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The Internet The Almighty Buck

Wikipedia Needs $20K 815

TaranRampersad writes "Wikipedia's server is crashing off and on, and Jimmy Wales has posted a letter requesting some assistance from anyone out there with a dollar burning a hole in their pocket. Let's face it, you really don't need that candybar anyway ..."
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Wikipedia Needs $20K

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  • Umm yeah, (Score:5, Funny)

    by petabyte ( 238821 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:29PM (#7824598)
    ... because posting a hyperlink to it on slashdot's front page will do wonders for that server.

    The attention for the money here is surely good but well, a slashdoting to a server having issues ... um, no.
    • Re:Umm yeah, (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Englabenny ( 625607 ) <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:35PM (#7824635) Homepage
      You know, they have three servers. Two are cheap-failing-hardware-nuked, and then's the one always pulling off the job. IIRC the webserver still serving, never has had a faliure like the other two... And btw, give me a *star* for donating. :)
      • I'll see your star (Score:5, Insightful)

        by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @02:16AM (#7826009)
        and raise you one... I donated too.

        C'mon ya geeks... everyone knows and has probably read Wikipedia; stick a crowbar in your wallet and cough up a few bucks. Yes, I know it's the holidays and everyone's tapped out, but really... who doesn't have a paypal account with a couple of extra bucks sitting in it? (if you're genuinely broke, relax... I'm not talking to you)

        I see people in my medical practice all the time who tell me how they can't afford their antibiotics (even the cheap generic) or other medicine, yet they smoke two packs a day, have a cell phone AND pager, and manage to find beer-drinking money every week. Not to put too fine a point on it, but it often comes down to priorities.

        If you've got the cash, why not part with a few bones? I'm sure Wiki would appreciate it if the community would ante up.
    • Re:Umm yeah, (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NeoThermic ( 732100 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:41PM (#7824679) Homepage Journal
      Hehe slashdotting the site doesn't help it, but it made me wonder...
      A quote from the letter:
      "The essential problem is that we do not currently have enough hardware to cope with routine failures of any kind. When any one of our machines goes down, we experience cascading problems due in part to the excess load on the entire system."

      If their servers are crashing under user load, its not exactly hardware related. I would start by looking to see *why* its crashing, as I would say its more software configuration related. Plus, if you have alot of servers serving one website, a single crash of one of them shouldn't affect the main site in any way shape or form, more over, it should just drop the connected users, much like a netsplit on IRC.

      Dunno. I'm not knocking them, but now they are getting slashdotted, I would start to look at the config, and fast...

      • Re:Umm yeah, (Score:5, Informative)

        by brion ( 1316 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:48PM (#7824733) Homepage
        The database server is failing memory tests under no load other than the memory tester, which indicates (but does not prove) hardware problems; hypothetically it could be a faulty kernel, we'll be running memtest86 (which bypasses the OS) tomorrow when we can get someone into the colo to work on it.

        The secondary web server (and backup database server) started kicking out SCSI timeouts about a day after we put the database back on it to pull the primary db server for testing.

        • Re:Umm yeah, (Score:4, Informative)

          by Feztaa ( 633745 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @03:31AM (#7826190) Homepage
          we'll be running memtest86 (which bypasses the OS) tomorrow

          I have to warn you, memtest86 isn't 100% reliable.

          A while back, I was having problems with RedHat9 randomly crashing on me (kernel oopses), so I ran memtest86 for 36 straight hours, it found nothing wrong with my RAM. I replaced the RAM anyway and the problems stopped.

          So, just beware that memtest86 isn't perfect.
        • My idea (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @07:40AM (#7826752) Journal
          Why don't you email the marketing and Unix/Linux departments of IBM, Sun, and HP?

          Tell them about Wikopedia ( which they may already know) and mention how many users and hits you get a month and that you need new hardware.

          Its likely they will make a deal with you if you agree to advertise for them or put a "Powered by Power5 AIX" or "Powered by the . in .com, Sun Microsystems", etc.

