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Wikimedia Foundation gets $500,000 donation

World-class venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife give the foundation, which runs Wikipedia, a half-million dollars. The new money comes on the heels of a $3 million gift from the Sloan Foundation.

It's been a good week for the coffers of the Wikimedia Foundation.

On Tuesday, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation announced it was giving $3 million over three years to the organization that runs Wikipedia.

And on Thursday, top-dog venture capitalist Vinod Khosla and his wife, Neeru, said they were going to donate $500,000 to the foundation.

This is good news for an organization that has been recently criticized over its finances, particularly from those who say founder Jimmy Wales may have played a little fast and loose with the foundation's credit card when it came to personal expenses. The foundation's executive director, Sue Gardner, has strongly denied the charges, arguing that Wales did nothing wrong.

Still, with some ill winds circling around, it must be gratifying for the Wikimedia Foundation to be seeing people and institutions like the Khoslas and the Sloan Foundation giving it votes of confidence with their wallets.

As for the Khosla money, it's unclear exactly what it will be used for. The Sloan money, it is said, will go toward, among other things, helping to support the construction of a Wikipedia feature called "flagged revisions," which is designed to allow "experienced editors to publicly and visibly grade the quality status of articles--in effect, functioning as a kind of 'nutrition labeling' for Wikipedia content."

Another thing that's unclear is exactly how much control the Khoslas and the Sloan Foundation get over how their donations will be used.

Some, like Valleywag editor Owen Thomas, have argued that the new money gives the donors oversight that could curtail what critics contend is profligate spending. Whether that control actually exists is not known.