Update (May 2, 15:13 UTC): The Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) said in a new update it will no longer support cryptocurrencies like bitcoin (BTC) or ether (ETH) as a donation method. The organization added that it will continue to monitor this issue.

Wikipedia may soon bar donations in bitcoin (BTC) as its editors seem to be worried about cryptocurrency's environmental impact. A majority (~71%) of the Wikimedia community members have already voted against donations in cryptocurrency.

A debate started by a Wikipedia user who goes by GorillaWarfare lasted from January 10 to April 12 with a little under 400 participants.

  • As an argument against crypto donations, users referred to issues of environmental sustainability, and community issues with the "risk to the movement’s reputation for accepting cryptocurrencies."
  • Those who were against the ban stressed that the crypto market also has "eco-friendly" assets running on the Proof-of-Stake algorithm and that fiat currencies "also have issues with environmental sustainability."

While the majority seems ti be against crypto, there's no legal obligation for the Wikimedia Foundation to act upon the community request.

Money matters

But the real problem behind crypto donations may be anything but eco-trend. Back in February 2020, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales speaking in a panel discussion at Coingeek 2020 pointed out that listing bitcoin as a donation method harmed the company's revenue. Here's what he had to say:

We did some A/B testing, where we throw up the testing thing, you can donate using credit card, PayPal, you can donate bitcoin and it turned out that actual revenue declined when we did that. We brought in less total money, from all three sources.

While bitcoin was an interesting thing for donators, it actually distracted them from donating:

They click and they read about it and they think 'but I don’t have any bitcoin, how do I get bitcoin' and the next thing you know they go and just invest.

And his statements seem to be true as a spokesperson for Wikipedia revealed that the Wikimedia Foundation received just a little above $130,000 worth of crypto in the last fiscal year, which is 0.08% of the company's annual revenue.

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