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Should Wikipedia Just Accept Ads Already?

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the or-gimme-a-tote-bag dept.

Advertising 608

Hugh Pickens writes "Large images of Jimmy Wales have for weeks dominated each and every page on Wikipedia, making Wales arguably the single most visible individual on the planet. Now Molly McHugh writes that Wikipedia is once again pleading for user donations with banners across the top of its site with memos from purported authors and this week, Wales stepped up the shrillness of his rallying cry by adding the word 'Urgent' to his appeal. Wales attempted the same request for donations last year, and failed to meet the company's goal until Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar donated $2 million and Google stepped in with another $2 million gift to the foundation. This time around the foundation is approximately $7 million short of its 2010 fundraising goal, and Wikipedia analysts are saying the site would be better off with a marketing scheme as Alex Konanykhin of WikiExperts explains that the donations-only, no-commerce model restricts Wikipedia to relying exclusively on free volunteers, losing opportunities to involve qualified professionals who charge for their time in addition to the thirty staff members already on the Wikimedia payroll. 'Advertising is not cool. You're not as cool if you have advertising. But you know what else is not cool? Begging,' writes Jeff Otte. 'We do not care if there is advertising on Wikipedia, so long as it is not ridiculously invasive. So please, replace your sensitive mug with a Steak 'n' Shake ad or something, and start making advertisers pay for people to have stuff for free and not feel bad about it. It's the Internet's way.'"

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608 comments

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Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (5, Insightful)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574530)

Don't set up an admin system that shits all over people who disagree with you. Maybe then your appeal for donations would be considered by a larger number of people. I've been sending SomaFM [somafm.com] at least $50 per year for most of this decade and even /. gets $5 from me every now and then. I bought one Wikipedia coaster set back in '03 before I discovered your incompetence and now I quickly close your 'appeals' without reading them. Some may consider that I'm being too picky, but when I saw that Barack Obama had less criticism on his page than Ghandi or Jesus Christ, I knew your system was still flawed, and the Climate Doctor [nationalpost.com] debacle didn't work in your favor, either - and hey, that was, like, 12 months ago, and now you're running out of money - coincidence? Fix that shit and I'll kick down a Ben Franklin.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (3, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574640)

Ummmm. No. This has virtually nothing to do with donations. What you are running into is human nature. People generally do not pay for things they can get for free. You will find exceptions of course, but by and large this is true. Although your very generous coaster purchase clearly stands in stark contrast to the rest of us.

Wikipedia is no longer the center of attention that it was. It has a great deal of value and I would not mind seeing some advertising to help support it.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574718)

I have quite a few friends who regularly give money to online organizations. None of them give money to Wikipedia. Yes, small sample size, but still, none of them.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574960)

As a matter of interest, do your friends use Wikipedia's services at all?

Thought so. And in fact (truth be told) I am just as guilty. But I hate advertising too. And I despise begging. All very contradictory, but the bottom line is that either Wikipedia must find a sponsor with a bottomless wallet, or it must come up with some other funding arrangement.

I would really hate to see Wikipedia founder for lack of a pragmatic means of maintaining its existence.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (5, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574786)

Um, no you are wrong. There are scores of people with the means to donate to Wikipedia, and were serious editors at one time, but the "system" turned us away from helping in any way. Wikipedia has a lot of good things going, but their management structure is so flawed and filled with self serving, basement dwelling admins that have an axe to grind, that it turns off many people with the means to contribute. Take a look at the number of people who have thousands of edits but haven't editing or contributed in a long time.

The current structure of Wikipedia administration is fatally flawed. It is functional, but flawed to the point of pissing off quality contributors of both time and money. The concept is valid, the execution is not. If not for a few corporations throwing away money in their direction, it would already be gone. Simply put, it needs to be run like a real business, with real accountability and system of checks and balances that is less subject to the whims of a few anonymous individuals. As it is, it is run like a college project, which is why it is in constant financial distress.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574914)

Simply put, it needs to be run like a real business, with real accountability and system of checks and balances that is less subject to the whims of a few anonymous individuals.

But it is being run like a real business. It is subject to the whims of a dictator that needs to be replaced but won't be, there's no accountability, the useful people have largely been driven off, and the system of checks and balances is a sham.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574940)

absolutely.

it's exactly as predicted two years ago, when the admin model was upped to be the hysterical bureaucracy it is now.

