[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Brianna Laugher brianna.laugher at gmail.com
Wed May 9 06:03:33 UTC 2007

On 09/05/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> > 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.
> Again, even in a best case scenario, I do not think that any other
> project will overtake Wikipedia's popularity and brand recognition.
> Perhaps, in our wildest dreams, some can reach comparable size (which
> would not necessarily make the Wikipedia branding approach problematic
> any more so than GMail's popularity makes it a bad idea to call it
> "Google Mail"). But so far, the differences are orders of magnitude
> large.

Is the only measure of success number of pages and number of hits?

Some of our projects (Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Commons, Wikiquote)
naturally lend themselves to a kind of "shallow" entry where number of
hits is a more or less accurate metric for success - people come to
these projects looking for bite-sized pieces (one page) of

Wikibooks, Wikisource, Wikiversity are not like this. The information
in these projects is multi-page, deep, perhaps the reader is more
engaged in the info, not just passively receiving it. More thought is
required. And they are perhaps more targeted at educators to pass on
to learners, rather than directly to learners.

Wikinews, I still await for an inspired description of what its
success might be, because I have a feeling it could be huge and
revolutionary but I can't envisage it yet. Wikispecies also eludes me

Anyway, your general comparisons with Google are not wholly
convincing, because Google Mail is built by paid Google employees who
don't need to be personally invested in the identity and importance of
the project they're working on.

> > Speaking for my involvement with Commons, I want success for Commons
> > on its own terms. Not just as a service project to Wikipedia.
> The naming does not at all imply that it would be a service project.

Apparently not to you, but to everyone else...

> Yes and no. Tribalism can be enormously harmful. The mess we tried to
> clean up with the licensing policy is an example of that; there has
> been non-free creep in a number of projects & languages due to a
> desire to do things "differently." And, to some extent, the response
> to that policy has been very aggressive and hostile. "Who are these
> people to make policy for our project? We're not Wikimedia, we're
> Wiki-xy." Of course, only a tiny minority of users feel that way. But
> it's exactly that kind of attitude that a broader communal identity
> might counteract. It would be meaningful to say "We are all
> Wikipedians. We share these values." Wikimedia, on the other hand, is
> a detached concept, which seems to be related by many to notions of
> bureaucracy and management, rather than genuine community.

It seems to me WMF just needs to work on its branding within the
Wikimedia communities. :) How did you (WMF) let communities develop
and devolve away from your - our - core beliefs and values? What are
you doing to prevent to reduce that disconnect?

> With thousands of wikis out there, "Wikiversity" or "Wikisource" don't
> tell you anything about the origin of the project at all. Either
> people think it's just another wiki, or they think that _everything_
> that starts with "Wiki" belongs to us. And when we do answer, our
> answer is cumbersome and confusing: "Wikinews is a project of the
> Wikimedia Foundation, which also runs Wikipedia .."

Well if you propose to rename everything "Wikimedia _", I would
probably agree with that. Strengthening the Wikimedia brand == good.
Replacing it with the Wikipedia brand, er...

People don't get the concept of open content licenses, either. But
that doesn't mean we should represent it as merely "free" until they
cotton on. Educating everyone is a slow, repetitive process. This is
what I meant when I said our projects are "ahead of their time". There
are even many revolutionary things about Wikipedia which are still not
widely perceived. We can be the ones that make the world rethink how
they approach copyright. It's hardly going to be a simple task, is it?


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