Founded in 2003 by Jimmy Wales, the Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that holds the rights to the Wikipedia brand. It supports the underlying computer infrastructure of Wikipedia and a larger number of its lesser-known sister projects, such as Wikinews, Wikisources, etc.
In 2019, the Wikimedia Foundation raised $110M in donations, most of which (~70%) is channeled into network infrastructure and various operational and administrative costs. Wikimedia Foundation does not directly sponsor any content; that’s created by volunteers. Once every a few years, most active volunteers may be treated to a free ticket to the annual Wikimedia conference. The remaining funds (~30%) are reserved to support the spread of Wikipedia projects into resource-deficient communities.
In opposition to copyright, copyleft is a method of releasing information that can be freely shared. For example, the Wenard Institute deliberately publishes its content without copyright protections, so it can be freely distributed and improved.
Copyleft information-sharing may include public domain materials that are completely free to share, as well as Creative Commons (CC), GNU General Public License (GPL), or otherwise licensed content. Under these licenses, information can be shared freely but requires attribution to the information creator, and some distribution rights may be limited. For example, some types of CC licenses allow distribution only for non-commercial purposes.
In addition, there are dozens of policy pages related to categorization (what categories editors should add their articles to), over a hundred of policy pages related to article naming, and almost a thousand other policy pages regulating content creation, citation, and dispute resolution.
The Wikimedia Commons is Wikipedia’s main depository of non-copyright-restricted files, which are shared across all language Wikipedias and less-popular Wikipedia sister projects, such as Wikinews. Most of the files are images, but there is a growing number of audio and videos files.
From a licensing perspective, materials that are stored in Wikipedia Commons fall into two major categories:
Media files (photographs, videos, etc.) that have been created by volunteers, who rescind any copyright to them when they upload the files to the Commons.
Media files that are already free of copyright (e.g. very old photographs or media already published under copyleft licenses.
The uploaded files can be used in Wikipedia. However, not all media files used in Wikipedia can be uploaded to Commons, as there are some image fair-use exceptions.
In Wikipedia, the term verifiability refers to the ability to attribute all stated facts to credible sources published elsewhere. As with any encyclopedia, Wikipedia is expected to summarize already properly researched facts, rather than include new exploration of a topic.
The standards of verifiability have gradually become more rigorous. Many early articles, especially those around simpler topics, where written without proper attribution to the sources. Later, it became standard to list sources at the end of the article. Nowadays, all facts are typically followed by footnotes that are very specific to the source of that particular fact. All new edits are expected to adhere to that standard.
Two main Wikipedia policies regulate attributions: verifiability and reliable sources. Both policies are accompanied by various citation manuals. However, what sources are reliable and what are not is the subject of intense debate, and community consensus on each single source changes. Here is one summary of inter-Wikipedia debates on frequently used sources.
In Wikipedia, the term notability refers to a determination of whether a particular subject warrants a Wikipedia page. Although there is no technical need to limit the number of articles that can be included in Wikipedia, Wikipedia communities of most languages, including English, long ago chose to create rules restricting what topics may be published. This debate was so notable in itself that it received significant media coverage in such media such as The Economist and Financial Times.
However, these policies are often interpreted differently by experienced editors and newcomers, which leads to the deletion of many newly created articles. The deletion and undeletion procedures are complicated and regulated by hundreds of separate policy and procedural pages. It’s expedient to consult specific deletion cases to get more familiar with the application of notability and deletion guidelines. You’re welcome to reach out to us with further questions.
Wikipedia aspires to create its content without bias. This is stated in one of its oldest and most important policies on neutrality. Hence, as part of its verifiability guidelines, an article about any subject must be written based on the sources that are independent of the subject. Thus, one cannot write articles about oneself, one’s organizations, or any other dependent entities.
Furthermore, Wikipedia’s Conflict of Interest policy states that anyone who is compensated for the creation of an article by its subject is dependent on the subject, and therefore is operating under a conflict of interest. The essence of the policy is that at the moment of writing, the editor should not be motivated to write about the subject in any particular way. The person who creates a Wikipedia article should be free to research both negative and positive sides of the subject, and write disinterestedly and neutrally based on their unguided research.
As a result, attempts to create or edit Wikipedia pages by your employees, “professional Wikipedia editors,” your PR agency, your relatives, or your own skills violate the conflict of interest principle. These attempts are either prohibited or strongly discouraged by the policy. Moreover, seemingly innocent attempts to hide your identity through online anonymity also violate local and federal laws related to online impersonation. This may be harmless for a high-school student penning an article about themselves (which will be quickly deleted), but has resulted in a few public scandals for politicians, celebrities, and organizations. We encourage you to contact us with further questions.