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The Internet The Almighty Buck

Wikipedia Almost Reaches $6 Million Target 412

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-remember-what-heat-felt-like dept.
An anonymous reader noted a story discussing the aftermath of the Wikipedia fundraiser and says "The writer suggests that Wikipedia can earn $50-100 million a month by a simple text ad. He also suggests that contributors should be financially rewarded and that the lack of financial reward is the reason why 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive. What do you think? Should Wikimedia Foundation put ads on Wikipedia? Should contributors be financially rewarded? What compensation structure would be best?" Personally I think the independence of Wikipedia is great, and any advertising would not only compromise that integrity, but give contributors a sense of entitlement that the site is better off without.
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Wikipedia Almost Reaches $6 Million Target

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  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:02AM (#26279291)
    It really comes down to what Jimmy Whales and the foundation think (and can manage). Sure, me personally, I would be happy to have EVERYTHING advertiser-free (including the street full of annoying billboards near my house, all my favorite TV shows, etc.). But it really comes down to the question of whether Wikipedia can sustain itself on donations and goodwill alone. If they can, then great, more power to them! If not, I couldn't, in all fairness, fault them for allowing advertising or paying particularly useful contributors.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:16AM (#26279385)

      I would be happy to have EVERYTHING advertiser-free (including the street full of annoying billboards near my house,

      If you live in california, you might just be in luck. There was a recent article in the LA Times (I think, I ran across it in google news) about just how poorly billboard codes are enforced and how a bunch of regular citizens have had to take up the slack to get illegal billboards taken down. So it may well be that some of those annoying billboards really are illegal and all it takes is bitching loud enough to get them removed.

      Or, you could move to Hawaii where no billboards are allowed anywhere.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by omega_dk (1090143)
        They passed a law like 6 years ago to get a database of all signs to determine which billboards are illegal. Wanna know how much headway that's made? If you answered 'slim' to 'none,' you win!

        If you ask me, they should make it illegal to have a sign that's not registered, and tear down any that remain unregistered a month later. They've had six years to get their ducks in a row, so I have no sympathy if they can't get it done in a month. There needs to be an economic disincentive to not registering th

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by adamfranco (600246)

        No billboards here in Vermont either.

        As well, all business signs must be less than 1-story tall. No gas station signs or golden arches on giant towers here.

        To make up for the lack of billboards all businesses can get standardized road-sign-sized directional markers just before their turn off the main road. These have the same font as road signs, an arrow, and an optional miniature business logo. I personally find these directional markers very useful for finding and discovering businesses. Its wonderful to

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojoNO@SPAMworld3.net> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:21AM (#26279443) Homepage

      I think a lot more people would donate both time and money to Wikipedia if they just sorted out a few of their policies.

      The fact that a lot of good articles are getting deleted at the moment due to "not being notable enough" prevented me from giving them a penny.

      • by cavtroop (859432) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:09AM (#26279865)

        Yes, the 'notability' guidelines are for crap, really. Its completely arbitrary as to what the mod of the day thinks is 'notable' or not.

        • by Rutefoot (1338385) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:36AM (#26280245)
          The owner of a website I frequented was once added to Wikipedia. Moderators started debating whether him and his (albeit popular) website were notable enough for an entry. They pretty unanimously agreed that he was not.

          Which was great, because the owner most definitely did not want the article on the site. He signed up and politely requested the article removed (Something along the lines of:"I'd rather have a cactus shoved up my ass then see an article about me and my website on wikipedia. Did I mention the cactus would be on fire and covered in bees?")

          Almost immediately many of the moderators started rethinking their original decision and decided the topic was notable enough after all.

          So, I don't really see how it's arbitrary. It's clearly a spite based system.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by AmiMoJo (196126)

          The basic problem seems to be that the deletionists would rather delete a poor quality or "minority interest" articles. Poor articles can be improved, and since Wikipedia has unlimited storage capacity there is no reason to delete even borderline notable articles.

