Supporting Small Wikipedias Financially

Over on the Wikipedia mailing list, where folks discuss the details of the sprawling Wiki projects under the “Wikimedia” banner, an intriguing idea has surfaced:

Pay people to write articles in languages that aren’t very strong on the web.

My first reaction to this was “hey wait a second, the whole point is that it’s a volunteer project.” And there are a million parameters involved in solving such an equation:

  • How do you define whether a particular language qualifies?
  • How do you actually get the money to people?
  • Won’t money influence Wikimedia’s “Non-Point-Of-View” tenet?

But maybe it is a good idea, even if it isn’t easy. Milos Rancic made the case better than I have:

There are a lot of Roma people in Serbia and they are very very poor. Maybe it is better to organize some stipendies for some of them to study and work on Wikipedia? Average salary in Serbia is around $350/month, but I think it would be enough $100 for some yung Roma who study high school or university. Romas in high school are very rare, so it can be the target population. (I would waste a lot of time to find some Roma who is studing something on university.)

I don’t think that it is bad idea. Almost all of us are working on Wikipedia in his/her free time, but a lot of small ethicities are living very poor and they don’t have enough of free time.

Wikipedia became important global cultural movement. And Wikipedians should start to thinkg about helping other people to become a part of their movement.

If there is no financial support for some of these languages that are new to the web, their Wikipedias may never get off the ground. That would suck, because not only can such projects preserve languages, they can help them to flower just a bit more, maybe just enough to make a big difference to their futures. Those who are lucky enough to be able to work on Wikipedia for fun might want to think about the chance to help people who don’t have that luxury.

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