[Foundation-l] what do we do in the event the Foundation fails? - Re: Pol...

Kelly Martin kelly.lynn.martin at gmail.com
Thu Apr 19 00:19:38 UTC 2007

On 4/18/07, daniwo59 at aol.com <daniwo59 at aol.com> wrote:
> What Kelly and I have talked about is losing our brand. Sure, the content
> will be there, thanks to Jeff Merkey and others. But it will not be Wikipedia.
> It will have a different name. It will not have the same logo. It will have a
> different logo. And the new organization will have less of a reputation than
> we  currently do for simply allowing that to happen to us. It will have to
> file  again for tax-deductible status (a major source of our large donations),
> and  with the history that led to a downfall, it will be much harder to achieve.
> Meanwhile, the people who took over Wikipedia would likely monetize it (a
> nice way of saying puts ads everywhere and reduce open editing). And the
> millions of people who turn to Wikipedia every day, those that dont read this
> mailing list, will continue to go there, because that is what they know. And the
> new management said it would be better.

More specifically, the major success of Wikipedia is that it's the
only one.  This is something called a "network effect".  If the
Wikimedia Foundation loses control of the wikipedia.org name, and
someone else puts a monetized version of Wikipedia up that compromises
the English Wikipedia's community principles, yes, much of the
community will likely leave.  But where would they go?  Some other
site?  That site will not be called Wikipedia.  The general public
will continue to go to the compromised Wikipedia site for months, even
years, and the community will end up divided.  If you don't understand
why this will badly damage if not destroy the project, just look at
the Spanish Wikipedia.  By all rights, eswiki should be the second
largest project.  It's not.  The eswiki project still has not
recovered from the damage done to it by the Enciclopedia Libre split,
which diluted both communities.  This is the network effect, and it
must be avoided at all costs.

The only way to avoid this is to put the domain names in trust.  Then,
if the WMF does fail, the trust can revoke their grant to the WMF, and
then issue a new grant to whomever ends up with the databases and the
community -- and the network effect will not occur because the public
and the community will still have its identity as Wikipedia.

Wikipedia succeeds because it is the only one.  If it ever loses that
uniqueness, it will crash and burn, quite spectacularily, I suspect.


More information about the foundation-l mailing list