Following an internal poll: “Self-enrichment at the expense of others and the environment”: Wikipedia no longer accepts crypto donations | news

• Wikimedia blocks the BitPay payment option
Cause: Impact on people and the environment from Bitcoin & Co.
• The decision is not unchangeable, the situation will continue to be monitored

The non-profit organization Wikimedia Foundation, which runs the digital encyclopedia Wikipedia, recently held a poll on cryptocurrencies at the request of senior contributor Molly White. The proposal to revise the acceptance of donations in the form of digital currencies received an absolute majority. 232 of the 326 Wikipedians voted for Molly’s petition, as CoinDesk writes. Previously, Wikipedia had accepted donations via BitPay in the form of Bitcoin, Ether and Bitcoin Cash. What are the reasons for the clear result? What consequences can this have for the crypto world?


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Wikipedia’s volatile relationship with the crypto sector

In 2014, Wikipedia allowed donations via cryptocurrencies for the first time following suggestions from volunteers and various donation communities. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales also caused a stir in December 2021 when he auctioned off an NFT for the first ever Wikipedia feature at a cost of $ 750,000 to charity. Nevertheless, cryptocurrencies remain of little importance to Wikipedia in general: to date, only about $ 140,000 has been donated through this channel, as “DER SPIEGEL” writes. Wales also rejected a conversion of the Wikipedia database to a blockchain as too inefficient and slow.

The main reason for the ban: environmental pollution caused by cryptocurrency operations

After three months of intense discussions in the Wikipedia community, this opportunity has now been blocked again. How does Wikimedia explain the blocking of the BitPay payment option? Molly White, who brought the proposal to the Wikipedia community, calls cryptocurrencies “predators by nature”. In particular, the majority of Wikimedia users no longer want to tolerate the environmental pollution caused by mining of proof-of-work currencies such as Bitcoin. The reputation of the encyclopedia would be threatened by the indirect support of cryptocurrencies.

Nothing new: Mozilla also no longer accepts crypto donations

Wikimedia is not the first non-profit company to ban payments via cyber currencies. As early as April, Mozilla, which publishes the open source browser Firefox, for example, blocked donations based on proof-of-work cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. Mozilla will only continue to accept coins generated using the more environmentally friendly proof-of-stake method, as they are compatible with Mozilla’s long-term goal of CO2 neutrality.

In addition, “DER SPIEGEL” writes that Wikipedians do not want to agree with the hype about Bitcoin & Co., because it represents an “opposite” to the Internet designed by Wikipedia. Molly White, the initiator of the petition, wrote in January: “Some advocates continue to talk about freedom and decentralization, but the market has largely become an opportunity for self-enrichment at the expense of others and the environment,” DER SPIEGEL quotes.

Cryptocurrencies are increasingly promoting CO2-neutral production of Bitcoin

Wikimedia is just one of many organizations that accuse cryptocurrencies, particularly Bitcoin, of major environmental damage. In fact, mining the world’s first and largest cryptocurrency requires a huge amount of energy: Global Bitcoin energy consumption was 125.1 terawatt-hours in 2020, more than twice the total energy needs of Switzerland, according to estimates by the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index. After all, there are a growing number of crypto companies like Compute North and Marathon Digital who want to push climate-neutral Bitcoin mining.

In addition, the long-awaited conversion of ether generation is planned for the third quarter of 2022: Instead of the proof-of-work currently in use, ether will then have to be generated using the much more climate-friendly proof-of-stake process. The extraction of Ethereum will therefore soon consume significantly less energy than the bitcoins that continue to be generated via proof-of-work.

Wikimedia: Decision not final – Further development awaited

So Wikimedia’s decision is not irreversible, as the US company emphasizes: “We will continue to monitor the situation,” Wikimedia said in a statement on Twitter. “We value feedback and views from every user in the Wikimedia movement. We want to be flexible and responsive to the needs and requests of volunteers and donors,” said Wikimedia chief Lisa Seitz-Gruwell. So it remains to be seen how exactly the high-profile measure will be received by the wider Wikimedia donor community – and whether other large charities or non-profit organizations will follow Wikimedia’s example.


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