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Wikipedia Almost Reaches $6 Million Target

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-remember-what-heat-felt-like dept.

The Internet 412

An anonymous reader noted a story discussing the aftermath of the Wikipedia fundraiser and says "The writer suggests that Wikipedia can earn $50-100 million a month by a simple text ad. He also suggests that contributors should be financially rewarded and that the lack of financial reward is the reason why 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive. What do you think? Should Wikimedia Foundation put ads on Wikipedia? Should contributors be financially rewarded? What compensation structure would be best?" Personally I think the independence of Wikipedia is great, and any advertising would not only compromise that integrity, but give contributors a sense of entitlement that the site is better off without.

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Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (5, Insightful)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279291)

It really comes down to what Jimmy Whales and the foundation think (and can manage). Sure, me personally, I would be happy to have EVERYTHING advertiser-free (including the street full of annoying billboards near my house, all my favorite TV shows, etc.). But it really comes down to the question of whether Wikipedia can sustain itself on donations and goodwill alone. If they can, then great, more power to them! If not, I couldn't, in all fairness, fault them for allowing advertising or paying particularly useful contributors.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (5, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279385)

I would be happy to have EVERYTHING advertiser-free (including the street full of annoying billboards near my house,

If you live in california, you might just be in luck. There was a recent article in the LA Times (I think, I ran across it in google news) about just how poorly billboard codes are enforced and how a bunch of regular citizens have had to take up the slack to get illegal billboards taken down. So it may well be that some of those annoying billboards really are illegal and all it takes is bitching loud enough to get them removed.

Or, you could move to Hawaii where no billboards are allowed anywhere.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279443)

I think a lot more people would donate both time and money to Wikipedia if they just sorted out a few of their policies.

The fact that a lot of good articles are getting deleted at the moment due to "not being notable enough" prevented me from giving them a penny.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (5, Insightful)

cavtroop (859432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279865)

Yes, the 'notability' guidelines are for crap, really. Its completely arbitrary as to what the mod of the day thinks is 'notable' or not.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280137)

Like I've said elsewhere, the "notability" idea is a joke. How can you be sure there's a general rule deciding which is notable and which is not? It's all up to the individual reader. For 90% people an article explaining compiler design is of no notability.

Things can be done to maintain the quality of Wikipedia but requiring notability is not one of them.

My Proposition: Only the articles that are notable enough to be noted by the admin-trolls are deleted in the name of lacking notability.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (4, Informative)

julesh (229690) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280067)

The fact that a lot of good articles are getting deleted at the moment due to "not being notable enough" prevented me from giving them a penny

I don't suppose you're doing something about this, like for instance dropping by WP:AFD and commenting on discussions of articles you don't think should be deleted? Or commenting on the discussion pages of WP:N and the other notability guidelines that you think they should be more relaxed?

If a critical mass of users started doing this (and I see more than enough pissed off people _outside_ of the site to achieve this) then we could change the situation. As it is, I only see myself and one or two others. Plus the people who only seem to care about one or two articles. We need people committed to the cause of keeping all these articles.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (5, Insightful)

Djatha (848102) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279517)

No ads. No influence of Large Corporations, no influence of nation states either. I prefer my encyclopedias to be as free and transparent as possible: I want to be able to be the judge of the quality of the content. And beware for subsidies from international organizations like the EU or, heavens forbid, the UN. I prefer no encyclopedia over a sponsored encyclopedia with an agenda.

NPR for the Web (4, Interesting)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279875)

That long end of the "Free Lunch Buffet" is starting to catch up to us.

Anything sufficiently large eventually accumulates overhead costs from vendors who want to be paid.

We're all talking about ads here; Wikipedia recently went more the "Please Donate" NPR route. Other than creating another layer to manage, I'm almost smelling a fork. Maybe there's room for a Wiki variant paid for by ads, but also less strict on notability, etc. It would be known as a more rough&tumble cousin site, but if you liked Original Research blended into articles it could be interesting.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (4, Insightful)

DTemp (1086779) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279877)

Man everyone assumes malice and being able to be influenced by advertisers. You can be both ad sponsored AND not have an agenda. Newspapers do this by having a separate ad/biz department and news department... even the Editor In Chief at a newspaper has no say on the ads content. Wikipedia could produce a similar policy.

They shouldn't pay contributors though, and they should only accept enough money to handle operations.

Re:Doesn't really matter what *WE* think, does it? (1)

Requiem18th (742389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280031)

It matters what "we" think because donors are influenced by public consensus, if pundits convince everybody that WP should put ads in then the number and amount of donations will decrease.

  What bothers me is that this pundits come every year with the same claims. I just hope Britannica or the like aren't behind this.

