[Foundation-l] Rethinking Brands

Andrew Whitworth wknight8111 at hotmail.com
Tue May 15 19:37:12 UTC 2007

>... we continue to suffer from the single largest
>source of confusion, the Wikipedia/Wikimedia similarity. In fact, we
>amplify it if we call Wikipedia the "Wikimedia Encyclopedia".

Renaming all the projects (except wikipedia) to correct the confusion 
between wikipedia/wikimedia is similar to trying to kill a fly with a 
bazooka, except you aren't even aiming the bazooka at the correct fly. 
Consider the "problem" experianced by brands such as "Band-Aid", where 
people tend to refer to all self-adhesive bandages by that name. The 
benefits of ubiquitous brand recognition far outweigh the confusion 
generated by calling something "wikipedia" when it is not "wikipedia".

>Given the generic
>nature of the "wiki" prefix, there will also be an ever-increasing
>overlap with legitimate ventures.

We could be so lucky. Apple puts out the iPod and the iTunes, and now all 
sorts of companies are getting onto the iBandwagon. Is there overlap with 
the "i" prefix? yes. Does it only benefit Apple's name recognition? yes.

>For the names that are based on real words like
>"news" or "-pedia", the number of variants is much larger still, and
>you get names like "Viquinot?cies", "Wikinotizie", "Wiki?tiri", all
>referring to the same project.

Sounds more like a local problem then a global one. What should likely be 
done is a memo should be sent out saying "These are the official brand names 
of the WMF, and any translations, mispellings, or adaptations of these names 
are not protected by the WMF". I refer to wikibooks as "that place on line 
where I write textbooks", but that doesnt mean you should have to copyright 
and protect that.

>People may complain that giving the Wikipedia brand primacy is
>horribly unfair. But it is already part of WMF's trademark strategy,
>which is organized in tiers where we pursue the highest level of
>protection for brands of high significance.

What I want to know is if anybody would be in favor of this idea if we were 
debating renaming Wikipedia? If wikipedia's community wasn't happy with it, 
it certainly wouldn't even be proposed. That's hardly the issue, however. If 
wikipedia's brand has the most name recognition and is used most often in 
the press or by spammers or whoever, then you spend more money to protect 
that brand. "to each according to need" is certainly a fine guiding 
principle. If another project became as popular or even more popular then 
wikipedia, then focus would likewise have to change in the protection 

>In my opinion, it is much more honest to give a project a spin-off
>name like "Wikipedia News" _unless_ you are also willing to afford the
>same level of protection to its name _and_ its officially recognized
>variants that you give to Wikipedia.

In my opinion, it is much more honest to create a project that has the 
potential to reach an equal level of success and independence as wikipedia 
has reached. Not all (not many) of the projects will ever reach that level, 
of course, but crippling them from the beginning as being simply an offshoot 
of a "good project" is lousy.

>One way to address the community concerns is to define criteria (clear
>milestones, annual review, etc.) for a project to receive its own
>name. Much like we qualified some projects as "beta", having them
>officially associated with Wikipedia would recognize that their
>reality doesn't yet reflect our ambitions.

Why not associate them with "Wikimedia" instead? Wikipedia is not an 
incubator for new WMF projects, and siphoning strength from wikipedia to 
produce new projects seems counter-productive to me. I do agree that 
projects should be asked to meet certain milestones, although you risk 
losing lots of good contributors just because they speak an unpopular 

>Arguably, if we do recognize at least the _potential_ for projects to
>obtain independent brands, the organization should not be called
>"Wikipedia Foundation" -- perhaps it needs a different name entirely.

Taking the brands away now would likely mean losing them forever. You are 
right that spammers tend to plan ahead, and if we give up some of our 
copyrights like "wikibooks" or "wikiversity" now, what do you think are the 
odds that we would ever get them back again? In essence, making people 
"earn" a brand name over a period of time is essentially denying them a 
brand for all eternity, unless the WMF was willing to put out the effort and 
the money to reaquire them at a later date, which seems harder to me then 
simply maintaining them.

--Andrew Whitworth

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