Wikimedia community supports proposal to stop foundation from accepting crypto donations

Requests for comments on a proposal urging the Wikimedia Foundation to stop accepting donations in cryptocurrency have closed, with the majority of users voting in favor.

According to a Tuesday update on the proposal, roughly 71%, or 232 out of 326, Wikimedia contributors who responded requested that the Wikimedia Foundation – the nonprofit that hosts Wikipedia – stop accepting cryptocurrency donations. The arguments in favor of the proposition included environmental concerns surrounding Bitcoin (BTC) transactions and “the risk to the movement’s reputation for accepting cryptocurrencies.”

The community first opened the proposal to comment on Jan. 10, expanding the discussion to include topics like El Salvador adopting BTC as legal tender, crypto as a tool for illicit financial activities, and digital assets’ role in financial inclusion. However, the majority of the topics seemed to focus on the energy usage and potential environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.

“Cryptocurrencies may not align with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability,” said the original proposal. “Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most highly-used cryptocurrencies, and are both proof-of-work, using an enormous amount of energy […] the current models continue to be extremely damaging to the environment. While there are eco-friendlier cryptocurrencies, they are less widely-used.”

Among those arguments in opposition of the proposal included proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies that are “way less energy-intensive” and using tokens to provide “safer ways to donate and engage in finance for people in oppressive countries.” One user cited the Ukrainian government accepting crypto donations as an argument against the technology carrying a bad reputation.

“Crypto should remain an option for Wikimedia to accept donation,” said user C933103 on March 14. “Wikimedia is accepting donations in crypto not giving crypto out. If a country’s law banned donation to [the Wikimedia Foundation, or WMF] through banks then it is the country in the wrong not WMF. Accepting donations instead of giving them out also mean it won’t be used to facilitate any new economic activities that could be target of sanction or be funding other illegal activities, as all the received currency will immediately be converted to fiat currency in WMF’s account.”

However, Wikimedia contributor TrueAnonyman supported the proposition, adding:

“The financial effect of no longer accepting crypto donations would be minimal, and far outweighed by the reputational harm to the Wikimedia project of being seen to endorse a technology so strongly tied to various environmental and social harms.”

Related: Wiki continues to accept crypto donations despite pressure to stop

The foundation reported in January it received roughly $130,000 worth of crypto donations in the last financial year, roughly 0.08% of its revenue. Bitcoin was the most used cryptocurrency among the 347 individuals who donated, but the nonprofit also accepts Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

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