[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Robert Horning robert_horning at netzero.net
Wed May 9 02:42:35 UTC 2007

Erik Moeller wrote:
>> Currently, many
>> projects are trying (and not rarely succeeding) to get their own
>> identity, with their own plans and functions. By renaming them to
>> "Wikipedia something", we would be telling them that that is not the
>> way we want to go.
> I understand the emotional reasons for projects to have their "own
> identity," rather than being directly associated with Wikipedia
> through their name. What are the rational ones?
Other than the fact that projects like Wikibooks have already 
established a brand identity of its own.  Not only among Wikibooks 
users, but also within the general academic community (for good or 
ill).  I'm not suggesting here that the brand isn't weaker than 
Wikipedia, but it does have some strong recognition by groups of users 
well beyond just Wikimedia projects.

If this had been something suggested when Karl Wick was trying to move 
the Chemistry "textbook" off of Wikipedia, that would be something else 
entirely.  In fact, a suggestion back elsewhen was to name what is 
currently called "Wikibooks" to be "Wikiversity" instead.

Words mean things, and as has happened with even the name "Wikiversity", 
the mere suggestion as a location for learning resources has taken on a 
life of its own.  Becoming "Wikipedia Textbooks" has other major 
semantic implications as well, not all of them very positive to what has 
become Wikibooks.  This also is suggesting that all of this brand 
recognition that has been developed to date deserves to be ignored 
completely.  Admittedly this is the brand recognition that Wikipedia had 
in 2003, but there is reason to believe that Wikibooks can grow 
substantially without the pressing need to go through such a rebranding 
as expressed in this proposal.  Substantial traffic already comes from 
Wikipedia as it is going to Wikibooks (through links on Wikipedia pages 
and listing on the front page), as well as from other sister projects.  
And I support this continued cross linking between projects as something 
very positive for everybody involved.

So my question I would ask in reverse is what real benefits would happen 
by this closer association, and how could the negative aspects (such as 
increased vandalism and more) be compensated for without the sister 
projects being forced to coalesce into one common user base and content 
administration?  Is there any value at all to the separate identities 
and policies that have been established for each of the independent 
sister projects?

I know you aren't proposing a full merger of all administrators and all 
policies on all projects in a given language, but that is the logical 
conclusion to any such rebranding and community merger.

-- Robert Horning

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