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Should Wikipedia Sell Advertising?

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the as-long-as-its-reader-editable dept.

Businesses 317

The Narrative Fallacy writes "The LA Times has an interesting story on the state of Wikipedia's finances and how with 300 million page views a day, the organization could be worth hundreds of millions of dollars if it sold advertising space. Without advertising the foundation has a tough time raising its annual budget of $4.6 million. The 45,000 or so individuals who contribute annually give an average of $33 each, so campaigns, which are conducted online, raise only about one-third of what's needed. As Wikimedia adds features to its pages, such as videos, costs will rise. 'Without financial stability and strong planning, the foundation runs the risk of needing to take drastic steps at some point in the next couple years,' said Nathan Awrich, a Wikipedia editor who supports advertising."

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Prepare yourself (2, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714276)

Get ready for an onslaught of comments from people who want to have their cake and eat it too. (ie. those that don't want the advertising, but also don't want to make a donation to Wikipedia)

Ooooo, free cake? (0)

Shturmovik (632314) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714310)

Where was that advertised?

Re:Prepare yourself (3, Funny)

BaphometLaVey (1063264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714316)

Okay! That's it. A show of hands please, who wants cake they can't eat?

Re:Prepare yourself (-1, Redundant)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714342)

I thought the cake was a lie.

Re:Prepare yourself (2, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714742)

ie. those that don't want the advertising, but also don't want to make a donation to Wikipedia
Ok, I'll bite. What would you say about those who specifically don't donate to Wikipedia because of their policy [] ?

So here's the deal: stop the book-burning deletionist jihad, and those who follow Howard Tayler's campaign will suddenly resume donations. And no, you can't squeeze any advertising money from the likes of me thanks to Adblock.

Unlike commercial encyclopaedias, most of us do pay in some kind: we donate our time, our work, our expertise. Without community editors, Wikipedia would be nothing. Stop throwing away the contributions and a lot more people will be inclined to toss in also some cash.

I've got a better idea (5, Funny)

davidwr (791652) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715044)

Allow advertising that anyone can edit.

Patch TUESDAY MoFos - Get Your MoFos Patched !! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714308)

Patch TUESDAY MoFos - Get Your MoFos Patched !!

Get them before they Get you !!

Re:Patch TUESDAY MoFos - Get Your MoFos Patched !! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714558)


Oooh. (0, Offtopic)

Moryath (553296) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714314)

Jimbo can embezzle even more if they do that!

Re:Oooh. (4, Insightful)

Bombula (670389) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714744)

All this criticism of Jimmy Wales seems a bit silly. The guy could easily have created Wikipedia as a for-profit enterprise. It would be no different as a website or a resource, and he could be profiting immensely from it. As for me, text-based ads a la Google don't bother me much. I'm much more irked by the flashy banner ad crap like what's at the top of this slashdot page than a few text links down the right hand margin.

Funny how no one is harassing Coyboy Neil for not running Slashdot like Mother Theresa.

Re:Oooh. (4, Interesting)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714964)

All this criticism of Jimmy Wales seems a bit silly.
It's beyond silly. IMHO, Jimbo should be one of the three men in the world, at this point. If wealth is our measure of reward for your value to the community, then surely the man who made it possible to preserve our shared knowledge should be rewarded duly. I feel the same way about anyone who improved the state of our world. If his worst crime is to try (not succeed, mind you, but try) to get reimbursed for an obscenely expensive meal, then he's doing better than most politicians who have done far, far, FAR less for improving our lot.

Re:Oooh. (1)

ajs (35943) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715030)

one of the three men in the world
Editing typo. I'd written "three richest" and then realized that was needlessly specific, so I went to delete "three"... got the wrong word, and didn't notice. Some days I hate being dyslexic :-/

PS: Even more annoying that when you post a mistake, Slashdot won't let you edit OR post an immediate correction. Slashdot used to be the most useful forum / talkback system in the world, but the times have changed and other than CSS features, it hasn't....

Go Distributed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714324)

Wikipedia needs to move away from centralised servers into a distributed database hosted on hundreds of thousands of volunteer's computers. Instead of donating money donors will donate excess bandwidth.

Re:Go Distributed (0)

Xacid (560407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714338)

Would I be allowed to edit my packets and submit them for approval then? ;)

obviously they should sell advertising (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714340)

it ruins the impartiality, it ruins the experience, it compromises the purpose, blah, blah, blah, zzz...

you have to pay the bills. idealism doesn't pay the bills. a "compromised" wikipedia is better than no wikipedia

there really isn't anything you can say that is more illuminating on the subject. either you can run the site financially or you can't. it really is that cut and dry

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (2, Insightful)

Xacid (560407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714368)

Also if they were able to receive funding, say from the/a government then there could be a lot of speculation again about impartiality (is that even a word) and a whole different set of issues. I would like to see them reach the status though where they *could* receive funding as a library though...

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (2, Funny)

KenRH (265139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714424)

...again about impartiality (is that even a word)... []

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714480)

Thanks. *rtfw* :)

Google is good (2)

LinuxGeek (6139) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714464)

And would be about a perfect match for Wikipedia, unobtrusive and topical. I say go forward and earn enough to keep the doors open and grow.

