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An Ode to Wikipedia

Nan Barnes

I am old enough to remember hard-bound encyclopedias, those infallible sources for grade-school reports. And I am old enough to remember the pre-Google era, when I would wonder, and wonder, and yet my questions remained unanswered. Do you remember the days when you had to wait to go to the library?

Now, for a quick answer, above all, there is Wikipedia. Of all the innumerable sources of internet information, Wikipedia is my go-to source for quick answers to my constant questions. On my computer’s browser, it holds the place of honor, that first, left button on my bookmarks toolbar.

Here’s a small example of Wikipedia’s usefulness: Today, someone cryptically wrote“TIA” in an email to me. I was at a loss. I Googled it, and discovered that TIA is the acronym for a transient ischemic attack, and for the Telecommunications Industry Association, too. No luck. Wikipedia was more helpful: It listed every instance of TIA, categorized from medicine, transportation, people’s names, and literature and the arts, and that’s where I found my match. In my case, the meaning was "TIA" (thanks in advance), common usage in internet slang. How could I not know that? Well, now I do. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Today there was a banner at the top of the Wikipedia page, with a message from the founder, Jimmy Wales. I idly clicked on it and read the message. I'd never thought of it before, that Wikipedia is "a humanitarian project to bring a free encyclopedia to every single person on the planet." I was touched by Wale’s earnest idealism. I donated a few dollars.

What does it mean to have facts at your fingertips? What is it worth? A lot, to me. I think it has changed the way I navigate the world. Now, I expect to know – and if I don’t, well then I’ll find out. Thanks, Wikipedia.

Read Jimmy Wales’ message about Wikipedia, and consider donating a few dollars yourself by clicking the button below.

If everyone reading this donated a dollar, we would be able to keep Wikipedia strong, secure, and ad-free.

Not everyone can or will donate. And that’s fine, because each year just enough people support Wikipedia with a small donation. If you feel it's your turn, please make a small donation of $10, $20, $35 or whatever you can to keep Wikipedia free.

Most people don't know this, but I'm a volunteer.

I don't get paid a cent for my work at Wikipedia, and neither do our thousands of other volunteer authors and editors. When I founded Wikipedia, I could have made it into a for-profit company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something different. Commerce is fine. Advertising is not evil. But it doesn't belong here. Not in Wikipedia. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind. It is a place we can all go to think, to learn, to share our knowledge with others. It is a unique human project, the first of its kind in history. It is a humanitarian project to bring a free encyclopedia to every single person on the planet.

Every single person.

We're a small organization, and I've worked hard over the years to keep us lean and tight. We fulfill our mission, and leave waste to others.

To do this without resorting to advertising, we need you. It is you who keep this dream alive. It is you who have created Wikipedia. It is you who believe that a place of calm reflection and learning is worth having.

This year, please consider making a donation to protect and sustain Wikipedia.


Jimmy Wales

Wikipedia Founder

Support Wikipedia

click the botton to donate