Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, is jumping on the Bitcoin bandwagon. In a Reddit post Monday morning, he told Bitcoin users:
So I set up a personal account at Coinbase to play around with Bitcoin. I thought I would buy and sell some, and try to spend on real world things, etc. I've been watching Bitcoin for a long time, of course, and I thought it past due to test it as a consumer — how hard is it, how confusing is it, etc.
He also gave out his BTC address on Twitter, so users immediately started sending him BTC as a thanks for shouting out their project. Wales says he'll transfer all donated BTC to the Wikimedia Foundation. He's collected over 4.5 BTC so far, which is about $2,800 at the current conversion rate.
Bitcoin users have long hoped to be associated with Wikipedia, so Wales playing around with the cryptocurrency is a big deal. He lends some legitimacy to the Bitcoin project, so in turn, Bitcoin users want to help the Wikimedia Foundation. Just not with USD.
Wales is continuing to chat with a few users on Reddit and Twitter, asking questions about Coinbase, a company for hosted BTC wallets. He's also explained why the Wikimedia Foundation has not yet accepted Bitcoin donations:
One reason (not the only reason) that we haven’t is that setting it up as an option during the fundraiser has a lot of implications (we know, for example, and you will likely find this counterintuitive, that the more payment options we give people, the less they donate). But it occurs to me that they could just set up an account on coinbase and announce it via social media, and not bother with integrating it into donation screens and all that. The BTC community is pretty close-knit and generous, so that’d probably work pretty well.
Wales is right — the community is generous. Most recently, Bitcoin users came together to send BTC to Dorian Nakamoto, the man Newsweek named as the creator of the cryptocurrency (that theory has been, to say the least, seriously questioned). In the original call for Nakamoto donations, the generosity of the community was explicitly mentioned:
So Wales is probably smart to throw Bitcoin enthusiasts a bone here. His initial review of the project? "I'm liking Coinbase finding the interface pretty straightforward." But he insists that an official Bitcoin-Wikimedia partnership isn't in the cards, yet:
That won't stop enthusiasts from sending him some goodwill coins.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.