After a 3-month long debate among its community members, Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), the no-profit organization behind the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, has decided to stop accepting cryptocurrency donations. Before this decision, WMF used to accept contributions in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash.
A Wikimedia editor, Molly White, began a discussion in the Wikimedia community to reconsider its decision to accept cryptocurrency as a means of donation. This led to an online discussion among members from 10 January 2022 to 12 April 2022. Finally, voting was conducted where a majority of the community participants favored White’s proposal.
The arguments put forth against crypto donations included environmental unsustainability and damage to Wikimedia’s reputation as accepting the donations meant endorsing whatever digital assets stand for.
About 400 community members participated in the debate, and new and unregistered ones were excluded from the voting. The Wikimedia community voted for the discontinuation of crypto donations by 232 to 94, or 71.17%. Subsequently, they requested Wikipedia’s parent organization to discontinue cryptocurrency donations.
On May 1, Molly White broke the news on Twitter that Wikimedia has accepted the community’s request and stopped accepting crypto donations.
“The Wikimedia Foundation has decided to stop accepting cryptocurrency donations. The decision was made based on a community request that the WMF no longer accepts crypto donations, which came out of a three-month-long discussion that wrapped up earlier this month,” she tweeted, along with a Wikipedia statement purportedly to the community members.
The document added that the Wikimedia Foundation had begun accepting cryptocurrency in 2014 in line with requests from “volunteers and donor communities.” Wikimedia Foundation will close its Bitpay account, which will remove its ability to directly accept cryptocurrency as a method of donating, the statement explained. However, the organization also said it’s an “evolving matter.”
The debate began with Molly White asking how much money Wikimedia has received in crypto donations. WMF replied that the donations it received last year in digital assets amounted to a little over $130,000, or 0.08% of its revenue. The most used cryptocurrency was bitcoin, and all donations were spot converted into fiat USD.
It also saw some members discussing the benefits of “Proof of Stake” in comparison to “Proof of Work,” the former being considered to be less energy-intensive. The debate that exceeded 60,000 words discussed many other issues such as money laundering, use of cryptocurrency in crime and scams, pseudonym donation, mining ban in Russia, central banks’ fiat currency system, and its flaws.
Wikimedia’s latest decision has once again brought a spotlight on the growing importance of crypto donations.
In the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the latter has received over $100 million in crypto donations, so far. And, fearing Russian interference, Ireland has recently banned crypto donations for political parties.
Last month, a Republican member of Louisiana, Mark Right, introduced a bill in the state legislature that sought to lay down rules for crypto donations for political campaigns.
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