Wikimedia Foundation Inc. is a non-profit foundation created in 2003 based in San Francisco, California (United States). The foundation aims to encourage the development and dissemination of free content in all languages, and to provide the public with the entire content of its wiki projects free of charge, among which the most well-known is the Wikipedia encyclopedia, which is among the 10 most visited sites in the world. In 2013, the foundation had over 208 employees with revenues of 48.6 million dollars. From January 2022, the executive director will be Maryana Iskander.
The name "Wikimedia" is a neologism coined by Sheldon Rampton in an e-mail sent to the mailing list [WikiEN-l] in March 2003. The domain names wikimedia.org and wikimediafoundation.org were later secured to the Foundation by Daniel Mayer .
The foundation was officially announced on June 20, 2003 by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, who managed Wikipedia under the auspices of his company Bomis. With the creation of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales transfers ownership of all names to the nonprofit. domain of all editions of Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Nupedia, as well as copyrights for all materials related to those projects that had been created by employees of Bomis (including Larry Sanger) or by Wales himself. The very supply of computers used for the Wikimedia projects is donated by Wales to the Foundation.
Wales states on several occasions that Bomis would continue to provide free power and bandwidth for these projects. The hope was that the existence of a non-profit foundation would make it possible to generate enough income through donations and grants from public or private entities, in order to ensure the continued growth of every Wikimedia project, which in fact did. The foundation and its projects are mainly supported by micro-donations.
The foundation went from 27 collaborators in 2009 to over 208 in 2013. The balance sheet for 2017 is approximately 120 million dollars, of which: 49.5 in cash, 60.4 in short and long term investments, 4.6 in tangible fixed assets.
Some of the members of the foundation's board of directors are elected directly by the users of the online projects, as representatives of the vast online community that manages the contents of the various projects.
In addition to Wikipedia, the Wikimedia Foundation is involved in a number of projects that are all characterized by free content, to be written collaboratively by volunteers, to use wikis and to be multilingual. Over time, a multilingual dictionary and a thesaurus called Wiktionary are established, a collection of citations called Wikiquote, a collection of educational texts in electronic format (manuals and textbooks) called Wikibooks, a space dedicated exclusively to current affairs, or the agency Wikinews press releases, as well as collections of works by famous authors on Wikisource. Over time, further projects have been added, such as Wikispecies (a catalog of all forms of life) and Wikiversity (a collaborative learning environment).
Software and hardware
Wikimedia Foundation projects are run exclusively by open source software. The contents of Wikipedia and other projects are stored in databases, which are saved on servers located mainly in Florida, and are accessible on the Internet by means of an n-tier client-server architecture. The entries in the encyclopedia are written in a special language, which the MediaWiki software converts into a format intended for the user (HTML) for consultation on the browser.
The software operates on some clusters of dedicated servers on the LAMP platform, mainly located in Florida. Originally, Wikipedia ran on Clifford Adams' UseModWiki; this system was de