Sure do it, if it keeps it free (4, Insightful)

renelicious (450403) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279319)

I have no problem with this at all. Many people choose to not "pay" for TV but in exchange they have to watch advertisements.

I would rather put up with ads and still get to use the wikipedia free of charge than to loose it all together (or have to start paying for it.) I do the same thing here at Slashdot. ;)

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279379)

The problem with an advertising model is that it could all too easily compromise Wikipedia's neutrality. It's a well-known problem, for example, that product reviews published in magazines can be unreliable due to pressure from advertisers. If Wikipedia became dependent on advertising, how could it resist such pressure?

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (4, Insightful)

binarylarry (1338699) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279615)

True, however wikipedia has a lot more oversight.

The magazine article is finalized when its published. Wikipedia can be changed at any time.

Wikipedia is more like a discussion forum than a traditional encylopedia... which is what makes it more useful and typically more current and topical.

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (1)

TheSeer2 (949925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279645)

Use automated ads like Google Adsense? The issue their of course would be neutrality on articles centered around Google.

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279691)

You obviously aren't from canada where we have to pay to get our cable with ads. Personally however, if they are necessary to sustain wikipedia, then I dont mind, but I am more a fan of an ad free world.

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (3, Insightful)

daniduclos (1329089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279709)

Many people choose to not "pay" for TV but in exchange they have to watch advertisements.

That's why I get pissed off by advertisements on cable TV (in BR, at least, that happens all the time): I pay for TV AND have to watch comercials. Worst of two worlds :(

Re:Sure do it, if it keeps it free (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279881)

Ever watched Italian TV? The ads are the best part.

Monetary Reward : Bad Idea (4, Insightful)

Davemania (580154) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279323)

Maybe its my cynicism but using monetary rewards to encourage contribution (however it may be regulated) will only encourage users to find ways to exploit the system.

Re:Monetary Reward : Bad Idea (3, Insightful)

yincrash (854885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279765)

I think the only way it would be doable would be to have hired staff, rather than an incentive for normal users.

1 cent per search (2, Interesting)

BlueBoxSW.com (745855) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279343)

I think they should ask users to pay 1 cent per search.

Not demand that they pay it, but simply ask them to.

Track the # of searches for registered users and display it in the corner somewhere.

Re:1 cent per search (1)

tjonnyc999 (1423763) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279475)

They're already asking for contributions (notice the big banner on top of the page), and using both negative and positive psychological factors to try and get you to donate. Nagging every user for 1 cent doesn't work as well as politely asking those who really love the site to contribute $ 10 - $ 20 - $ 50, which works according to the testimonials (which themselves are "nagging" other users (albeit politely)).

fees (2, Insightful)

jasonhamilton (673330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279511)

good idea. 1 cent for them, 40 cents for the transaction fee. You really need to jump to $5+ to make it worthwhile. So how long do you think it will take an average user to hit 500 wikipedia searches? I don't know if I've ever visited that many pages.

Re:fees (1)

thatskinnyguy (1129515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279909)

Pretty soon, it could be like a Nexis search and cost an arm and a leg per search [1] [wikipedia.org] .

Re:1 cent per search (1)

gmac63 (12603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279513)

Then it ceases to be a free source of information. Won't work even as you suggest. Still honor system and how would they pay? Paypal?

Too complicated.

Re:1 cent per search (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279815)

Yeah. Great. So first Wikipedia builds its entire database around the blood, sweat and tears of its users, now they want those same users to donate money.

Fuck that.

They can have one or the other. Not both.

Re:1 cent per search (1)

Xelios (822510) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279993)

Why not combine this with a text message system? I see these all over the place here in Germany, you send an SMS to a number and they bill you a few euro in exchange for a ringtone or whatever else they're offering. Even some charity organizations here are doing it. I no nothing about the infrastructure behind this, in fact if someone knows how it works I'd be interested in finding out.

This way people could quickly give a small donation without the hassle of Paypal.

98.3% of registered users inactive (2, Funny)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279345)

Probably because they don't know anything.

I'm glad they're inactive. who would keep up with all of those crap changes?

Re:98.3% of registered users inactive (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279401)

It's nothing of the sort. They're like me, drive-by fixers. There's no need to actively seek to make changes or be part of the wiki community. We just making minor corrections or additions, and maybe fix some spelling mistakes or typos when we're looking something up. After which, we get on with our lives elsewhere.

Thank gawd they're not like you, with your sanctimonious attitude to everyone else. There would be less wiki users than openbsd developers.

Re:98.3% of registered users inactive (2, Insightful)

jank1887 (815982) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279689)

and many of us drive-by'ers feel no need to register just to correct a few things. so the registred user number is really a meaningless piece of data.

