[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Alison Wheeler wikimedia at alisonwheeler.com
Wed May 9 09:50:26 UTC 2007

On Tue, May 8, 2007 12:57, Jussi-Ville Heiskanen wrote:
> If it ain't broke, don't fix it?

is answered by Yann Forget:
> Nowadays I participate in many Wikimedia projects, and
> I think it important not to mix up things which are different.

As Walter Vermeir notes:
> Wikimedia is the grant umbrella that connects all wikis of all projects
> and languages. It is the glue between all wikis.

but, as Eric's original post on our branding pointed out, the vast
majority of *readers* do not understand about our multiple projects that
are all under that single umbrella and hence they don't make use of the
sister projects to anything like the same degree. And if our editors are
building walls between the projects then is it any surprise that the media
and non-editing readers get completely muddled about things?

"Wiki..." naming was great when we started. Wikis were new, unusual,
fantastic opportunities to get involved and we had a najor first-mover
advantage. But using that format for the newer projects hasn't worked so
well; they don't get the pull-along effect that they should from their
association with 'the big one'. Yes, of course I like everyone else would
like to see *all* the projects become massive successes; each language,
each context. But until it is clear to people that we are all together in
this - that Wikispecies, Wiktionary, Wikinews and the rest *are* under
that same umbrella that Wikipedia is - then readers will not use them in
the same way and they will, imho, be destined to remain in the shade of

Wikia gets tied up with people thinking about Wiki(m|p)edia projects
precisely because of that naming decision (accident?), as do WikitionaryZ,
Wikitravel, etc.

Editors, unsurprisingly, become somewhat possessive of their efforts (I do
too!) but if we are serious about wanting to create a 'reference shelf'
then I believe Eric's post - and the subsequent discussions - have clear
merit. I believe we do not want not desire the 'other' projects to have a
separate identity and target audience, we want them to be seen as part of
a greater whole. And whilst "Wikimedia" was intended to be the title of
that 'umbrella whole' it is failing to reach the mass audience, instead
every time one of us talks to the press or gives a talk or writes about
"Wikimedia" we have to explicitly clarify and link that name to "... the
people who run Wikipedia ...".

It will cause problems in the short term, obviously, but maybe we do need
to think more clearly about the future context we operate in; we are not a
range of social groups who happen to be working on our individual projects
and ignoring the rest (or *should* not be, anyway) but are a larger group
of people working, pro bono, to "Imagine a world in which every single
human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge." If we are truly
creating that "sum" of knowledge then we need a better way to let everyone
know all our projects are together.

"That's our commitment" as our strapline states.

Alison Wheeler

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