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The Debate Over Advertising on Wikipedia

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the my-opinion-should-be-obvious dept.

262

An anonymous reader writes "Some Wikipedians have objected to Virgin Unite's participation in the Wikimedia Foundation's fund drive, calling it adverising. But there's a strong case that Wikipedia should run advertising. The funds raised could support dozens of Firefox-scale free knowledge and free software projects, outspending all but the wealthiest foundations."

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262 comments

End justifies the means (2, Informative)

Leadmagnet (685892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443478)

Perhaps this is a good thing - if it generates enough revenue to fund many small open info sharing projects.

Re:End justifies the means (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443770)

The means might be sacrificing the purported objectivity of Wikipedia.

I'm not saying this will happen, but will Wikipedia cave to the presure of sponsors wanting to keep harmful information from Wikipedia?

For instance; if Microsoft became a sponsor, would the articles about XBox hacking remain intact? I'm sure the media companies wouldn't like advertising on a site that happily explains DeCSS, and just wait until hacks for Blu-ray and HD-DVD are being documented. And the numerous scandals involving companies that still exist today; would they like those articles? Not to mention politicians, who have already proven not to be trusted when it comes to Wikipedia content.

I'm not saying this will happen, nor that it cannot be defended against. Just to define what "means" may be in this case.

Means the end. (2, Informative)

EinZweiDrei (955497) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443910)

If Wikipedia's maintaining corporate objectivity means its ultimate failure or stagnation, I will go down with the ship in a heartbeat.

Sure, why not? (5, Insightful)

Slippery Pete (941650) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443484)

It just seems like every web presence has to have some source of income to pay for their hosting and bandwidth. If they aren't very intrusive (GoogleAds), then it shouldn't harm anything.

Re:Sure, why not? (1)

jackalope (99754) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443540)

I concur with this sentiment. If having real live revenue makes wikipedia better then let them have revenue. There is nothing inherently evil about making money.

They could easily do something non-intrusive, such as AdWords that correspond to the topic(s) being viewed. There is ample screen real estate on the left hand side for a discrete ad bar.

But they would need to be careful not to allow ads to creep into what could be considered content, or have advertisers directly choose which page they want to advertise on.

Are AdWords unobtrusive? (2, Interesting)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443778)

I personally find AdWords to be very obtrusive. AdWords commonly hijack your searches on the thinnest possible pretence of relevance. Does anyone remember Buy Steve Irwin dead on eBay" [theregister.co.uk] ?

I'm still concerned by Google's monopoly and its ability to advertise itself above all others. Should Wikipedia be another battalion in Google's world-conquering army?

If we're talking about free content, what about the risk that Amazon et al use adwords to appear at the top of any page on any piece of classic literature, leading readers into buying the book rather than scrolling down to the link to the wikisource or Gutenburg text?

Finally, what about WikiPedia's many languages? These services don't carry ads in most of the minority regional languages, instead defaulting to the dominant majority language for the area (Catalan gives way to Spanish, Gaelic gives way to English, Breton gives way to French etc). Blanket application of a system such as AdWords across the site would break the integrity of the Catalan, Gaelic, Breton etc versions of the content.

HAL.

Re:Are AdWords unobtrusive? (1, Redundant)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444146)

I don't find AdWords obtrusive... well not since I added http://.googlesyndication.com/* [googlesyndication.com] to my adblock list.

If you don't like adverts, block them! I have no problem with Wikipedia taking ads, frankly, I'd find a blocked ad that I don't see far less intrusive than their constant begging for donations.

Re:Are AdWords unobtrusive? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444470)

These services don't carry ads in most of the minority regional languages, instead defaulting to the dominant majority language for the area (Catalan gives way to Spanish, Gaelic gives way to English, Breton gives way to French etc). Blanket application of a system such as AdWords across the site would break the integrity of the Catalan, Gaelic, Breton etc versions of the content.


It seems like the only problem would be that the AdWords wouldn't trigger the correct ads, which would really only hurt Google. Which might make it in Google's best interests to begin offering AdWords in minority languages. That's good or bad depending...

But I don't think it would be a huge issue for the speakers of those languages at all.

Besides, with Firefox+Adblock Plus, I hardly see adverts at all anymore.

Re:Are AdWords unobtrusive? (0, Flamebait)

benzapp (464105) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444634)

These services don't carry ads in most of the minority regional languages, instead defaulting to the dominant majority language for the area (Catalan gives way to Spanish, Gaelic gives way to English, Breton gives way to French etc).

Ahh one of those. I hate to inform you, but the Second Republic was extremely proficient at eliminating any native gaelic dialect in France. Breton as a language is for all intents and purposes extinct, although academics infatuated with global balkanization certainly try to revive it.

As well, the Irish refer to their language as Irish, not gaelic. As for Catalonia, I hope the Spanish level that region to the ground.

Re:Sure, why not? (2, Insightful)

Diomidis Spinellis (661697) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444002)

I think you mean Google's AdSense [google.com] technology, which is aimed at web publishers. The AdWords [google.com] you mention are the ads that appear next to the Google search to search results. We should keep in mind that Google's AdSense lists are dynamically generated on the fly for each specific page request (see the source code in a page with AdSense [heavens-above.com] . Google already knows (and stores) all your search queries. Do you really want it to also know all the pages you've been browsing in Wikipedia?

For me the three main ways I find information on the web are: Google, Wikipedia, and various digital libraries (in that order). Allowing Google to pry on the two first in concert would make the existing risks of Google regarding privacy considerably worse.

Re:Sure, why not? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443544)

I completely agree so long as they're text ads only. Images ads: no farking way.

Mesothelmia ? (1)

Rastignac (1014569) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443686)

Will we see a huge number of articles about "mesothelmia" and such high-paying-keywords ?? I hope not.

Put your money where your mouth is! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443488)

I want each and every one of these complaining Wikipedians to get together and make a no-strings-attached donation equivalent in size to that of the one made by Virgin Unite. Only after they have done that are they really in the position to complain.

Re:Put your money where your mouth is! (1)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443896)

How about if each of the Wikipedians donates an equivalent percentage of their gross earnings when compared to the Virgin Group's donation and the Virgin Group's gross for a year. Asking an individual to donate as much as a huge corporation is a little unrealistic don't you think?

Advertising No Problem (2)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443490)

I see no problem with adverts on Wikipedia so long as its obvious they're advertisments and corporate sponsorship does not affect the content.

Even very small and unobtrusive adverts would earn them an awful lot of revenue which can really only be a good thing.

