- Wikipedia relies on user donations to remain open and free to use.
- More often than not, voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, or Google Home refer to Wikipedia to respond to questions users ask them — but not all tech giants make donations.
- On Wednesday September 26, 2018, Wikimedia announced it had received a donation of $1 million from Amazon, following regular donations from Google and Apple.
Everyone can access Wikipedia for free but at the same time, says Lisa Gruwell, Director of Revenue at the Wikimedia Foundation: "We encourage companies who use Wikimedia's content to give back in the spirit of sustainability."
It's only thanks to the voluntary donations from Wikipedia users that the online, universal, and collaborative encyclopedia is still open and free to all.
That said, there are also a number of commercial companies that use Wikipedia — which is particularly the case for voice assistants such as Alexa, Siri, or Google Home. More often than not, these voice assistants use Wikipedia to respond to questions users ask them.
These companies are of course free to do so, but in return are strongly encouraged to make a donation to help keep Wikipedia running.
Last March, Gruwell complained on Techcrunch that certain companies were exploiting Wikipedia, saying "donations don't grow on trees". According to her, the main problem was that voice assistants were now serving as intermediaries between people and the encyclopedia, reducing the chances that people would contribute as publishers or respond to donation campaigns.
Several major global tech companies had already donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, which manages the financial side of Wikipedia. Apple, for example, regularly appears on the list of " major benefactors" and Google is one of the biggest contributors, having donated over $1 million last year.
It appears that Amazon, who hadn't contributed up until now, have had a change of heart — on Wednesday September 26, 2018, Wikimedia announced it had received a donation of $1 million from Amazon to supplement the Wikimedia Endowment fund, which is dedicated to ensuring the long-term financial sustainability of Wikipedia.
In addition, a new feature with Alexa will enable users to donate to Wikipedia by voice command.
"By donating to the Wikimedia Endowment, Amazon shows an understanding of the need to invest in the long-term success of Wikipedia," Wikipedia analysis in a statement.
"We are grateful for Amazon's support, and hope this marks the beginning of a long-term partnership to supporting Wikipedia's future," added Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia.