Why You Should Care

  • Access to free knowledge is not a privilege for few. It is a right for all.
  • Cost and accessibility are barriers to creativity and sharing.
  • Open access policies make research available to the world.

We believe in a world in which every single person can freely share and participate in the sum of all knowledge. In practice, this means that knowledge should be available to all as well as free and safe to access. Unfortunately, not everyone has equal access to free knowledge around the world. Technological, financial, sociocultural, and legal restrictions limit the ability of billions of people to share and learn freely.  

Today, more than 50% of the world does not have access to the internet. Without it, their access to free knowledge is severely restricted. For many, this is an infrastructure problem; for others, the problem is affordability. Despite tremendous growth in access to devices such as mobile phones, most people simply can’t afford mobile data.

Through projects that offer offline and no-charge access to Wikipedia and other knowledge resources, we can alleviate the barrier of connectivity and data costs. All of this work provides millions of people with free access to the largest collaborative free knowledge resource in the world. This allows more people to share in Wikimedia’s vast repository of knowledge, through both reading and making their own contributions.

We believe in the importance of access to history. We all write this history together, every day. This means that everybody should be able find truthful information about historic and current events online and that private interests should not be an excuse to censor search engines or other websites. Therefore, we oppose laws that aim to restrict access to factual and historic information.

Reliable sources are critical to ensuring that articles on Wikipedia are accurate and reflect our ever-evolving understanding of the world. However, important information is too often behind paywalls and copyright restrictions. We strongly support open access policies, like ours, which help eliminate restrictive paywalls that limit access to valuable research. We want to make sure publicly funded research is available to the public. As more and more governments and institutions empower researchers to release their findings in freely available venues, more knowledge will be available to everyone to learn, share, and most importantly, expand.

The Wikimedia Foundation has signed the Lyon Declaration on Access to Information and Development. Signing the declaration, we joined the many other organizations working to break down the barriers to access to knowledge through open education and information. We believe that policymakers must make these issues a priority, in service of the best interests of their constituents.

We also work to create a productive and collaborative environment on the Wikimedia projects. Therefore, we promote friendly space policies on our sites and seek to curb harassment because it effectively prevents some individuals from actively participating on Wikipedia.

Working in coordination with advocacy groups around the world, we can identify the largest barriers to accessing free knowledge, and collaborate to break down these barriers. We can take concrete actions, such as educating and influencing governments and policymakers, implementing open access policies, and supporting improved infrastructure in underserved areas. It isn’t enough to grow our shared repositories of free knowledge. We must clear the path for everyone to access knowledge.

Your Help is Welcome

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