Here's Your Cocktail Napkin Business Plan (2)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574958)

1. Take ads. Lots of ads.

2. Hire real experts, real writers, professional editors. Toss the agenda-driven wankers and college kids.

3. Regain Credibility.

4. Profit!

Re:Here's Your Cocktail Napkin Business Plan (5, Funny)

RDW (41497) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575042)

Pepsi, the Choice of a New Generation! - CITATION NEEDED.

Re:Here's Your Cocktail Napkin Business Plan (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575108)

They will never pay writers/ editors/ photographers. Just like a real media company. And just like a real media company, they're struggling and undergoing the same criticism: "there's no good content!", "It's a rehash of the AP/ Reuters/ wire news", "It's too liberal/ conservative bias!"

Content creators are just a commodity these days. Wiki will never pay for *quality* content, figuring the community will police/ edit itself.

Makes me wonder who at Wiki really gets paid and for doing what.

Yes, I am a former journalist who finally realized that working for company PR is what really pays the bills.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (1)

theshowmecanuck (703852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575088)

but their management structure is so flawed and filled with self serving, basement dwelling admins that have an axe to grind, that it turns off many people with the means to contribute.

So there have been two posts within the first few moments of this article's posting, including yours, that says the Wikipedia organization itself is pissing people off, so that is why people don't donate. I honestly haven't heard about any such issues, so could someone list some actual examples of things that Wikipedia does that turns people off to educate those of us who aren't in the know? I have edited articles and added a couple and haven't had any real issues. So I am curious about the issues people have had.

Re:Yo, Jimmy, I've got an idea: (4, Insightful)

magarity (164372) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574854)

Ummmm. No. This has virtually nothing to do with donations. What you are running into is human nature. People generally do not pay for things they can get for free.

You are confusing paying for something that can be had for free with donating to a worthwhile nonprofit organization. People donate lots of money to what they perceive to be worthwhile nonprofits. Ever heard of the Red Cross or the Humane Society? The GP is complaining that he doesn't see WP as a worthwhile nonprofit, so he doesn't donate to it. It has nothing to do with getting anything from it for free.

I used to donate to noble causes (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574930)

But then the economy crashed and I lost something like 60 percent of my wealth.

Ill start donating again once I have achieved complete financial security. Until then, altruism is for the rich.

User donation model (0)

devbox (1919724) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574532)

So basically, user donation model doesn't really work and either you need ad revenue (losing your privacy to advertisers like with Google) or you pay for your product (professional you-get-what-you-pay-for like with Microsoft)?

Re:User donation model (2)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574668)

The conclusion presupposes three boxes, and I think you're artificially limiting your thinking by having those three boxes.

Re:User donation model (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574746)

Ok, so what are the other options?

Re:User donation model (5, Interesting)

God'sDuck (837829) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574834)

Sell books.

No seriously -- have an Amazon referral account for Wikipedia. Let users link articles to books on Amazon with more information. Link every footnote to a book to a "buy now" button. It's value-added, not random advertising, and Wikipedia would get a cut. In return for all the traffic, have Amazon serve the site for free. Then the only money needed is for the salaries of the full-time staff, which the book sales would cover.
 
Since there aren't ads everywhere, you can even continue asking for donations with a straight face.

Re:User donation model (5, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574968)

But we use Wikipedia so we don't have to read books.

Re:User donation model (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575022)

You're retarded. Do you know how quickly that would result in article quality degrading in to worthless spam and plugs?

Re:User donation model (3, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574850)

How about a hybrid? Sell ads, but offset with user donations. As the user donation pool grows, the amount of advertising available, goes down.

Similar to what WBUR does. They schedule a week long fundraiser with a goal. Then before the fundraiser they start telling people "the fund raiser ends when we reach our goal".... now they are starting to even let people donate towards that goal before the fundraiser starts!

Ever since they staryed doing this, maybe 2 years ago? The fundraisers have been... reaching their goals and getting shorter! I think, at this point, they have nearly cut them in half!

Could create paid subscriptions with a value add. Maybe some new features that are a bit server intensive or require storage... like letting you keep a set of private annotations on pages, or a real time chat feature.

Look at OKCupid. There are many "A-List" members, even though the majority, and indeed the most important basic functions of the site, are all available for free.

-Steve

Re:User donation model (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574782)

True. There are always other alternatives. [youtube.com]

Re:User donation model (1)

skids (119237) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574740)

Give it time. They are still tuning their message [informatio...utiful.net] .

Re:User donation model (1, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574776)

Well.....

The "ad model" doesn't work that great either according to NBC and FOX Broadcast executives. They've lost a lot of money these last two years, and now they are moving to a subscription fee model (~50 cents per cable home) instead of providing free programming.

Trivia: Most Viewed Networks (Sept2009-August2010):
#1 FOX
#2 CBS
#3 ABC
#4 NBC
#5 CW
#6 Univision
#7 MyNetTV / Ion (tie)
#8 Telmundo

Re:User donation model (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575004)

Page hits and ad clicks aren't extrapolated from a few people filling out a Neilson rating for the week.

Re:User donation model (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575026)

Lost money? I doubt it. Not made as much as they anticipated, that I'll buy.

Re:User donation model (1)

tenchikaibyaku (1847212) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574824)

I've been considering donating, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Perhaps partly because it's not entirely clear to me why exactly they need all the money they are trying to gather. Right now, my "local" donation page says that half of the money would go to the Wikimedia Foundation and half of it to Wikimedia Sverige, "which, in Sweden, acts to make knowledge freely available to everybody."

I'd happily help keep the servers running, but how much of my money would end up helping that part of it all? I guess I will end up donating some small sum anyway in the end, though, because I do use wikipedia a lot.

Re:User donation model (1)

geegel (1587009) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574922)

Ad revenue doesn't really have to mean loss of privacy, especially in Wikipedia's case. You could easily sell ads for each individual page. Some of them (like those which are history related) won't have any ads at all, while others (like those technical/networking terms) will probably be very competitive. Put in place a bidding system and an ad scoring system and it could actually work.

Big Empty Space (3, Interesting)

BondGamer (724662) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574590)

Isn't there a big empty space down the left side of most pages? What is the difference between it being blank or there being an advertisement there.

Re:Big Empty Space (4, Insightful)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574682)

What is the difference between it being blank or there being an advertisement there.

With AdBlock, the end result is much the same.

Is AdBlock sufficiently prevalent that ad-based funding is decreasingly viable? Is an advert annoying no matter what site it might be on, or are there many AdBlock users who disable blocking on sites which they want to support through that site's chosen revenue model?

Re:Big Empty Space (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574946)

"Is AdBlock sufficiently prevalent that ad-based funding is decreasingly viable?"

It's the equivalent of people taking a leak during TV commercials.
80% of the people are noobs doing mostly Facebook crap and Youtube cats which wouldn't know an adblocker if it bit them in the ass.

Re:Big Empty Space (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575024)

No, as people taking a leak during TV commercials are not recorded by the TV network. People using AdBlock are indeed noticed by the sites in question, and that has a direct effect on revenue.

Re:Big Empty Space (1)

shadow349 (1034412) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574764)

More appropriately, given the audience here:

What is the difference between it being blank because Wikipedia didn't put anything there and it being blank because we all have AdBlock Pro installed?

Re:Big Empty Space (1)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574970)

Since I already donated, I would prefer an 'Already gave" button to switch those mugshots off.

Re:Big Empty Space (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574790)

Isn't there a big empty space down the left side of most pages? What is the difference between it being blank or there being an advertisement there.

I'll bet you have a Google branded plush pony in your bed and the shirt you're wearing says either 'Izod' or 'Brawndo".

It's annoying, that's what. Even the modest, quiet, well bred Google ads of distant history are annoying. Blank space is a critically important design concept as well.

Yes, advertising can be done such that it's minimally invasive, but it's invasive nonetheless.

Re:Big Empty Space (4, Insightful)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574812)

Isn't there a big empty space down the left side of most pages? What is the difference between it being blank or there being an advertisement there.

That is precisely the sort of attitude that gets us enhanced pat-downs and video cameras monitoring our every move.

I use Wikipedia frequently, and made a donation. Did you?

Here's a hint: the money to run Wikipedia comes from somewhere. If it came from advertising dollars, that money would ultimately be reflected in a increase in the cost of products, but because the conversion of money in your pocket through a retailer's payment processing system to the manufacturer's accounts receivable to the marketing department budget to an advertising agency to an adbuy at Wikipedia is horribly inefficient, the total cost for you, out of pocket, will be much higher than if you just send Wikipedia money. The only difference is you won't be obviously, immediately aware of it.