Re:98.3% of registered users inactive (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279949)

We [...] fix some spelling mistakes or typos when we're looking something up. After which, it gets reverted by some pompous ass who's in the clique with all the other pompous asses.

Fixed that for you.

No ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279365)

Ads are the root of all evil. period.

No ads on Wikipedia. If they would be in business to make monies they would have done it so far.

I agree with the author (5, Insightful)

Techmeology (1426095) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279371)

One of Wikipedia's greatest strengths is it's non-commercialistic nature. As soon as advertisements are brought in, and money paid for contributors, the focus is lifted from the community, and brought back to money. I'd hate to see that happen. As a scientist, I find the drive to money to be a source of great impurity.

Re:I agree with the author (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279783)

well, if they can add any number of adverts that are smaller than the 'OMG we're broke, give us cash' banner that's currently on wikipedia, I will be happy.

Paying people to contribute (another way of putting the argument of rewarding people who contribute) will encourage the wrong kind of contributors, we don't want that. Stick 1 or 2 little adverts on and have done with it.

Or contact the Gates foundation :)

Re:I agree with the author (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279833)

What's the difference between a Wikipedia with ads and the copycat encyclopedia sites out there?

Financial Reward (TM) (4, Insightful)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279377)

"He also suggests that contributors should be financially rewarded and that the lack of financial reward is the reason why 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive."

Oh! The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

On a side note, I heard that most content is generated by anonymous users. So why so stress on registered users?

I would not be surprised if such a suggestion is accepted. Community needs care! :)

The "community" will kill Wikipedia (2, Insightful)

Aqualung812 (959532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279683)

Your point is dead-on. I liked Wikipedia before the "community" took over. I remember when Wikipedia was compared to the "Hitchhikers Guide" and it was great.
Now, they try to be a "real" encyclopedia. The problem is, it will never be a real encyclopedia. Quoting Wikipedia will not be considered a valid source.
Quit worrying about content that isn't encyclopedia quality, and then maybe normal people will contribute again.

Re:The "community" will kill Wikipedia (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279727)

Quoting any encyclopedia is not "considered a valid source" in any scholarly work.

An encyclopedia is where you get the basic ideas and the pointers to the real sources.

Re:The "community" will kill Wikipedia (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279767)

Wish I had mod points. And the poster needs an account, because this type of insight should start at 2 not 0.

Re:The "community" will kill Wikipedia (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279899)

It is sad that it is insightful and not something everyone already knows.

Re: Quoting (3, Insightful)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279977)

However, we don't do scholarly work here. Slashdot is a reasonably intelligent discussion forum, and a Wiki link to get the rawest of raw basics of something is more accurate than complete non-information we had to start with.

Re:Financial Reward (TM) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279719)

98.3% of users are inactive because ...

98.3% of users are inactive because 98.3% of users on any website which contains registration are inactive. Same here on slashdot, same on flickr, same on my itty-bitty forum website no one has ever heard of. People register, look around, maybe use the site for a few days, and then they move on. Except for the small percentage which doesn't an sticks around to form the core of the community. That's just the way these things work.

Re:98.3%! (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279985)

Theodore Sturgeon would be proud.

Re:Financial Reward (TM) (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279827)

The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

I turned my back on Wikipedia after a page I worked to clean up was deleted for not being "noteworthy". It wasn't high art, but I personally found it more interesting than the individual pages for each Pokemon. To each his own, I guess, but the 15-year-old powertripper who deleted the page I help to craft also deleted any desire for me to support Wikipedia. I'll still fix the occasional typo or grammar problem, but I don't waste my time with the bigger stuff or even bother logging in to do it.

Re: Deleted For Non-Notability & other ills (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280045)

This is why I want a Wiki Cousin site that has looser rules. "Yes, it's even less valid to quote", but it would handle pages like yours. I lost a big edit a while back too. Some of the really obscure topics have a "resident captain" who will delete things for what might be subjective reasons. (Or the "right" reasons, but again you'd want your subsidiary page version on tap to express yourself".

There used to be Filenes & Filene's Basement. Filenes was staid, proper, ... and priced that way. Filene's Basement was usually a mess or worse, but had all kinds of wild things swimming down there on the racks.

Re:Financial Reward (TM) (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279903)

The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

You don't need to fight your way inside the community per-se, but there's definitely a massive cliquishness to the whole thing that makes it stink like month-old fish.

Re:Financial Reward (TM) (1)

Wickethewok (1061136) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280149)

Maybe most edits by QUANTITY are generated by anonymous users, but the actually GOOD articles are generated by people who actually sit down and take a bunch of hours to research/write/edit. You don't get something fairly reliable, readable, and well-organized by having a hundred different anonymous editors each contribute a sentence. That isn't to say there aren't valuable anonymous editors, just that when people start contributing quality information regularly, they tend to register for the sake of convenience.