Re:Google is good (1)

Brian Gordon (987471) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714636)

It's all moot anyway

a "compromised" wikipedia is better than no wikipedia
Wikimedia disagrees, and has sworn to shut down wikipedia before selling advertising. Also, how is wikipedia only worth "hundreds of millions"? It's one of the top 10 most popular sites on the internet (according to blech Alexa).. didn't facebook and youtube sell for more than a billion?

Re:Google is good (1)

robot_love (1089921) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714792)

YouTube and FaceBook generate revenue. Wikipedia is demonstrating that it does not. I feel this may be the cause for the radically different valuations you noticed.

Re:Google is good (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714728)

Since its IPO, Google has been driving the horses hard toward the tower of pure evil. I would not trust them for a moment with the care of the Wikipedia servers.

The "do no evil" Google died in 2004.

Re:Google is good (3, Informative)

dk.r*nger (460754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714788)

I think we're discussing putting Google ads on Wikipedia pages, not selling the whole thing to Google.

And Google Ads hardly gives Google control over your servers.

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (5, Interesting)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714484)


They can adopt distributed updates and such and ask universities to help with the bandwidth costs. Instead I guess they want to keep all the chips in hand so that they could one day turn into a billion dollar company.

Wikipedia is run by submitters and editors. If people feel that updating and maintaining wikipedia gives their habits away to advertisers, then it will also kill wikipedia. There will be startups that will focus on just music or movies or just on mathematics and provide a better experience per the negatives of advertising. Most people end up in Wikipedia through google searches and it won't take long for the wikipedia articles to go stale while the contributors move somewhere else.

Plus, those bandwidth heavy images, videos and sounds isn't updated frequently and can be asked to be cached in distributed storage across the internet in universities. Since article updates propagation might be hard in distributed file systems, at least the media should be straightforward.

There is a lot of stuff that can be done.

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (5, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714548)

you have to pay the bills. idealism doesn't pay the bills.

Look. Our little liberal is growing up and becoming a conservative....

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714646)

Wikipedia is already compromised by low-quality contributions.

If Wikipedia stands to make that much money from advertising, the average contributor of high-quality content will resent not getting a share of this. They'll just move to Google's revenue-sharing model.

Low-quality contributions have never been in short supply.

In essence, if Wikipedia moves to an advertising model, then the only contributors will be the members of the Wikipedia administrative cabal, and trolls. Would this not be the death of Wikipedia as an organic encyclopedia?

you view its strength as its weakness (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715016)

i trust random anonymous people than "quality" submissions by someone with an agenda to sell

random people off the street have no agenda. or rather, in a nonhierarchical structure, the overlapping agendas of random people cancel each other out to arrive at true neutrality on a subject matter. after all, you are posting anonymously and you obviously have a flawed bias ;-)

"experts" making encyclopedias in the traditional manner have a bill of goods they need to sell us. plenty of "facts" in this world are nothing more than statements of indoctrination into a given agenda. "experts" in a field of study are often champions of indoctrination, not education

true propaganda in this world never tells a single lie. it merely omitts certain unmentioned facts here and there in such a way to color people's perceptions. that's why they are called half-truths. meanwhile, a wide open encyclopedia that anyone can contribute to is the only way to illuminate those corners of propaganda that someone with an agenda doesn't want you to see

even a subconscious agenda a contributor is not aware of: their own biases they are blind to, such that they have no intent to lie to you, this is a threat to real truth

and so what you see as wikipedia's greatest weakness is in fact its greatest strength

you need to come to understand this

Re:you view its strength as its weakness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22715090)

advertising wouldn't change the fact that anybody could still contribute anonymously.

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (1)

altoz (653655) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714708)

can't they just do what pbs and npr do? get corporations to "sponsor" and put really unobtrusive advertising...

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (3, Insightful)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714714)

Rubbish. A Wikipedia that doesn't even try for NPOV, impartiality or any of the core things that make up the project now is not worthwhile at all.

Won't people stop with the stupid advertising nonsense already? Not everything is about money!

actually, every human endeavour IS about money (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714876)

money is really just an abstract expression of human interest and value. pick the most idealistic human endeavour you can think of. it has value to other human beings. therefore, it is monetized. sure, it needn't be expressed in actual dollars, but a conversion to that occurs at some point for anyone who interacts with that human endeavour. the church? marriage and love? science? they all involve cash transations at some point

why do you think you achieve some sort of higher moral ground or purpose by shunning money? all you do is hobble your own ability to properly understand how the world you live in actually functions. i'm not asking you to worship money. and money certainly leads people to do evil things. but again, money is just an abstract expression of human desires. the real evil is aspects of human nature itself, not a piece of green paper with alexander hamilton's face on it

all i'm asking you to do is grant money the proper respect it deserves for quantifying abstract human interest in such a way that it makes the world we live in a better place. yes, money is a great invention, like the wheel or the semiconductor. it makes your world a better place. bartering chickens for school books gets kind of old after awhile. thus the glorious invention of money. and no, i'm not gordon gecko. i'm just a realist. realism trumps cotton candy idealism any day. and the most sober realistic consideration of money in this world is that it makes your life better

cotton candy headed idealists can be so stupid

Paying the bills is about money (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714918)

Not everything is about money!

Everything has a cost, and in this case, there is money to be paid. Someone pays that. Would you rather it was a few large patrons who would have corresponding leverage? Google text ads are unobtrusive and could easily be limited to one page in ten or whatever percentage is needed to pay the bills, and then no one has any leverage over funding.

I'd like to know what your alternative is for paying the bills. Either patrons with their own agenda or a few text ads with no leverage whatsoever, or your idea, which is ???

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (3, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714754)

I think Google has shown that it is possible to maintain trust while selling advertising, although I think the Sponsored Link results at the top are skating close to the edge. In fact, Google use is so ubiquitous most people are trained now to mentally segregate content from advertising, providing that the design is clean and consistent about the segregation.

The key is to do a good job on integrating the ads into the site design, so they don't feel intrusive nor are they confused with content.

If you provide the best possible service, people will use it. If you are clear about what is advertising and what is content, people won't distrust you. If you aren't so greedy about selling eyeballs that you abuse the user's time by making him cut through a thicket of advertisements to get to his stuff (like Yahoo), you end up selling a smaller amount of prime real estate than a acres and acres of dump.

It's the opposite (5, Insightful)

NewAndFresh (1238204) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714826)

a "compromised" wikipedia is better than no wikipedia
One of the important things that make wikpedia is that there is no advertising.
Like many people have already pointed out, there are many other options.
You add advertising and it's no longer wikipedia.
So I'll fix that for you:
a "slower" wikipedia is better than no wikipedia.

Re:It's the opposite (5, Insightful)

h4rm0ny (722443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714970)

Now that deserves an Insightful mod. I dislike that questions such as this are just accepted without reservation: That you get to choose between Wikipedia and Compromised Wikipedia. Who framed those options and what did they do to reach the conclusion that this choice is inevitable.

-A Proud Wikipedia Donator


Re:obviously they should sell advertising (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714846)

there really isn't anything you can say that is more illuminating on the subject. either you can run the site financially or you can't. it really is that cut and dry.

No it's not that cut and dry in the way that you state. There is another way. If they got their funding through the Wikipedia foundation, then the income from their investments should be able to keep it running.

As it is, I don't think they are going to do this. It sounds like much of the board may be trying to make Wikipedia into a for-profit venture, which to me is a lot more than a "compromised" wikipedia, it will probably become another

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714908)

Reminds me of those mortgage companies telling me I needed to suck all the equity out of my home and buy an Escalanch or some crap two years ago, when I thought I was doing just fine.

Glad I didn't listen to them.

Why don't we do their advertising? (4, Interesting)

Esteanil (710082) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714928)

Scenario: "I'm young, I'm idealistic. I haven't got a credit card, I haven't got paypal, but I do have a website with at least some few visitors. And I really like Wikipedia."

Think this is uncommon? I certainly don't.
So. How do we "monetize" this resource? Let them run ads generating income for Wikipedia.
Someone(tm) in Wikipedia, or some trustworthy foundation, should set up an account somewhere, and then volunteers will make a few widgets to easily add ads to your site, a Wordpress plugin, banner rotation so you can donate a certain percentage of page impressions... I'm sure more things will come up.

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (2, Insightful)

Saint Fnordius (456567) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715050)

Well, considering that the Wiki is the one place many go to get first-hand info, I could see a special sort of advertising, where the company overtly contributes to articles about themselves, pay a fee to have an alternative to the normal Wiki page. The advert would come in one of those little Wiki disclaimer tags, for quick linking to the "corporate bullshit disguised as an article" version.

Let's say FUBAR Widgets decides to buy a sponsored article. On the Wikipedia article, there would then be a link that says "This company has its own self-maintained article, which you can see here." On the purchased page, then, the article would be headed with a disclaimer, perhaps "This is a sponsored page owned by the company. The contents of the page are edited by the company itself, and cannot be edited by others."

Of course, companies who abuse this for of advertising should have their pages removed without refund. The actual terms of service, though, are left for the lawyers to haggle. It all boils down to in exchange for having their corporate pages free from editor tyranny, they in return have to play nice elsewhere.

The advantage for the company is that they get to maintain their own entries in the Wiki (not really, but close enough), and the advantage for the Wiki is that it makes it easier to "sandbox" corporate shenanigans on the main entries.

I suppose even another variation is conceivable, where specific pages could be sponsored that are not directly linked to the company. At the bottom of the page, the sponsors could then be listed. "This article about roses is officially sponsored by the following companies: Foo Flowers, Bar Blossoms, Snafu Seeds"

Re:obviously they should sell advertising (2, Interesting)

batman14 (1231454) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715060)

Just make a print version of wikipedia, or other internal products based on the knowledge written by contributors. They can also get money from educational foundations that invest thousands of dollars in knowledge technology. And universities can also pay a part of the bill.

Ads are not the only model of economy to provide a free service on internet. That's google that wants to make us think that.

Maybe... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714364)

I would be fine with advertising.. ONLY IF. once their budget is met, they no longer advertise.

what do you sell (4, Funny)

scrambledhelix (902472) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714372)

to a user looking up a definition for [] ?

Re:what do you sell (1)

BaphometLaVey (1063264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714422)

I'm more concerned about the ads on [] .

Re:what do you sell (1)

Jaseoldboss (650728) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714534)

This page [] might pay most of the bills so the rest can be left free.

Why? (2, Insightful)

abscissa (136568) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714378)

Why does Wikipedia need to sell it? They are already a bastion of free "neutral" articles written by POV cronies by corprorate shells. From Republican politicians to large corporations like Wal-Mart, Wikipedia should start invoicing for hosting their "neutral" public relations flyers.

Re:Why? (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714904)

They don't. There is a great deal of FUD floating about - it strikes me that everyone who operates in the "real world" - i.e. the "money money money profit profit profit" world are salivating at how much they could make out of wikipedia - they certainly don't have the projects best interests at heart - just their own. Lines from the article state that "only a third of what is needed" was raised - then completely contradict themselves by saying next "For the rest, foundation directors have to hit up outside donors" - right - so they actually raised all they need through donors - the journalist was just making some non-existent division to enable them to come away with the sensationalist line that only a third of what is needed has been raised. Bad journalism.

The budgets balance - until wikimedia comes to the table and says in a frank manner "we need more money or we need to cut back" then there is no need for sensationalist stories. At the moment projects are encouraged to use as much resource as they want. There is no limit on images or videos uploaded to the commons, or any movement to restrict or be frugal.

fake weather crime against you/me/manatees etc.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714388)

robbIE's ads for stock markup FraUD billionerrors makes him buyassed, which wouldn't be so bad, except for the censorship feature. as we learned before? all things made by man fail, so, mammonism leads to.....

let yOUR conscience be yOUR guide. you can be more helpful than you might have imagined. there are still some choices. if they do not suit you, consider the likely results of continuing to follow the corepirate nazi hypenosys story LIEn, whereas anything of relevance is replaced almost instantly with pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking propaganda or 'celebrity' trivia 'foam'. meanwhile; don't forget to get a little more oxygen on yOUR brain, & look up in the sky from time to time, starting early in the day. there's lots going on up there.;_ylt=A0WTcVgednZHP2gB9wms0NUE [];_ylt=A9G_RngbRIVHsYAAfCas0NUE [] []

is it time to get real yet? A LOT of energy is being squandered in attempts to keep US in the dark. in the end (give or take a few 1000 years), the creators will prevail (world without end, etc...), as it has always been. the process of gaining yOUR release from the current hostage situation may not be what you might think it is. butt of course, most of US don't know, or care what a precarious/fatal situation we're in. for example; the insidious attempts by the felonious corepirate nazi execrable to block the suns' light, interfering with a requirement (sunlight) for us to stay healthy/alive. it's likely not good for yOUR health/memories 'else they'd be bragging about it? we're intending for the whoreabully deceptive (they'll do ANYTHING for a bit more monIE/power) felons to give up/fail even further, in attempting to control the 'weather', as well as a # of other things/events. []

dictator style micro management has never worked (for very long). it's an illness. tie that with life0cidal aggression & softwar gangster style bullying, & what do we have? a greed/fear/ego based recipe for disaster. meanwhile, you can help to stop the bleeding (loss of life & limb); []

the bleeding must be stopped before any healing can begin. jailing a couple of corepirate nazi hired goons would send a clear message to the rest of the world from US. any truthful look at the 'scorecard' would reveal that we are a society in decline/deep doo-doo, despite all of the scriptdead pr ?firm? generated drum beating & flag waving propaganda that we are constantly bombarded with. is it time to get real yet? please consider carefully ALL of yOUR other 'options'. the creators will prevail. as it has always been.

corepirate nazi execrable costs outweigh benefits
(Score:-)mynuts won, the king is a fink)
by ourselves on everyday 24/7

as there are no benefits, just more&more death/debt & disruption. fortunately there's an 'army' of light bringers, coming yOUR way. the little ones/innocents must/will be protected. after the big flash, ALL of yOUR imaginary 'borders' may blur a bit? for each of the creators' innocents harmed in any way, there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/us, as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile, will not be available. 'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet, & by your behaviors. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious corepirate nazi glowbull warmongering execrable. some of US should consider ourselves somewhat fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate. it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc.... as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis. concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order. 'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking nazi felon greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

meanwhile, the life0cidal philistines continue on their path of death, debt, & disruption for most of US. gov. bush denies health care for the little ones; []

whilst demanding/extorting billions to paint more targets on the bigger kids; []

& pretending that it isn't happening here; []
all is not lost/forgotten/forgiven

(yOUR elected) president al gore (deciding not to wait for the much anticipated 'lonesome al answers yOUR questions' interview here on /.) continues to attempt to shed some light on yOUR foibles. talk about reverse polarity; []

Let's do something special again... (5, Funny)

MrMage (1240674) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714390)

WikipediAds, the advertisements anyone can edit! Who better to make the ads than the customers?

Not only if, but HOW (2, Insightful)

Foolicious (895952) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714392)

I am sure there'll be a nice raging debate about IF they should do it, which is good. But if they do decide to do it, an important argument is then HOW to do it. Online advertising needs to be intrusive enough to be noticed, but not so intrusive that it becomes, well, intrusive. Their implementation will mean a lot.