          IBM wants to bring Linux to the power4 and power5 servers and is releasing a new blade powered by them that runs on Linux. X86 stuff is garbage. Things like guinine risc and backplaned motherboards like those in Sun and IBM do wonders where pc's fail. Running your site is what the hardware is tailored to be doing.

          Still even if you can get a free 2-4 smp x86 Xeon system, take it! A switch sounds like it may need to be upgraded. They cost big bucks though but many limited servers handle the /. effect fine if they have an expensive but solid switch. Maybe they might be nice and throw one in as well.

          Yahoo has the powered by HP logo for and its quite normal.

          IBM would be my first pick and would gladly gloat about how much load their Linux based blades can carry. Your site is a perfect example. Reason being is that many IT managers view Linux on anything non intel as garbage. IBM also has big pockets and your server room is pocket change to them.

      • Re:Umm yeah, (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hdparm ( 575302 )
        Do you really think people who run such a database don't know how to configure it?
        • read the post by Brion above.

          Their database server is crashing _too_ fast and _too_ much. The memory appears to be the culprit. AFAIK it's under a support contract from Penguin Computing.
    • by kwelch007 ( 197081 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @11:46PM (#7825377) Homepage
      Given, I'm talking about a _small_ commercial service company, but $20K USD is not a huge amount of money for us to look at for hardware. Running big websites (and especially other app servers aswell) can require very high-quality hardware (read "expensive") and (potentially) licensing to do it reliably.

      Seriously, these guys (I've never used the Wikipedia) could easily spend $20K on hardware and not have that great of a system...but they claim that it will fix their problems...if they provide a good FREE service (no-one seems to disagree with that,) then I trust their judgement. I think I'll go donate $10 just cause they're trying to do something good for the "Internet Community".

      [BTW - I'm a partner in an Internet based business that actually makes a profit...$20K for hardware doesn't sound like much to ask. We've looked at single units - not complete systems mind you - that cost more than a quarter million USD.]

  • Gah! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LordK3nn3th ( 715352 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#7824608)
    I'm too cheap to donate, and I'm only 16 anyway...

    But Wikipedia is a really good resource-- I've contributed to it myself.

    SomethingAwful recently raised a lot of money in a short amount of time for some army people going to Iraq. Even, a great, um, edonkey search engine thingamjig, was able to raise more than $5,000 for a faster connection.

    It's really interesting how much people donate online. If I had the money and the means, I'd donate to Wikipedia myself.

    I think Wikipedia may be able to reach their goal. It appears to be popular enough to be able to raise the money....
    • Re:Gah! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:07PM (#7824851) Homepage
      If people can contribute content to Wiki sites, why can't they contribute the hosting and bandwidth in the same way?

      It'd seem a logical choice to have wiki hosted in some sort of distributed/peer-to-peer fashion, given the ethos that wiki espouses.
      • The minute you mention 'money' many get amnesia and offer themselves excuses not to dish out a dime. I try to when I can, even if its small amount (5-20 range) for stuff I use or find cool. Besides that's a couple of cups of Starbux that would kill me, or a pack of cigarettes or two that I can do without.

        Now you may say what would this have to do with your post, much. For the typical user who's using DSL it may not be a problem, but on information based material, I would be skeptical to have a slew of fil

        • Cash flow (Score:3, Informative)

          by fm6 ( 162816 )

          The minute you mention 'money' many get amnesia and offer themselves excuses not to dish out a dime.

          True, but there's always a lot of people who are quick to reach into their pockets if asked. Whenever I browse a web site that turns out to be really useful or interesting, and I spot a tip-jar link, I'm good for a few bucks. (Or at least I was when I was employed.) I'm always going to Wikipedia -- you can't really avoid them, not if you use Google at all. But I never contributed, because their "donate" lin

    • Re:Gah! (Score:4, Interesting)

      by dubl-u ( 51156 ) * <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:21PM (#7824932)
      I'm too cheap to donate, and I'm only 16 anyway...

      I'm not! I just sent them $100. It's a good resource, and a fascinating experiment in collaborative content generation.

      Remember the excitement about the internet circa 1997? Well Amazon turned out to be a big mall, and eBay turned out to be a big flea market. But the Wikipedia is pushing the boundaries of what the web is. Those of you who miss the exitement of the early days should check it out. And send them a check so you can see how it turns out.