Wikipedia advertising = no wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279383)

Wikipedia with advertising will eventually become like MS Encarta. Good luck with that.

Re:Wikipedia advertising = no wikipedia (1)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279933)

Encarta? What happened to that anyway?

Too many assumptions.. (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279387)

The article makes a perilous, and all too common, assumption - that the addition of adverts will make no difference to the way users respond to the site. It's getting 10 billion hits now, but would "a simple text advert" drive any of them elsewhere? Would the text advert drive away contributors who are basically what Wikipedia is selling? Would someone else fork wikipedia and set up an ad-free rival?

It's easy to think that massive traffic now equates to massive traffic forever, and you can monetize that traffic without upsetting people, but you can't. It's that simple. Introducing big changes (and it would be a BIG change) would have far-reaching consequences that I don't believe the article writer has fully considered.

Re:Too many assumptions.. (3, Interesting)

glop (181086) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279701)

I thought there could be an opt-in for ads.
People who want to support wikipedia could choose to view it with a couple ads.
Then they could show ads to the people who opted in.
They could even stop showing ads when they have enough money to pay for bandwidth, servers and whatever.
As a result, nobody would be pissed off and since the money stops pouring in when there is too much of it, we reduce the pressure to pay contributors back as the money was only to pay for the operating costs.

Re:Too many assumptions.. (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279931)

Would the text advert drive away contributors who are basically what Wikipedia is selling?

I'm not sure I understand this thinking. Why should I, as a potential contributor, turn away from Wikipedia because it carried advertising? Now I certainly have no interest in working for free so someone else can profit, but if the money went to a non-profit that did good things with it (such as keeping Wikipedia online), I don't see the conflict.

The outlaw Jimmy Whales (4, Interesting)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279389)

I can understand the idea that by accepting advertising dollars, you somehow compromise your journalistic integrity.

NPR (I am pretty right wing, but NPR is the only non-braindead radio in my area) does a good job of what is called a firewall [findarticles.com] whereby editorial teams are separated from funding decisions and funding teams are not included in editorial decisions.

It's pretty reasonable that Wikimedia could do the same thing. I know, not having ads separates wikipedia from the rest of the icky for-profit websites out there...but as another /. poster pointed out: begging for money all the time isn't a business model.

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (1, Flamebait)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279501)

I can understand the idea that by accepting advertising dollars, you somehow compromise your journalistic integrity.

Sorry but this makes no sense. Plenty of commercial journalists make money selling stories to newspapers and online websites. The only reason someone would take Journalism in university would be to enter into that profession as a career path. The fundamental definition of the term career, most certainly involves being able to provide for yourself and your family.

The only existing model for newspaper revenue is advertising, and subscription. Funny how what is good for IRL is bad for the net. If you want to live in communist Internetopia, pack your bags and feel free to.

Personally, if someone wants my hard work, they either pay me for the agreed upon price or they get a good lawyer. My time is limited and my time is valuable.

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279617)

Plenty of commercial journalists make money selling stories to newspapers and online websites.

And plenty of newspapers and "online websites" (?) absolutely suck as sources of unbiased, accurate information.

The Wik is useful because it is not part of the right-wing corporate media.

The only existing model for newspaper revenue is advertising, and subscription.

And of course no one could possibly ever think of a new and better model.

Personally, if someone wants my hard work, they either pay me for the agreed upon price or they get a good lawyer.

Wow, you must be a hoot between the sheets.

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (1)

mfh (56) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280115)

Wow, you must be a hoot between the sheets.

Slashdot certainly reminds me of what the internet really is for [penny-arcade.com] ...

Slavery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279635)

Indeed, and while we're at it, let's bring back slavery. That'll show all those lazy, good-for-nothing uppity niggers their place.

Honestly, your mentality is scary to me. Why does every thing you do have to be tied to money?

On the other hand, if I don't rely on money no one can censor what I say by threatening to take away the funding for all my "hard work."

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279721)

If you want to live in communist Internetopia, pack your bags and feel free to.

Congrats on your last minute entry into the running for "dumbest thing anybody said on Slashdot in 2008".

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279529)

NPR

begging for money all the time isn't a business model.

does not compute

Re:The outlaw Jimmy Whales (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279591)

But, if you donate $30 or more, they'll send you this awesome tote bag!

Wikipedia's Annoying Space-Sucking Ads (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279425)

I hate Wikipedia's annoying space-sucking ads. They take up a full inch of screen real estate at the top of the page.

Thank god the "campaign" is over. I visit wikipedia less often than I used to and I am going to visit even less if they keep doing "campaigns".