Please, donate directly.

For related reasons, when you donate money to a charitable or non-profit organization, don't take the gifts. That just increases their cost of acquiring your money, making your donation less efficient (and reducing the amount you can deduct on your taxes because the US government considers that a sale of goods and your donation is just the excess above fair market value for the gift you received). Just give the money.

Re:Big Empty Space (0)

prakslash (681585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575052)

If it came from advertising dollars, that money would ultimately be reflected in a increase in the cost of products.....the total cost for you, out of pocket, will be much higher than if you just send Wikipedia money

You forget that advertising costs are distributed over millions of widgets that a company may make and sell. A single individual will never pay more out of pocket. Millions depend on wikipedia. These same millions will see the ad and pay just a fraction of a cent more in the product cost. To me, this is fair. Some non-intrusive advertising will actually be a very good model for wikipedia as long as it doesn't influence the content.

Re:Big Empty Space (1)

pz (113803) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575144)

If it came from advertising dollars, that money would ultimately be reflected in a increase in the cost of products.....the total cost for you, out of pocket, will be much higher than if you just send Wikipedia money

You forget that advertising costs are distributed over millions of widgets that a company may make and sell. A single individual will never pay more out of pocket. Millions depend on wikipedia. These same millions will see the ad and pay just a fraction of a cent more in the product cost. To me, this is fair. Some non-intrusive advertising will actually be a very good model for wikipedia as long as it doesn't influence the content.

No, I'm perfectly aware of the distribution of advertising dollars over everyone's cost. That means that people who do not use Wikipedia end up paying for it. How is that fair?

It also means that the money goes to lining the pockets of the middlemen. How is that fair?

The only fair approach is for people to pay directly for the service. Unfortunately, we expect web sites to provide service for free, making it quite difficult to set up a popular subscription-based service. But that would be the fair model.

If you think that advertising dollars do not influence editorial content, be it a web site, magazine, or newspaper, then you are naive indeed.

Re:Big Empty Space (2)

DigitalSorceress (156609) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574848)

The difference is that advertisers see it as their right to put in flashing/noisy "active content" ads that in some cases (I'm thinking about the recent use of DoubleClick to install driveby downloads) harmful crap on the page. I come to WikiPedia to look stuff up, not to be sold on something.

This doesn't even touch upon the potential for editorial shenanigans... great - I go to WikiPedia to see what kind of MP3 Tag management software might be available... (Free and commercial) and when I get to the articles, I'm seeing targeted ads for someone's commercial offering? yeah, ok great, I can ignore that, but one wonders if there wouldn't be potential conflict - what if the very page I was viewing on that software happened to mention the advertiser's product in a bad light? would they try and pressure that article to be changed? or what if they went and astroturfed the article to make it favor their product?

Even if the article was completely unbiased, I kind of feel that the potential for, or even the appearance of conflict of interest is too great.

Ads would reduce the credibility of WikiPedia and would potentially devalue it as a go-to source for helping improve the signal to noise ratio of today's Internet.

Wrong person on the banner (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574618)

Replace Jimmy Wales with someone hot and you'll get many more donations.

Re:Wrong person on the banner (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574888)

They tried putting a woman there for a while.

Re:Wrong person on the banner (0)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575010)

Try Natalie Portman [/slashdotter]

Re:Wrong person on the banner (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575036)

Not a naked woman though.

Go ahead and run banner ads... (0, Redundant)

NixieBunny (859050) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574626)

AdBlock Plus will ensure that I don't see them.

Trust (1)

mccalli (323026) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574628)

No, it shouldn't. At that point it loses trust - I can no longer consider the information to be free of commercial conflicts of interest.

There's already enough problems with the editor model - let's not add more.

Cheers,
Ian

Re:Trust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574928)

Amen! I've had a few pages about organizations deleted, when some editor decided the organizations weren't large enough. It wasn't till a year or two later that I found out that editor had a put up a page about an organization a tenth the size, and didn't delete it because it was too small. Guys like me, who preached Wikipedia in its infancy, got burned by some stupid editors, and aren't about to donate a penny to Wikipedia. My money now goes to the EFF, which seems to be using it more to my liking.