          A good example is the article on the Zenburn colour scheme. It's clearly quite a popular one, having been ported to many different editors, IDEs and even desktops. The problem is a lack of citable articles about it, making it fail the notability te

      • by julesh (229690) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:24AM (#26280067)

        The fact that a lot of good articles are getting deleted at the moment due to "not being notable enough" prevented me from giving them a penny

        I don't suppose you're doing something about this, like for instance dropping by WP:AFD and commenting on discussions of articles you don't think should be deleted? Or commenting on the discussion pages of WP:N and the other notability guidelines that you think they should be more relaxed?

        If a critical mass of users started doing this (and I see more than enough pissed off people _outside_ of the site to achieve this) then we could change the situation. As it is, I only see myself and one or two others. Plus the people who only seem to care about one or two articles. We need people committed to the cause of keeping all these articles.

        • by truthsearch (249536) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:44AM (#26280399) Homepage Journal

          Why? Why should a large group of random people over the internet fight to keep pages up on Wikipedia? I've browsed a number of talk pages and any disputes over policy come down to a single person's complaint and a bunch of WP regulars pounding on him/her for being wrong.

          So if the community most involved in WP doesn't want the articles, and the foundation running the site doesn't want to change their policies, then why should a group gather with pitchforks and fight? The site is obviously not interested, so go elsewhere. (Developers, for example, can follow the link in my sig.)

        • by solios (53048) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @12:47PM (#26281307) Homepage

          The issue there in my experience is the same problem we have with US politics - too many people who care far too much about their own interpretation of the notability policy are in positions of influence. We're talking the kind of people who live on wikipedia the same way some of us live on /. or IRC or WoW or AIM.

          It doesn't matter if we're right. What matters to them is we don't agree with them. So they'll stomp on us and shit on us and delete entries anyway, out of spite or some twisted logic that what was originally founded as a public resource is somehow divinely theirs.

          The wikipedia editors that push this crap are the internet equivalent of The Religious Right in american politics, and are about as open to reason. The only way to change the situation is to effectively usurp or remove the ruling influence.

          • by MikeURL (890801) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:25PM (#26282699) Journal
            Since Wikipedia relies heavily on unpaid contributors they MUST pay those contributors something. Currently they are being paid back in power within the Wikipedia system. There ARE lots of rules that make perfect sense but when it comes down to it most outsiders are up against employees who are being paid, primarily, in system admin power. This means that the system really must, almost by definition, always agree with the employees.

            In a lot of ways it is like online communism.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            > It doesn't matter if we're right. What matters to them is we
            > don't agree with them. So they'll stomp on us and shit on us
            > and delete entries anyway, out of spite or some twisted logic
            > that what was originally founded as a public resource is
            > somehow divinely theirs.

            In my opinion, I think you're wrong.

            The reason why I think you're wrong is because I see the role of these people is to prevent vandals from deleting the good information that other people have voluntarily put into the Wiki.

            Ce

    • by Djatha (848102) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:29AM (#26279517)
      No ads. No influence of Large Corporations, no influence of nation states either. I prefer my encyclopedias to be as free and transparent as possible: I want to be able to be the judge of the quality of the content. And beware for subsidies from international organizations like the EU or, heavens forbid, the UN. I prefer no encyclopedia over a sponsored encyclopedia with an agenda.
      • NPR for the Web (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:10AM (#26279875) Journal

        That long end of the "Free Lunch Buffet" is starting to catch up to us.

        Anything sufficiently large eventually accumulates overhead costs from vendors who want to be paid.

        We're all talking about ads here; Wikipedia recently went more the "Please Donate" NPR route. Other than creating another layer to manage, I'm almost smelling a fork. Maybe there's room for a Wiki variant paid for by ads, but also less strict on notability, etc. It would be known as a more rough&tumble cousin site, but if you liked Original Research blended into articles it could be interesting.