      As a software designer, I am amazed by Wikis. If somebody asked me to build a system that would allow tens of thousands of people to collaborate on the same big document, I would have come up with something an order of magnitude more complicated than The Wikipedia [] and two orders of magnitude more complicated than Ward Cunningham's original Wiki []. But they work amazingly well. $100 is a small price to pay for what I learned studying and using Wikis.
  • Letter Content (Score:5, Informative)

    by filledwithloathing ( 635304 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:32PM (#7824616) Homepage Journal
    Hopefully so that they have less bandwidth bills to pay and therefore need less money.
    Letter to our readers and contributors By Jimmy Wales, Wikimedia Foundation, Director December 28, 2003

    As you have all seen the past few days, we have been having technical difficulties. The essential problem is that we do not currently have enough hardware to cope with routine failures of any kind. When any one of our machines goes down, we experience cascading problems due in part to the excess load on the entire system.

    The solution to this problem is to purchase now sufficient hardware to give us enough excess capacity so that we can be reliable. I estimate that $20,000 in hardware would get us to a point where we have reserves to handle the failure of any one machine. Additionally, we would be well-poised to continue our track record of astounding growth.

    We currently have total funds of about $4,200. Additionally, I am donating (via Bomis) 1 new webserver. I am putting together, in consultation with our technical team, an order for new hardware totalling $20,000. For details of what we are purchasing, or if you have expertise and would like to help guide us, join the wikitech-l mailing list. [Note that when Wikipedia is down, the mailing list subscription is affected, too.]

    I will post daily or twice-daily updates on this web page as well as keeping the mailing lists informed at the same time.

    Your help is much appreciated.


    Jimbo Wales

  • by jacksonai ( 604950 ) <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:33PM (#7824622) Homepage
    Wikipedia is trying to offer information to help the community. I can't understand why the slashdot community doesn't want to help out a dying webserver, but wants to buy air bazookas over at thinkgeek.
    • You're right. Wikipedia is--if some of you don't already know--a very useful and free encyclopedia. It's in a whole bunch of languages and the content is all by the users (ie. you) and is very good. It's not the average 'o snap i ran out of moneyHAY ILL AX FOR IT ON TEH INTERWEB' call for help, but instead is something worthwile for your support.
    • by echucker ( 570962 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:51PM (#7824756) Homepage
      Better yet, buy them at []. Four bucks cheaper.
    • Once bitten.

      Compare with Kuro5hin []. Last year, the site owner asked for $70K so that he wouldn't have to take a full time job or drown the site in third party adverts (it has always had paid user-adverts). He promised great things for the site and the code that runs it, and shared a grand vision of seeding a Collaborative Media Foundation with the money. He got the money [].

      What happened was that he then spent a year kayaking, writing diaries about kayaking, breaking features (search has been broken for

      • Right to Fork (Score:3, Insightful)

        by brion ( 1316 )
        Wikipedia doesn't run ads, so there's no other revenue stream than donations at present. Most of the server admin and software development is done by unpaid volunteers, which is no secret.

        Jimmy Wales (the founder) donates the bandwidth, the hosting space, and the time of one of his employees for hardware installation, but the new servers are additional cost that's coming from the third-party donations to the foundation.

        If he were to just go kayaking with the money and leave us serverless, well you'd he

      • Hey Roger (Score:4, Interesting)

        by kuro5hin ( 8501 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @02:51PM (#7829167) Homepage
        The Collaborative Media Foundation turned out to be a tax dodge

        While you have every right to have whatever opinion about me you want, you've made this "tax dodge" accusation numerous times. You do realize that you're accusing me of a crime, don't you? And that you don't have any evidence of your accusation, nor does it even make sense. An organization that has not yet been incorporated can't function as a "tax dodge."

        All of your facts are wrong, but that's just stupidity. I think that when you accuse me of criminal activity, though, you cross a line. I'd really like you to stop unless you can demonstrate even a hint of evidence.