Re:Advertising No Problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443656)

Wiki is pure knowledge and any adverts at all, no matter how "unobtrusive" would pollute it and sully its name.

Advertising is always evil and to suggest that Wikipedia lower its self to flog worthless crap for faceless corporations WHEN ITS DOING JUST FINE AS IT IS with no advertising shows you have no appreciation for art or asthetic values. Honestly to even think of corrupting something so pure and beautiful like this is just sick.

Re:Advertising No Problem (5, Insightful)

Stephan Schulz (948) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443860)

I see no problem with adverts on Wikipedia so long as its obvious they're advertisments and corporate sponsorship does not affect the content.

Even very small and unobtrusive adverts would earn them an awful lot of revenue which can really only be a good thing.

This is a very slippery slope. Once WikiMedia outgrows the generosity of the community, there is no easy way back. If the foundation has hundreds of paid officiers, in the long term their primary interest will not be to make the best possible encyclopedia, but to safe their own jobs. If Wikipedia funds a lot of other projects, there is even more reason for them to keep up the revenue by following the interest of the advertisers as opposed to just creating the best possible free encyclopedia.

From another point of view, I assume I spend maybe 100 hours per year working on Wikipedia. Even at my salary level (as opposed to my consulting rate), paying for this would be quite a chunk of money. Multiply it by 3 million of editors, and the "huge" advertising revenue suddenly is not that huge anymore. Even losing a small fraction of good editors over advertising would be a net loss.

Re:Advertising No Problem (1)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443886)

google seem to manage the only adverst on the internet that don't bother me, if Wikipedia went that way I see no problem either.

To beleive that projects like Wikipedia should not advertise is definatelly nieve, why should there not be extra pots of money for additional projects.

Mind you, I have a few issues with the way Sourceforge has handled having paid accounts. In spite of what they said, unpaid project hosting suffered. I was unable to access my project on a number of occasions. In that case monetising the service was definatelly harmful. At least if Wikipedia goes with advertiusing we shouldn't see a two cast system.

Re:Advertising No Problem (2, Interesting)

ebuck (585470) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444182)

I could support your position, in a perfect world.

Advertising in Wikipedia could provide a lot of dollars, and with those dollars comes a few concerns:

1. What safeguards are there going to be when considering how the content clashes with the interests of the advertisers? Many small newspapers cannot finiancially afford to run articles that conflict with their ad base. So if your biggest advertiser is a jewler, you'd be stupid to run an article about DeBeers backed fighting in Africa.

2. What safeguards are there in controlling spending? Most organizations, corporations, governments, and such tend to be regulated by the amount of money they can dispose. If you add a large amount of money into the system, the system's spending grows to accommodate the new money, but usually the service doesn't alter dramatically. I cannot imagine any new feature that I want in Wikipedia, so why throw money at it to make the existing features cost more.

Once an organization depends on a revenue stream, those providing the revenue stream can wield a lot of power. It's not done malicously, but eventually those with the cash will wish that their ads were more visible. They'll wish that their products were not "slandered" in wikipedia even when the product merits unfavoring words. Think of Mattel wanting to soften articles about dangerous toys they've released. Remove a reference, change the wording from "37 killed" to "a few children were injured, and one even died". You haven't outright lied, you're just misleading your audience.

Wikipedia already has had to combat product promotion and ad placement. How will they handle it when they are receiving money from these companies?

Re:Advertising No Problem (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444384)

I see no problem with adverts on Wikipedia so long as its obvious they're advertisments and corporate sponsorship does not affect the content.

And I see no problem with pouring gasoline on myself and lighting a match, just so long as fire doesn't burn flesh.

Unfortunately advertisments and corporate sponsorship by their very nature affect the content of sponsored media, just as fire by its very nature burns flesh.

public broadcasting (4, Insightful)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443492)

"And if you call in with your pledge of support right now, your money will be matched, dollar for dollar, by the generous contribution of ACME Inc. You will also receive a cuddly ACME logoed teddy bear and an assortment of ACME tea bags. Public broadcasting needs you to pick up that phone, and call in, to keep the airwaves free of the usual commercial breaks that other stations need to use to fund the valuable programming you hear."

Re:public broadcasting (1)

quixote9 (999874) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443958)

Yeah. That was my first thought, too. Wikipedia is a worldwide resource, by people and for people. Logically, with something like that, people would be paying for it. I. e. it should be taxpayer-funded, worldwide. That won't happen in a hurry, and in the meantime it needs money. Don't know what to say. Well, I do. It's, "GOD, NO!" But if they wind up doing ads, like other people have said, they should be text-based, unobtrusive, in a margin box of their own, and NO GODDAMN BLINKING, JUMPING, SINGING, DANCING CRAP. (Whew. I feel better now. /Goes to look for meds./)

Too many editors? (2, Insightful)

sanctimonius hypocrt (235536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443524)

If Wikipedia ever finds itself with too many editors, this would be a way to get rid of a bunch.

Scary Words (3, Interesting)

Deliveranc3 (629997) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443528)

"The Advertising department thinks we should..."
"We have an idea to get more hits..."
Concentrate Wikipedia, you have a long way to go.

Does it have to be all or nothing? (5, Insightful)

$RANDOMLUSER (804576) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443536)

PBS manages to do pledge drives without completely losing their identity. Granted, they're also running commercials, but certainly less than regular broadcast TV. Could Wikipedia run ads maybe two weeks a quarter, or something similar? The question really is, what would they do with it if they had (theoretically) unlimited funds?

Advertising profanes (4, Insightful)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443570)

I'm against.

Advertising inherently trivialises its surroundings.

If the Wiki is bare, it stands alone as a mass of knowledge.

If it is adorned by adverts for books and DVDs and so on, it becomes profane; it loses its sanctity.

People I think see these words and dismiss them, I suspect because of their somewhat religious association; but they represent human feelings and impressions of the world around them. They represent real states of mind and impressions.

Re:Advertising profanes (4, Insightful)

mauddib~ (126018) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443700)

I seriously wished there were more people thinking like you do. Advertisements turns the attitude of the supporters of such a huge database of information away from knowledge and into a money-driven (and short-term investment) ideal. Again, people know the price of everything, but the value of nothing. Isn't the value of such a body of knowledge enough? Should we not try to pursue science and other fundaments of our society in a more monk-like way? I myself think we should. The fundaments of our society have been built upon ideals like that, it would be a shame to throw it all away.

Yes, all of this might sound a bit religious, but forget not that religion has had a firm basis in philosophy. Many of the monk scriptures were not rooted in religious affairs at all, but contained basics of knowledge. What we should do now is built up a new fort of knowledge and let that knowledge value itself (instead of revenue dollars from ads).

