Question from Maya: I just heard Wikipedia is going to start charging people a monthly fee if they want to keep using their website.
I use them a lot and it concerns me that they might start making me pay.
Are they really planning to start charging their users a fee?
Rick’s answer: Maya, this is one of those rumors that actually has a factual basis.
In a way, I guess you could say the answer to your question is “sort of”. It all depends on which set of users you are referring to…
Wikipedia is in fact already charging for access to their data, but it doesn’t affect individual users like you and me in any way.
What they’re actually doing is charging large companies like Google, Apple and Amazon for access to Wikipedia data via their Wikimedia Enterprise program.
In times past those companies (and plenty more for that matter) used data from Wikipedia to make money for themselves.
For example, when you ask Siri, Alexa or “Hey Google” a question, the answer you receive will often be pulled from Wikipedia.
And truth be told, those “virtual assistants” and the immediate answers they provide are huge selling points for the devices that feature them.
As you probably know, Wikipedia has historically been financed by voluntary contributions, and that won’t be changing. You’ll still continue to see requests for donations popping up on Wikipedia pages.
But Wikipedia is also now collecting fees from several of the large companies that had been getting a free ride on Wikipedia’s virtual back for a very long time.
Bottom line: Wikipedia does in fact charge fees for access to their data, but individual users aren’t the ones paying them – and according to the folks at Wikimedia they never will be.