Making Wikipedia use ads will be the best thing Microsoft can do...at that point, they can both sell ads for Wikipedia AND successfully bring back their encyclopedia, ad free.

Re:Trust (2)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575050)

The same problem exists with the donations model. How do you know that large donors are not affecting the content? For that matter how do you know that the money they are asking for is even needed? Maybe they received enough already to run the site for a while and now they are pocketing the rest. The trust issue doesn't magically appear only when there is a for-profit (gasp) company involved, in an actual commercial transaction, free from "we do it for the people" bullshit. It exists all the time as long as there are human beings involved.

losing opportunities to involve qualified professi (2)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574634)

That's the whole point.
It's the People's encyclopedia, not the elitists' encyclopedia. It is grown out of the generous volunteerism of billions, rather than those who are like Ebenezer Scrooge - only care about the money.

Re:losing opportunities to involve qualified profe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575048)

You're right. So whatever it is that you should do best, no matter how much your education cost, you should do it for free instead, otherwise you only care about money, right? Most people are passionate about a particular area of knowledge and spend years and countless dollars in pursuit of that knowledge. However, most people aren't independently wealthy, and have to support themselves by leveraging that knowledge into a marketable skill. By giving away that knowledge for free, it lessens the value of that knowledge and their opportunities to make a living.

User revolt (4, Insightful)

Gudeldar (705128) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574642)

Wikipedia would have to pay a lot of people to edit it because a huge number of their volunteers would probably revolt and quit working on the site if there were ads on it.

Advertisers are a bad idea (3, Interesting)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574646)

They will end up with editorial control, and that would be a very bad thing. That's a big part of why our modern news media is so awful.

Maybe they could go to a model in which people could contribute resources to handle traffic load instead of directly contributing money? The big problem here is the raft of centralized servers and databases needed to keep Wikipedia fast and responsive.

Re:Advertisers are a bad idea (3, Insightful)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574704)

Why wouldn't that be true of donors?

You don't think Wikipedia would feel similar pressure if the founder of Ebay decided not to donate because of a specific article on the site?

Just be super-upfront (4, Interesting)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574662)

Look, PBS has ads now. They still require donations, but they have ads. Just keep the bar very high, and the disclosure very clear. Maybe you make it so that companies can advertise, but cannot advertise with any product specificity, and that all images must carry a small (a) sign to signify it's an ad? It's not impossible. Look, many companies advertise on PBS to improve their image. Wikipedia can position itself the same way... as an image builder. Just get past the begging though. It's old. If your idea is *that* good, you shouldn't have a problem getting ad money.

Re:Just be super-upfront (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574736)

This episode of "wait wait, dont drill me was brought to you by BP..... We're sorry...."

Re:Just be super-upfront (1)

corbettw (214229) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575068)

Or have big banners at the top saying "This page made possible by a grant from the Soandso Foundation and Fnord Motor Company". Like you said, not an ad per se, but still extending those companies influence by showing they care about sharing knowledge.

I used to donate. (5, Insightful)

Winckle (870180) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574670)

Every year I used to donate what I could, £5, £10, or £15 but I got so pissed off with the deletionist attitude of the last year or two I just won't give anymore. I'm sick of remembering articles, going to check them and they're gone and yet stupid shit like "List of Catgirls" manages to stay. [wikipedia.org]

The most annoying thing with deletionist attitudes is that it doesn't even make sense. The less popular an article is the less resources i.e. bandwith it uses

Re:I used to donate. (2)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574822)

Weird one. Minerva McGonagall is a catgirl? That's stretching it quite a bit.

Re:I used to donate. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575120)

[...] and yet stupid shit like "List of Catgirls" manages to stay.

Congratulations! You've managed to lower my faith in Wikipedia's deletion policies even further! I do have to admit, after seeing things like articles on every single goddamned Simpsons episode, individually, as well as plot synopses of every Doctor Who story, also individually, plus articles on each individual Pokemon (surprise, each one individually!), the bar was set quite high, but you stepped up to the challenge and came through with flying colors! Kudos to you, Winckle!

Wikipedia will close on day XX-XX-XXXX unless ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574674)

the fundraising is enough to keep us going.

Easy solution.