Re:Advertising profanes (2, Insightful)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443854)

I'm glad more people don't think like him. Certainly monks and other such selfless people have contributed alot to science but I would say the vast majority of science has come about through the work of people who are deeply rooted in the real world for the purpose of solving the real world problems they came across.

The real world includes things like money, advertising and probably many other things you may consider to be corrupting or evil but it is often because of and not in spite of these facets of society that progress and learning advance.

In this case Wikipedia has the opportunity to raise very large amounts of money in a manner which need not interfere at all with their current operation, this money can be used for starting similar operations or even to fund real hard science. Whatever it is used for it will represent money being spent on useful projects that would not otherwise take place or have money spent on them.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444174)

> The real world includes things like money, advertising and probably many other things you may consider to
> be corrupting or evil but it is often because of and not in spite of these facets of society that progress
> and learning advance.

The real world also includes humans and our emotions; and, what's more, the real world as such does not exist - for we only perceive the world through our senses and our feelings.

> In this case Wikipedia has the opportunity to raise very large amounts of money in a manner which need
> not interfere at all with their current operation,

But that IS the mis-understanding I have in mind.

The Wikipedia is not merely a collection of web-pages and a server. It is an ethos, a belief, an emotional experience.

You are right to say in the pure technical sense advertising will make no difference. The web-pages will still be editable, etc.

But in the human sense, our perception of the Wikipedia - that will change.

The Wiki with advertising is not "everything as it was before, but with advertising on the side". It's something *new and different*.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

mauddib~ (126018) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444234)

I've believed in that mode of thinking for a long time. But look where we are now: we've got universities who find more revenue in rolling ready-made students into big industries to do the same as they did 30 years ago, instead of raising them same students in thinking for themselves. Everything is ready-made, and our next generation will not even know what 'thinking for thouself' means. If we're not careful, we're destroying our own society from within. With a source such as wikipedia, we have something substantial, which cannot be valued by money alone. It is the sheer force of many, many people taking the dedication and using their intellect to create something larger than themselves. No dollar (which is not even based on a precious metal anymore) can equal a single part of that. Religious? Maybe. I'd rather be religious if that is what it takes to confince those who do not have the time or interest in trying to understand the philosophy of what would be better for a society as a whole (as opposed to a single instance).

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444666)

This is in answer to both the above posts.

Wikipedia is not new knowledge, its a repository for the knowledge of many people and is an impressive collabarative document but it does have monetary value and it would be a shame if that value is not realised especially when it can be interesting projects or to help Wikpedia its self. I notice at the moment they are asking for donations which they wouldn't have to do if they could leverage their value to advertisers successfully.

Regarding the other points about everything being ready made and universities tailoring student courses to help the students do well when they finish their courses.

Clearly everything isn't ready made now, cars don't magically appear from the ground and animals don't farm themselves. People studying engineering or agriculture will probably tell you exactly how these products come about.

It seems to me to be a good thing that universities prepare their students for life after their courses, I can't see why you'd have a problem with that !

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444456)

I would say the vast majority of science has come about through the work of people who are deeply rooted in the real world for the purpose of solving the real world problems they came across.

Wikipedia is not designed to solve problems, it's primary goal is to share the knowledge of the world, with the world with NPOV in mind. While there is huge potential for marketability, you run into the very real possibility that by doing so compromises key objective to share knowledge in a neutral fashion, dollars start to dictate what is appropriate or not. The soft drink article that has ads by cocacola and pepsi start to lose parts of the article that put critisisms on soda(not because wikipedia sold itself out, but because CocaCola and Pepsi marketing decided to log in and change it, now having vested interested in the page itself), for example.

usefulness can be a real subjective word. IMO I don't think wikipedia would be classified as being 'useful,' but I go to it every day to find out more stuff about things I haven't even thought about. How would you be able to translate that into dollars? moreover how would you be able to translate that into 'helping the real world?'

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444608)

In this case Wikipedia has the opportunity to raise very large amounts of money in a manner which need not interfere at all with their current operation

Of course accepting advertising would interfere with their current operation. It immediately opens the door to pressure from advertisers to change the rules in their favor, or worse yet puts pressue on Wikipedia itself to be advertiser-friendly.

Advertising is not just free money; it's money in return for favors. You can't claim to be an objective source of information if you've shown that your favors can be bought.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

omeg (907329) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443704)

Yes, THIS! Mod parent up, for he's absolutely correct AND giving an argument that none of the advertisement supporters have ever dared to touch in the debate. Wikipedia is a free encyclopedia that aims to discuss each notable topic in a neutral way. We've gone through inspiringly great lengths to create millions of articles in many different languages already, constantly using this neutrality as our most important asset. Why is anyone willing to throw that neutrality, that sanctity that has caused this source of information to become so reliable? There is no way an encyclopedia can be neutral if it is non-neutral by asserting its endorsement of commercial products in the form of advertisements. Wikipedia will lose its credibility completely, and that's the LAST thing that we want. We, the editors, the people who try hard to make this encyclopedia a really important asset to us as human beings. Our work will be broken, should serious advertisement -- even stuff like Google AdSense -- ever come to our pages. Please let it NEVER happen.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

deKernel (65640) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444404)

First off, if you have really contributed to Wiki, then I want to thank you.
With that, I really need to ask you something. Do you really feel that a normal person viewing Wiki would somehow give less credence to an article because of an add? Really? Are you sure? Does an add for say Coke or Ford somehow make an article on say the history of hamburgers less credible?

As I respect the goal here, you really need to understand reality. Wiki is consuming resources whether it being disk space or electricity to run. How are those bills being paid? Please think about the reality of the situation. The only reason that Britanica doesn't have ads in them is because you paid a high price for them.

Re:Advertising profanes (2, Insightful)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443782)

While I wouldn't put wikipedia in some kind of holy light, if wikipedia decides to take in advertising it soon enters the realm of the the dollar being mightier than the knowledge it is designed to support.

What I'm really afraid of is when advertising dollars begin to dictate the direction of wikipedia. And that is very very very very not cool.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444416)

> While I wouldn't put wikipedia in some kind of holy light

Hmm. This I feel is kinda what I mean about people looking at the words "profane" and "sanctity" and so on as being religious. These words exist outside and independently of religion.

The issue is the nature and character of an entity.

If a man builds a web-site and pays for it himself, or through donations from others supporting his cause, it's quite noble; it's his effort, it's about what he cares about, it has meaning, a message - it has sanctity.

