Today, Wikipedia is again running a donation drive in an attempt to raise more money. Their requests seem to occur more frequently each year. I would guess that 99.99%+ of Wikipedia users never donate, and yet continue to use the service. The existence of Wikipedia as a resource certainly isn't "free," as servers cost money. I wondered what all of the free-riders would do if Wikipedia were to run out of funding and not exist as a resource anymore.
Can anyone share some insight/examples around what happens in a given microeconomy in which the "free" good - the existence of which results in the free-rider problem - is taken away? Is there a sudden rush from the free-riders to pay, and then after some time, donations regress to their original mean?