Re:Wikipedia will close on day XX-XX-XXXX unless . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574780)

The prisoner's dilemma would like to have a word with you

Meh (3, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574684)

I was just telling my friend the other day - a giant picture of Jimmy or 'random blogger' is pretty much the same as an advertisment.

If they put ads, they should do them themselves (no giving it out to other companies who will track me) - and they should instead sell spaces in articles. So you look up "mopping" and you get an ad of a mopping company.

First Customer (1)

slag02 (1359687) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574686)

I heard Encyclopedia Britannica wants to buy the first ad...

The ads are silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574690)

I've given Wikipedia money every now and then, some 30-40 $ per year.

However, this time I'm boycotting until they put up a banner saying "Give us money, damn it." For some reason, I find the personal appeal ads really annoying (and I haven't bothered to even click them).

Dear Wikipedia, just say you need money and I'll cough up some.

No, wikipedia has to remain ad free (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574692)

There is information.

Then there is commerce.

Whenever commerce touches information, information has a way of getting warped.

It's really as simple as that.

politics warp things more than ads; be open (2)

MacAndrew (463832) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575016)

Wikipedia's bias issues are deeply rooted in its structure, as noted elsewhere. I find it very hard to believe that being ad-free makes Wikipedia neutral; in fact, it's not neutral, especially with regard to controversial issues, and these political issues dwarf the potential ad ones.

Surely the sort of oversight and openness needed to correct the editorial problems could target ad revenue as well. I'm afraid a donation model -- which I call a "tax on the nice" -- penalizes people of good intentions (over the 99% who grab freebies and run) and doesn't provide reliable revenue. Wikipedia has proven its point that it can be a critical resource -- if one is researching ball bearings and not some politician. Wikipedia deserves our investment.

Now if Wikipedia is going to start tracking which articles I read, screw them. :) Again: Transparency, accountability. I don't think they're there yet, funding or no.

Re:No, wikipedia has to remain ad free (1)

turtle graphics (1083489) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575106)

Wikipedia is a major educational resource, and should remain ad-free. Many educational media producers fight difficult (and often losing) battles against advertising and the corporate influence it brings.

Through slashed state budgets, ad-supported textbooks have gained some traction in our schools. If educators saw no problem with advertising we would have had ads galore many years ago. The fact that most school textbooks are ad-free is a testament to a large number of intelligent people deciding that ads will erode the quality of information.

Scientific journals are also nearly free of ads, sometimes with a page or two at the back selling other books by the publisher. Again, advertisements would give the impression (and probably the reality) that journal content is not free of interference from interested parties.

As another model, consider PBS, which provides informational and educational programming. It, too, was once free of ads but has slipped on that front and now runs psuedo-ads before and after shows. Still, PBS runs massive pledge campaigns instead of a full slate of advertising. So again, there is huge pressure to gain revenue through advertising, but PBS has resisted.

So, many organizations seem to agree that advertising is a bad thing for educational content. And I think Wikipedia has benefitted tremendously from its lack of dependency on the corporate world, because volunteer contributors feel like their work is being used for the public good, rather than as yet another way to enrich a corporation.

Finally, Wikipedia has managed to make the volunteer/donor model work for many years. They clearly shouldn't give it up easily. Probably governments worldwide should contribute to their mission. If they are $7 million short, that's a drop in the bucket for even a single country. The gobal educational benefits of having a quality reference tool available anywhere, for free, are certainly worth national and international support.

Re:No, wikipedia has to remain ad free (1)

wmbetts (1306001) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575112)

I think you have Wikipedia confused with something that provides 100% non-biased factual information.

Re:No, wikipedia has to remain ad free (1)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575122)

I take it you've donated then?

Large images? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574700)

What images are you talking about?

(ABP Rule: |*/w/index.php?title=*:bannercontroller )

Whats wrong? (1)

Steelwings (549043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574706)

Pleading for donations works for PBS.

No thanks. (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574712)

For one thing, it would exclude Wikipedia from certain sources of funding.

For another, it would introduce conflicts of interest that would seriously tarnish Wikipedia's credibility (a topic it already has to fight for).

Third, it would demotivate certain contributors who want to work on a free encyclopaedia but have no interest in developing a product placement platform.

How about they just cut salaries (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574730)

I'm sure Jimmy Wales doesn't need half a million a year for a website he doesn't even write himself. I don't know how much the other people make, but if it's anything like Jimmy's salary it could use some cuts.

