McGill student group organizes to raise funding for Wikipedia

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Students Supporting Wikipedia, a new McGill club, officially received its interim club status on January 21. The group aims to raise money for the Wikipedia Foundation, and offer contributions to the popular web-based encyclopaedia.

The young club currently consists of five executives and eight official members. To promote supporting Wikipedia, the club hopes to hold a party at a nightclub, a Wikipedia inspired trivia event, bake sales, and a charity poker tournament with prizes.

“It kind of sells itself,” said Dillon Beaulne, a club executive. “One of our ideas is to put a donation box in the library and just write, ‘If you used Wikipedia today, put in a quarter. With that selling point during exam time or essay writing time in McClennan or Schulich, it’s going to get filled up because people use it.”

However, the executive members admit that the need to donate to Wikipedia is not at first glance an absolute necessity.

Sarah Olle, the Students’ Society vice- president clubs and services, agreed that Wikipedia does not at first appear as a vital foundation to support, but added that it is something students make use of.

“I would say Wikipedia is used very often by McGill students and that it is good to raise awareness of the fact that Wikipedia does require funding,” said Olle.

The club is seeking to create an atmosphere of gratitude and represent the McGill student body as appreciative of the free knowledge that Wikipedia supplies. The group hopes to express McGill’s thanks to Wikipedia for remaining true to their purpose. The website has remained simple and easy to use, and has not opted to be subsidized by advertising, still functioning on only donations.

The group believes they will capitalize on a “second look” effect once awareness of the club rises on campus. Olle reflected on a situation where this exact situation occurred during discussions with the Clubs and Services Committee on whether to grant the group club status.

“There was some disagreement over what the added value would be and whether this was something SSMU should support,” said Olle. “We put [the application] aside and then we reviewed about four more applications, and in the course of reviewing those applications, we used Wikipedia about six times to look up things in the applications.”

The club does not plan on taking their mission to a level beyond fundraising support. They believe Wikipedia is great for quick background knowledge and help, but realize it is not an official source.