- Wikipedia editors have voted to halt cryptocurrency donations
- Over 71% of the 400 polled editors agreed that cryptocurrency payments signaled an agreement with their fundamental principles
- Energy use and criminal activity were the main culprits
More than 200 long-serving Wikipedia editors have voted to ban the Wikimedia Foundation from accepting cryptocurrency donations. The foundation began accepting crypto donations in 2014, but following concerns over the environmental impact of proof-of-work cryptocurrencies, a three-month debate on the subject has resulted in over 71% of the 400 polled editors requesting that the foundation cease all cryptocurrency donations.
Supporters Weigh in on Environmental Issues
The proposal to cease accepting cryptocurrency donations was put to the editorship in January, with three reasons given by the proposer @GorillaWarfare, a near 16-year veteran editor:
- Accepting cryptocurrency signals endorsement of the cryptocurrency space by the Wikimedia Foundation and members of the Wikimedia Movement
- Cryptocurrencies may not align with the Wikimedia Foundation’s commitment to environmental sustainability
- We risk damaging our reputation by participating in this
To back these up, supporters of the ban pointed to the already debunked data on the environmental impact of proof-of-work mining, with those opposed to the motion arguing that the other donation methods utilized the global banking system, which in itself uses much more energy than cryptocurrency mining. Supporters also pointed to the fact that Mozilla recently stopped accepting proof-of-work cryptocurrency donations following a backlash.
Climate Concerns Hid Real Issue
The complexity and scope of the energy debate, which took up the majority of the discussion on the proposal, illustrates the fierceness of the debate surrounding cryptocurrency mining, which has hit the mainstream media in recent years with dubious data often used.
The issue of other less energy intensive cryptocurrencies was brought up, such as proof-of-stake coins, but seeing as the motion was still voted down by almost three quarters of the editors, it’s clear that the issue was an ideological one rather than an energy issue alone.
This was made clear in a discussion section on cryptocurrency and crime, with the section beginning:
The environmental impact of bitcoin mining is a valid concern, but most important is the fact that cryptocurrencies are only two things: a tool for illegal payments and money laundering, and the object of the biggest ponzi scheme in history.
There were yet more erroneous correlations to a Ponzi scheme, something mainstream media outlets also love to push, while one person even claimed that “crypto bros only want to use WM donation to launder crypto’s reputation, not because they genuinely are doing it out of the goodness of their hearts.” The lack of evidence backing up assertions such as this were, for Wikipedia, ironically entirely absent.
Wikipedia Coffers Won’t Run Dry Over Crypto Ban
The result of the vote, which seemed a foregone conclusion given the discussion comments, will not be a major blow to Wikipedia, which received crypto donations worth about $130,000 in the most recent fiscal year, less than 0.1 percent of the foundation’s revenue, which topped $150 million last year.
Still, it is sad to see such a plethora of lies and misinformation being spread by those who are supposed to rely on facts and evidence, something that we can only hope will change over time.