Let's set some ground rules (5, Interesting)

sam0vi (985269) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279435)

1. Keep them simple: no flashy "shoot the monkey and win $10,000" kind of ads.

2. Make them context sensitive but not insensitive: No porn ads on "Erectile disfuction" articles.

3. Try to use the ads for the common good: focus on open and innovative initiatives

4. Make some sort of mechanism for users to rate the ads (other than by (not)clicking on them)

Any more ideas on the subject?

Re:Let's set some ground rules (3, Interesting)

gmac63 (12603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279547)

Very similar to how Public Broadcast System in the US used to work.

ie: "Sunkist Raisins proudly supports PBS programming and the development of young minds through proper nutrition"

Neutral and relevant to the theme of PBS and still gets advert message across.

Re:Let's set some ground rules (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279577)

Add link to every wikipedia article (e.g. replace the donate-banner with it) to a new page that is only for showing ads about the article. With the link add text "If you want to donate money to Wikipedia without actually donating money, please view these ads and we get the money and you don't need to pay.

It would be easier for me to support Wikipedia that way than the donation based system.

Public Traded... (2, Informative)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279439)

I would say no but not for that Lame reason the author mentioned. Wikipedia is a not for profit organization (NPO), the real difference between a NPO and a For Profit Organization (FPO) oddly enough isn't profit NPO reason for being a NPO because they just account it as Excess Revenue, then treat it internally like profit. But the Excess Revenue for a NPO should go to focus on its mission. So you have excess revenue well put the money in the bank and use it for a dry spell, or to help expand Wikipedia. But giving the Profit back to the "Share Holders" makes it a for profit organization. Once they do that they will loose all their NPO advantages, as well the subconscious ones. You are not going to donate $5 - $50 dollars of a for profit organization, who makes enough to pay the people and keep operating efficiency. You are not donating to Wikipedia if you expect a monetary return form you investment. Within time you will get some investors who are so heavily invested in Wikipedia that Wikipedia will need to take strong considerations of their interests.

But for things like adds effecting the content. I doubt it... Most internet adds go threw companies ie Double Click / Google.... And bitting the hand that feeds them doesn't normally get them in to much trouble especially with public generated content. If Wikipedia was a Blog or had some ways of tightly controlling its content I would say advertisements could effect the service. However the danger is not by adds but paying the investors, who can change the direction of Wikipedia Corp. To do what will maximize profit.

Keep in mind the goal.. (2, Interesting)

UPZ (947916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279453)

From my understanding, the goal of wikipedia is to create a knowledge base free for all people. Are they successful in that goal? I'd say yes. Even with 98.3% inactive users and only $6 million in contributions? I'd say yes.

It would be nice if wikipedia had more money or had more participation. Yet it does not seem like a big deal since neither were wikipedia's goals. Personally, I like the free from advertisements feature and I'd be glad to donate some to keep seeing that (did some yesterday!).

Re:Keep in mind the goal.. (1)

krunchyfrog (786414) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279891)

Maybe if the whole system could be aided by beta hardware or if some huge companies could help hosting the whole project? I would make a special section for those companies in some "major contributors" section or something. No real money involved, but some of the weight could be taken off.

OK for ads, but not OK for paid conrtibutors. (1)

pegdhcp (1158827) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279485)

I would not want for myself, monetary rewards for editing Wikipedia. Also "paid for contributors" might be willing to compromise in order to keep money coming, by making their contributions more "attractive" than more "correct". On the other hand I would not object to see one or two ads per day in Wikipedia, if it would help the finances of Foundation. They can use extra money for hiring more editors, instead of only relying on contributors.

Integrity? (4, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279509)

Why does everyone think as soon as you start to throw up billboards and advertisements that the organization in question has become unethical? Wiki provides a service to the community. Do you think those services are free? The internet has many services that are free except for advertising, simply because publishing information is very cheap (but not free). Even this website you're reading this comment on is supported by advertising. I don't think wikipedia should be any different from a million other websites that are supported by advertisements.

There are only a few other options here;

Micro-payments. Hahahaha! lolz. Great idea, but where's the infrastructure? In other news, where are those fleets of alternative-fuel cars? Oh yeah... On the drawing board, waiting for the infrastructure to be built.

Fee-based. Sure, charge maybe $12 a year for access to wikipedia... aaaaand 95% of their userbase says "Oh screw that" and the site tanks. This is pretty much committing suicide online to attempt this; Very few websites have survived the transition.

Subsidized. You know, like the BBC. Quality content, paid for by your tax dollars. Ah, wait... This is the United States and we ere hates dem dar communist bullshiat.

Clearly, advertisements is the best way to go for wiki.

