Wikipedia may soon tweak its website and operations, thanks to a $3 million donation from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The money will go towards cementing the site’s credibility through new features and creating Wikipedia-branded DVDs or books.
Digital Journal — Wikipedia ranks ninth of the top 10 U.S. websites, and its user-based community has written more than two million articles. Now the non-profit site run by the Wikimedia Foundation will be growing even more: philanthropic institution the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has donated $3 million to Wikipedia.
The donation, paid out $1 million annually over three years, will help fund various initiatives, such as assigning Flagged Revisions to the site’s content. The Revisions feature would verify an article’s credibility on the open-source encyclopedia, functioning like a “nutrition label” for content.
Wikipedia will also earmark some portion of that donation to offline promotion, either in the form of books or DVDs. It is uncertain how an offline version of Wikipedia would translate to these media.
Sue Gardner, Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, said in a statement:
This institutional support from Sloan will enable us to make progress on some key goals: increasing quality, broadening participation, and distributing free knowledge to people without Internet connectivity.
Along with offline promotion and Flagged Revisions, Gardner hinted the $3 million will assist in another outreach project called the Wikipedia Academy, which is “designed to increase Wikipedia’s quality by teaching academics, older people, and other targeted groups how to contribute.”
The Wikimedia Foundation recently relocated to San Francisco and plans to increase its staff to 25 from 15 by 2010. It has already spun off other projects from the Wikipedia model, including January’s launch of Wikia Search.
The Sloan Foundation news came at a critical point for Wikipedia. In recent months, Wikipedia’s co-founder Jimmy Wales had to deflect attention away from controversies both online and in real life: he was accused of protecting the Wikipedia page of TV news commentator Rachel Marsden, with whom he had a romantic relationship. And he has been criticized for abusing his expense account, failing to provide receipts for $30,000 in expenses.
As a non-profit, Wikipedia relies on fundraisers. It has received donations from 45,000 individuals, with each contributing an average of $30.