Wikipedia’s Pledge Drive Ends — So Do Those Jarring Testimonials!

The Wikimedia Foundation’s annual fundraising campaign concluded today after the nonprofit raised $20 million from one million donors worldwide.

The end of the pledge drive also means the end of those fundraising banners on every page that highlighted editors who contributed to the site.

Against the site’s normal black-and-white page design and absence of ads, the contributors’ color photos popped from the page and certainly fulfilled the goal of pulling readers up to the plea.

And while their absence won’t exactly be mourned by readers, it will deprive us of some entertaining juxtapositions, such as the one at right, with the visage of an earnest volunteer looking like an illustration accompanying the Wikipedia entry for a “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring Justin Timberlake called “Dick in a Box.”

Wikimedia said it will use the funds to buy hardware, develop new features on the site, expand mobile services, provide legal defense for the projects and support volunteers.

The site now employs 97 people and plans to spend $28.3 million this year on expenses.

The remainder of funds will trickle in throughout the year in the form of grants and other donations, such as ones from Google co-founder Sergey Brin and 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki’s Brin Wojcicki Foundation, which gave $500,000 as part of the campaign in November.

In a letter thanking donors, Wikimedia Executive Director Sue Gardner wrote: “We’re the #5 most-popular site in the world — we operate on a tiny fraction of the resources of any other top site. We will use your money carefully and well, I promise you.”

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus