Wikipedia urged its Finnish users to donate in order to guarantee the independence of the online encyclopedia.Online encyclopedia Wikipedia raised over 70,000 euros in its plea for donations in Finland, data published by the Wikimedia Foundation indicate. Between 29 January and 10 February, 7,758 people donated a total of 72,606 euros, translating to an average donation of roughly 9 euros. The largest single donation was 502 US dollars, or approximately 384 euros.

Of the donations, 3,790 came through Wikipedia's English-language site and 3,968 through its Finnish-language site.

The details were first published by blogger Vesa Linja-aho and have since been verified by Helsingin Sanomat on the basis of the same data.

Last week, the National Police Board asked Wikimedia Suomi, the Finnish chapter of the Wikimedia Foundation, to explain why no money collection licence was sought for the donation drive. According to Wikimedia Suomi, the inquiry has been forwarded to the Wikimedia Foundation, the operator of Wikipedia, in the United States.

“It is our practice to always request a statement. This is the course of action whenever there is reason to suspect that a licence would have been required,” explains Jouni Laiho from the police board.

Laiho declines to comment on the reported yield of the campaign, underlining that the police board must first assess Wikipedia's response to the inquiry. Thereon, the law prescribes, officials will evaluate whether there is reason to suspect that a money collection offence has been committed and whether a pre-trial investigation is warranted.

“According to the law, money collection licences can be granted to non-profit organisations for social, educational or ideological purposes. There is no doubt that the operations of Wikipedia are largely educational,” Laiho says.

In general, Laiho is puzzled by the apparent reluctance of organisations to apply for money collection licences. “I suppose the excessive processing times contribute to this.”

Laura Halminen, Esa Mäkinen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva