On Dec 3, 2014 3:46 AM, "Ryan Lane" <rlane32(a)gmail.com> wrote:
Megan Hernandez <mhernandez@...> writes:
> As Lila’s email said, we launched our end of year English fundraising
> campaign on Tuesday. I wanted to share a little more background on the
> mechanics of the English Wikipedia campaign, and where we are on our
> this year to-date.
> Starting today, banners are being shown to 100% of anonymous readers on
> English Wikipedia in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Our
> of year campaign goal is $20 million. As Lila
mentioned, our goal is to
> serve more powerful reminders to be able to limit the total number of
> banners each reader sees. We are constantly experimenting with new
to reach our
readers and optimize the donation experience.
I know I used to write an email internally every year, saying our banners
are getting out of control, but that's because every year they get bigger
and more obscuring of the content. This year, as usual, is not an
However, this year the banners didn't just get
bigger, the copy seems to
more fear inducing as well.
Today I had a coworker private message me, worried that Wikipedia was in
financial trouble. He asked me if the worst happened, would the content
still be available so that it could be resurrected? I assured him that
Wikimedia is healthy, has reserves, and successfully reaches the budget
every year. Basically I said there wasn't much to worry about, because
The messaging being used is actively scaring people. This isn't the first
person that's asked me about this. When they find out there's not a real
problem, their reaction quickly changes. They become angry. They feel
My coworker told me that he donates generously every year, which is rare
him because he doesn't often donate to charities.
He said this year's ads
are putting him off. He doesn't feel like he should donate.
I understand that efficient banner ads are good, because they reduce the
number of times people need to see the ad, but it's not great when people
stop posting funny banner memes and start asking Wikimedia to switch to an
advertising model (seriously, do a quick twitter search).
- Ryan Lane
Excuse the cynicism, but maybe automating the message to go out every year
on the first week of December will save you frustration and effort. I know
how this will end. It'll end like last year, and the year before, etc. etc.
Where we conclude, yes, what we did now really cross the line, we have to
tone it down a bit, with thank yous to those concerned, and apologies for
taking it too far. I have no doubt it's exactly the same next year. So
please see the email below I'll automate for the first week of December for
Dear fundraising team. Thank you for your efforts to make the fundraiser as
quick as possible. I understand that effective banners allow us to keep the
yearly donation drive as short as possible.
Yet the banners I'm seeing this year leave me troubled about the appearance
and the message presented. For the appearance, it is the size and
obnoxiousness that bothers me. They seem to be designed to annoy the reader
as much as possible. I know they only work when people notice them but do
we really *have* to (select one from list: play audio/ obscure our content
forcing a click through / use animated content / take up the majority of
the screen above the fold). It annoys our users, the people we do it all
for, to no end. Take a look at Twitter, it's not just one or two people.
Secondly I'm alarmed about the content. That should come to no surprise to
the fundraising team, because I can't imagine this content hasn't been
written to evoke the maximum amount of alarm.
But it crosses the line towards dishonesty. Yes the WMF can use the
donations, and yes they generally spend it well. But the lights won't go
off next week if You don't donate Now. The servers won't go offline. We're
not on immediate danger. Yet that's what this year's campaign seems to want
the message to be. But don't take my word for it, take a look at the
messages accompanying the donations. People are genuinely worried. They
will be angry if they find out they're being manipulated, and they would be
right. Generally I'm proud of what we do as movement and proud of much of
the way we do it. These banners make me ashamed of the movement I'm part
of. And frustrated that I seem to be unable to change it in the long run, I
think I may have send out a similar email to this one last year.
For now, two requests.
# could you please stop misleading the reader in our appeal?
# could you please make the banners a little less invasive? So that the
don't obscure content unless dismissed, and so that they take up more than
50% of the space above the fold.
I know you work hard for the fundraiser to be successful, and as brief as
possible, but please take in consideration the dangers of damaging our
reputation for openness and honesty, and the impact on our volunteers.
I will automate this message for the first Tuesday of December, around
10:00 a.m. UTC. If others could automate their messages to not exactly
coincidence with this one, that would help.
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