But if you go to that site and now it's not paid for by that man or donations, but by adverts, how can you then feel the same? for that man seems by his actions to no longer be so committed to his cause - it's easy, cheap even, to just throw the adverts on and watch the money come in. And the site itself certainly suffers directly, for the message, the meaning - perhaps it's human rights - is now flanked by adverts for fluffy toys and books and DVDs. The adverts tell you that the main message of the site isn't that important after all, that you shouldn't take is seriously, because while you're reading about murder and rape, you're also being asked (by their very presence) to read about the latest movie or book.

The two messages are incompatable. You cannot have a message about human rights along with a message about the latest movie in the cinema.

The medium is the message; and when the medium comes with adverts, all the messages are somewhat prostituted.

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443908)

Advertising inherently trivialises its surroundings.

First, we're on /.--scroll to the top of the page, and tell me what you see. Arguably, we are not in the 75% of people who can't tell the difference between ads and content on the web, but there's a tasteful way of doing it. You could:

a) have a red box around all the ads
b) have a less intrusive box with a header reading "Log In to optionally disable advertising"
c) as someone else suggested, have a LINK to relevant ads, rather than the ads themselves, greatly reducing revenue, but it's better than nothing

Dikembe Mutombo moved to the US to practice medicine to go back to the Congo to provide health care for his people. In college, NBA scouts gave him good offers if he chose to play basketball, so he gave up medicine, got into the NBA, and has contributed large sums of money and time to people in developing nations worldwide. He opened a volunteer medical center in his native Congo. Now, the NBA is driven by pimps, whores, and let's not forget a love of the game, but because of Dikembe, those pimps and whores have benefited many many people.

An ethical dilemma, no doubt. But let's not write off the pimps and whores just yet. ;-)

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444288)

> First, we're on /.--scroll to the top of the page, and tell me what you see.

Well, an empty space. I block adverts. But indeed, /. has adverts and I think it suffers from them in, in fact, *exactly* the same way the Wiki would suffer from them.

> Dikembe Mutombo moved to the US to practice medicine to go back to the Congo to provide health care for
> his people. In college, NBA scouts gave him good offers if he chose to play basketball, so he gave up
> medicine, got into the NBA, and has contributed large sums of money and time to people in developing
> nations worldwide. He opened a volunteer medical center in his native Congo. Now, the NBA is driven by
> pimps, whores, and let's not forget a love of the game, but because of Dikembe, those pimps and whores
> have benefited many many people.

I think this is likely to be a seperate - but related - issue.

You see, my original post was talking about advertising changing the character of its surroundings.

You're talking about a *justification for doing this*, e.g. the cost is worth the benefit.

In Dikembe's case, it seems entirely reasonable - but in his case, the issue in hand was extremely important, being medical care for people who have no medical care. It matters a lot that as much as done is possible.

With the Wiki, we're dealing with an encylopedia, not medical care, so it's far less important to do as much as we can; and, crucially, for the Wiki, the occasionally fund-raising drive seems to work very well.

So why move on to advertising when it carries a cost to the very character, the essense, of the Wiki?

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444038)

Toby,

It's not enough for you to just be a critic and then sit back. If not advertising, then how would you provide the funds to keep wikipedia running. It's not cheap to provide the systems and datacenter fees to run one of the most highly trafficed www website in the world.

You also have another option. You could start a rival wiki that has whatever stance towards advertising that you prefer. What is stopping you?

Re:Advertising profanes (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444350)

> It's not enough for you to just be a critic and then sit back. If not advertising, then how would you
> provide the funds to keep wikipedia running.

Well you know they're most of the way through I think it's a 1.5 million USD fund raising drive right now, and it's going really well; it's at about 900k USD after a week or two.

I think in fact that fund-raising like this, voluntary contributions, are the right way to provide funds.

You see, it's not just about how effectively you can get hold of dollars.

It's also about HOW you get hold of the dollars.

Having people voluntarily contribute is entirely different in its character and nature, and impliciation for the nature of the organisation, than, for example, advertising.

It's very important people get involved, materially involved, with things that matter to them.

Our society rather discourages this - our State tends to tax us and then spend that money on our behalf, so not only do we have less cash anyway, with which to support causes, we are find that we are *not* performing the act of consciously choosing to provide money, since the State is doing it.

I think that's really bad - actually choosing, yourself, to give you money, is a very particular experience and event and it is a message from that person to themselves about who and what they are. Taking that away from people is really not good, but that's what tax-and-spend is all about. You earn the money, they take it, and they spend it. Might as well be a robot!

Sounds good (2, Insightful)

Digital Vomit (891734) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443576)

Sounds like a good idea. Just have a small, text link called "view associated advertisements" on the lower-right corner of every page in Wikipedia that leads to a page with the ads. That way, people who want to see the ads can easily view them and the people who don't want to see the ads just have to ignore a small, out-of-the-way text link. It's win-win!

Re:Sounds good (2, Insightful)

mattpointblank (936343) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443922)

But... who wants to see ads?

Even if I was browsing an article for something I was interested in (say, a literary topic), I'd much rather hit up Amazon or whoever my trusted bookseller is, than click a random ad.

Re:Sounds good (1)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444014)

you could start entering the real of marketers tailoring the wiki article to suit consumer driven needs. For example: let's say Coke and Pepsi have ads on the article regarding soft drinks [wikipedia.org] . Slowly, over time you see certain aspects of the article keep getting deleted, noticably

'Studies showing a correlation between soft drinks and obesity'

'Soft drinks linked to weight gain and type 2 diabetes'

While these articles can never be completely removed, it's a total PITA for volunteers to be looking after vandals and monitoring them, whom are getting paid by these companies to stay evermore vigilant.

great idea (2, Funny)

macadamia_harold (947445) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443580)

But there's a strong case that Wikipedia should run advertising. The funds raised could support dozens of Firefox-scale free knowledge and free software projects, outspending all but the wealthiest foundations.

That's a great idea. Because according to wikipedia, the number of free knowledge and free software projects has tripled in the last six months.

Re:great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444398)

Of course they have! It is a well known fact that elephants are huge contributors to the free knowledge community...

Embed the Ads. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443590)

On EasterProducts [slashdot.org] Easter Island there are large statues. You can find discount pottery on http://www.discountpottery/ [www.discountpottery] . The local population did find themselves without trees, but if they had www.PlantTrees4yourIsland.com, they would have survived.

It's a Trap! (5, Interesting)

TheNinjaroach (878876) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443596)

What happens when big funding starts to demand what can and can't be placed into articles? "We're sorry, Wikipedia, but I'm going to need you to remove this, that and the other fact from the article because it might turn away our potential customers."

