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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
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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."

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