I’ve never considered Wikipedia to be a repository of authoritative information the way we, of previous generations, viewed the Encyclopedia Brittanica. The model Wikipedia uses—community-focused and open—allows for public input, which is a positive. The negative is that anyone can contribute to Wikipedia and that can lead to inaccurate information being published. This presents a challenge when using Wikipedia for academic research…

Nevertheless, I’ve been turning to Wikipedia increasingly over the last year or two for quick enlightenment about stats, resources, and other information that isn’t mission-critical. The information is usually acceptable as-is and I’ve only had to raise my eyebrows or question the integrity of the author a few times. Despite the shortcomings, of which there are only a few, Wikipedia shines as a free resource on the Internet. That’s why I continue to use their website.

It’s only fair, then, that I listen to their cry for help. You should listen, too. Wikipedia says they need donations to offset their operating expenses. Here is their message, verbatim, as posted on their website:

Dear Wikipedia readers: We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 150 staff but serve 450 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, rent, programs, staff and legal help. To protect our independence, we’ll never run ads. We take no government funds. We run on donations. If everyone reading this gave the price of a cup of coffee, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online another year by donating whatever you can today. We just need .3% of readers to donate an average of about $30. We’re not there yet. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.

Clicking the Please Help toggle produces a form, as shown below. Just determine the amount you want to contribute and enjoy a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

Donate to Wikipedia

A cup of Joe isn’t likely to break any gainfully-employed person’s bank, even in this devastated economy; $5 via PayPal during this season of “giving” shouldn’t pose any problems. I’m going to consider how much I believe a fair donation to be and send some digital currency across to assist them fight the good fight of providing information to the masses.