[Wikimedia-l] Banners are too bright, too long

Zack Exley zexley at wikimedia.org
Mon Dec 3 22:00:53 UTC 2012

Thanks for these comments everyone. I hate the auto-expanding and sticking
banners too!

But before I get into the discussion about banners, I want to deliver some
good news: After eight days of banners, we're free to take them down
completely until Dec 26th, when we'll re-launch for a final 6-day push.
That would mean a total of about 14 full days of banners for the 2012
fundraiser. (Though if you add up all our pre-campaign testing, it's more
like 16 days.)

That's 16 -- down from 46 days last year.

But instead of taking banners down completely, I would like to experiment
with showing new visitors (people who haven't seen any banners yet) only
one or a few banner impressions -- and do that between today and Dec 26.

Depending on the results of that experiment, we'll have some new options
for next year. I think that we'll see a way to not only eliminate the need
for expanding banners, but also to show the vast majority of users only a
few banners all year.

So here's what I think we're going to do for the rest of this campaign:

1) Let's go back to the clean, non-expanding, non-sticking banners that
many of us liked at the beginning of the fundraiser.

2) Until Dec. 26, let's show banners only one or a few times to people who
have not seen banners yet. Unfortunately, people with multiple computers,
or who clear cookies frequently, will see them more than once. But that the
vast majority of frequent Wikipedia users will stop seeing banners -- and
less frequent users will see just a few, between now and December 26. I
think we'll still be able to raise a couple million dollars between now and
December 26th this way.

3) On December 26th we'll probably need to raise another four or five
million dollars to meet our end-of-year goal of $25M (we have $18.5M so
far). So on December 26th, we'll raise the fundraising level. But depending
on how much we need we might be able to still hide banners after 5 or 10
views, or keep them non-sticky. We'll have a lot of choices.

4) When Dec 26 gets here, if we only need to raise a few million more, then
we would like to feature Victor's video about editors and make that the
closing message of this campaign. If we can't do that, then
we'll feature the video in thank you messages starting Jan 1.

That's the tentative plan. It may have to change. But it'll be something
like that. As I said above, we could also just take down banners completely
until Dec 26. But I would like to keep showing banners one time to people
who haven't seen them yet because of what we will learn.

And with what we learn, I think we'll have many more options next year --
and can either eliminate sticky banners, or show far fewer banners, or
smaller banners -- and hopefully never have to think of auto-expanding
banners again!

On the topic of banner color and design: I liked blue a lot more than
yellow/gold. But a lot of people like the gold better. We oddly get a lot
of positive comments about it in the donor survey many donors fill out
after giving. And it does significantly better than blue in the long term
as far as we can tell.

It amazing how differently we perceive the banners from most non-editing
and non-staff users. We get a ton of positive comments about these new
banners and people really don't see these new ones as ads. In general, they
see them as an informative message from Wikipedia. But I agree that the
sticky and auto-expand UI is not good for users, even if few complain about

I used to want to make them as small as possible, but after getting all
this feedback from donors, now I would rather swap in better information
that is less effective for fundraising but more valuable for the movement.
I'd love to include a couple sentences about how Wikipedia is made and who
makes it, and cut out a couple of those repetitive asks.

People love Wikipedia, and they love learning that we're a non-profit that
runs on donations. Most of them never would have guessed. And I'm happy
that these banners are waking the world up to this amazing and beautiful


On Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 1:13 PM, Michael Snow <wikipedia at frontier.com> wrote:

> On 12/3/2012 12:25 PM, Thomas Dalton wrote:
>> On 3 December 2012 20:11, Pavel Richter <pavel.richter at wikimedia.de>
>> wrote:
>>> "the thing we are selling to people" As I see it, we are not *selling
>>> *anything.
>>> Wikimedia provides a free encyclopedia to the public, and it promotes
>>> Free
>>> Knowledge worldwide. For this, we ask for donations, during a limited
>>> time
>>> each year, and with very humble messaging and banners. We do not have to
>>> be
>>> ashamed to do so.
>> The difference between fundraising and sales is pretty small - both
>> are about convincing people to part with their cash. We have to
>> convince people that donating money to us is a good idea in exactly
>> the same way a company needs to convince people that buying their
>> product is a good idea - you do that by emphasising your key selling
>> points. In our case, being ad-free is one of our key selling points,
>> which is the point Mono was making.
> Even if it's fair to equate fundraising banners with advertising, that
> only holds up as an argument for keeping the fundraiser as brief as
> possible. Once you accept that there will be such banners (and I believe we
> have, at least provisionally), it does not actually follow that the use of
> editorial principles from advertising is undesirable, which is essentially
> where this discussion started.
> Take, for example, the objection on account of the "painfully bright"
> banner colors. There is a well-established tradition in
> advertising-supported publication, one that long predates the internet,
> that considers it desirable to maintain a clear distinction between
> "advertising" and "editorial" content. Those who value this tradition tend
> to object strongly when advertising is designed in a way that blurs this
> distinction, aesthetically or otherwise. And yet, one of the concessions we
> keep pushing for from our fundraising is that it somehow merge into the
> background and not call attention to itself as being different from the
> rest of the site. To be honest, compared to past fundraisers, one of my
> reactions when I saw these banners was to think, "I don't find them
> especially attractive, but at least I can tell them apart from Wikipedia at
> a glance." From this perspective, that's an improvement on designs where
> the layout and color scheme is actually too integrated with the site, and
> the banner is just an overgrown site notice that could just as easily be
> informing me of some downtime for scheduled maintenance, or giving me some
> notification on my watchlist.
> That's not to say that I necessarily agree with all of the decisions that
> went into the current banners as to aesthetics or content. But I also don't
> have the expertise or all of the data that's behind those decisions, which
> is why I tend to reach a similar conclusion as Ziko. I trust that the
> fundraising team will attempt to balance all of these considerations, that
> they do listen to the concerns people have, and that they will make the
> best choices they can in light of the information available. Keeping that
> in mind usually helps me as I reflect on whether my own concerns are merely
> matters of personal taste or something more important.
> --Michael Snow
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Zack Exley
Chief Revenue Officer
Wikimedia Foundation
415 506 9225

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