Re:It's a Trap! (1)

heroofhyr (777687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443954)

I look forward to having advertisers put their two cents into articles. It's a community encyclopedia, right? That community presumably includes people who work in advertising. And at last I can finish my thesis on the atomic weight of Bolonium with free research tools.

Re:It's a Trap! (1)

strider44 (650833) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444204)

Can't they do that now? Sure, the edit wouldn't last very long but they can still do it.

Re:It's a Trap! (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444386)

That's the philosophy of Judo. Before you can knock something over, you must support it. Once Wikipedia is dependent on any source of funding, then that source has control over Wikipedia.

To counter this, Wiki could build in rules that disallow any one source to spend more than N dollars where N is a percent of the operating budget. (something like .1%) Then, no one source can take it's ball and bat and go home, stopping the ball game.

Of course, someone looking to exert control over the Wiki would create a zillion shell corporations, each start buying ads. Once Wikipedia is dependent on their funding, they can have the shell corps all act together to influence articles.

will make for some interesting "Talk:" pages (5, Funny)

Odiumjunkie (926074) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443602)

This advert is CLEARLY not NPOV. Can we get a citation on the shampoo making hair "glossy and full of bounce"? 84.28.125.19

WTF I USE IT AND IT MAKES MY HAIR GLOSSY 61.101.19.42

Hey no original research you nub 69.120.51.20

Do we having anything on "glossy and full of bounce" as opposed to just glossy? 84.28.125.19

OK HAVE REWRITTEN ARTICLE TO CLEAN UP, NOW "SHINY AND NATURALLY SOFT", NOT "GLOSSY AND FULL OF BOUNCE" 61.101.19.42

nominated for deletion, 01/02/07, not noteworthy enough 83.102.48.18

from a pragmatical point of view (-1, Offtopic)

born4fun (1045582) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443604)

Advertising is just part of our world. Sometimes its even useful: When watching long films on television, I use the ad breaks to get something to eat or, well, the reverse. :) On the web, as long as there is none of this flashing all over the screen, I hardly recognise ads at all. For instance at /. Of course, this could also have another reason, called "Adblock Plus"...

Advertising is just part of our world (1)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443824)

Advertising has not always been "just part of our world." Do you think Consumer Reports should be forcibly compelled to accept advertising? Do you think they have a valid reason for not accepting it?

In the early 1900s, one could have said "Child labor has always been just part of our world," or "Fraudulent patent medicines have always been just part of our world," or "The six-day work week has always been just part of our world." That doesn't mean they were beyond criticism. Or that they should properly permeate all of our world.

Alexander Pope said "Whatever is, is right." Pangloss said "Everything's for the best in this best of all possible worlds." I say they were both full of it.

Adblock (1)

SamSim (630795) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443620)

If Wikipedia starts carrying advertising, then I, for one, will probably block it. I doubt I'm the only person thinking this, and for this I think it a factor worth considering.

Personally, I would prefer to see Wikipedia trimmed down in size to a level where it CAN still be supported by donations, ideally by raising the notability criteria. This would have the beneficial effect of reducing the amount of unattended never-to-be-filled stubs and increasing the level of user coverage on more central topics.

Re:Adblock (2, Insightful)

imsabbel (611519) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443718)

The only real way to "trim down" the requirements of wikipedia would be by cutting pageviews.

So why dont you just set a good example by stopping to use it?

Re:Adblock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443978)

So why dont you just set a good example by stopping to use it?

Hey, great! If everybody did that, it'd be dirt cheap to host.

Thats the thing with wikipedia (2, Insightful)

Swimport (1034164) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443628)

Some Wikipedians have objected to Virgin Unite's participation in the Wikimedia Foundation's fund drive, calling it adverising.

Thats the thing with Wikipedia, no matter what you do, some Wikipedians are going to disagree with it.

Re:Thats the thing with wikipedia (1)

Jugalator (259273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443714)

And that has little to do with Wikipedia and Wikipedians, but more to do with an organization with a large following. :-)

Re:Thats the thing with wikipedia (1)

RMH101 (636144) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444092)

I disagree with you

What is the problem with Ads? (0, Troll)

Val314 (219766) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443650)

Could someone explain the reasons for *not* having ads on Wikipedia?

A simple google ad doesnt do any harm. (or is there something I'm missing?)

Re:What is the problem with Ads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443834)

How about privacy concerns? Should google know what I'm looking up on wikipedia?

Re:What is the problem with Ads? (1)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444366)

The concern is basically what happens when an organization starts to get involved in fundraising. Next thing you know, you've got someone in charge of fundraising. Their goal is to bring in as much revenue as possible. This goal will naturally tend to conflict with the core goals of the Wikipedia - making a simple and useful resource available, and keeping it uncluttered. It starts with google text ads, but then you're on the slippery slope and the next thing you know, there's a flash ad overlayed on the screen where you have to try and punch the monkey. Then the Wikipedia turns into the rest of the internet, people stop caring and go elsewhere. Those that stay on message and on target stick around much longer.

Re:What is the problem with Ads? (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444650)

Could someone explain the reasons for *not* having ads on Wikipedia?

Because you cannot consistently claim to have an objective and neutral point of view, while at the same time allowing people to place any content they want on your page in return for money.

I know that my local daily paper or local TV news is not going to be objective about any news involving the department stores and car dealers who buy lots of ad space. I know that my local alt-weekly would not be objective on a story about the phone sex industry, since its back pages are full of ads for the same. I know that NPR or ABC News will not be objective about any story involving agribusiness since it has a strong incentive not to piss off ADM.

Wikiproject No Ads (5, Informative)

jkloosterman (1017270) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443662)

The debate about ads on Wikipedia has gone on for quite such time. (The first major dispute involved a deal with answers.com) As a result of this, many Wikipedia contributers have formed a Wikiproject (a semi-organized group of Wikipedia editors) against them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikiproject _no_ads [wikipedia.org] To summarize this page, these editors think:

1. Wikipedia's philosophy is non-commercial
2. Ads put at risk Wikipedia's principle of Neutral Point of View (NPOV)
3. The information that constitutes Wikipedia is wealth for the community

There are fully three Wikipedians that state their support for advertising. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Wikipedians_ who_think_that_the_Wikimedia_Foundation_should_use _advertising [wikipedia.org]

The real problem: the volunteers hate it (3, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444274)

The real problem with advertising on Wikipedia is that a nontrivial number of people would be extremely upset and stop editing it. What sort of people? Top contributors, editors, administrators. The Wikimedia foundation is wise to realize that despite the potential of earning tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from advertising, the sort of input they obtain from their volunteers is worth more than that.