      • by DTemp (1086779) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:10AM (#26279877)

        Man everyone assumes malice and being able to be influenced by advertisers. You can be both ad sponsored AND not have an agenda. Newspapers do this by having a separate ad/biz department and news department... even the Editor In Chief at a newspaper has no say on the ads content. Wikipedia could produce a similar policy.

        They shouldn't pay contributors though, and they should only accept enough money to handle operations.

        • by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @12:44PM (#26281281)

          Newspapers do this by having a separate ad/biz department and news department... even the Editor In Chief at a newspaper has no say on the ads content. Wikipedia could produce a similar policy.

          You say this like somebody who has never worked for a magazine or a newspaper. In practice, the effectiveness of keeping ads as a separate department varies from place to place.

          Even in the places where it's strongest, the advertising is still a consideration. A journalist writing a major negative story on a major advertiser will know it. Their editor will know it too. Even if nobody says a word about it, there is still a conflict of interest, and conflicts of interest are incredibly hard to manage.

      • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:35AM (#26280217) Homepage

        I don't see how putting a little Google display ad at the top of every Wikipedia page would make the site in any way influenced by Google or anyone else. Yeah, it would be nice if there was an alternative to Google, and maybe the ads could be split (1/3 of pages get a Google ad, the other 2/3s split amongst the next 3 or 4 largest suppliers of display ads).

        What I do see as a problem is that if Wikipedia stopped running on a shoestring and started having $100M per year in revenue, it would change the controlling culture drastically, and that could be a big problem. Volunteers are there for the sharing of information, paid staffers are there for the paycheck, and (modern American) executives are there for the massive perks.

        I think a good compromise plan would be to establish a projected required operating budget (maybe $10M / year, growing at 10% per year until reaching $100M / year), and put up the display ads, rake in the cash far faster than they need it, set the excess aside in an endowment (hopefully invested wisely, whatever that means), and when the endowment can fund future operations from interest alone, kill the display ads.

        The big unknown in such a plan is whether the administrators could really be trusted to respect the terms of the endowment disbursement.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Just Some Guy (3352)

          I think a good compromise plan would be to establish a projected required operating budget (maybe $10M / year, growing at 10% per year until reaching $100M / year), and put up the display ads, rake in the cash far faster than they need it [...]

          Stop there. Why raise it faster than necessary? Surely Wikipedia could display ads on only a percentage of page views, tweaking the number as needed to maintain a neutral revenue.

          • by JoeMerchant (803320) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @02:29PM (#26282765) Homepage

            I think a good compromise plan would be to establish a projected required operating budget (maybe $10M / year, growing at 10% per year until reaching $100M / year), and put up the display ads, rake in the cash far faster than they need it [...]

            Stop there. Why raise it faster than necessary? Surely Wikipedia could display ads on only a percentage of page views, tweaking the number as needed to maintain a neutral revenue.

            I think a simple: "Why?" is in order... If you've got a cash generating machine and the ability to set up your own perpetual endowment, why would you throttle your income and risk financial hardship in the future?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by nametaken (610866)

              That's a business response to a business problem.

              His was an ethical response to an ethical/quality problem.

              You both have good points.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Uber Banker (655221)

        Wikipedia, in this most testing of Economic times, belt-tightening, and a period when many are worrying about their financial and career future, has reached it's target. So why the talk of ads? It has it's funding and doesn't need further. IMHO it's a great thing that they've raised their target and will be able to provide services for the coming year, and lay foundations further into the future.

        Wikipedia, and Wikimedia, are non-profits with a well defined remit. They've achieved target funding, far bet

    • It matters what "we" think because donors are influenced by public consensus, if pundits convince everybody that WP should put ads in then the number and amount of donations will decrease.

        What bothers me is that this pundits come every year with the same claims. I just hope Britannica or the like aren't behind this.

  • by renelicious (450403) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:07AM (#26279319)

    I have no problem with this at all. Many people choose to not "pay" for TV but in exchange they have to watch advertisements.