Heh. Some wikipedia articles ARE an advertisement. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714432)

Occasionally I run into them. I recall one being some alternative to QWERTY and Dvorak, and it totally read like an advertisement.

Slashdot did it (0, Offtopic)

spazmolytic666 (549909) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714434)

Even slashdot went to adverts. What makes wikis any better?

Uh, /. hasn't had ads for the last few YEARS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714946)

Then again, it might be because I still use Netscape 4 with Javascript turned off. :) :)

4 Million, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714436)

The fund drive for Wikipedia is thrice of last year. No wonder they only reached third of it.

I am unable to find a link for 2007 right now, but look here:
For 2004-2006 []
For 2006-2007 []

My sympathy is limited (5, Interesting)

jrjarrett (949308) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714438)

Since, according TFA, they just moved offices from FL to San Francisco, and are renting 3000 square feet there. That cannot be cheap. If you're a strapped non-profit, why on earth would you go to one of the most expensive places in the country to run your internet-based business?

Re:My sympathy is limited (2, Interesting)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714666)

Firstly because San Francisco is awesome.

Secondly because SFPD would be very hesitant about helping anybody raid their offices, there would be protests, the black mask group, etc.

Re:My sympathy is limited (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714746)

I would have to agree. There are much cheaper places to make your HQ.

Re:My sympathy is limited (2, Insightful)

Eharley (214725) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714838)

How do you know it's more expensive for them in SF than in FL? What were their stated reasons for moving?

Re:My sympathy is limited (2, Insightful)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714938)

3k s.f. isn't that huge, maybe the real problem is the cost of living for those who work there. Isn't San Fransisco pretty big on the Internet? I can see may be some advantages.

Turn into another IMDB? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714452)

I fear it would turn into another imdb with annoying and invasive advertisements leveraged off user provided content.

If it comes down to it (3, Interesting)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714456)

I'll just say this, I'd rather have an ad-supported wikipedia than no wikipedia at all.

If the video feature costs more than donations can support, I'm ok with no videos on wikpedia. Perhaps another seperate wikisite can have video with advertisements, while wikipedia itself could maintain its adfree status.

They should, begging for money is no business mode (4, Interesting)

egghat (73643) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714466)

OK, a broken business model that based on begging for money every 6 months or so.

Go for advertising. Buy out books to the public domain, give back some money to wikepedia authors (e.g. give money to proven authors for writing additional articles), ... Gazillions good ideas come to mind. Buy out books to the public domain.

But no money means no money for good ideas. And Wikipedia will stay vulnerable to attacks from someone with money (think Google Knol).

Yes yes, money changes people. Articles may get flawed to get more money. If you think, Wikipedia must stay independent, make it independent. Create a Wikipedia-Ad-foundation, that tries to get as much money as possible, but give them absolutly no control over Wikipedia-The-Content-Organisation. Both orgs should be absolutly independent.

And so you'd have a lot of money *and* complete seperation of concerns.

And there are *so* many unbelievably good ways to spend money.

Re:They should, begging for money is no business m (1)

BaphometLaVey (1063264) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714600)

Around these parts, "broken business model" is normally found in proximity to **aa, mostly so because the **aa could be doing things better and making more money and if they continue on the path they are, they are on the way out. Charities however, that routinely beg (even more often than every 6 months) have been around for a while and will continue to be around for quite a while I imagine. I do however think your idea about an independent organization would a close runner for the best way to approach advertising if it was needed, but that is assuming that charity is on it's way out.

Re:They should, begging for money is no business m (4, Insightful)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715074)

Wikipedia's not a "business" by any stretch of the imagination.

NPR and PBS have also shown that this "begging for money" business model can indeed work successfully. If anything, Wikipedia should turn to them for inspiration and fundraising advice.

Re:They should, begging for money is no business m (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22715084)

Obviously, one has never heard of PBS. They are doing their pledge thingie every now and then, no advertisement. No sellout possibility. Capitalism isn't the only way to go, especially with contents that can be deemed sensitive and actual. I would so see Wikipedia talking about the dangers of one drug and seeing the ad for the other drug in the frame of the page. They already have enough problems removing partisan contents from their pages, they'll give yet another open door to their realm with advertisement.

The problem with Wikipedia is they would need to have a non-targeted advertisement model to make it credibly, and this would remove any chances of getting the jackpot from their pages, and would potentially only annoy the users... kind of like Slashdot with their M$-centric advertisements. To open up a flamebait on these, there are inordinate number of ads about M$ on the page... don't you find that annoying? Me, I really do.

All in all, if they are happy with the status quo, good for them. If they can find large subsidies from companies and governments, schools and organizations, all the better.

Impartiality and AdSense (1)

Dynamoo (527749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714468)

Wikipedians say that advertising will compromise their impartiality. But while I appreciate their efforts to keep the content to an NPOV (neutral point of view), they do seem to be missing the point.

The obvious way to monetise Wikipedia is to use Google AdSense or a similar technology. In the case of AdSense, Google chooses that ads and not the editor, so in effect the ads are kept at arms length. And if, having read the encyclopedia article, a visitor chooses to click on an ad, then at least they should have a greater understanding of the product.