At one point, the Spanish-language Wikipedia suffered a max exodus over what essentially boiled down to "the rumour of coming advertising" (poor translation in the dialog may have been a factor as well). It set that wiki's development back quite a ways.

Against ads on wp. Here's why. (4, Insightful)

Captain Perspicuous (899892) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443690)

- Running ads makes you dependent. Once wikipedia writes something bad against an advertiser, this company might threaten to pull its ads, therefore putting editors in a dilemma: support the project or support the truth?
- Ads ad new privacy-problems (somebody else tracks what you have visited)
- Ads fight for your eyeballs. Beeing a distraction-free zone is a big plus for wikipedia, because it made it so enjoyable for the authors.
- Some ads try to dupe people into thinking they are seeing error-messages etc. Others blink and distract. Many many ads try to manipulate you. We should not give in to this.
- Hosting costs have come down a lot. The project can very much sustain itself by just relying on fund drives.

Just my opinion on it.

Re:Against ads on wp. Here's why. (1)

nostrad (879390) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444546)

- Running ads makes you dependent. Once wikipedia writes something bad against an advertiser, this company might threaten to pull its ads, therefore putting editors in a dilemma: support the project or support the truth?
In a way it does, but as I see it wikipedia could have a contract telling advertisers that such requests are not going to be met. After all, the truth is more important and ads will simply add money to help the cost of serving the pages. And looking at for instance google ads, some of those ads are shown in pages giving bad critic about the advertised product.

- Ads ad new privacy-problems (somebody else tracks what you have visited)
True, even though I don't believe in privacy on the net anymore (that is, without proxies and such). For me at least, this is a minor issue.

- Ads fight for your eyeballs. Beeing a distraction-free zone is a big plus for wikipedia, because it made it so enjoyable for the authors.
Something as simple as pure text ads are not really distracting, they use as much attention as the menubar already in place and would still give money.

- Some ads try to dupe people into thinking they are seeing error-messages etc. Others blink and distract. Many many ads try to manipulate you. We should not give in to this.
Text ads don't have these problems. And besides, a project as big as wikipedia could find itself in the position where you're able to just say no to those truly deceptive ads, not every ad is trying to deceive you but you only tend to remember those that do.

- Hosting costs have come down a lot. The project can very much sustain itself by just relying on fund drives.
Still, hosting is not free and money needs to come from somewhere. Being able to rely on fund drives is of course the best scenario but that might not always be possible.

All Jimbo's horses and all Jimbo's men... (5, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443716)

The very fact that this idea is being discussed leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

In Wikipedia's early days there was a good deal of discussion about this very point, with some conspiracy-minded contributors fearing that Jimbo Wales would talk freedom, neutrality, and noncommercialism at the start and change the rules later in the game.

There are a number of precedents for this sort of bad-faith maneuver, one of the most notorious being CDDB, which happily accepted contributions of CD track names from thousands of volunteers who believed they were contributing to an open-source project; sneakily changed their software so that it add "stealth" copyright notices giving the rights to the information to the organization; then took it private and sold people's generous volunteer work and lined their own pockets with the money.

One of Wikipedia's cornerstones is the "neutral point of view" policy. This policy is a fragile and precious thing. Innumerable people are constantly leaning on it and chipping away at it in an effort to use Wikipedia for promotion. The only reason why NPOV works is that the core of Wikipedians truly accept that WIkipedia really is neutral, and are willing to enforce the policy.

If Wikipedia ever accepts paid advertising, I believe it will destabilize the fragile balance. Advertisements will most likely be targeted to appear on the same pages as relevant article. Many WIkipedia articles about commercial products contain substantial amounts of both praise and criticism. In its nature, this material is frequently in a somewhat dynamic state of flux, with competing editors wordsmithing things back and forth; at its best, a stable state is reached in which the editors on one side of an issue grudgingly acknowledge that the wording of the material on the other side is acceptable to them.

What happens when an advertiser notices that the related article contains material that has a different spin from its marketing communications? I think the delicate house of cards comes tumbling down, that's what. I don't see how anyone can ever build a "Chinese wall" between advertising and editorial when any advertiser can be an editor.

And once it becomes generally accepted that Wikipedia is no longer neutral, WIkipedia is dead. That will unleash a flood of self-promoting crap which old-time WIkipedians will be unable to hold back.

It will also piss off everyone who, like me, has made voluntary monetary contributions to Wikimedia almost every time they've launched one of their frequent pledge drives, in the belief, which will have been shown to be naïve, that Wikipedia was promised to be noncommercial.

Wikipedia can survive a reputation for occasional inaccuracy and for "fancruft." But if it is ever seen that Wikipedia articles are a practical avenue for promotion and advertising, or that they reflect the interests of advertisors, all Jimbo's horses and all Jimbo's men will never be able to put WIkipedia together again.

And all the old-time Wikipedians will say "We told you this was going to happen." And they'll be right.

Re:All Jimbo's horses and all Jimbo's men... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443846)

"There are a number of precedents for this sort of bad-faith maneuver, one of the most notorious being CDDB, which happily accepted contributions of CD track names from thousands of volunteers who believed they were contributing to an open-source project; sneakily changed their software so that it add "stealth" copyright notices giving the rights to the information to the organization; then took it private and sold people's generous volunteer work and lined their own pockets with the money."
So when I make a transaction with Microsoft and take possession of an XBox, the Slashdot crowd thinks I should be able to do whatever I want with it BUT when I made a transaction with the owners of CDDB, they aren't allowed to do whatever they want with that data?

Re:All Jimbo's horses and all Jimbo's men... (1)

dup_account (469516) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444418)

Actually I think this is going to become an issue with xbox-live (if it isn't already) with the new thing where you can create games and put them onto live. If MS finds a way to make more money than the original author on the games, how will that go over? Or if MS (or someone else) maybe releases the games on a disc.

Also, the point about CDDB isn't about what they can do with the data, it's about bait-and-switch. Asking people to contribute and then changing the rules after they have.

Re:All Jimbo's horses and all Jimbo's men... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444444)

CDDB offered all the submitted data up until the change under the same rules and restrictions - i.e. freely available. They changed the rules - but only on data submitted going forward. What's wrong with that?

