[Foundation-l] This is not an Advertisement

Brion Vibber brion at pobox.com
Tue Jan 2 06:50:14 UTC 2007

Hash: SHA1

Pat Gunn wrote:
> I reply specifically to Brion Vibber's message here:
> http://mail.wikipedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2006-December/012848.html
> I find it very unfortunate that Brion characterises
> people like me, who have been on the project for many
> years, as being uncaring about our values. I care deeply
> about the project, and feel that accepting advertising,
> whether it be for brand identity or a specific product,
> as unacceptable. The Spanish wikipedia and the many users
> who have put userboxen against advertisements (as ironic
> as that is) on their userpages should've taught Brion
> (and others involved) that the values of the community
> *do* have a substantial number of people who will never
> accept this kind of thing.

As I mentioned in chat, that's actually pretty much the point of my post.

Some people's preferences, beliefs, or values may not fully mesh with
the core values of free content that Wikipedia has staked itself on from
the beginning, and some of those people are going to be shocked to
discover that there are different values in play (as, apparently, you
have been shocked).

That doesn't make those other views wrong, and it doesn't necessarily
make the free content/free software-style ideals right. But, IMHO, it's
important to look at what those values are, and think about them, rather
than plowing ahead pretending we all believe the same thing, or fighting
over those other values and ignoring Wikipedia's actual core goals in
the process.

To me, this is the same issue as the overuse of "fair use" labeling for
materials which cannot be freely reused just for the sake of getting a
pretty picture. It's nice to have pretty pictures, but
Wikipedia/Wikimedia is built on a strict foundation of free content, and
leaning too far towards content that's "educational-use only" or
"Wikipedia-only" harms the core values of reuse, redistributability, and
freedom to make derivative works.

An extreme anti-commercial attitude, IMHO, can be similarly dangerous
when it reaches the point of pushing an unrelated ideology to the
detriment of the project's actual goals.

So can an extreme pro-commercial attitude, of course.

I'd like to hope we will strike an appropriate balance; pretending that
money doesn't exist isn't really helpful in a world where money is, in
fact, often exchanged for goods and services.

Thus it's a good thing for the community and the Foundation organization
to talk about this issue and actually figure out what's going to work
and what's appropriate *based on the needs and goals of the project*
instead of *what's going to make people with certain views angry when
they hear it*.

(This is all just my personal opinion, and should not be taken as
official WMF policy; I do not set WMF policy, nor do I necessarily even
know what it is. For all I know the board is crying out for my blood. :P)

> After reading some of the other
> comments on this list and chatting with a few folks, I
> understand that my concerns, while considered, will not be
> addressed. To me, Wikipedia (and related projects) are and
> must be noncommercial if I am to be involved - it is impossible
> to honestly educate with one hand while waving a billboard
> with the other.

Reasonable people can and do disagree on a) whether it's possible and b)
what constitutes billboard-waving.

IMHO maintaining free content is far more important than whether or not
there are advertisements on the web site that some people will see the
content on, even if I don't particularly like advertisements and would
strongly prefer never to have to see a banner ad.

That doesn't mean I think we *should* put up banner ads (though there
might be obvious financial advantages to doing so). It just means that
whatever we *do* see and do should be based on the actual situation.

There is, to me, a pretty clear difference between notices in a
fundraising event and traditional advertisement. I expect rational
people to be able to distinguish different degrees and qualities in this
way, and hold discussions in which advantages and disadvantages are

An attitude of "not an inch!" is a matter of ideology, and IMHO where we
base decisions on ideology they should be due to the actual ideology the
project is based on, and not our personal ideologies as individuals.

If our personal ideologies turn out to be really, solidly, incompatible
with the project... then maybe we shouldn't stay.

But again, maybe I'm wrong. Don't take my word for it.

> I greatly regret the wrong turn the community
> has made here, for it is not something I will live with and
> stay.

On the other hand I'm glad we're finally talking openly about the
elephant in the room; if we're no longer tiptoeing about hoping nobody
says the "a"-word we might be able to make actual decisions as a community.

- -- brion vibber (brion @ pobox.com)
Version: GnuPG v1.4.2.2 (Darwin)
Comment: Using GnuPG with Mozilla - http://enigmail.mozdev.org


More information about the foundation-l mailing list