I run a site with AdSense, but I never compromise the content to encourage click throughs. People either click, or they don't Enough people click to make it worthwhile, and it certainly covers costs.

Should Wikipedia Sell Advertising? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714472)

NO! NO! Dear God NO!!!

If it does start selling ads, there needs to be a replacement. And I don't mean Uncyclopedia.

Re:Should Wikipedia Sell Advertising? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714734)

Indeed; but how long until the replacement can't meet hosting expenses with donations alone? And then the next would truly be "AD" finitum!

perhaps a little advertising (1)

symes (835608) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714474)

I don't see why they shouldn't. But so long as clear unambiguous rules govern how ads are place in the pages and how they interact with content. Importantly, I'd get some accountant type to sort out a trust or something and have revenue classified as charitable donations. In other words, keep the revenue distinct from wikipedia and use the trust to support salaries, running costs, etc., as a form of donation. IMNA accountant, might be obvious, but some sort of separation, board of trustees, etc., would seem like a good idea, imho.

No issue here (1)

usul294 (1163169) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714478)

Most of us can pretty readily block out ads, provided they are like the ones at slashdot. There is alot of sidebar space for ads, maybe at the bottom of the page. I don't know what revenue rates are for ads, but when there is a page viewed for every American - per day, assuming 1/10th cent per page, which is probably low, the ad revenue works out to be $109 million. I think less obtrusive ads might just do the trick. 1/200th of a cent would give them over the $5 million they need. Therefore it seems that they can make very small ads and still cover their budget.

Re:No issue here (1)

castoridae (453809) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714752)

Yeah, but human nature's a bitch... why stop at just covering their budget? Jimmy needs a new pair of shoes...

Simple text ads? (1)

katman4 (986905) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714488)

Instead of the normal color click they could have double-subline-text that leads to an ad. It's fairly unobtrusive and does not deter from reading. The only annoying part would come if that leads to some flash based add when you hover over the word. But still - adblock does the job :)

This weeks TWIT talked about this as well (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714498)

It's a scary time. Especially if all of Jason Calacanis' predictions made on this week's This Week In Tech [] regarding Wikipedia become true. :(

Re:This weeks TWIT talked about this as well (1)

TuxTWAP (527410) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714660)

Here's the Danny Wool post that Calacanis mentioned in this week's TWIT [] . It certainly looks like Woods has been planning on this for quite awhile.

Re:This weeks TWIT talked about this as well (1)

MadJo (674225) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714802)

I can't help but think that that email had been mentioned before in some IT news show. (at least I remember hearing about it, somewhere)
And if Jimmy Wales is as immoral as Calacanis depicted him, I fear for the future of Wikipedia.

Seriously, Yes. (1)

v(*_*)vvvv (233078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714506)

How about google ads in the corner clearly marked and unintrusive? Or even just a list of "sponsored links" at the bottom of each page after "external links".

There are many ways Wikipedia can add advertising without adding banners or having any of the advertising interfere with the content.

And being able to successfully generate revenue would mean a better Wikipedia if the people who run it wish to invest in improving what they have.

The main problem though is the advertisers editing content. This is already happening and a lot of articles are compromised. Although this problem should be addressed NOW, and is a problem that precedes this issue, this trend may accelerate with the increase in ties between Wikipedia and its advertising clients (so to avoid creating these ties, something like Google Ads might be best).

Well ..... (2, Interesting)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714510)

Yeah, if they want.

I'm already highly aggressive with blocking all advertising and user-tracking anyway, so it won't affect me personally. One of these days, I even plan to start reselling ADSL with a transparent proxy configured my own special way, so other people can also enjoy the same advertisement-free Internet experience (and I can make a few quid as a secondary consideration).

Re:Well ..... (5, Funny)

Threni (635302) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714584)

> I even plan to start reselling ADSL with a transparent proxy configured my own special way, so other people can also enjoy the same
> advertisement-free Internet experience (and I can make a few quid as a secondary consideration).

I take it you won't be advertising your service?

Re:Well ..... (4, Insightful)

Constantine XVI (880691) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714592)

One of these days, I even plan to start reselling ADSL with a transparent proxy configured my own special way, so other people can also enjoy the same advertisement-free Internet experience (and I can make a few quid as a secondary consideration).
Sure, as long as you don't call it the Internet. What makes the Internet so special is that the providers (the good ones, anyway) censor/filter NOTHING, and the filtering is left up to the end-user. IMHO, the second you begin denying your customers specific content/services (be it ads or BitTorrent), I no longer consider you a proper ISP, and neither should the law.

And besides, if you can filter all those ads, we don't think you would have a problem filtering out child porn either, right?

Links to commercial content. (4, Interesting)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714540)

Not banners.

Something that adds to the value of the site would be good - paid-for "related" links to commercial sites.

Data recovery - link to services. Bridge construction - links to firms building these. Encryption - encryption software. Every single pharmaceutical - online pharmacy. Every single book or movie - or other such. So if you're willing to pay for what you've just learned about, you know where to go to buy it or have it done, or learn more about it.

Memberships? (1)

dasbush (1143709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714606)

Do what /. did: sell memberships for no advertisements. Seems simple enough.

