Your dad is right, in some regards. More than 85% of our revenue comes from
the general public. It's how we've survived and has supported our growth
over the last decade.
We have conducted surveys, focus groups and user testing over the years to
get better insights into our readers and donors and have published results
from some of our research surveys.  We definitely monitor feedback
on social media for reader reactions to our fundraising but I don’t think
we have specifically researched the question you raised about readers
taking away the wrong impression. It's definitely something for us to
consider for the future. It’s worth noting that readers arrive at our
website with misconceptions. Until only very recently, half of our readers
didn’t realise that Wikipedia was non-profit and a quarter of them thought
we were funded by commercial advertising.
Our current messaging has moved on from previous years. There is definitely
a sense of urgency in the fundraising message because there is urgency
behind our work. We aren't saying that our sites are going to be taken
down, and we avoid using that kind of messaging these days, but the
movement has set itself some pretty significant goals for the next 10
years. If we are to be genuinely serious about achieving or making headway
in those areas, we need the support of our readers. We are trying to get
that urgency across without causing anxiety and it is certainly a
One thing to keep in mind is unlike websites like the Guardian, Wikipedia
doesn’t fundraise year round in all countries. In our larger campaigns,
other than “pre-campaign testing,” we generally fundraise for a total of 4
weeks in any one country each year. In just a few moments, we need to try
and educate our readers efficiently and effectively about who we are and
make a convincing pitch for their support.
Our messaging isn’t static and it is in a constant state of change. And our
content doesn’t just change according to test results. Specifically it
changes in response to feedback like yours and the others on this thread.
When we hear from community members, donors or members of the public that
something in our banners isn’t working or seems disingenuous, we take that
feedback extremely seriously and it will help guide where we spend our
efforts testing. In the last year in our desktop messaging, we removed
lines such as “If Wikipedia became commercial, it would be a great loss to
the world”. The reference to coffee has also, for the time being, been
retired from the desktop large banner for the past 10 days. As recently as
today, we’ve softened the intro to our desktop messaging in an attempt to
reduce a perceived alarmist tone. A few weeks back, when we asked the
community to choose a rewrite for the second half of our desktop large
appeal, 40 people took part and we adopted the most popular variant.
Last year, we received important feedback on our mobile banners regarding
their length. Whilst we made changes to the designs last year, it doesn’t
mean that we have forgotten about that feedback. Throughout the last 3
weeks, we have run numerous tests focused on decreasing the length of the
banner through design or messaging changes, and we’ve been able to shave
off a further fraction from the banner even though there was a reduction in
Going forward, if community members want me to look into setting up regular
office hours on IRC or Google Hangouts or some other venue we can do that.
We’ve run it before and if the interest is there happy to do this again. If
there other venues or methods you feel would work I’m open to ideas. Either
way the fundraising team does listen to feedback and does act on that
feedback. The team genuinely believes it's possible to reach our goals and
make the community proud and I think we’ve come a long way over the years.
Thank you again for your questions and others for their feedback.
On Wed, Dec 18, 2019 at 8:27 PM Benjamin Ikuta <benjaminikuta(a)gmail.com>
My dad recently said to me:
"I was solitated by them after looking something up. I thought it strange
the way they were pleading for donations. They made it sound like they
might be shutting down if we the general public didn't donate."
Has there been any research into how common it is for readers to get the
wrong impression from the marketing messaging?
I've heard of this sort of thing happening before, and I think it's highly
antithetical to our values to be deceptive.
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