  • Uh, me too! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Lord Bitman ( 95493 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:36PM (#7824647) Homepage
    My server is crashing too, and I only want $10,000. Doesnt this sound like a better deal?
  • Well... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by zeux ( 129034 ) * on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:36PM (#7824651)
    Giving money to wikipedia is, IMHO, more useful and a much better idea than giving 4000$ to the first guy that will port Mozilla on the Amiga platform [].

    But hey it's my own opinion mod me down if offtopic but no flame please.
    • Alternative waste (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bstadil ( 7110 )
      Well, One does not preclude the other.

      I for one think donating to a church so they can build another wing to the church is a complete waste of money. Makes the Mozilla => Amiga look like an inspired deal in comparison, but you do not find me bringing that up. ;-)

    • by mr_luc ( 413048 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:13PM (#7824881)
      I can't agree enough with the poster above.

      There is an enormous amount of negativity that I have seen thrtown around in this thread.

      But to my mind, Wikipedia is one of the gemlike projects out there that has an enormous amount of unadulterated MERIT.

      Many of the posts decrying the cry for funds fall into two camps:

      1) What the hell, $20k for your website infrastructure? Plan better, you assholes!


      2) Wikipedia is useless/not worth it.

      Many of the posts SOUND like 1), but are driven by a strong desire to demonstrate 2) -- for instance, the large number of posts that are claiming that "Wikipedia has become too political".

      I don't think that people realize what the real issue here is. The issue is nothing less than total freedom of information.

      Articles on wiki are moderated by public opinion -- and while this has a moderate negative influence in HIGHLY CHARGED, HIGHLY CURRENT topics -- political ones, particularly -- the bottom line is that wikipedia provides an incredible way for the truth to be heard and recorded. Everyone can contribute to this record of defined "truth", and if a revelation is made, it can be judged on its merits by millions of people.

      Essentially, in this age of enormous uncertainty, slanted polls, (corrupt?) (liberal? conservative?) "corporate media", in this age where the visible "barometers" of world opinion (polls/interviews/random tests/scientific research) -- the informational underpinnings of representative democracy! -- may be subject to large-scale manipulation, and freedom of information is being decided for years to come, Wikipedia provides, if not "absolute truth", a body of information that has been thoroughly bathed in the democratic process. It may not be as white and pure as if it were written by the existing information aristocracy/meritocracy, but it is most assuredly free to all, and as unbiased as that process can make it.

      Support of Wikipedia is, in a sense, support of the principles of democracy/communism itself -- support of the idea that fairness is most reliably and safely accomplished by even "unqualified" consensus. It's everyone's information. This just makes the process transparent, and rips the lid off of "true" and "false", right and wrong, belief and disbelief, and transfers the power to the people.

      Go Wikipedia! If there ever was a project with real, LONG-TERM value . . .
  • CCCP (Score:5, Informative)

    by t0qer ( 230538 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:37PM (#7824654) Homepage Journal

    I recommend talking to CCCP [].
    I've had a few e-mail exchanges with the guys that run it, they really do answer
    all inquiries and are very friendly. It's not $20k but maybe they can help out somehow.

    • I don't know if I'd trust my community website to a hosting company that just spouts the letters CCCP all over its website.

  • They get my vote (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Fnkmaster ( 89084 ) * on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:38PM (#7824660)
    I realize how many times I've either checked something on wikipedia, or Googled for something only to find myself reading the best general purpose article on a subject on wikipedia. That's worth my 10 dollar donation to help keep things going.

    Wikipedia isn't just some other site begging for money, and they aren't asking for money for their content (though it's worth something, certainly, it's free to all - and Free too, I think) - their load is so huge, they really need thousands of dollars for their servers. I'd rather give them my 10 bucks than deal with the unpleasant alternatives, like ads plastered everywhere, or seeing wikipedia go away.

  • The Irony.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by echucker ( 570962 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:38PM (#7824665) Homepage
    OK, the servers are crashing because they can't distribute the load properly. Story asking for donations gets posted on Slashdot. Servers suffer a coronary.

