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http://www.wikimediafoundation.org

The NonProfit that hosts WikiPedia and its satellite projects. The name is a clever transformation of Wikipedia to Wikimedia to account for a) the large number of projects that are not themselves encyclopaedias, b) the MediaWiki software at the heart of all of them. (Though this cleverness does not come without cost, of course; many people confuse the two names.)

The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) is responsible for many [projects], including:

In addition to the international foundation based in Florida, there are also chapters in various jurisdictions around the world for various tax and legal reasons.

The current chair of the Foundation is FlorenceDevouard. JimmyWales, founder of WikiPedia, served as chair from its founding until late 2006; he stepped down as chair to DevolvePower and continues to serve on the board as chairman emeritus. There was previously considerable political consternation over the fact that Jimmy could not be voted out as he controlled three of the five seats on the board and the board members were the only legal members of the actual NonProfit corporation. The bylaws were revised in late 2006 to eliminate permanent positions; the idea of membership was also eliminated due to the difficulties in determining who should be members and what barriers to entry there should be. (And those changes create their own political issues.)

In early 2006 several committees were created to handle tasks such as communications, special projects, and chapter coordination, each with at least one board member on it but primarily handled by volunteers. Some have been successful and relieved the Board of some of these duties; others never got off the ground.

Several current and former board members of the Wikimedia Foundation have connections to Jimmy's for-profit company, Wikia, which is a cause of some concern to observers. These connections, particularly Wales' involvement with both (and the similar name, and similar look of the sites) confuse the press, which often associates one organization's projects with the other.

As the Foundation and the projects grow, there is tension over the roles of the Foundation and the project CommunityMembers (however "community member" is defined), and its degree of transparency and control. There are now several employees who handle administrative, legal, and development tasks, but still an unusually small number for a project of its size, and much of this work is still done by volunteers.

Nevertheless, the Wikimedia Foundation is a model NonProfit for large-scale, global Internet initiatives.

CategoryWikiPedia?


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