Slashdot business model? (1)

w1z7ard (227376) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574734)

Advertisements on the web may be the most common way to turn a profit online, but it's certainly not the universe anyone really wanted except for advertising firms. I would gladly pay $5 a month for wikipedia to exist without ads. In fact, I would almost always pay money rather than see ads for any service (as I eventually did on slashdot, incidentally). So perhaps wikipedia should adopt the slashdot model: No ads for special or paying members- everyone else gets non intrusive ads (by special, I mean long term members, frequent contributors, etc.). You could even adopt a system where contributors get "points" which allow them to not see ads.

Single advertiser / benefactor (4, Insightful)

Dan East (318230) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574748)

As much traffic as Wikipedia enjoys, it seems they could have a single large advertiser / benefactor that could be promoted in a subtle, unobtrusive manner because their "ad" would be visible on every page. To me that would be preferable to context sensitive ads (Google adwords type stuff) or rotating ads which have to scream for attention and thus are a constant distraction.
PBS and other non-profit entities have been able to do similar "advertising" in a very tasteful manner for many decades (between programming - "the following is made possible by donations from..."). That seems most fitting for Wikipedia as well, which is different than flat-out commercial advertising.

They've already got cash (5, Interesting)

arshadk (1928690) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574750)

I thought about donating some money. I use wikipedia pretty regularly and I'd like to support it. The only problem is I don't think they need any money. Their financial statements are available and it looks like they've got enough cash on hand to run for the year without any more donations. I don't see the need to add to their cushion.

TFA hasn't thought this through (1)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574756)

From TFA's summary:

> Wales attempted the same request for donations last year

Dude, it's an end of year fundraiser! (And it worked very well, they raised plenty of money.)

It's about as surprising as trains being cancelled in Autumn because of "leaves on the tracks".

More TFA summary stupidity (2)

ciaran_o_riordan (662132) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574842)

Another snippet from the summary:

> failed to meet the company's goal until

Until. So, they *did* meet their goals. What are you complaining about??

(This is just the stupidity from the summary. There's nothing there to suggest it would be worth clicking through to the actual articles.)

If they do ads... (1)

forkfail (228161) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574758)

... hopefully they do subscriptions, too, that would allow for no display of ads (sure, adblock, etc, would take care of that - but I'd still buy a subscription just on GP).

set up a wiki trust? (1)

shooteur (1559845) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574770)

Can't these wiki assholes just set up a trust and over time use it to fund the site?

Re:set up a wiki trust? (1)

nomadic (141991) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574868)

Uhhh...how does that solve the problem of lack of money? You need money to fund the trust in the first place. That's like saying the solution to being poor is to get a bank account.

Front page ads only? (2)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574772)

How about ads on the main page. Ads for free use and no ads if you donate. Ads shouldn't be related to the page you are viewing.

Because of a minor annoyance? (1)

serutan (259622) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574778)

I agree if it's a survival issue, but I don't think they should make such a major policy decision based on some highly vocal people being annoyed. If begging for money works, it works. It doesn't have to be wildly successful, it just has to work barely enough.

WikiHostage (1)

AndyAndyAndyAndy (967043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574820)

Just waiting for it to happen again... where they purposefully cut back on bandwidth and make Wikipedia really really slow. Nothing quite like wanting to read all about every MLB earned-run average champion ever [wikipedia.org] but having it take more than 5 seconds to get there to make people feel like donating.

They already have advertising... (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574838)

How isn't the big splash banner with Wales mug all over it already advertising? They are just advertising themselves.

Re:They already have advertising... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575128)

Yeah, I'm sure Jimmy gets all the girls now.

Ad blocking technology (1)

michael_cain (66650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574844)

If Wikipedia included ads, would I even know? I regularly visit a number of sites that I know have ads, but I know only because of the occasional user comment that a particular ad is offensive. I don't see the ads because my browser blocks them. I started blocking ads not because I found them objectionable, but because waiting for six different overloaded servers to deliver the d*mned things slowed things down a lot. Is there reason to believe that Wikipedia's ads would be resistant to blocking?

Wikileaks doesn't help (1)

Yuioup (452151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574856)

And all the negative press that Wikileaks has been getting recently does not help their cause.

Remember, a lot of people do not know the difference between Wikipedia and Wikileaks.