Re:Integrity? (5, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279755)

Why does everyone think as soon as you start to throw up billboards and advertisements that the organization in question has become unethical?

When a publisher gets paid by advertisers, those advertisers have tremendous influence over what gets published. When the evening news is "brought to you by Amalgamated Profits, Inc.!", don't expect to see any coverage of that company's shady dealings.

If the Encyclopedia Britannica had ads for Pepsi on the endpapers of each volume, would you trust its entry on Coca-Cola?

There are only a few other options here...

And then there's the one that they're using, and that is working: asking for donations.

Re:Integrity? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279791)

Why does everyone think as soon as you start to throw up billboards and advertisements that the organization in question has become unethical?

History.

Subsidized...Ah, wait... This is the United States and we ere hates dem dar communist bullshiat.

I didn't realize Wikipedia was a US-centric.

Re:Integrity? (1)

SD-Arcadia (1146999) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280035)

I don't see the cause for panic. The donations system appears to work great. I just donated $10 through paypal when I saw the funding drive. It's easily the most useful website online and is ad-free. If $6M/year covers the expenses, we could do this every year no problem with the 150M/month visitor base. Why risk a working system with an inherently contradictory, alienating revenue model that is ads ?

For $50-100 million.... (1)

SpinningCone (1278698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279519)

I personally wouldn't be opposed to a few text based ads in wikipedia. especially if it allowed the wiki to keep going.

really a few ads wont hurt its nature, however that much revenue might. if they could really be earning 100s of millions of dollars annually they could take the wiki to a whole new level.

This could be a fantastic thing increasing the accuracy and depth of the articles hiring full time writers, contributor incentives and generally encouraging its growth across the board. but if done incorrectly could turn sour and corporate.

OTOH they could donate the money above their normal operation costs.. $100 million would buy a lot of OLPC XO laptops...

What do you think? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279525)

I think that the writer needs to start his own encyclopedia and run it as he sees fit. I'm sure he'll make lots of money.

An imagined problem. (4, Insightful)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279533)

So some guy with a blog makes a post claiming that Wikipedia needs to change. I missed the part where there was a problem.

The facts are that the goal is within spitting distance. They're 97% of the way their. So what's the problem with this model?

As for the 98% dormant figure, it's irrelevant. Isn't what we care about if Wikipedia is expanding its coverage, increasing it's quality, and serving more people? The percentage of active people could be 1%, it could or it could be 50% and that wouldn't necessarily impact quality, scope, or number served.

(I'm also fairly sure quality, scope, and number served are increasing, but I have no evidence to support that).

Re:An imagined problem. (1)

reashlin (1370169) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279731)

I must admit I was wondering why Wiki needs to be making money. I recently watched a program where the creator of Wikipedia was being interviewed and he was saying that they have hosting costs, around 10 employees mainly there to run servers and answer press calls and thats about it. The site is non-profit with that. The interviewer seemed amazed that the guy is not a dot com billionaire but at the same time the creator seemed not too fussed. He seemed more happy that he had the 8th most visited website in the world on his CV. That likely makes him plenty of money alone.

How about both? (1)

ryanw (131814) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279541)

Wikipedia could thrive with benefits from both worlds.

Solid, intuitive research doesn't come free. Even research in colleges is based on funding. In fact, university professors spend most of their time finding funding for research projects. This is why they're not in the class rooms. It's the research project funding that keeps them at the university.

Researchers would post their studies of all different topics if they could see a financial benefit from doing so. Otherwise, they go around chasing publications who pay for the research.

I promise you, there are thousands of PHd level individuals working on projects that they intend to shop to major publishers. A majority of them will be rejected. They will hang onto their research for the rest of their lives looking for the next opportunity to sell it.

Give them the opportunity to post a topic with banners on articles and get royalties from it. If someone doesn't like what he's saying, then don't link to it! If someone disagrees with the research then write an article at how you disagree with the article.

I think putting banner ads on every page would be a bad idea, but letting the article creator decide would create a whole new level of article integrity.

Re:How about both? (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280125)

Wikipedia isn't interested in original research or expert anecdotes, for precisely the problems that your ideas bring up. It's attempt at being an encyclopedic reference would fall to pieces under the weight of contradictory papers, articles gainsaying one another, and the need to vet submissions. It already suffers from massive edit wars and discussion page drama-- cluttering searches with 'the effect of foo on bar' and 'the real effect of foo on bar' and 'why foo can't affect bar at all' will do nothing to help anyone.

This also begs the question of who will pay the royalties. Ad banners? Good luck, there. Ad revenue is spotty for single-owner sites. When there are dozens of articles on a single topic, the odds of-- actually, no.

