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Wikipedia India Office Will Help Boost Fundraising, Founder Says

Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales
Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Nov. 2 (Bloomberg) -- Wikipedia opened an office in India, its first outside the U.S., to better reach the country’s 1.2 billion people after the online encyclopedia where users contribute and edit entries added readers and had its most successful fundraiser yet.

Wikipedia, created in 2001 and based in San Francisco, aims to strengthen the service in Hindi as well as more than 20 local languages in India with the office in New Delhi, the site’s co-founder Jimmy Wales said in an interview. The site is also considering expanding in the Middle East and North Africa to target Arabic communities.

To keep the online encyclopedia free and without advertising, Wikimedia Foundation Inc., the non-profit organization that operates Wikipedia, has held fundraisers since 2005. The foundation, which also operates sites in languages such as French, Japanese, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Esperanto and Russian, exceeded a target of raising $16 million in 50 days in January, added to the annual budget of $20.4 million.

“Our vision is for people to have an encyclopedia in their own language not their second language,” Wales said. The company is “very optimistic” about the next fundraiser and is “not in financial crisis,” he said, adding that “we do need money but we have a very orderly plan for that.”

Traffic continues to increase “pretty dramatically” with around 420 million people currently visiting the website every month, Wales said. That compares with more than 340 million two years ago. “The readers are where the bulk of the income comes from,” Wales said.

Wikipedia is the fifth-most visited website, only topped by sites of Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., Facebook Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., according to researcher ComScore Inc.

The foundation’s budget pays for the technology to run the site and for programs to make it easier to use and encourage more participation. The number of active editors and rate of article creation both peaked in 2007, according to researchers at Xerox Corp.’s Palo Alto Research Center.

To contact the reporter on this story: Katie Linsell in London at Klinsell@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net

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