Re:Memberships? (1)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714832)

"Do what /. did: sell memberships for no advertisements."

Interesting, but what would a Wikipedia "Member" get as a benefit? Slashdot subscribers can see things early (or so the front page keeps telling me) and gets ads blocked at the source. What would Wiki offer? Maybe "special" editing status?

Another member model is the Public Broadcasting model. In that model, "members" really don't get a lot for their $$$, except for a Car Talk mug. The reason it works is because it is INTRUSIVE - breaking into the programming you are used to hearing/seeing and begging for cash, laying on the guilt trip. This could work for Wikipedia - do a 10 second redirect to a "beg for cash" page, or periodically throw in a popup. But I get the feeling the directors think that would be "crass".

I work for a non-profit that is feeling a money pinch - badly. Part of the reason is that everyone babbles about The Mission, and having faith that if we just focus on The Mission, the money will take care of itself. Or, the "finance guys" will take care of it. But at the rate we are burning cash, the organization will need to start selling hard assets - it's pretty hard to do The Mission when your facility has just been repossessed, or the lights are turned off.

Is it just me... (3, Interesting)

PinkyDead (862370) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714630)

Or do the gods behind /. use a different browser to me.

I'm not really going off-topic: my point is that ads really aren't a problem in these high-bandwidth times - at least they're somewhat targeted and they don't intrude.

The problem is, though, that they do. Sometimes the ads on /. are the banner ones, and they're fine, but sometimes they are those nasty square ones that block off half the story summary and require multiple reloads to get rid of.

I have no problem with ads - but they should be tested to see if they work on the 'most-popular' (depending on point of view) browser. Otherwise, don't be bitchin' at me cos I flashblock your ass.

AdSense for logged-out users only? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714654)

So, you can create a "reader" account on Wikipedia (make an account and put one edit on the user-page, "This account is for reading Wikipedia and storing my site preferences") if you'd like to opt-out of ads, and for IPs, they get the AdSense ad.

Make sense?

Splitting hairs (1)

whobutdrew (889171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714656)

Couldn't one argue that they do already, with their donation drives, a la public radio?


Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714658)

isn't it a nonprofit? If so, what's wrong with it not making profit? If not, why ain't it nonprofit?

No profit (1)

stonertom (831884) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714710)

Just a quick one, isn't wikipedia exempt from a whole bunch of taxes etc. for being a non-profit? They'd have to sell even more adverts to cover the taxes you pay by being a normal company.
If they wanted to I guess they could launch a new ad supported version, mirroring the content and making "donations" to the standard wiki

What about sponsers? (4, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714732)

What wikipedia should do is try to hit up the private sector for some rich sponsors looking to make donations to a tax-free charity.

Maybe a single link on the front page to link to the top 1000 donations of all time and top 1000 donations in the last 12 months will be a nice compromise.

It's a non-commercial public service (1)

spinctrl (815494) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714778)

so keep it in that domain and charge a licence fee...

In countries where a licence fee can't be levied, or enforced, then make it commercial with advertising. Is wiki Geo-IP aware? This is how the Beebeesee does it, and many other TV stations around the Europe.

Yeah, mark me down, but no one had raised the the specter of a browsing tax.

Disclaimer: I don't even agree with my own opinions.

Just use YPN or AdSense (4, Insightful)

dbmasters (796248) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714796)

It would be nothing to maintain and with contextually sensitive ads they would vbe related to the pages they appear on (in theory) it would be useful and profitable.

The solution is easy (1)

slashkitty (21637) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714808)

Just keep making the DONATE button BIGGER AND BIGGER until you raise enough money! Make it worse than PBS.

But seriously, those of you say money corrupts, they already have quite a bit of money going through with contributions.

They could certainly make the ads opt in. Pages and/or Users.

Keep an eye on the money! (4, Insightful)

guanxi (216397) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714812)

Given the independence of the editors (the volunteers) from the publishers (Wikimedia Foundation Inc.), I'm not too concerned about the content. Of course that independence only lasts until Wikimedia insists on seats on the Arbitration Committee or other editorial authority.

But they need a mechanism -- beyond 'trust us' -- to keep an eye on the money. That much money is just too tempting, not only for plain embezzlement but also for things like loans and investments for personal or friends' businesses, unreasonable expenses, etc.

Who controls the money? To whom are they responsible? Ultimately, the responsible party is the Wikimedia Foundation Board [] . While I don't believe fame and talent are highly correlated, and have no doubts about the board members, it would inspire more confidence if someone was putting a broader reputation on the line for Wikipedia. I want some on the board who have something serious to lose if things go wrong, like Mitch Kapor, Joi Ito, and others on the Mozilla Foundation board [] . In fact, I wonder why don't have people like already. Certainly it's prominent enough to attract them.

Finally, what mechanisms do similar organizations use to manage windfalls of cash?

Better Ways Without Crapping It Up (2, Interesting)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714840)

No, advertising would inevitably bias the content. Not just bias the editors, but also introduce a bias into those articles in which ads relate to the content. And no, they can't filter out ads that relate to the content, because that would introduce a biased editorial hand into deciding "what's related". And besides, brands have all kinds of biases that aren't necessarily evident (what does "coca-cola" mean to people whose grandparents were slaves on coca-cola plantations?), or maybe just unknown to the person setting the "relation exclusion" filter.

