The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (WMF for short) is a San Francisco-based U.S. nonprofit foundation established under the laws of the state of Florida where it originally operated. The foundation operates Wikipedia’s online lexicon and sister projects. According to comScore, the sites it operates are the fifth most visited family in the world (the top four are Google, Microsoft and Yahoo !, and Facebook) .The foundation was officially announced on June 20, 2003 by Jimmy. Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, who until then operated Wikipedia as part of his own company, Bomis.
The foundation aims to make human knowledge freely available to all; to this end, it runs a number of free-content, wiki-based education and outreach projects that are available online for free and anyone can get involved in expanding them. In addition to the Wikipedia lexicon written in hundreds of languages, Wikimedia projects also include a collection of images (Wikimedia Commons), a multilingual dictionary and thesaurus (Wiktionary), a collection of citations (Wikiquote), a collection of source texts (Wikisource), a collection of books containing mainly educational materials ) and a number of smaller ancillary projects. The foundation also coordinates the MediaWiki software running under the site and organizes a number of conferences and promotional events.
At the time of the announcement of the foundation, Wales transferred the rights to use the wikipedia.com/net/org and nupedia.com/net/org domains, as well as the copyrights of the materials related to the said projects, which were personally created by Bomis employees or Wales. The computer systems running the projects were also donated to the foundation by Wales. The wikimedia.org and wikimediafoundation.org domains were donated to the foundation by editor Daniel Mayer in June 2004, and the available bandwidth and power were also donated by Bomis.
In January 2004, Jimmy Wales nominated Tim Shell and Michael Davis to the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation. In June 2004, an election was held for a member representing the two editors, which resulted in Angela Beesley and Florence Nibart-Devouard being elected to the Board of Trustees.
The name “Wikimedia” was coined by Sheldon Rampton in March 2003 on a Wikipedia mailing list.
The foundation has about 30 paid employees, with their help it coordinates the activities of many tens of thousands of volunteers. It earns its income almost exclusively from donations and other grants. Strategic decisions are made by a nine-member board of trustees, which nominates four of its members on its own, three from the project editorial community, two from the affiliates, and the last from Jimmy Wales, founder. The foundation is supported by an advisory board of renowned experts and liaises with the editorial community through a number of committees, largely made up of members of the community.
Projects, initiatives and local partner organizations
The Wikimedia Foundation holds an annual conference on Wikiman, one of the participants in and interested in its projects. The conference will cover a wide range of issues, from the scientific examination of projects to the organization of their internal coordination to the development of related software. The first conference was held in Frankfurt in 2005, the others in Cambridge, Taipei, Alexandria and Buenos Aires; will be in the next Gdańsk.