"outspending all but the wealthiest foundations." (1)

WiseMuse (1039922) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443722)

Is "outspending all but the wealthiest foundations" a good thing? I mean, how badly do the overseers need an open tab on the company credit card?

set up some business deals (3, Interesting)

UnixSphere (820423) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443738)

I'd bet Amazon or some other online bookstore would really love it if all the books and artists pages were linked to them so you can buy the books and/or music. I use it like that sometimes anyway, reading an article, see sources list, find the ISBN of the book, and head over to a book website like alibris or amazon. This could generate revenue for wikipedia. I just would hate if they had 'recommended' books or whatever as an advertisement, just simply link ISBN numbers to amazon or another website willing to pay wikipedia to be their sole source. Sort of how like Google pays Mozilla if we use the built-in search box, but google doesnt advertise it, it's just there for your convienience. Obviously not everything on wikipedia is a product or goods, but for the articles that are talking about products/good/books, wikipedia should try to create a business deal with them, a link to amazon if they have the product available. Probably need some new code but its not hard to implement.

Re:set up some business deals (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443994)

I'd bet Amazon or some other online bookstore would really love it if all the books and artists pages were linked to them so you can buy the books and/or music.

No! Bad dog! Sit!

Wikipedia is open. Monopoly is closed. Wikipedia cannot unhypocritically give someone a practical monopoly. I personally like my local bookshops and would not want an "open" project to end up "closing" my shops. Same goes for music. Also, wouldn't it create a conflict of interests regarding out-of-copyright works.

All in all, such a scheme would provide a clear commercial advantage to corporations with minimal practical benefit to wikipedia contributors. Not cool.

HAL.

Re:set up some business deals (1)

zesty42 (1041348) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444010)

I was against the idea, but this idea has promise. Wikipedia wouldn't be advertising the books, because they are already referenced in the articles. Wikipedia would be selling links from content already on the site. I don't like the idea of sole source, there's no reason links couldn't be provided to more than one vendor. There could be a "where to get more info (adverts)" section below the unpaid "external links" section.

I do think that the adverts should be clearly labeled as such and that wikipedia's advertising policy and practices should be documented for anyone to review.

Re:set up some business deals (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444346)

Wikipedia already has a Special:Booksources page for ISBNs. See this example [wikipedia.org] .

Don't get Gracenoted ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443806)

I mean, if a lot of money comes in, this tends to attract certain people that want to make a good profit of that money...

If Wikipedia had spent it's donations correctly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443842)

Wikipedia has seriously changed. In 2004 Wikipedia was generally a great resource and I enthusiastially contriubted. 2005 seen a lot of great contributors leave under the growth. Ever since Wikipedia has hit 1.5 Million articles the project has started to reach bursting point. A lot of good articles have been eradicated under the "notability" reigime. Many old deletion wars have been had and many great articles agrued for over the old vfd style system for could easily be nuked under prod and csd.

The truth is that Jimbo Wales and their merry gang has misled the public and that Wikipedia has become an absolute shambles. There are plenty of "Featured" articles about geeky RPGs for example, but hardly any meatier articles.

Weird Al was right, Wikipedia is just an attempt by "white and nerdies" to "bowl with the gangters".

Wikipedia is currently running on alpha version code. The vandals have had a field day exploiting them (Many main pages were covered in Willy on Wheels pictures today).

The dream of making a complete resource of knowledge has been ruined by the very same interests who make it hard for us to run Linux on our toasters and on our grandmas dell.

I have no sympathy for Wikipedia anymore. I encourage all Slashdotters to invest in real encyclopedias. Encarta 2007 is good, and you can usually get encyclopaedias cheap off of magazines. Don't forget your library or educational institution has access to real encyclopaedias.

Saddam Hussein would of vandalized Wikipedia if he didn't vandalize a country.

Power Corrupts (1)

CropCircleSystems (602867) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443848)

and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

With great power comes great responsibility.

n'all dat

Non-issue (2, Insightful)

shirizaki (994008) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443920)

If I'm reading an article about the peleponesiam war, I sure would like some other books that are about the war or related articles. There's no reason to fear adverts....just yet. Maybe it'll work like amazon's recommendations: based on what you searched it will show relevant ads. If it notices you searching for medical related terms about breast feeding, it might show books related to the social impact of breast feeding in public, the nutritional benefits, and other materials.

Re:Non-issue (1)

djasbestos (1035410) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444574)

One could just search for things on Google, Amazon, B&N, etc...I'd rather not be spammed with such rubbish. I find it as annoying as the concept of upselling at fast food joints (and other stores, less so).

I don't think Virgin's support of a pledge drive is so much advertising, but even as "non-invasive" as it is, I find Google Ads to be quite an eyesore. I don't go to Wikipedia looking to buy something, I go there for knowledge (regardless of how reliable one considers it to be). If they need more money, such a fund drive is a good idea. I mean, look how fast it's been going up...you don't need Virgin's name on there to achieve that effect. I honestly should contribute given how often I visit the site.

This is really a no-brainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17443930)

Everyone who opposes the idea of advertising on wikipedia should ask himself the following question (better yet: we should ask them): "would you care to donate some bucks for wikipedia?". And not just the idea, no, if the answer is yes then kindly pull out your creditcard and/or pull up paypall now.

If the answer is no then please be carefull with what you're saying. Naturally everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but if you oppose the whole idea yet also don't care as much that you'd be willing to make a financial donation then what else is left to do for wikipedia? I'm not very comfortable with the idea myself but thats about it. I don't think its my place to criticize simply because my wikipedia use is limited to skimming the site or pulling up a few pages every now and then.

You're kidding me, right? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443948)

You do realize that if there are advertisements on Wikipedia, it will be no different than those sites that are copying Wikipedia? By this I mean all those sites that ripped info from Wikipedia, you can see it in a Google search.

Asking for money isn't the same as selling advertising space.

There is probably a third option that we don't realize yet.

please no (1)

freg (859413) | more than 7 years ago | (#17443986)

It's an open encyclopedia, not a commercial magazine. Ads will be sorely out of place. The fund drive going on now is proof that support can be raised to continue operations and maybe do even more without the use of ads. Please don't let this final unadulterated piece of web real estate be sacrificed to over-capitalism.

NO!!! (1)

Veetox (931340) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444000)

As far as the fund-raising bar at the top is concerned, I think it's a good idea: the "[mentioned organization] will match today's donations" bit is a good way to raise funds. But as far as other advertising is concerned, I think we should answer with a resounding "NO!" Wikipedia doesn't need to fund a complex bureaucracy - public members are bureaucracy enough. Anything more would render Wikipedia FUBAR, as would special interest customers of advertising space. Besides, we have enough trouble with companies like Wal-Mart http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/04/28/13 31232 [slashdot.org] (http://slashdot.org/) screwing with Wikipedia; why do we want to invite more trouble. I don't think Wikipedia is "squandering" its web traffic; I think it's imparting knowledge in a way that surpasses almost all of our other educational endeavors. Well, that's what I think, anyway...