    I can't help but wonder if that 20k figure goes up after slashizens romp on Wiki.
  • by segment ( 695309 ) <sil@poli[ ] ['tri' in gap]> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:38PM (#7824666) Homepage Journal

    The problem with something like this becomes an issues of whether or not one believes the guy for one, secondly many will think "Oh well such and such amount of people use it, and I know they'll send something so I won't" which translates to little money being sent. (that's for starters)

    Now 20,000.00 is a lot of money for a 'server'.

    e4500 w/8 400mhz cpu's 1gb ram [] under $1500.00 (15 hundred)

    e3500 w/8 336mhz 4 gigs ram 72gb space... $2200.00 []

    IBM AS/400 9406 820 with 2395 Processor, 1521 Interactive Card [] isn't even $20k

    Sun CobaltRAQ 4i (10 UNITS) RAQ 4i 256MB 40GB NEW HD 7200ROM [] total? $5,500.00

    What is it this guy is supposedly running for $20k certainly piques my curiousity, and I'm not trolling. Hell I'll send him $5.00 and I don't even use his product

    • by drwho ( 4190 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:50PM (#7824745) Homepage Journal
      Thanks for bringing up the $20k issue. I was wondering about the price as well, but then figured out that it's just a made up number. If he asks for $20k maybe he'll get $1k. But the idea bothers me.

      servers are cheap these days. really. I've found p3-666 machines in the trash a few years back, and other people are finding nice rack mount servers with drives,etc. I can't afford much more than my rent, and yet I can come up with more server power when I need it, just by using a bunch of old P300s or whatever.

      • I can't afford much more than my rent, and yet I can come up with more server power when I need it

        But you're not running a webserver with dynamic content and top ranks on Google for... probably thousands of semi-common queries.
      • by Some Dumbass... ( 192298 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:27PM (#7824963)
        Thanks for bringing up the $20k issue. I was wondering about the price as well, but then figured out that it's just a made up number. If he asks for $20k maybe he'll get $1k. But the idea bothers me.

        servers are cheap these days. really. I've found p3-666 machines in the trash a few years back, and other people are finding nice rack mount servers with drives,etc. I can't afford much more than my rent, and yet I can come up with more server power when I need it, just by using a bunch of old P300s or whatever.

        One word: reliability.

        Sure, any geek can make a computer out of toothpicks and bubble gum and run Linux on it and call it a "server", but these guys are trying to _reduce_ the amount of downtime they're seeing on some high-load systems. So it looks to me like they're trying to buy reliable hardware: new systems, lots of redundancy, and none of this "buying off eBay" or "systems assembled from parts pulled from the trask" junk which some people are suggesting. Real server hardware costs real money, presumably at least a few thousand per system.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:53PM (#7824765)
      You don't seem to understand how big Wikipedia is. It was about to surpass in terms of traffic a few months ago, and it probably has by now. Put this in the spectre of being a *wiki* & not simply an http terminal, having multi-gigabyte databases which are being constantly accessed & edited like hail hitting a hot tin roof, backup databases, upload servers, dozens of different language editions, and you may understand why they need big iron. They've got some pretty serious equipment already, but it simply isn't enough. In terms of bandwidth load and hardware load size put together in context, Wikipedia is probably a top 200 server on the internet.

      So yes, they really do need that kind of stuff, unless you enjoy Wikipedia averaging being down one day out of 3 (which has been happening each time a ram stick burns out or a hdd fails, which is why it went down this time).
    • New equipment with technical support. I personaly dont want my donated money going twords something on ebay that *might* work.
    • If you read the letter, it says that not only is it going towards a new server. It's also going to upgrade the old ones, get some spare parts so that when something dies, everything else doesn't come crashing down from the new load (as that's apparently what's happening now, and what happened in the big blackout earlier this year as a matter of fact).

      The letter (on the server and mirrored in a comment in this thread) explians where the $20k figure comes from and where things are going.

    • by arvindn ( 542080 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @11:49PM (#7825389) Homepage Journal
      First, it isn't "this guy". We're a community, and decisions aren't made unilaterally.

      Second, you probably have no idea how big wikipedia is. Others have posted about the traffic, so I won't go into that. Its not a single sever that's needed. We need a load balancer and several servers.

