Community contributors ask Wikimedia Foundation to ban crypto donations

The Wikimedia contributor community has requested that the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit that funds Wikipedia and other sister projects, should cease accepting donations in cryptocurrency, following a three-month debate over the ethics of using the technology.

US-based software developer Molly White, who edits Wikipedia under the username GorillaWarfare, put forward the proposition on January 10. This led to a period where contributors could state their support or opposition to the idea. The Requests for Comment page debating the proposition closed this week with a total of 232 to 94 contributors (71.7%) in favor of the ban. 

“Thus, the Wikimedia community requests that the Wikimedia Foundation stop accepting cryptocurrency donations,” states the proposal, in light of the feedback.

The community cited concerns around environmental sustainability, whether accepting cryptocurrency equates to an endorsement of the technology, and reputational implications as reasons for implementing a ban.

The foundation currently accepts donations in Bitcoin, BitcoinCash and Ether. In the last financial year, it received over $130,000 in cryptocurrency donations. This represents just 0.08% of revenue, making it one of the foundation’s smallest donation channels. 

Among the 347 people who opted to donate via crypto, Bitcoin was the most common option.

Mozilla changes direction

The news comes just days after Mozilla posted “we got it wrong, we heard you, and we’ve evolved“ on its official Twitter account as it announced plans to resume crypto donations — excluding some coins. It paused the payment option in January. 

Mozilla’s co-founder is longtime crypto critic Jamie Zawinski, who via his blog has branded cryptocurrencies an “apocalyptic ecological disaster,” a “greater-fool pyramid scheme” and “incredibly toxic to the open web.”

It is one of several groups who have rolled back involvement in crypto and blockchain technology over the last few months following criticism about the environmental impact. 

While Mozilla will not accept cryptocurrencies using proof of work due to environmental considerations, it is now working on a list of approved proof-of-stake payment options which will be published and implemented by the end of Q2 2022. 

Like Mozilla, Wikimedia began accepting crypto in 2014. It has not yet clarified whether it will adhere to its community’s wishes. 

The Block has reached out to the Wikimedia Foundation for its response to the proposal. 

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