I Think There Are Other Ways... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574874)

For one, I think they could pull in some money by working on regular "static" releases - probably on CD or DVD. They could even do these for specific levels; for example elementary school library releases might not have entries on anal sex. Something like that could be useful for establishments who either don't have good internet connectivity, or don't want to allow completely unfettered access to things like wikipedia in its current form.

I think they could also look into allowing companies to "sponsor" ads. This could be done intelligently if they try, so that sponsors can't change the message referring to their own entries. For example, they could allow McDonalds to sponsor entries on space exploration, but not on food or food-related matters. The sponsors could pay the professional editors directly for work on permitted entries and then be recognized at the end of the entry.

Yes, use ads. (1)

chemicaldave (1776600) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574882)

You don't even have to track users. Just display relevant ads depending on the page they're looking at. So simple. There's nothing wrong with a few banner ads. And if they add an option for users to "donate/subscribe" to get rid of the ads, then they'll have all the money they need. If people wont donate for such a wonderful, free product then just unleash ads until they start donating.

Wikipedia wants cash, advertisers want eyeballs.. (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574912)

Wikipedia wants cash, advertisers want eyeballs to look at their ads and many would dearly like to advertise on Wikipedia. Surely bringing those two things together is an obvious fix. The caveat is that the content must remain neutral, even if ads are running on it. But heck, many other publications manage to have an NPOV while accepting ads!

Adblock the donation banner (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574974)

I got so fed up of the endless begging banners that I stuck in my Adblock

||wik*.org/w/index.php?title=*:BannerController

I'm sorry, but don't bang on about something being free and then pester me for money. The moment I pay is the moment it stops being free for me.

Freenet (1)

whereiswaldo (459052) | more than 3 years ago | (#34574980)

Since Wikipedia is a community driven project, put it on community resources: Freenet.

- no ads
- guarantees Wikipedia's wealth of information won't be lost for financial reasons
- helps to further Freenet adoption

Disclaimer: I've never used Freenet.

AdBlock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34574984)

Setup ads already, so my AdBlock browser plugin can do its work.

Ads are better than begging (1)

crow (16139) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575018)

I prefer ads to begging.

I think the concern about advertisers having editorial influence is overblown. Certainly if they're using an outside placement network, like Google, then there's a nice buffer between the advertiser and the site.

One thing that I think would be really cool is if they would accept ads, but only if the ads to not include cookies.

Related links? (1)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575028)

IMO, Wikipedia shouldn't go after classic banners and such, but instead allow for paid "related services" sections of articles. Say, a technology, a product, a branch of art or such is shown. Allow for links to companies that sell this kind of product, offer or heavily utilize this technology, to people who produce this kind of art on sale, and so on. Page on hot-stamping print? Add a company that does it. A page on some rock band? Add a link to a shop that sells their albums. Some book? Amazon link to this book's purchase page.

This would actually add to the value of the site.

$20 Million a year? (1)

DogDude (805747) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575038)

I don't donate to Wikipedia. I won't donate to Wikipedia. They are spending $9.8 MM/year to pay 58 people. That's an *average* of $168K/person. That's simply absurd. I'm not "donating" to an organization so that their management can live like royalty. If they were truly interested in their mission, there's no reason to pay themselves such outrageous salaries.

Bar Bets (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34575064)

My ideas:

- Anytime someone uses Wikipedia to win a bar bet, they have to give Wikipedia a cut.

content aware advertisements (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575076)

The thought of content aware ads on wikipedia cracks me up. Too many people take wikipedia as the singular universal truth, and now for a low low price of 0.005 cents per page view advertisers can append their own versions of the truth on there.

Don't like a person/political party/country/nation/race/ideology/historical event? Easy! Just put up a banner ad that says "This article is full of filthy lies" on their wikipedia article.

What fundraising goal? (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575098)

I am hesitant to contribute to Wikipedia because I don't want them to get paid editors. If they succeed in their fundraising goal, then we should consider forking the project just in case it goes bad. This sounds like a case of taking something that works perfectly fine, then hiring a CEO with a "vision" that is completely different from the intended purpose of the project. If Jimmy Wales wants to become CEO of a commercial encyclopedia, then go register JimmyWalesApedia.com.

No. (1)

bipbop (1144919) | more than 3 years ago | (#34575130)

No.
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