Requests for comment on a proposal calling for the Wikimedia Foundation to stop accepting donations in cryptocurrencies have been closed with a majority vote in favor.
According to an update to the proposal posted on Tuesday, approximately 71%, or 232 of the 326 Wikimedia members who responded, have asked the Wikimedia Foundation — the non-profit organization that hosts Wikipedia — to stop accepting donations in crypto. Arguments in favor of this proposal included the environmental concerns associated with Bitcoin (BTC) transactions and the “reputational risk associated with the acceptance of cryptocurrencies.”
The community first opened for comment on January 10, expanding the discussion to include topics such as El Salvador’s adoption of BTC as legal tender, cryptocurrency as a tool for illicit financial activity, and the role of digital assets in expanding access to financial services. However, most of the topics seemed to focus on energy use and the potential environmental impact of cryptocurrencies.
“Cryptocurrencies may not be in line with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability,” the original proposal states. “Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most commonly used cryptocurrencies and both are proof of work, consuming huge amounts of energy. […] current models continue to cause enormous damage to the environment. While there are greener cryptocurrencies, they are less widely used.”
Among those arguments against the proposal were proof-of-stake cryptocurrencies that are “much less energy intensive” and the use of tokens to provide “safer ways to donate and participate in finances for people in depressed countries.” One user cited the Ukrainian government’s acceptance of cryptocurrency donations as an argument against the bad-reputed technology.
“Cryptocurrency should continue to be an option for Wikimedia to accept donations,” user C933103 said on March 14. “Wikimedia is accepting donations in crypto, not giving away crypto. If the law of the land prohibits donations [Фонду Викимедиа, или WMF] through banks, then it is the country that is wrong, not the WMF. Accepting donations instead of giving them away also means that they will not be used to promote any new economic activity that may be subject to sanctions or to finance other illegal activities, as all currency received will be immediately converted into fiat currency in the WMF account.”
What is that rumbling noise in the distance, slowly getting louder, you ask? It’s a crush of cryptocurrency fanatics who have never donated to the Wikimedia Foundation, yelling “I think I’ll take my money elsewhere!” — Molly White (@molly0xFFF) April 13, 2022
However, Wikimedia contributor TrueAnonymous backed the proposal, adding:
“The financial impact of stopping accepting cryptocurrency donations will be minimal and far outweighed by the reputational damage to the Wikimedia project associated with endorsing a technology so closely associated with various environmental and social harms.”
Related: Wiki continues to accept cryptocurrency donations despite pressure to stop
In January, the foundation revealed that it had received about $130,000 worth of cryptocurrency donations in its last fiscal year, which is roughly 0.08% of its income. Bitcoin was the most used cryptocurrency among 347 people who donated, but the nonprofit also accepts Ether (ETH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).