      Third, a wiki is a lot harder to run than simple static pages (in terms of CPU and disk).

      If you don't believe the $20000 amount, you're welcome to join the mailing lists and find out for yourself.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:39PM (#7824668) Homepage Journal
    Maybe instead of giving cash, donate some of your old SUNs, SGIs etc, and help building it on a distributed architecture with really deep redundancy, where each component by itself isn't very reliable, but all together form a really strong cluster?

    Asking for money is always the easiest way, and because of the number of people asking (Just look at all those PayPal Donate banners!) the chance of success is nearly null. What about taking a different path?
  • by lkaos ( 187507 ) <> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:40PM (#7824676) Homepage Journal
    It's always hard to just request donations for a dollar sum as an open source project. I think they'd have much better luck requesting hosting/hardware donations. It's much easier for a corporation to donate hardware (they get to write off their cost retail even though the actual cost to them is far below that) than money.

    When its just hosting needs, being able to massively farm out helps to. A lot of university groups look to help host a few different things. One group may not be able to satisfy all the needs but ten groups might.

    Just my two cents...
  • by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:40PM (#7824678) Homepage
    Donations should be sent to

    Wikimedia Foundation Inc.
    3911 Harrisburg St. NE
    St. Petersburg, FL 33703

    Can't see any way to post the paypal links here.
  • by sofakingl ( 690140 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:44PM (#7824704)
    Why are there so many flames in this thread? Slashdotters are really showing a lot of hypocrisy here: we want everything to be open source and free, but when an open source project asks for a little help, we turn our backs on them. I'm sure we wouldn't see the same kind of comments if Linus Torvalds was asking for help.
  • details (Score:3, Interesting)

    by treat ( 84622 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:50PM (#7824740)
    Does anyone have the details of what their system is architected like, what thet expected load is, and what hardware they want to buy? We don't even know if their problem is networking equipment, cpu power, disk speed, bandwidth, we have no idea about anything! This information is available nowhere and the link to get more information - the mailing list - tells you it's down.
    • Re:details (Score:5, Informative)

      by brion ( 1316 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:01PM (#7824817) Homepage
      We've presently got three servers:
      • Web server 1: Pentium III 866MHz
      • Web server 2/backup DB/mail: dual Athlon MP 2600
      • Database server: dual Opteron 2GHz

      Web server 2 and the database server are presently offline, respectively for disk and RAM problems. A second fast web server is being installed tomorrow, at which point we'll hopefully get the other one back online too.

      Networking and bandwidth isn't a problem at all, and we're actually in a reasonable place CPU-wise when everything's up (though more is always better). What we need is more robustness in the case of server failures; we need enough machines available that one machine going down doesn't kill us, and that we can still limp along with two down.

      It's not like Wikipedia will vanish tomorrow if we don't have $20k, but failover and growth capacity will be good to have.

      • Re:details (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MagPulse ( 316 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:05PM (#7824839)
        "Good to have" is an understatement. Wikipedia as a resource gains a lot of its value by being always available, so that last 5% of uptime is worth $20k in donations IMHO.
      • Re:details (Score:3, Insightful)

        by thesupraman ( 179040 )
        I know I'm going to get MURDERED for saying this, but is there perhaps a lesson in here about server hardware? Especially relatively new technologies?
        Actually, I don't have anything against the AMD stuff, mostly against VIA/SIS (who produce absolutly useless server level chipsets), but the two are often found together with AMD.

        I *do* run some pretty big web sites (certainly in terms of processing), and stick to what would be regarded pretty boring configurations - making up for it with a bit of redundency
  • by Sean80 ( 567340 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:50PM (#7824741)
    I guess, at the end of the day, this is the fundamental problem with "open source." Although I know there a lot of different interpretations to the phrase "open source," one of the ways that I've always understood it is that it truly is "free" as in beer. If you try and build something that requires money, but don't get any money back for your service, well, you can screw with the laws of physics as much as you like, but at the end of the day they're gonna screw you back.

