuration included a single master database server running MySQL, multiple slave database servers, 21 web servers running the Apache HTTP Server, and seven Squid cache servers.

Wikipedia receives between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second, depending on the time of day.[99] Page requests are first passed to a front-end layer of Squid caching servers.[100] Further statistics are available based on a publicly available 3-months Wikipedia access trace.[101] Requests that cannot be served from the Squid cache are sent to load-balancing servers running the Linux Virtual Server software, which in turn pass the request to one of the Apache web servers for page rendering from the database. The web servers deliver pages as requested, performing page rendering for all the language editions of Wikipedia. To increase speed further, rendered pages are cached in a distributed memory cache until invalidated, allowing page rendering to be skipped entirely for most common page accesses.


The operation of Wikimedia depends on MediaWiki, a custom-made, free and open source wiki software platform written in PHP and built upon the MySQL database.[102] The software incorporates programming features such as a macro language, variables, a transclusion system for templates, and URL redirection. MediaWiki is licensed under the GNU General Public License and it is used by all Wikimedia projects, as well as many other wiki projects. Originally, Wikipedia ran on UseModWiki written in Perl by Clifford Adams (Phase I), which initially required CamelCase for article hyperlinks; the present double bracket style was incorporated later. Starting in January 2002 (Phase II), Wikipedia began running on a PHP wiki engine with a MySQL database; this software was custom-made for Wikipedia by Magnus Manske. The Phase II software was repeatedly modified to accommodate the exponentially increasing demand. In July 2002 (Phase III), Wikipedia shifted to the third-generation software, MediaWiki, originally written by Lee Daniel Crocker. Several MediaWiki extensions are installed[103] to extend the functionality of MediaWiki software. In April 2005, a Lucene extension[104][105] was added to MediaWiki's built-in search and Wikipedia switched from MySQL to Lucene for searching. Currently Lucene Search 2.1,[106] which is written in Java and based on Lucene library 2.3,[107] is used.

Wikimedia Foundation also uses CiviCRM[108] and WordPress.[109]

See also

  • Wikipedia:Wikimedia Foundation, an "internal" Wikipedia page—not an encyclopedia article—for an English Wikipedia editing audience


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