[Foundation-l] Attempt at a compromise (Re: Advertising)

Gerard Meijssen gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Sat Dec 30 09:04:09 UTC 2006

For a compromise it is needed that both parties are willing to 
compromise. The people that are "threatening to throw their toys out of 
the pram" make a lot of noise because they have nowhere else to go. The 
people that /do /want to bring organisations into the Open Content/Free 
Content world find that because of the bedlam they create the atmosphere 
is poisoned and it prevents the inclusion of organisations in projects. 
Organisations that have massive amounts of data that they are willing to 
make available under an appropriate license.

In the way people have talked about this making available of data, it is 
generally considered that these organisations have to hand things over 
and then step back. This is however very often not how organisations see 
this. When the data is what they have worked on over a long period of 
time paying many qualified people to create such a resource, they want 
to play a visible role in the further development of this data. This may 
mean that they want to concentrate more on the curation of the data. It 
may mean that they want to collaborate in a neutral forum and work 
together with other organisations, people that work on the same data.

At this moment the Wikimedia Foundation does not consider that 
organisations might play such a role and because of the rabid 
indignation when anything that even remotely looks like corporate 
involvement, it is unlikely that this will change. The point that I am 
making is that in the "attempt to compromise" the issue is pictured as 
an issue between individual people maybe communities. There is no notion 
that the WMF does not fulfil its potential because there is no room to 
collaborate with organisations all that is considered is how to get 
their valuables.

A compromise has to bring something to both parties in a dispute. As the 
issue has not really considered in its entirety I am afraid that the 
potential of what the WMF can do, will be the victim of all this.


Tom Holden schreef:
> I think it is worth remembering that both sides of this discussion
> ultimately want the same thing, namely for the WMF's assorted projects
> to retain the independence (both financial and otherwise) they need
> for their continued success. One side has maybe been guilty of
> threatening to throw their toys out of the pram, but the other side
> has equally damaged their position by adopting a rather patronising
> tone.
> Proposing that "editors who don't like it just leave" is never a valid
> solution. There will always be people with differing opinions to the
> Foundation, and it is vital for the continued success of the project
> that these people feel there is a forum where their views will be
> seriously considered. We will always need every editor we can get. The
> gradual reform of WMF's political structure from (benevolent)
> dictatorship to democracy is obviously a key part of this process.
> Now having Virgin's name and logo on every page is certainly not the
> end of the world. Wall Street bankers are not yet rubbing their hands
> together with glee. That said it does represent a significant change
> in the WMF's fund-raising strategy. Whether or not Virgin hoped to
> benefit from their donation, the fact is that the message both
> increases brand awareness and gives the brand positive connotations.
> Contrary to the repeated dogmatic assertions of some on this list,
> like it or not this is effectively advertising. (Think of the last few
> Honda adds say. Not a purchasable product in sight...) Rightly or
> wrongly, I like many others feel this should have had more public
> discussion a significant time before the event.
> It is important to remember that people's objections to advertising go
> a long way beyond just "they're annoying" or "they're the tools of the
> capitalist scum". There is a real risk of them introducing biases and
> distortionary pressures which would severely damage the credibility of
> the WMF's projects. Furthermore, it is always dangerous for a site to
> mix its factual content with advertising, as one can easily be
> mistaken for the other. I'm sure you could all think of many further
> arguments, which, broadly, is why WMF has shied away from advertising
> in the past.
> Certainly though it is only polite to thank our donors. However, it is
> just as important we thank Paul from Michigan who gave $2 as it is we
> thank Virgin who gave $200,000 (or however much it was). The way WMF
> has traditionally done this is by posting a thank you notice along
> with a link to a list of donors. I do not see any reason why this is
> not as adequate for Virgin as it is for Paul from Michigan. If I was
> to give an ordinary (non-matching) donation of $200,000 would I get a
> day long thank you notice?
> In future I propose that matched donation days be advertised by
> something like the following:
> "All donations today will be matched by a
> (corporate/charity/individual) third party sponsor. The WMF offers
> them and all its other donors its sincerest thanks."
> I really do not believe this would have any significant impact on our
> ability to attract matching donors, and it would certainly have spared
> us the past few days of arguments here and elsewhere.
> As for further funding ideas, I still think our best bet is to
> continue on towards becoming a devolved, democratic, membership based
> organization. I would much rather give a regular donation to a UK
> charity in exchange for the benefits and rights of membership, than a
> one off donation to an organization that will spend the money without
> the guarantees of a written constitution and full democratic
> accountability, and I am sure many would agree with me.
> Yours in peace,
> Tom Holden

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