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The Wikimedia Foundation has picked up $3 million in grants from Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The philanthropy will parcel out its grant in $1 million installments over three years to the non-profit group that runs Wikipedia. The proceeds will be used to support Wikimedia’s hiring and development. Sue Gardner, the new executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, noted that the organization has always existed on a shoestring; the constant reliance on small donations has made it difficult to pursue partnerships, execute projects, and, as a corollary, effectively raise funding.
The grant comes as Wikimedia has been struggling to build the organization — it just relocated to San Francisco and upped its staff from 10 to 15 — and amidst controversy about its co-founder and trustee Jimmy Wales. Among the projects which will be supported with the Sloan grant: a software feature called Flagged Revisions, which will let experienced editors assign public grades to postings – which Wikimedia likens to “nutrition labeling” for Wikipedia content. Later on, Wikimedia wants to expand outreach events such as Wikipedia Academy, which is aimed making contributors out of academics, senior citizens, and other targeted groups. It also plans to use the money to distribute Wikipedia content via non-web-based formats such as DVDs and books.