Conflicting statements over the weekend from Wikipedia brass have created a storm about the future of the online encyclopaedia.
According to Network World, Florence Devouard, chairwoman of the Wikimedia Foundation, stated in a speech at Lift07 that Wikipedia has funding for only another quarter and "might disappear" if donations don't pick up.
According to a blog picked up by the publication, Devouard told the audience: "At this point, Wikipedia has the financial resources to run its servers for about three to four months. If we do not find additional funding, it is not impossible that Wikipedia might disappear."
Not many hours later, Wikimedia spokesperson Sandy Ordonez stepped in with some damage control.
"Ms. Devouard's comment was taken out of context," Ordonez says. "Wikipedia will not be closing any time soon. Ms. Devouard was simply referring to the ongoing, pressing needs for funds that Wikipedia, like most non-profit organisations, face. Ms. Devouard was attempting to showcase how, because of our global reach, Wikipedia needs to be much more creative in its fundraising efforts."
Bloggers around the world have questioned Devouard's statement as absurd considering the marketable assets that Wikipedia has.
However, Network World does note that there is little doubt the organisation needs cash. Its worldwide operations now require 350 servers – and its annual operational cost is around $5-million.
So far this year, it has managed to raise just $1-million.