    I would rather put up with ads and still get to use the wikipedia free of charge than to loose it all together (or have to start paying for it.) I do the same thing here at Slashdot. ;)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:15AM (#26279379)

      The problem with an advertising model is that it could all too easily compromise Wikipedia's neutrality. It's a well-known problem, for example, that product reviews published in magazines can be unreliable due to pressure from advertisers. If Wikipedia became dependent on advertising, how could it resist such pressure?

      • by binarylarry (1338699) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:41AM (#26279615)

        True, however wikipedia has a lot more oversight.

        The magazine article is finalized when its published. Wikipedia can be changed at any time.

        Wikipedia is more like a discussion forum than a traditional encylopedia... which is what makes it more useful and typically more current and topical.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dubl-u (51156) *

          True, however wikipedia has a lot more oversight.

          Sort of. Unlike governments, Wikipedia is not even theoretically run by rules. It's run by individuals acting collectively. Sure, they come up with a lot of rules, but one of those rules is "ignore all rules".

          I think that's great, as it lets passionate people go get a lot done, and has kept bureaucracy from strangling the site dead, as it did with its predecessor, Nupedia, and as is apparently happening with Citizendium, a competitor launched by one of its founders.

          But I think this only works because Wikipe

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by daniduclos (1329089)

      Many people choose to not "pay" for TV but in exchange they have to watch advertisements.

      That's why I get pissed off by advertisements on cable TV (in BR, at least, that happens all the time): I pay for TV AND have to watch comercials. Worst of two worlds :(

  • by Davemania (580154) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:07AM (#26279323) Journal
    Maybe its my cynicism but using monetary rewards to encourage contribution (however it may be regulated) will only encourage users to find ways to exploit the system.
    • by yincrash (854885) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:59AM (#26279765)
      I think the only way it would be doable would be to have hired staff, rather than an incentive for normal users.
    • by Merusdraconis (730732) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @12:01PM (#26280675) Homepage

      The little I know of economic theory suggests that replacing intrinsic rewards - like the warm fuzzy feeling you get from contributing - with a small cash reward means that people will value contributing to Wikipedia at the price of the small cash reward. This is invariably less than the dollar amount they'd attach to an act of charity that also spreads knowledge.

      tl;dr: don't offer cash rewards for people doing things for fuzzy emotional reasons. It doesn't work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mollymoo (202721)

        Absolutely. It changes the mindset from a social norm to a market norm. Not only do you get a lot more out of people in social relationships than with a small cash reward, but it's extremely difficult to go back to a social norm once you have tried a market norm. If anybody ever gets paid to write for Wikipedia it will either require going the whole professional Britannica route, or Wikipedia will die. They couldn't afford to pay people what it would be worth, in cash terms in a market mindset, to do the wo

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dubl-u (51156) *

        Yes! That is exactly it.

        For those who want to read a whole book on the topic, see Punished By Rewards [alfiekohn.org]. It makes a very persuasive case that for a great swathe of human activity, reward systems look very appealing but actually undermine or wreck the behaviors you're trying to encourage.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by oncehour (744756)
        What you're referring to is known as the "Overjustification Effect". Essentially, when you offer a reward or payment for something that a person was originally willing to do for free, you shift their motivations completely.

        Rather than sticking with the intrinsic reasons such as providing knowledge for the good of mankind, making sure everything is up to date and correct, or imparting wisdom upon their "lessers", you've now forced them to focus their motivations on the extrinsic reason which is the reward
  • 1 cent per search (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BlueBoxSW.com (745855) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:09AM (#26279343) Homepage

    I think they should ask users to pay 1 cent per search.

    Not demand that they pay it, but simply ask them to.

    Track the # of searches for registered users and display it in the corner somewhere.

    • fees (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jasonhamilton (673330)

      good idea. 1 cent for them, 40 cents for the transaction fee. You really need to jump to $5+ to make it worthwhile. So how long do you think it will take an average user to hit 500 wikipedia searches? I don't know if I've ever visited that many pages.

