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Wiki community votes to stop accepting cryptocurrency donations

Cryptocurrencies make up less than 1% of wiki donations, but as member points out, that $130k could pay a salary

The wiki community held a vote as to whether the Wikimedia Foundation should continue to accept cryptocurrency donations, the result of which was a resounding "no".

The proposal was made by Wikipedia administrator, checkuser and oversighter GorillaWarfare based on three points: it could be seen as an endorsement of cryptocurrency by the organization; the tech is not environmentally sustainable; and, last of all, accepting crypto could damage the reputation of the foundation.

The Wikimedia Foundation currently accepts donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum, as well as traditional payment types. According to the community, crypto is one of the foundation's smallest revenue channels, making up a mere .08 percent of 2021 revenue, equating to $130,100. Total revenue for 2021 was around $162 million.

The decision to accept the alternative cash was made in 2014, as requests from donors for the option coincided with the US Internal Revenue Service issuing guidance on the matter.

The foundation's policy is to immediately convert the crypto to US dollars using bitcoin payment service provider BitPay, a policy which is also raised concerns as it may be viewed as an endorsement of the vendor.

Of the 326 votes cast between January 10 and April 12 this year, 71 percent (232) supported the proposal to stop accepting cryptocurrency while roughly 29 percent wanted to continue doing so. The results, however, are non-binding.

"We never should have started accepting them in the first place. Many years later, they represent not even 1 percent of annual donations," wrote one community member at the time of voting. "Wikimedia is legitimizing a series of environmentally unfriendly Ponzi schemes by accepting Bitcoin and is getting almost nothing back financially in return."

Another community member countered: "To the contrary, crypto aligns with our values of free software and user freedom."

One pro-crypto accepting Wiki member stated: "Beggars can't be choosers."

Yet another reminded voters that "Bitcoin is an official currency in El Salvador."

Additionally, naysayers pointed out less-energy intensive cryptocurrencies exist (proof-of-stake), that cryptocurrencies allow people to donate anonymously and lastly, that fiat currencies have their own environmental challenges.

Last week, Mozilla announced that it would no longer accept "proof-of-work" cryptocurrencies, only those that were "proof-of-stake" and therefore less energy intensive. The decision came after a three-month feedback period.

Firefox sign outside the Mozilla offices in San Francisco

Mozilla founder blasts browser maker for accepting 'planet incinerating' cryptocurrency donations


"These decisions are informed by our climate commitments," said the non-profit.

For-profit fintech company PayPal currently allows payments to be made through the digital currencies.

And although it is yet to materialize, rumors swirled last summer that Amazon would soon allow users to pay in cryptocurrencies, after job postings were spotted advertising a digital currency and blockchain product lead for its payments team. ®

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