We already have a system where people can put up their own, original articles, pepper them with advertisements, and make vanishingly small amounts of money from. It's called the Internet.

A Commercial Wikipedia (1)

teslatug (543527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279561)

They couldn't pay me enough to work on Wiki[pm]edia, on the other hand I do it for free.

$6mil a damn fortune (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279567)

in anyones book $6 million is a fortune especially for just one years running costs.

If it really costs that much to run a bunch of servers world wide (..how?) then its about time they looked into some kind of p2p hosting with each page being replicated on 100's of desktops.

$6 million a *year* - just think what you could do to provide clean drinking in Africa with that money

Nonprofits (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279573)

Restrict advertisements to nonprofit organizations?

i'm going to regret this but... (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279583)

Another solution would be to not allow anonymous contributors, and have content subject to academic scrutiny. ie. Place significant control in the hands of an academic based board. The site would be eligible for grants from the library of congress, other education oriented grants, and direct contributions from academia. Getting the "contributing community" that surrounds Wikipedia to give up that much freedom would probably be very difficult. But, balancing security and freedom can be a measure of ego.

What's in a number (1)

jonesy16 (595988) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279587)

It's probably a reasonable assumption that at least 98.5% of the population is unfit to post articles on Wikipedia so that 98.3 number is meaningless.

Please don't pay contributors (2, Interesting)

xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279619)

It shows a very poor understanding of human psychology. Go to this page [pbwiki.com] and do a text search for "drag circles". For boring tasks (such as maintaining Wikipedia), people actually perform worse when they're paid money. If you want the best work out of someone, don't pay them.

Ads are ok only if really required (3, Interesting)

GCZFFL (875085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279655)

While I would hate to see ads on Wikipedia, I would hate it more if Wikipedia were to close its doors. Therefore I would take the lesser to two evils in this scenario, and go with the ads, but again, only if it was to avoid the financial demise of Wikipedia. This is a non-profit organization, so I would think it should be fairly clear what "required" means from a financial standing. Regarding the second question, I personally don't believe contributors should be financially rewarded. Currently, people contribute to a topic they're knowledgeable about because they have a passion in that topic. If there was a monetary reward involved, people would apply far less integrity to their content.

Pay contributors? (1)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279675)

How would that even come close to functioning currently? I could create a page for myself, and then get paid to add/edit content about my daily life.

Now I would assume that's an extreme example of how it could go badly, but I already get annoyed with their editors now for complaining about trivia sections or removing pop culture/gaming/interesting articles because they aren't relevant long term. How bad would it be if people were expecting payment, and someone decided their content wasn't relevant enough to be paid.

I think they'd succeed a lot more if the current ruling regime would calm down a bit on all the [citation needed] [trivia sections are frowned upon] [this is in-universe style of dialogue] etc etc. Sure, it makes sense for a lot of topics, but for me checking out things about TV shows or fictional books or more 'light' topics, just loosen up a bit and you'll have a lot more people wanting to contribute.

Paying for Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279695)

If you only want dedicated (dare I say fanatic), young (college age, at most) posters with time on their hands, keep the unpaid model.

Face it, most people want to at least break even with their time. Few will take the time to craft a carefully throught-out entry, then watch it trashed by the ignorati almost immediately, if they are not compensated in some way.

The idea that all posters are equal, and have something valuable to provide is fine.

IF the subject is not one that people are passionate about.

That means, on topics like:

war (particularly ethnic wars)
politics
controversial area of science
educational theories

(to just name a few), Wikipedia will not be worth the effort for the more rational types.

To be honest, for me, and my students, Wikipedia is most useful for small topics, as a first starting point. It's nice for background only.

Tell the Wikitruth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279729)

Only "reliable" and "notable" knowledge is allowed. And you know who ELSE had that policy?

Yes, Wikipedia is communism. The "vandals" were right.

98.3% of users inactive (1)

robajob (1238762) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279757)

I suspect that this is because most people sign up to edit or create a specific page, or just because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and don't have anything interesting or relevant to say about anything else. I know not having anything interesting or relevant to say doesn't stop all of the other 1.7%, but there you go.

Contributions (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279799)

One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that people stop contributing is the lack of financial reward.

I think this is nonsense. The reason people stop contributing is because the articles they are interested in are eventually pretty well fleshed out. There is nothing left to contribute. Eventually, we reach a point where pretty much all that can be said about a subject is written.

frist p5ot (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26279813)

FreeBSD is already were nuulified by obvious that there Jesus Up The About h.alf of the another special baby...don't fear outreach are to them...then project faces a set

Wikipedia is Targeted Ad Nirvana (1)

neo (4625) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279863)

Someone looking up plumbing finds an ad for plumbers...
Someone looking at the London listing finds hotel and air travel...
Someone looking up nukes gets an ad for the FBI...

