WikiPedia's Financial Difficulties and The Limits of Volunteerism
Yesterday's Los Angeles Times had an article about WikiMedia's financial difficulties. It's interesting to see that a professional core team is required to sustain even this uber-example of community volunteerism. This professional core team, in turn, needs to be paid, thus requiring a business model to sustain it.
So are we looking at a limit to what community volunteerism could achieve? Does this mean any large-scale effort would ultimately require a commercial aspect to stay relevant, as many open source projects have come to believe as well?
Perhaps in the end, none of us could ever escape the need to balance our social obligations with economic realities. Not that that is a bad thing: the whole point of a market-based economy is to allocate scarce resources, so that activities don't grow beyond what could be economically justified. This may mean hard choices for individuals as we decide on whether to pursue our passions or get a job, or (hopefully) find a job that allows us to do what we love. For the greater community as a whole though, this system does ensure greater efficiency and a more rational long-term allocation of time and resources.