[Foundation-l] A modest proposal: ads on wikipedia.com

Kat Walsh kat at mindspillage.org
Mon Apr 23 02:42:42 UTC 2007

On 4/22/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:

> Now, that said, one advertising-related idea that has been discussed
> and not completely shouted down is a kind of "opt-out" advertising
> which is opt-in by default for readers, and opt-out by default for
> registered users. I'm not convinced it is necessary either, but it
> seems like the most sensible gradual next step. But as for all the
> great programs that ads could support, how about we spec these out and
> budget them first, and try to raise funds for them the old-fashioned
> non-profit way? I find it, for lack of a better word, asinine to
> justify ads with all the great things we could do if we had money.
> Shouldn't we have a much better idea of what these great things are
> _before_ we try to get more money?

This sounds very strange to me coming from you, possibly the last
person save Jimbo I would think would have difficulty thinking of
things WMF could do with lots of money.

Here's a small list:
*more operational staff
*developers, developers, developers
*sponsoring free software projects that produce tools we use to run the site
*more local meetings and small conferences of Wikimedians
*more outreach into schools and communities
*more outreach into poor communities, perhaps giving them computers
loaded with Wikipedia and cameras to take pictures of their area that
don't exist on the web.
*buying more hardware to place caches in datacenters where other
people can give us bandwidth
*buying rights to content we would like to make free
*sponsoring student research on Wikimedia projects and conference fees
*locating and scanning old PD materials
*buying subscriptions to databases for community members to use for sources
*producing more print materials
*hiring people with specialized skills to fill in gaps -- translators
to start off every new wiki with a starter set of important pages,
musical groups to create recordings of free music
*better image quality on the site
*capacity for more video and multimedia content
*setting up more local offices for volunteers to work together
*placing advertisements in subject-specific publications and sites to
attract volunteers who know about areas where we don't have enough

Some of these may or may not be good ideas; each one of them could
easily start a thread debating the merits. Some of them were brought
up when Jimbo asked what we could do with the hypothetical $100M, and
I'm sure there are some good ones I'm forgetting.

The point is that it's easy to think of things we could do with more
money to further our goals, and it's hard to get enough money to do
them. At our current pace, we'll never get enough money to do them;
we're always just barely keeping up with keeping the lights on, the
servers running, and the office staff functioning on caffeine and

That's not what I want our future as an organization to be.

I'm not committed to any particular way of raising the money. I am
committed to certain things we will *not* do -- for example, nothing
that involves altering content, and nothing that involves giving
exclusive rights to any particular resource of ours. Coming up with a
good way to do this that doesn't exhaust our donors is hard, and help
with this is always welcome (are there any professional fundraisers on
the list?).

But to plan out what we could do if we weren't resource-limited... I
think that's the easy part.


Wikimedia needs you: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/Fundraising
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