When the honour system works, it restores your faith in humanity, doesn’t it?
Wikipedia operates on a kind of honour system. The online encyclopedia can be edited and updated by anyone. It only has 23 paid staff members, but its army of 150,000 volunteers feel honour-bound to keep it as accurate as possible.
On December 23, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales made a plea for much needed donations by asking the site’s 275 million monthly users to “imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of human knowledge.”
Unlike other popular free sites like Facebook and MySpace, which rely on advertising, Wikipedia is operated by a non-profit organization and remains ad-free, relying only on donations.
When I read Mr. Wales’ request — and reports that within 24 hours it prompted an 892% rise in donations — I realized just how much people care about having access to free, accurate information untainted by advertising.
So that’s what I did today, made my own donation. It’s about time, really, because I visit Wikipedia more often than I care to admit (*cough*and have never donated before*cough*).
Here’s a story about how the honour system helped a hardware-store owner in Yorkshire, England, give his staff Boxing Day off:
Tom Algie opened his store on December 26 but left an empty cereal box with a funnel attached to the top and a note that read: “Take what you want but please pay.” And that’s exactly what his customers did.
At closing time, he found £187.66 ($330) in the “honesty box,” as he called it — and no items were stolen.
“I’d probably do it again,” he told The Daily Express. “But I won’t be publicizing it in a big way…. It is nice to know there are a lot of good honest people out there.”
It certainly is.
P.S. Here is a very cool piano medley of a very new song and a very old one. Enjoy!