Google has given a $2 million grant to support Wikipedia, the massive encyclopedia that contains more than 14 million articles contributed by more than 100,000 volunteers.
Google.org offered the grant to the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation that oversees Wikipedia. The money will be used to buy more computer infrastructure to power Wikipedia, including bandwidth, servers and routers to support Wikipedia's "global traffic and capacity demands."
The funds will also be used to support the organization's efforts to make Wikipedia easier to use and more accessible, building on the existing relationship between Google and the Foundation.
Specifically, Wikimedia uses Google's Translation Toolkit for the online translation of Wikipedia articles into more than 270 languages, including for Wikipedia translation pilot projects with speakers of Arabic, Hindi and Swahili.
The donation, the first ever from Google to Wikimedia, was initially confirmed in this Twitter tweet from Wikipedia founder and Wikimedia Foundation board member Jimmy Wales. Wales, who has also successfully lobbied for donations on the Wikipedia Website, added in a statement Feb. 17:
""We are very pleased and grateful. This is a wonderful gift, and we celebrate it as recognition of the long-term alignment and friendship between Google and Wikimedia. Both organizations are committed to bringing high quality information to hundreds of millions of individuals every day, and to making the Internet better for everyone.""
Google co-founder Sergey Brin was equally generous with his praise for Wikipedia:
""Wikipedia is one of the greatest triumphs of the Internet. This vast repository of community-generated content is an invaluable resource to anyone who is online.""
Brin, who along with Larry Page built the world's leading search engine by hand in a house on a patchwork of servers and computers 11 years ago, can certainly appreciate the challenge in building an online encyclopedia that relies on human editors.
Google's grant notwithstanding, Wikimedia's support comes from individual donations from Wikipedia users.
With Wales featured prominently atop Wikipedia pages from Nov. 10 on, the Wikimedia Foundation raked in more than $8 million from 240,000 users in just two months through Jan. 5.
The donations for the 2009-2010 campaign were up from the 125,000 donations secured from 2008-2009, averaged $33 per user and covered three quarters of Wikimedia's planned revenue for the fiscal year.