    Anyway, at the end of the day, if a community of people needs a service, and they themselves support that service, isn't that, by long-standing definition, a collective? Wouldn't it be more profitable for Wiki to call a spade a spade, call itself a collective, and get on with raising money from its community and providing them with the service?

  • by benk ( 93688 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @09:51PM (#7824753)
    I'm not sure exactly how the process works in the US, but in Australia registering the body which runs or supports Wiki would let gifts be tax-deductible.

    This mightn't just apply to donations--it might mean that a web-hosting company gets a tax-break by donating otherwise unused bandwidth/server space to Wiki.

    • by randyest ( 589159 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:13PM (#7824878) Homepage
      Try reading the site; it's registered:

      The Wikimedia Foundation Inc., a Florida not-for-profit corporation, is registered as a charitable organization with the State of Florida's Division of Consumer Services, a division of the State of Florida's Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and may lawfully solicit donations under Florida law.

      Please do not send currency through the mail. Also, sending any foreign drafts, checks or other negotiable instruments may entail significant collection costs, an international postal money order or a check drawn on a US banking institution will make sure your complete donation goes to Wikimedia (otherwise foreign collection costs will be deducted by Wikimedia's bank from your contribution). Sending a foreign check to the United States may involve fees in excess of $50 for the processing of the check (or any other kind of draft) if it is drawn on a foreign bank outside the United States. International postal money orders payable in the United States are acceptable and available in post offices in many countries.

      Deductibility of donations

      Please note donations may not be tax deductible except for U.S. residents and nationals -- all questions in this regards should be directed to your tax professional. For those outside the United States please contact your local tax authorities to determine if there is any tax treaty or other law that may allow you to deduct your donations to Wikimedia from your income. Wikimedia is in the process of applying for official tax exempt status from the United States Internal Revenue Service as it is a new organization (corporate status granted: June 20, 2003) it may benefit from an automatic exemption from the IRS; if you make a donation you will receive the required paperwork.

  • Worth saving (Score:5, Informative)

    by chazzf ( 188092 ) <[cfulton] [at] []> on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:06PM (#7824847) Homepage Journal
    Having edited a number of entries on Wikipedia myself, I have to say that this is a project worth saving. The sheer volume of information is remarkable, and often more useful than that in an encyclopedia. Moreover, the open nature of project leads, in my opinion, to more balanced articles. Article have to stand up to the scrutiny of thousands of different people, from many different countries around the world. All things considered, 20K isn't a whole hell of a lot to keep it going. I gave $10 myself, it would take just 2000 people doing so to get things back together. Hardly unreasonable...
  • by Arrgh ( 9406 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:19PM (#7824915) Homepage Journal
    There aren't many sites with the scope, quality and credibility of Wikipedia. I gave CAD $10 and I'd give more if my credit card weren't crumbling under the weight of Christmas.
  • by shodson ( 179450 ) on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:19PM (#7824919) Homepage
    Why don't the Wikipedia people allow their site to be mirrored? A lot of people have some extra bandwidth and disk space to share. It could be hosted in multiple places similar to the way the Jargon File [] is distributed?

    This would be a great problem for a wiki grid or something.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 28, 2003 @10:32PM (#7824995)
    There's been a few questions in the comments above. Here's a few points worth noting:

    * Wikipedia won't be hurt by traffic from Slashdot traffic. It's only the database server that is down, not the web servers. Also, Wikipedia is one of the largest sites on the net today, so they have bandwidth enough.

    * Wikipedia is not asking for money for more bandwidth now. They have enough.

    * Wikipedia is not a regular web site. The database backend is fairly complicated, since they allow anyone to update any page, and store all revisions (and do various magical stuff with them). A big server is warranted.

    * Wikipedia already has servers enough to cope with today's traffic as long as nothing fails. The $20k they're asking for is for hot spares. This means they already have $20k worth of hardware.

    * Wikipedia needs money, not hardware. They need to be able to rely on one hardware vendor with service support, etc. Of course, if a company is willing to buy them some new high end stuff with service, it would probably be accepted.

    * Wikipedia will not be closing down if they don't get $20k in donations. They will simply not be as reliable in the future as they could be with $20k worth of extra hardware.

