"Will Wikipedia close in 4 months ? NO. NO. AND NO".
That's from a message that Florence Devouard, the chairwoman of the Wikimedia Foundation, which operates the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, posted on their internal mailing list. The last ten days must have been weird for Florence, after -- at the LIFT conference in Geneva -- she said (see my original post) that they have money in the bank to pay the bills for the next "three months, roughly”. That was picked up by bloggers, some of whom, failing to understand that cash flow renews itself and that Devouard was just making a legitimate call for support, morphed her words into "Wikipedia could shut down within 3/4 months" or "could disappear", triggering an avalanche of posts all over the world.
I have already summarized what happened and clarified the issue (Wikipedia won't shut down) in this previous post, based on a conversation I had with Florence (my reporting must have been accurate, since she links back to my post in her message to the Wikipedians). Laurent has posted the video of her speech, so anyone can now directly check what she said at LIFT (the money discussion is in the last few minutes, during the Q&A). All the Wikimedia financial statements are public. And there is now that message from Florence to WIkipedians in which, while confirming that they have money for "about 3-4 months of operations", she states:
"I repeat, we are not going to disappear. We have been in worse state in the past".
Now: the Wikimedia finances are not overflowing (that's why she issued that call for support). Investments in servers that were planned last September, for example, have been delayed until December, waiting for the money to come in through a fundraising drive. In her own words:
"This should not happen. We should not come to the point where we delay hardware investment. We should aim to provide the best service, not just the service we can afford. We should not try to pretend we do not need money. We do need more money. People at the Foundation are trying to find creative ways to collect more, with services (datafeed), royalties from brand use (Wikipedia in particular), matching donations etc... but raising the money for the projects should not become only the business of 10 or so employees. This should be many people's concern. Because Wikipedia is not the website of a few people, not even the website of the community, it is a common good".
It is. A very important global common good. I'm thinking of creative ways to help Wikimedia/Wikipedia, and definitely invite you to do so, too.