No, the whole point of Wikipedia is that the content of every article is totally controlled by the crowd that's editing it. Implying the editorial voice of Wikipedia endorses those products in the ads will introduce distrust of the Wikipedia editorial voice when people don't like the advertised products (or just the ad itself, or just advertising). Or introduce unwarranted trust in those people who feel more comfortable when they're embedded in a sea of familiar logos, even if they content of the article should look suspicious.

Wikipedia should just raise money in other ways that don't muddy the line between editor and publisher, just like newspapers are believed to do properly (but don't, because they embed ads).

The foundation can sell paper volumes, or magazine subscriptions about the state of Wikipedia - which could contain ads.

It could charge schools whose campuses register above some high threshold of use. Those schools are reselling the content as education, either for school tax fees or private tuitions. They can afford to pay a fee for the resale of the content, and they're too much sitting ducks to try evasive actions (like IP spoofing) that can be caught.

It could sell T-shirts and other schwag.

It could charge its most active contributors small subscription fees. Charging those people who do the most work on the content might be counterintuitive: aren't they already giving more than others, in work if not in money? But those people are clearly getting a lot more use out of Wikipedia than the average person, and are probably addicted. They're the least likely to stop being part of the community if they have to pay, while scaring the others away will kill Wikipedia. And they're the ones most likely to care about the argument "but if you don't pay a little, Wikipedia will die", because they've got so much invested in it already. If the fee is like $10 a year for people who post over 100 edits in "recent edits" [] , that's $50,000. If it's $5 for those posting over 10 or 20 recent edits anytime in a year, that's probably several hundred thousand dollars. Those people aren't going to give up their habit. If they offer them a mandatory $5 for their name on a "page of fame", or sell them a $5 T-Shirt for $20 with their name and count on it, they could make $millions.

Wikipedia is a community. One with varying degrees, whose members get all kinds of benefit from it. There are plenty of ways to monetize the benefits, especially for those getting the most, and those with little alternative to quit it.

No, it shouldn't (0)

BenoitRen (998927) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714856)

Ads are against the encyclopedia spirit. I also doubt people want to wait a long time for a page to load because of a slow ad server.

I have a much better idea. Integrate Google search, and let Google pay them for having it there. That kind of tactic works well for Mozilla, which also has a lot of users.

Only if the community decides accuracy.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22714874)

Sure sell the advertising. Then let the "community" comment on the accuracy of the manufacturer's claims.

Why don't they just start charging for their ads? (1)

eekygeeky (777557) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714878)

Seriously, just a few tweaks to the WP:CIO and WP:NPOV and problem solved- think of the labor that could be saved astroturfing your preferred talk pages, managing your socks and generating those irritating reports to management about your viral marketing efforts or penny pump-and-dumps.

Bonus for cult members: no more flagellation, starvation, or extended co-ordination for wiki-raids. Just tell Dear Leader or Most Holy to budget some coin out of his Malibu/Lear/Bentley/cocaine/hooker/caucasian trophy wife fund and you can breathe easy.

They can afford to be subtle (1)

jay-za (893059) | more than 6 years ago | (#22714984)

They don't need to be worth $100 million. If they have a small number of subtly placed and cleverly targeted ads (through multiple ad brokers to avoid problems with conflict of interest), it shuld bring in all themoney they need without detracting from the experience too much. In fact, it could actually make for a more useful experience.

Of course, a system where customers provide feedback on services clicked through from wikipedia would be great,and would really add a new dimension to the site, but there are a number of really tough social and technical (not to mention legal) problems to overcome before this becomes viable.

Another option is to turn the search bar into a combination search wikipedia OR search the Internet search, with Internet search generating revenue in much the same manner as with Firefox. As a matter of fact, how about ONLY showing ads when the search function is used? That could make everyone happy.

Idiocracy... (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715010)

We have deleted the article about Burger King for not being noteworthy. Brought to you by Carl's Jr.

Redesign ... (4, Funny)

debrain (29228) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715012)

The idea of Wikipedia - a freely available online encyclopedia that anyone can edit - I believe is better if it is impartial and independent. It becomes encumbered, compromised, by advertising incentives. There is added value in advertisement free - vis-à-vis Consumer Reports.

The question is: Why is Wikipedia so expensive to maintain? If it is bandwidth and servers, is the HTTP client/server model the answer? Is there an efficient model to share Wikipedia entries peer to peer? Or perhaps share costs between Universities or other institutions that act in the public interest?

Additionally, if Wikipedia does go to a peer to peer model, can it integrate projects like FreeNet to ensure that the information remains free and accessible.

If you think the complaints about edits, arbitrariness, capriciousness and bias with Wikipedia are bad now, wait until it commercializes. In my (limited) experience, this will change the paradigm of its management. Wikipedia will cease to be a gift to humanity. It will be owned.

Well, of course they shouldn't, but more to the... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 6 years ago | (#22715026)

but more to the point...

I'm starting to read articles on a severe upcoming advertising crunch during the recession. So it will be like they sold themselves out and then the switzer only paid $5 bucks.
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