[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Tue May 8 05:34:17 UTC 2007

OMG. Reading this message gave me scary deja vu.
except I was joking.

Five years ago, Wikipedia was barely known at all. Now it is globally
known and recognised.
What will recognition of WMF projects be like in another five years?
Who can tell? But if you envision as I do, eventually a global
presence for WMF, a reputation for free access & license quality
content in multiple languages, then it seems short-sighted to rename
everything after Wikipedia just because it is our most well known
project right now.

It seems to me many of our projects are ahead of their time. I guess
they will struggle for recognition and popularity until the world
catches up. Renaming them won't change that.

This proposal really surprises me, because I feel there is already a
perception from non-[English ]Wikipedia projects the Board only cares
about English Wikipedia, and that they are not getting the support
they want. Suggesting "hey, just rename yourself under Wikipedia and
boom, success!" doesn't seem to me that it will go down well.

Speaking for my involvement with Commons, I want success for Commons
on its own terms. Not just as a service project to Wikipedia.

> Once rebranded, the projects could also be featured in different ways.
> For instance, a list of projects could be shown in a navigation bar at
> the top of every page:
> : Other Wikipedia Projects: Sources | Textbooks | Quotes | Dictionary
> | Media | Species | News | Learning

We don't need to wait for a rebranding to do something very similar to
this, do we?

> * Recognition of Wikipedia as flagship removes some of the media
> pressure that every new project has to immediately (or ever) be just
> as successful, which may very well be completely unrealistic.

What 'media pressure' are you referring to?

Does WMF care if its other projects are or aren't 'successful'?

> * Discourages tribal thinking about projects, where even highly
> experienced Wiki[mp]edians are treated with as much suspicion as any
> newbie when they join another Wiki-* project.

I don't see a URL change changing that. While some communities can be
overzealously protective, a certain amount of protectiveness strikes
me as a good thing. There's a reason why almost all projects have a
policy page that amounts to 'We are not Wikipedia, don't do things the
Wikipedia way because we do them differently here'.

> * There is no such thing as a Wikimedia community. We must recognize
> that each small community has its own values and principles, and avoid
> empire-building. => A healthy dynamic between global and local values
> is key; describing and spreading the minimal (but important) global
> values that we have is a core reason we have a WMF and a chapter
> network in the first place. We already recognize all projects as part
> of the "Wikimedia" family; changing the brand to "Wikipedia" would
> merely reduce the confusion.

No. At the moment Wikipedia and Wikibooks and Wikinews etc are all
conceptually on the same level. But Wikipedia and Wikipedia Textbooks
and Wikipedia News? These latter two are conceptually at a lower
level. Reorganising projects like this would not "merely" reduce
confusion, it would change people's perceptions about the relations
between these entities...and their relative importance.

> * This will crush small projects under the juggernaut of the evil
> Wikipedia and divert even more attention from them. => There is no
> basis for such assumptions; indeed, it is quite reasonable to suppose
> that identification with the strong "Wikipedia" brand will make it
> _easier_ to resolve the particular technical needs of Wikipedia News,
> Wikipedia Sources, etc. Raising money and developing partnerships for
> Wikipedia is relatively easy, compared with a project hardly anybody
> has ever heard of.

Why not just use the phrases "Wikipedia Sources" etc with potential
developers right now, then?

> I'd appreciate other critical commentary on this brand model. Frankly,
> I see very few benefits in the strategy we have chosen to adopt
> (perhaps more as a habit than as a result of careful deliberation).

I'm guessing that's because brand recognition wasn't at the forefront
of people's minds when they mused about potential project names. e.g.

Making such a major change merely in service of brand recognition
seems backward to me, especially given that we're not selling


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