Founder: Wikipedia Will Absolutely Never Fundraise by ICO

Jimmy Wales told Business Insider this week that Wikipedia, the crowdsourced encyclopedia he founded in 2001 with partner Larry Sanger, has “zero interest” in and will “absolutely never” raise money by initial coin offering (ICO).

The site will continue to run on donations and volunteer labour, he said, noting that Wikipedia has had some success with its “banner campaign” method of periodically soliciting money directly from visitors to the site.

“It’s pretty effective because we’ve got the traffic to get meaningful results,” he said.

Although Wales began experimentation fairly early with Bitcoin, and though Wikipedia began accepting Bitcoin donations in 2014, Wales has been critical of ICOs (initial coin offerings), a method of fundraising by digital token that has allowed numerous companies to sidestep securities regulations.

Last October, Wales told CNBC, “There are a lot of these initial coin offerings, which, in my opinion, are absolute scams, and people should be very wary of things that are going on in that area.”

Wales doubled down on his comments just before headlining at BlockShow Europe, a vast blockchain and ICO trade show held this past May in Berlin. Wales dtold reporter Stewart Rogers at Venture Beat:

“My attitude has not changed at all…Almost every ICO is offering nothing of value to the world. That doesn’t mean that the concept of an ICO is inherently bad — just that we are in a bubble where people are doing a lot of things that don’t make any rational sense outside of the bubble mentality. We’ve lived through this before during the dot-com bubble.”

According to Cointelegraph, Wales used his appearance at BlockShow Europe to criticize reporting in crypto. “I think this is a space where we’re in serious need of real journalism,” he said.

Business Insider reports that Wales is now working on a for-profit media project called WikiTribune, his entrepreneurial response to rising concerns about media credibility and ‘fake news’:

“That term initially had a clear meaning, referring to fake websites with no concern for the truth that depend on viral reproduction for quick ad revenue. For Donald Trump, it means ‘news he doesn’t like,’ and that’s problematic.”

Primary sourcing is further obscured in news production today by the copying of news from one site to another:

“It’s not uncommon for mainstream media to get duped by copying a story from somewhere else. Copy, copy copy — the financial pressures are too real. This diminishes trust in the media, and we need to have trust in the media in order to have a democracy.”

Business Insider contributor Dylan Love writes that WikiTribune will operate on, “…Wikipedia-like principles to unite established journalism pros with volunteers to research, fact-check, and report the day’s news stories.”

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