  • by defile ( 1059 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @12:40AM (#7825625) Homepage Journal

    Always, always, always run some kind of burn-in suite on new hardware before putting it into production. Even if your manufacturer does stress testing, your server was likely handed over to a shipping company that mistreated it (guaranteed). (VA-)CTCS is a good burn-in suite. If a machine survives one week of CTCS, in our environment it means that it will be worry free for at least 18 months (so far)--not counting inevitabilities like a hard disk mechanical failures (sigh).

    We installed seven new servers at a colo in order to migrate a growing web site off of a shared server. CTCS discovered bad RAM in what was to be our database server, a faulty storage controller(!) in our file server, and a bad disk in one of the web servers.

    None of these issues were apparant from the get-go. Most of the servers revealed problems within the first 36 hours of CTCS burn-in, with one holding out for 47 hours. If we hadn't run CTCS these issues would no doubt be hounding us for months.

    So, two rules of thumb:

    1. If possible, have your server built by a local vendor. The ability to walk into an office and scream at someone is a powerful resource, and you can completely bypass abrasive shipping companies by delivering the server to a colo yourself.

    2. In any event, get your vendor to run CTCS before shipping and run CTCS again once it's on the rack. 72 hours minimum on both ends.

    Don't learn these lessons the hard way. The extra time you spend up front can literally save you months of headaches in late night colo phone calls and other consequences of unplanned downtime.

  • by hqm ( 49964 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @01:05AM (#7825748)
    It's not a lot of money, about what you'll pay walking in to Starbucks for a coffee and an overpriced pastry.

    The idea of putting high quality detailed information about everything up for free and open to contributions is a wonderful gift to humanity.

    My opinion of Slashdot's user community, on the other hand, has gone down considerably after reading the sour bitch-fest that some people have been posting.

    The world moves forward when bold and inspired and tenacious people sit down and create something new. We should be applauding and supporting them. If you have nothing useful to contribute to your fellow human beings, you can at least shut up while other people get on with it.

  • i donated (Score:3, Insightful)

    by syrinx ( 106469 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @01:44AM (#7825906) Homepage
    I've received great enjoyment from just browsing the Wikipedia articles. I've never just "donated" to a website before (though I've bought paid services at a couple, for example LiveJournal []), but Wikipedia is an excellent project, and I felt it deserved a couple bucks. I'm poor as shit at the moment, so I couldn't spare much, but, as the submission says, I don't really need that candy bar. :)
  • by melted ( 227442 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @02:19AM (#7826018) Homepage
    I gave $20. Go there and give them some money. Wikipedia is by far the interesting site on the web for me. When I get in it's hard to get out. No nonsense, no political agenda (except perhaps in articles on Microsoft and Bill Gates), thoroughly crosslinked. I spend hours reading it, very educational. For example, look at their article on F-word. Where else can you find something this comprehensive?
  • Once bitten (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Monday December 29, 2003 @06:22AM (#7826611) Homepage

    Once bitten.

    Compare with Kuro5hin []. Last year, the site owner asked for $70K so that he wouldn't have to take a full time job or drown the site in third party adverts (it has always had paid user-adverts). He promised great things for the site and the code that runs it, and shared a grand vision of seeding a Collaborative Media Foundation with the money. He got the money [].

    What happened was that he then spent a year kayaking, writing diaries about kayaking, breaking features (search has been broken for months now), adding third party adverts, selling premium subscriptions, and some minor fiddling with the ratings system that has basically made it pointless to rate anything (i.e. contribute) any more. The Collaborative Media Foundation turned out to be a tax dodge, and recently he let slip that he's been doing consulting work full time, and actually cranking up his fees to turn away business.

    And it turned out that the site costs nothing to run. The bandwidth is donated in return for advertising, the hardware is donated. The only costs are the admin's time, and the user advertising revenues (when he was still publishing them) actually covered the notional (but completely falacious) $30K salary that he was claiming.

    The problem with paying someone a lump sum is that you then have no leverage over them. Sure, the Wikipedia guy might not just go kayaking with the money, but the K5 admin seemed like one of the good guys as well.

If you suspect a man, don't employ him.