Skip to main content

Cash call coming: Jimmy Wales' Wikipedia drive to stay ad-free

By Ramy Inocencio, for CNN
updated 6:11 AM EST, Thu December 6, 2012
  • Founder of Wikipedia starting new fund raising drive to keep site free
  • The 2010 fund drive raised $16 million in 50 days from 500,000 people
  • Jimmy Wales: "It's a temple for the mind. It's a place where we think and reflect"

(CNN) -- Remember Wikipedia's black banner ads that asked for money to keep the lights on at the not-for-profit online encyclopedia? Expect more of those.

"We think it's really important to maintain the independence of Wikipedia. We like to keep it ad free," said co-founder Jimmy Wales to CNN's Richard Quest.

Loyal users of the crowd-sourced information portal have answered the call for coin in the past. In 2010, the last time Wikipedia asked for donations, the website pulled in the requested $16 million dollars in 50 days from 500,000 people, according to the Wikimedia Foundation.

While critics might compare the black banner blitz to begging, Wales implies he does not want conflicts of interest to arise.

"When people go read the entry to General Motors you might find it a little disconcerting if you find an ad for the new Corvette there," Wales says.

Still, the American internet entrepreneur admits he is not opposed to advertising.

Wales runs Wikia, a for-profit video gaming website. With more than 200,000 wikis, or pages that are collaboratively built and maintained, Wikia describes itself as "the world's largest network of collaboratively published video game, entertainment, and lifestyle content."

While Wikia is a place for profit, Wales likens Wikipedia to a place of worship.

"It's a temple for the mind. It's a place where we think and reflect -- that place of quiet -- somewhere to go and learn something. And we really want to preserve that."

With more than 1.7 billion edits and counting, users around the world continue to build and change Wikipedia, with thousands of volunteers self-monitoring information and collaborating for free. Wales says its "completely insane."

"It's completely impossible and it can't work and yet she flies. It really comes down to something quite wonderful about human nature that it turns out there's lots and lots of really nice, thoughtful people who want to come and help -- and they do."

Part of complete coverage on
updated 12:42 PM EST, Fri December 13, 2013
Space tourist Mark Shuttleworth on Nelson Mandela's legacy, and why our future is in the stars.
updated 5:23 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
Nick D'Aloisio, teen tech genius, envisions a digital future without footprints.
updated 3:14 AM EST, Thu December 12, 2013
The smart phone has revolutionized our personal and professional lives. And it's going to keep changing.
updated 4:09 AM EST, Wed December 11, 2013
There's a revolution coming to a screen near you -- and it's going to change your life. Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and entrepreneur Oren Etzioni reveal what to expect.
updated 3:53 AM EST, Thu December 26, 2013
Acclaimed futurist Ray Kurzweil on the future of human life -- one where we print organs and play in total immersion environments.
updated 11:45 AM EST, Mon December 9, 2013
Ten years ago we were carrying flip-screen mobiles, Evanescence was top of the charts and just 11.4% of the world was online. How things have changed.
updated 11:11 AM EST, Tue December 10, 2013
The Web will change our lives dramatically over the next decade. But could mobile devices tell us when to break up?
updated 9:38 AM EST, Tue December 11, 2012
It's the $199 headband that will allow you to control things using your mind, say makers.
updated 10:44 AM EST, Thu December 6, 2012
Many of Europe's leading tech entrepreneurs are meeting at the annual LeWeb conference in Paris this week to celebrate the future - an "Internet of things" governed by intelligent devices.
updated 5:50 PM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
CNN talks to the "podfather" Tony Fadell, the man behind Apple's iPod about his new product -- an intelligent home thermostat, Nest.
updated 8:50 AM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
Syrians are silhouetted as they walk in a street in the northern city of Aleppo on November 29, 2012. Internet and telephone services resumed in several provinces, with state news agency SANA saying on December 1, that the outage was due to maintenance work but activists claimed was a deliberate move to deprive the opposition of communications
Communications are a foundation for the social and economic opportunities that everyone deserves, writes Dr Hamadoun I Toure for CNN.
updated 12:07 PM EST, Wed December 5, 2012
Amber Case argues that humans are becoming cyborgs because of how much we interact with technology.
updated 12:18 PM EDT, Tue June 4, 2013
The future has arrived and it will be run by our devices. But how will it work and what should we expect?
updated 6:47 AM EST, Sat December 8, 2012
The war between natives and immigrants is ending. The natives have won.
updated 8:39 AM EST, Mon December 3, 2012
When James Law looks in the mirror he sees weather reports, e-mails and his heart rate. The concept, Internet of Things, is developed in China.