Wikipedia Faces Pressure to Stop Accepting Crypto Donations on Environmental Grounds

A proposal by a contributor has sparked discussions on crypto’s environmental footprint, but the foundation hasn't made a decision on the issue yet.

Jan 12, 2022 at 5:58 p.m. UTC
Updated Jan 12, 2022 at 5:58 p.m. UTC

Wikimedia, the non-profit foundation that runs Wikipedia, is facing internal opposition to its policy of accepting cryptocurrency as a form of donation, primarily for environmental reasons.

A proposal to the foundation from contributor Molly White, who goes by the user name GorillaWarfare, argues that accepting donations in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, bitcoin cash and ether signals endorsement of digital coins, which are “inherently predatory” as investments and don’t align with the foundation's commitment to environmental sustainability. The contributor argues that Wikipedia risks damaging its reputation by accepting crypto donations, citing the recent decision by non-profit peer, Mozilla, to pause accepting donations in crypto.

Wikimedia currently accepts bitcoin, bitcoin cash, and ether via BitPay. White singled out bitcoin and ether’s need for enormous amounts of energy, while noting that there are other “eco-friendlier” cryptocurrencies, although they are less widely-used.

Bitcoin’s energy consumption is no secret and its “Proof of Work (PoW)” consensus model has long been debated for its impact on the environment. Crypto miners, which use tremendous amounts of computing power to validate transactions using PoW, have been criticized for damaging the environment. Most recently, a report by the U.S. Congress preparing a hearing to examine the impact of crypto mining, especially the Bitcoin network, has reignited the discussions.

However, miners have been actively countering such criticism by using more sustainable energy sources for their mining operations. Furthermore, bitcoin supporters argue that miners can help drive a change to clean energy.

Meanwhile, the Ethereum network has been working towards transitioning to a “Proof of Stake” model for validating transactions, which uses less energy, although the switch has faced prolonged delays.

The Wikipedia proposal has sparked online discussions among Wiki users and contributors, most of whom have so far expressed support for banning crypto donations. However, the foundation noted that “this is not a majority vote, but instead a discussion among Wikimedia contributors. Agreement is gauged based on the merits of the arguments, not by counting votes.”

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Aoyon Ashraf is crypto mining reporter with more than a decade of experience in covering equity markets

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