[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

GerardM gerard.meijssen at gmail.com
Tue May 8 05:43:27 UTC 2007

The other projects may get some extra traffic from being in the Wikimedia
Foundation. The amount of struggle to differentiate themselves is huge.
There is not really attention for the other projects in a same way there is
not really attention for the languages from the WMF.

There finally is some struggle coming from other projects against the
Wikipedia only mentality. The only excuse that I find reasonable for the
overwhelming attention Wikipedia gets is that we are hopelessly understaffed
and underfunded.

In my opinion there should be more attention for the other projects and
languages. This is an argument I have made often before. With a rename to
Wikipedia something, the amount of attention within the WMF will only get

PS I like it that you revisit issues, this is however not a good idea.


On 5/8/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> (Part of a "Rethinking" series.)
> The Wikimedia Foundation currently owns and protects the following brand
> names:
> * Wikipedia
> * Wikimedia
> * MediaWiki
> * Wikisource
> * Wikibooks
> * Wikiquote
> * Wiktionary
> * Wikimedia Commons
> * Wikispecies
> * Wikinews
> * Wikiversity
> Of these 11 names, three are confusingly similar: Wikipedia,
> Wikimedia, and MediaWiki. Moreover, only one has global recognition:
> Wikipedia. MediaWiki has strong recognition as a software solution and
> can therefore largely excepted from the following discussion.
> Proper protection of these brands involves trademark and domain name
> registrations and maintenance, and enforcement against misuse or use
> of confusingly similar names. This is complicated by the fact that the
> names are frequently used in internationalized variants.
> Moreover, not a single Wikimedia content project is close to the
> success of Wikipedia itself. Comparing the Alexa traffic rankings,
> only one of the other domain names used is even in the top #1000
> (wikimedia.org), and that is largely because this domain name is
> accessed frequently, but indirectly, through Wikipedia itself
> (uploaded files). This is in spite of the significant attention given
> to these projects by featuring them on frontpages of most Wikipedias.
> There is an alternative brand strategy: making use of the strongest
> brand (Wikipedia) to identify all activities of the Foundation. In
> such a model, there would be:
> * Wikipedia Foundation
> * Wikipedia
> * MediaWiki
> * Wikipedia Sources
> * Wikipedia Textbooks
> * Wikipedia Quotes
> * Wikipedia Dictionary
> * Wikipedia Commons
> * Wikipedia Species
> * Wikipedia News
> * Wikipedia Learning
> (The name "Wikipedia Learning" may be a good alternative to
> "Wikiversity", which identifies the project less closely with a
> particular institutional type of learning and research, and more
> closely with its core activity.)
> 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
> At least some of the existing logos could be re-used in smaller
> versions, positioned under the Wikipedia logo, when identifying the
> projects.
> == Advantages ==
> * No more confusion between Wikipedia and Wikimedia, Wikimedia and
> MediaWiki.
> * Strength of Wikipedia brand directly reflects on other activities.
> * Encourages thinking of new projects in terms of their function
> * As long as the core trademark (Wikipedia) is sufficiently protected,
> so are all compounds
> * Acknowledges that the "Wikipedia" brand stands for more than any
> traditional encyclopedia
> * Simplifies management and marketing/outreach, in particular,
> collaborations with other projects-- no more "Wikinews is a project of
> the Wikimedia Foundation, which also operates Wikipedia" type
> introductions.
> * Reduces confusion with other "Wiki" entities, such as Wikitravel
> * If all projects use the .wikipedia.org domain name, retaining
> session information across wikis (after SUL) gets a lot easier (cf.
> wikia.com)
> * 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.
> * 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.
> == Risks ==
> * Community acceptance. Perhaps this issue should be voted upon if
> there is at least some support for it.
> * Internal use will require some adjustment (many pages affected). The
> frequent use of templates to identify related content should make this
> process easier. Phasing this in gradually should be fine.
> * Loss of visual identity. Again, this could at least partially be
> addressed by having small visual identifications under the Wikipedia
> logo for the different activities.
> * Initial confusion among those who have finally learned the
> differences between the names. :-) This is part of every rebranding
> experience.
> == Other perceived risks ==
> * People would not contribute as much anymore. => I see no evidence to
> support such an allegation, anymore than, say, people are contributing
> less to Wikia.com's wikis because they are all unified under a single
> brand identity. I am convinced that some people would quit over such a
> decision, as some people will always quit (or threaten to) over
> anything that is remotely controversial. I doubt that this would have
> a significant long term impact.
> * Some people do not identify with Wikipedia's values. => The kind of
> people who join another project because they hate Wikipedia are not
> necessarily the kind of people who build healthy communities. If even
> the mere association with the Wikipedia name would give them a
> headache, they are not part of a Wikimedia community to begin with.
> * 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.
> * 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.
> * But we spent so much effort telling people about our "Wiki-"thing,
> all this will now be for nothing! => Not at all. Indeed, rebranding
> exercises are usually an excellent opportunity to _raise_ awareness of
> a project. "Wikiversity is now Wikipedia Learning!" "Huh, there was a
> Wikiversity? And it's got something to do with Wikipedia?"
> * What if one of the projects eventually gets bigger than Wikipedia?
> Won't we look silly? => Talk about problems that are nice to have. No,
> we won't look silly, because awareness about the project will, from
> the beginning, be tied to an existing, well known brand name. Would
> Google look silly if Google Mail became more popular than their search
> engine?
> 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).
> --
> Peace & Love,
> Erik
> DISCLAIMER: This message does not represent an official position of
> the Wikimedia Foundation or its Board of Trustees.
> "An old, rigid civilization is reluctantly dying. Something new, open,
> free and exciting is waking up." -- Ming the Mechanic
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