Wikipedia is trying to raise money. That is nothing new. It is run by a non-profit organization called the Wikimedia Foundation. Ever so often, they have fundraisers, much in the same way PBS or NPR might truncate your favorite show with a pledge drive. This is normal and an acceptable part of non-profit media.
This year, however, Wikipedia has come up with a new strategy. Rather than having a picture of a gauge that tracks how much money they have raised, they have pictures of their founder, Jimmy Wales – lots of pictures. In fact, it seems like every Wikipedia article has its own picture of him. These are not pictures of him digging wells in Africa or editing Wikipedia from his iPad. They are just him, looking like a sad poster child for a relief agency.
“For just 10 cents a day, you can help kids like little Jimmy go to school and have new clothes.”
Ah, but there is one key difference: those poster children are adorable. You, my dear Jimmy, are not so cute, and the more I look at you, the more I want to give money just to make you go away. Don’t get me wrong here. He’s not ugly, but I don’t want to see pictures of any grown man looking sad and abandoned day after day.
So, maybe this is Wikipedia’s intention; keep bombarding users with sad pictures of the founder until they give money, just to make it stop. It is extortion. Shame on you Jimmy Wales. Wait, no, don’t cry…please. Here, take my credit card.