A simple google ad, text only, wouldn't kill off anything that Wikipedia is trying to accomplish.

However the idea of paying people to moderate, edit, or create articles is a horrid idea. The reason I trust Wikipedia is because it's run by the commons and while they don't get everything right, they get more right than most encyclopedias and with a lot more volume.

If they start paying, I'll just branch it for the free editing.

Keep to your strengths Wikipedia. You have good information that people rely on daily. Having a small text ad wont kill that.

Show me the money! (1)

maillemaker (924053) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279869)

If I had a web site as popular as Wikipedia I'd be milking that sucker for advertising dollars hand over fist.

Wikipedia is a great service. I would not mind advertisements on it any more than I mind them on Slashdot. I ignore them, Slashdot get paid, I get to enjoy Slashdot. All is well.

Idea of paying contributers is STUPID (1)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279921)

Presently, people effectively donate their time to write and maintain articles. They do it out of altruism, to basically get the warm and fuzzies.

Paying people money would replace a strong incentive with a weak one, and quality would go through the floor. How long would it be before cybercriminals find a way to game such a system and destroy Wikipedia overnight?

A good analogy is why blood donors don't get paid money to donate: at the moment, people donate blood to help others. As soon as you start paying people for blood donations, only junkies and down-and-outers, who are more likely to carry blood borne disease, would bother donating blood.

Anybody suggesting that Wikipedia would be improved by paying contributers is stupid, stupid, stupid.

The dangers of advertising are overrated (1)

Fished (574624) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279923)

I'm sorry, but I think the dangers of Wikipedia accepting advertising are overstated, at least so long as it's kept fairly anonymous. A simple Google text ad creates almost no possibility of feedback between Wikipedia editors and contributors and the advertiser themselves. I suppose that it could, in theory, create some kind of tie to Google, but even that could be avoided by splitting business between various Internet advertising providers (and don't I recall that Wikipedia already takes money from Google in terms of sponsorship? Surely that's even more likely to influence?)

As far as paying contributors... I don't think that Wikipedia should ever go to paying all contributors. However, I do think it might make sense to pay bounties for articles on topics that are for some reason under-represented or particularly difficult to get quality articles on. I would suggest that there be some sort of community nominating scheme to nominate an article for a bounty, to keep the community involved.

*I* stopped contributing to Wikipedia, (4, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26279929)

and have come to seriously question its veracity of late, because just in the last couple of years, nearly every article to which I tried to contribute had a band of "campers" hanging around it, who were much more interested in maintaining their own version of the truth via the preferential enforcement of technicalities in Wikipedia's rules, than they were in the truth content of said articles.

If you want to insist that I cite examples, then use the example of the article on naked short selling in the stock market. If you are not familiar with that case, look it up. It is hardly an isolated case.

Wikipedia was a good idea, but it has been seriously corrupted by people like these, and the foundation has not done anything to address the problem. On the contrary, it has, in some cases, supported people who have worked hard to keep certain articles inaccurate.

They don't get any of my money until they take serious measures to address this problem. Unless they do, Wikipedia will continue to go downhill... just as it would deserve.

Mod parent insightful (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26280075)

I have experienced that phenomena myself; it happened for a long time for the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) article.

Eivind.

Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26280033)

There is a logical disconnect in saying just because they have some income they should pay contributers.. They should only think of paying contributers if it would make wikipedia better.

Its probably fair to assume that per contributions payments, might increase the volume of contributions, but what about the quality of those contributions.. certainly the scheme would need to be structured so that only "beneficial contributions" were rewarded, this raises the question of should those who assess compliance with the rules, also be rewarded.. and of course those who revert bad edits..

I guess I'm one of the idle contributors... (1)

argent (18001) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280071)

I'm a contributor because I noticed something in Wikipedia that I could provide more details on. Now and then I've fixed typos or updated articles, in passing, as a user.

That doesn't mean I feel any obligation to roam the wikisphere and poke my nose in everywhere I can, or obsess about the details of one entry.

If most people are like me (and I'm not claiming they are, but if they are) then most contributors are going to be idle most of the time, only contributing when they notice some place they can, you know, actually contribute. It doesn't seem to me that this is a *problem*.

A 3-step plan (1)

Rambo Tribble (1273454) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280133)

Let the Wikipediaphiles create a blind trust to manage the sales of advertising. Personally, use the Firefox extension that blocks the ads. Then, get on with your life in capitalist reality.

One AD is not going to hurt anything (1)

crapoid685 (1442209) | more than 5 years ago | (#26280155)

I've been saying this forever. Just one ad for one lucky company. Think about the hits that this site gets.
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