Wikipedia Editors Ready to Stop Accepting Cryptocurrency Donations

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over 200 longtime Wikipedia editors requested to stop the Wikimedia Foundation from accepting cryptocurrency donations. In its most recent fiscal year, the foundation received about $130,000 in cryptocurrency donations, less than 0.1 percent of the foundation’s revenue, which exceeded $150 million last year.

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The debate over this proposal has raged for the past three months.

“Cryptocurrencies are extremely risky investments that are only gaining popularity among retail investors,” wrote Wikipedia user GorillaWarfare, the original author of the proposal, back in January. “I don’t think we should approve of their use in this way.”

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GorillaWarfare is Molly White, a Wikipedian turned anti-cryptocurrency activist of sorts. She also maintains a Twitter account.Web3 is going just fine“, which highlights “some of the many disasters happening in crypto, defi, NFT and other web3 projects,” the account’s profile says.

In its proposal to the Wikimedia Foundation, GorillaWarfare added that “bitcoin and Ethereum are the two most commonly used cryptocurrencies, and both are proof-of-work, using massive amounts of energy.”

According to one widely cited estimate, the Bitcoin network consumes about 200 terawatt-hours of energy per year. This is about the same amount of energy consumed by 70 million people in Thailand. And that equates to about 2,000 kilowatt-hours per bitcoin transaction.

Bitcoin advocates argue that the energy consumption of a currency is due to its mining process, which consumes roughly the same amount of energy regardless of the number of transactions. Therefore, accepting a given bitcoin donation will not necessarily lead to an increase in carbon emissions.

But critics have argued that Wikimedia’s de facto support for cryptocurrencies could drive up their price. And the higher the value, the more energy the miners will spend on creating new coins.

Crypto skeptics point out that people can easily convert their bitcoins into dollars before making donations. But US tax law gives advantages to those who donate property directly to charity.

Cryptocurrency advocates have also noted that some people cannot easily access regular banking services.

“Bank transfers, credit cards and PayPal are not available to millions of people who do not have a government ID and therefore cannot open an account,” wrote Wikipedia user AnarkioC. “They do not allow anonymous or pseudonymous donations (may be risky depending on your personal situation); and they are easy to follow and censor.”

Growing Controversy About Cryptocurrency

Ultimately, 232 longtime Wikipedia editors spoke out in support of stopping cryptocurrency donations, while 94 opposed.

Such votes are not binding on the Wikimedia Foundation. Legally, the foundation is independent of the Wikipedia community and does not have to comply with its requests.

In a January commentary, foundation spokesman Greg Varnum said: “Our teams will continue to monitor this discussion and listen to feedback; we are already considering what happened here as we chart our path forward.”

We have asked the Wikimedia Foundation to comment on the vote and will update this article if we receive a response.

If the foundation complies with the community’s request, it won’t be the first organization to stop using cryptocurrencies due to environmental concerns. Earlier this month Mozilla Foundation announced it will stop accepting cryptocurrencies that use an energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus process. These include bitcoin and ether, although the latter is expected to be converted to a proof-of-stake model in the future.

Elon Musk last year announced that Tesla will no longer accept bitcoin payments for the purchase of Tesla vehicles. The announcement comes just two months after Tesla started accepting Bitcoin for Tesla.

Game company Steam stop accepting bitcoin in 2017, citing the network’s transaction fees, which were near-record then.

This story originally appeared on Ars Technique.

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