Reuters Edge

Wikipedia founder mulls revenue options

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Free online encyclopaedia Wikipedia may launch trivia games and quiz programmes to boost funds and could veer from its no advertising policy to raise cash for charity, its founder said on Thursday.

But Jimmy Wales, who founded the free, multi-lingual virtual encyclopaedia in 2001, told Reuters the firm will continue to eschew advertising for now.

“When we’re turning down millions and millions of dollars in advertising revenue that could be used to, for example, put computers in schools in Africa ... we have to be very thoughtful and responsible about why we’re doing it,” he said in an interview.

“Right now I don’t think it would be a good strategy for us, I think we will pursue other means of revenue,” he said on the sidelines of a digital freedom conference in Cape Town.

Wikipedia, which can be edited by anyone, is the ninth most popular website in the world according to web traffic monitoring site

The Wikipedia Foundation, which runs the encyclopaedia website, last year raised some $1 million from donations and was expected to spend up to $3 million this year, Wales said.

He said he was looking at ways to capitalize on the strength of the Wikipedia brand -- which is ranked among the world’s top five -- to raise funds.

Wales reiterated Wikipedia was working on a search engine to rival Google Inc GOOG.O and Yahoo Inc. YHOO.O, which it expects to finish toward the end of the year.

“Hopefully it’s successful and would provide funding back to Wikipedia,” Wales said.

Wales said last month Wikia Inc., the commercial counterpart to the non-profit Wikipedia, is aiming to take as much as 5 percent of the lucrative Internet search market.

The former futures trader who has become an evangelist for the free sharing of technology has said users should work together to improve search engines, working on the same principle as Wikipedia.