[Foundation-l] Rethinking brands

Delphine Ménard notafishz at gmail.com
Wed May 9 19:10:56 UTC 2007

Back to the basics.

On 5/8/07, Erik Moeller <erik at wikimedia.org> wrote:
> (Part of a "Rethinking" series.)

You keep asking for "rational reasons".
Many people on this thread have said it. Looking for rational
arguments might not be the way to go. David Gerard, however, has
given, in my opinion, the most striking of all in his last
intervention, I quote:

"If you don't understand that that is a rational reason, you don't
understand volunteer motivation."

But let's try and leave emotions aside. There is one thing that
strikes me in this whole conversation as missing.

You argue that renaming everything Wikipedia would bring the following:

> * Strength of Wikipedia brand directly reflects on other activities.

Wikipedia is a strong brand, I'll grant you that. Let's push the
reasoning a bit further. Is it a "positive brand"? ie. will it really
shed light on the other projects once they are called "Wikipedia

We can argue that yes, Wikipedia is a positive brand. I will argue
that it is a positive brand for what it is.

Wikipedia has something on everything.
Wikipedia is always up to date
Wikipedia is (almost) as good as Britannica
Wikipedia is free as in beer
Wikipedia is free as in speech
Wikipedia is user generated content and allows everyone to share their knowledge

However, we also have:

Wikipedia is unreliable
(Hmmm. Not good for Wikipedia books -Wikibooks-, that)
Wikipedia has been banned as a source from X and Y news agency
(Not good for Wikipedia News -Wikinews- to ever be recognized as a
source of news)
Wikipedia cannot be quoted by students in universities
(So much for Wikipedia source -Wikisource- as a comprehensive source
of original works)
(So much for ever hoping Wikipedia learning -Wikiversity- is ever
going to be anything)
(So much for trying to slip Wikipedia books -Wikibooks- into schools)

In the end, I find that one of your "rational" (well, I suppose you
deem them rational) reason to undergo such a change is set on a strong
personal opinion that Wikipedia everything is the way to go, because
It Is Good (TM), because It Will Bring More Cash (TM) and because It
Is Better Known (TM). In the end, I find this hardly rational.

For the record, I agree with the fact that our brands are messy. I
even agree that we should try to rename some of the projects, but I
would do so in the hope of giving them a chance to escape the shadow
of Wikipedia.

But in the end, I agree with Yann that the target audiences are not
the same for all the projects, that they should not be, and that it
ensures that there is a place for all possible contributors and
I agree with Andreas and David Gerard that emotion is also a big part
of the rational reasons why we should not consider a change in the
"Wikipedia all" direction.
I agree with Kelly that we should be trying to shed more light on
other Wikimedia projects.
And I strongly disagree with your statement, which again is posed as a
rational reason, but which I believe is not, that the media pressure
is so big on the other Wikimedia projects that they all have to
achieve the success of Wikipedia. Where is it written that this is the
case? Have you polled the active communities in the other projects
about this? In any case, on this I agree with Brianna that hits in
Google are a lame unit to measure the success (or lack thereof) of a
project (and I agree with Brianna on millions of other things she

Most of all, I am convinced that although Wikipedia may be the best
known of our projects, our true mission (distribute free knowledge and
even "free" the knowledge) will be achieved on a much greater scale
through our other projects. It's Wikibooks you'll find in schools.
It's free images from Commons you find in the newspaper everywhere,
it's Wikisource academics are pointed to to have access to documents
that are found nowhere else... Not Wikipedia.

Wikipedia is an amazing tool to bring everyone to the core of our
mission. As such, we should protect it, brand and all. I don't
believe, however, that Wikipedia is some magic wand that suddenly
unites the whole world. It may sound cool to be called "Wikipedia
somethingorother" but it does not reflect our diversity, which I
believe is our greatest strength.


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