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Wikipedia got a huge bump in donations after Donald Trump's election win

TheJournal.ie sat down with Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales, who was in Dublin this week for Internet Day.

Donald Trump Wiki Source: Wikipedia/Donald Trump

WIKIPEDIA FOUNDER JIMMY Wales says that the site saw a massive increase in donations after Donald Trump won the US election in November last year.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie, Wales said that they had a “fantastic year of fundraising”, but that it was unsure how much of that was in direct response to Trump’s presidential victory.

We think there is to some degree a ‘Trump bump’ – after the election we saw a huge uptake in donations because people really do think that facts matter.

He said that the “assault on the very concept of truth”, had contributed to some extent to the rise in donations, but they’re not sure of how much.

Wales has been critical of Trump from the start, and says that although he tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, Trump has blown it from his first day in office.

I was with someone who argued that we should give Trump 100 days, that’s kind of a traditional American thing – let the president have his first 100 days to see what he’s going to do and it was day one when Kellyanne Conway said ‘alternative facts’ and I was like well that’s it I’m done there’s no 100 days, you blew it on the first day.

Wales was in Dublin on Thursday to give a talk in Trinity for Internet Day. During his talk, he discussed Internet censorship, the fake news phenomenon, the future of Wikipedia, and how to design a site in a way that will discourage hate speech and trolling.

He also spoke about his new venture WikiTribune - a news site that aims to pair up journalists with community volunteers to write articles and instill a sense of trust.

Source: BBC News/YouTube

Although Wales had bought the domain name for WikiTribune five years ago, the idea for the site was inspired by the surge in donations after Trump’s win, and two other factors.

“One was an email from my friend Lily whose partner has an innovation design agency app development company and they said we’ve got some spare engineers and we want to donate them to you for a period of time, we want you to do this and you need to get it off the ground.”

Although Wales is credited with founding the site (although Larry Sanger disputes this and says the two were co-founders) the 51-year-old is not a billionaire – his net worth is estimated at $1 million. This is due to what Wales calls a series of “bad business decisions” – basically making his products and ideas free to access by others.

“So [it took] friends saying ‘You’ve been talking about this for years’ to finally kick my butt and go and do it,” he said of how WikiTribune kicked off this year.

The site, which was announced back in April, currently has 10 journalists working on stories and although there’s no official launch date, Wales said to expect to see people sharing its articles sometime soon.

One of the more interesting aspects of the site is that Wales wants the community who reads the site to contribute to it, in a similar vein to how Wikipedia works.

But there have been many skeptical criticisms of this business model, saying that it won’t do anything to combat fake news and undermines the journalistic profession.

Writing in the Atlantic, Adrienne LaFrance said:

“The larger problem with WikiTribune is this: Someone who is paid for doing journalistic work cannot be considered “equals” with someone who is unpaid.

And promoting the idea that core journalistic work should be done for free, by volunteers, is harmful to professional journalism.

She also said that it wasn’t clear what kinds of stories that Wales’ team of journalists would cover.

WikiTribune 2 Source: WikiTribune

“It’s time to rethink the gatekeeper”, says the promo for the site, which was shown during his talk at Trinity. The mantra suggests that it’s no longer journalists who write and check trustworthy information, but the citizens who read it, too.

The site is “funded by readers”, meaning it’s relying on subscriptions and donations to fund its operations. The site doesn’t have a paywall, and won’t have ads because the “ads-only business model is incredibly destructive” to journalism, according to Wales.

At the end of the video, Wales says “it’s time to fix the news”, which triggers a rousing round of applause.

He told TheJournal.ie that in the age of a Trump presidency, where he “screeches ‘fake news’ on Twitter”, that there is a duty to push back.

So that was really the next thing that was to happen. I don’t know how much we can help but we have to try.

“And I think a lot of people are feeling whatever way we can [we need to be] steering culture back to a point where we do think education and facts do matter and are important.”

Read: Leo to Trump: That claim about our corporation tax rate was ‘fake news’

Read: Aung San Suu Kyi finally speaks on Rohingya crisis, blames false information

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