I don't really care... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444046)

With Adblock I don't think that's going to be an issue for me...

Let the Wikipedia community decide (1)

lirazsiri (1046354) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444066)

With money comes politics, conflicts of interest and the threat of corruption, which may ruin the purity and goodwill of the volunteer community that contributes to Wikipedia - a priceless asset to humanity.

There are pros and cons, but if this decision is ever made, it has to be in the hands of the community that contributes to Wikipedia, as should decisions regarding how the money should be spent.

I would even propose that if possible, a fair way would be determined to quantify the contributions of different community members and allow those who contribute more value to Wikipedia to have more of a say in how that value is exploited by the Wikimedia foundation.

My Two Cents (1)

Slipgrid (938571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444122)

There's enough companies that profit from Wikimedia's existence. Think 6006. They have tons of money, and should donate. I donate enough time to *trying* to help the sorry shape of many of their articles (yes, they have many bad ones). I'm not going to spend any more time to do that is some company is benefiting from overt advertisements.

How to Vandalize Wikipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444208)

Here is a new devesating vandal technique which all ex-wikipedians should know.

1. Go to any page
2. Click edit this page
3. Scroll down to the bottom to the list of templates used
4. Open each template that is not protect in a new tab on your browser
5. Paste in lots of image code of your "favorite" picture (eg [[Image:Willys-Knight1920.jpg]]) into themplate.
6. Repeat for each tab.
7. Enjoy the multi-page vandalism
8. Repeat over multiple projects and wikis
9. Help Reclaim Wikimedia for the vandals.

Willy on Wheels, Pelican Shit, CPLOT and all other vandals unite to get revenge on the deletion of the so-called "Not-Notable" GNAA.

http://www.wikitruth.info/ [wikitruth.info]
http://www.wikipedia-watch.org/ [wikipedia-watch.org]
http://www.wikipediareview.com/ [wikipediareview.com]
http://www.gnaa.us/ [www.gnaa.us]
http://willy.on.whee.ls/ [on.whee.ls]

Too late. Read any Wikipedia "articles" of late? (1)

blueZ3 (744446) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444220)

There are a good number of entries on Wikipedia that were written by the company in question, where the text reads like a corporate press release. The same is true for a number of entries about various products. I actually watch the dust-up over politicians re-writing their biographies with amusement, since corporations have been doing the same thing for far longer and to better effect.

The problem with an "Encyclopedia" that anyone can edit, frankly, is that anyone will. That means every coporate shill and fly-by-night operator has full rights to change things to say what they want it to say, delete unflattering information, etc. So long to the whole concept of NPOV, eh?

And for all the Wiki-philes out there, the "editors will eventually catch it" argument isn't going to fly. In April I edited a minor article to add an innocuous but incorrect fact. That entry is still there. No omniscient Wikipedia editor has deigned to fix it.

Why not let Google do searching? (4, Interesting)

BluhDeBluh (805090) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444264)

From what I'm aware, Google pay FireFox for linking to their search engine. Why don't Google (or one of their rivals) contribute some cash to Wikipedia in order for it to become the semi-official replacement for the god-awful Wikipedia search engine? They'd get Adwords stuff, positive publicity and they wouldn't lose much cash at all.

No blatant advertising, improve cashflow and company would get more ad revenue. Win/win.

Advertizing done RIGHT is not evil(TM) (1)

Danathar (267989) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444314)

I've always thought that unobtrusive advertising that is pertinent to what I need is not a bad thing. Eudora and Opera both used it and as long as it's not IN YOUR FACE I don't mind.

Google's proves my point. Their ad system works.

It's when companies get greedy and stupid (like spam) that causes people to get mad

The only issue is that some may see it as a slippery slope, first google type ads, then pop-unders, then Gifs, etc.

Opt-in (1)

anss123 (985305) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444358)

As long as their not CPU hogging flash ads I'd opt-in on advertisements. Hey, it would give me a clear conscience for not donating.

Advertising on WIkipedia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17444388)

The correct title of this post is "... Wikipedia". Both initial letters are capitalized due to technical restrictions.

A plague of spammers shall descend on ye (2, Insightful)

ortholattice (175065) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444478)

If ads appear on Wikipedia, you can bet that spamm^H^H^H^Hadvertisers will start making changes to pages, from subtle changes to attract their ads to a page to careful changes in a article's wording to put their ad in more favorable light. This already happens now by astroturfers of various sorts, such as those who add "External Links" that are really commercials, but you can be sure the problem will become far worse. It will become harder to detect and correct as advertisers become more sophisticated in order to protect and nourish their advertising investment, just as spammers continually innovate in getting email through spam blockers or bumping up their Google rating. The volunteer editors will be so overwhelmed with spam that "Articles for deletion" will become a joke, and the better editors - who want to see their labor directed towards producing new and better content, not fighting a losing battle against spam - may just give up in disgust and go on to more productive things in their lives. I wish it weren't so, but on the internet it seems that money attracts scum.

Idea for ad spec for Wikipedia (2, Interesting)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444520)

Rather than putting up ads on the pages like google adwords or worse yet, banners, etc. Provide sponsorship options for companies for certain entries... and be discreet about whom you let sponsor what.

The form of sponsorship would go something like this... "This entry supported by the good people at " Where the name is a link to a special page that company can create which would highlight their interest in the given topic and allow them to wax poetic about the virtues of the topic and how important it is for all people to understand given topic. More of a PSA than an advertisement.

The company would get a great PR campaign regarding their involvement in the development, study or support of said topic and the rest of us could find out more about the company. Each topic could have as many PSA ads as companies that are legitimately involved in the topic.

Wikipedia would get content control of the PSAs to keep out conflicts of interest... ie only truthful PSA info would be allowed though highlighting good deeds and ignoring bad would be acceptable.

Why not? Your news is already sponsored (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#17444614)

Not just online, but TV news is often created ny advertisers (think drug companies) and simply rebroadcast by the networks. Ever wonder why they always seem to have a new 'expert' on this or that? Because those people don't work for the network, they work for the sponsor. So in the end, it's not all that different from corporate 'infotainment' masquerading as news.

Likewise, Wiki can be sponsored by whomever and it will largely go unnoticed. We may not even care. If we start seeing articles about global warming sponsored by groups who will profit from it, then ok. It's not as if Wiki isn't already whipsawed by junk science or junk politics or whatnot.
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