      • Pretty soon, it could be like a Nexis search and cost an arm and a leg per search [1] [wikipedia.org].
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vlm (69642)

        good idea. 1 cent for them, 40 cents for the transaction fee. You really need to jump to $5+ to make it worthwhile.

        Ironically, you posted this on a site that "solved" the micropayment transaction cost problem by allowing large donations and then deducting pennies from the balance for each pageview. I was a slashdot subscriber in the early 2000s, and that's how it worked at that time. I also got interesting bonuses like seeing stories "earlier". Maybe I could pay to get access to a wikipedia thats not been savaged by those deletionist idiots?

        The bigger problem for wikipedia is allowing the legal system to weasel in vi

    • by Xelios (822510)
      Why not combine this with a text message system? I see these all over the place here in Germany, you send an SMS to a number and they bill you a few euro in exchange for a ringtone or whatever else they're offering. Even some charity organizations here are doing it. I no nothing about the infrastructure behind this, in fact if someone knows how it works I'd be interested in finding out.

      This way people could quickly give a small donation without the hassle of Paypal.
  • Probably because they don't know anything.

    I'm glad they're inactive. who would keep up with all of those crap changes?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's nothing of the sort. They're like me, drive-by fixers. There's no need to actively seek to make changes or be part of the wiki community. We just making minor corrections or additions, and maybe fix some spelling mistakes or typos when we're looking something up. After which, we get on with our lives elsewhere.

      Thank gawd they're not like you, with your sanctimonious attitude to everyone else. There would be less wiki users than openbsd developers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jank1887 (815982)
        and many of us drive-by'ers feel no need to register just to correct a few things. so the registred user number is really a meaningless piece of data.
      • We [...] fix some spelling mistakes or typos when we're looking something up. After which, it gets reverted by some pompous ass who's in the clique with all the other pompous asses.

        Fixed that for you.

  • by Techmeology (1426095) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:14AM (#26279371) Homepage
    One of Wikipedia's greatest strengths is it's non-commercialistic nature. As soon as advertisements are brought in, and money paid for contributors, the focus is lifted from the community, and brought back to money. I'd hate to see that happen. As a scientist, I find the drive to money to be a source of great impurity.
    • by gbjbaanb (229885)

      well, if they can add any number of adverts that are smaller than the 'OMG we're broke, give us cash' banner that's currently on wikipedia, I will be happy.

      Paying people to contribute (another way of putting the argument of rewarding people who contribute) will encourage the wrong kind of contributors, we don't want that. Stick 1 or 2 little adverts on and have done with it.

      Or contact the Gates foundation :)

  • by junglee_iitk (651040) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:15AM (#26279377)

    "He also suggests that contributors should be financially rewarded and that the lack of financial reward is the reason why 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive."

    Oh! The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

    On a side note, I heard that most content is generated by anonymous users. So why so stress on registered users?

    I would not be surprised if such a suggestion is accepted. Community needs care! :)

    • Your point is dead-on. I liked Wikipedia before the "community" took over. I remember when Wikipedia was compared to the "Hitchhikers Guide" and it was great.
      Now, they try to be a "real" encyclopedia. The problem is, it will never be a real encyclopedia. Quoting Wikipedia will not be considered a valid source.
      Quit worrying about content that isn't encyclopedia quality, and then maybe normal people will contribute again.
    • The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

      I turned my back on Wikipedia after a page I worked to clean up was deleted for not being "noteworthy". It wasn't high art, but I personally found it more interesting than the individual pages for each Pokemon. To each his own, I guess, but the 15-year-old powertripper who deleted the page I help to craft also deleted any desire for me to support Wikipedia. I'll still fix the occasional typo or grammar problem, but I don't waste my time with the bigger stuff or even bother logging in to do it.

      • This is why I want a Wiki Cousin site that has looser rules. "Yes, it's even less valid to quote", but it would handle pages like yours. I lost a big edit a while back too. Some of the really obscure topics have a "resident captain" who will delete things for what might be subjective reasons. (Or the "right" reasons, but again you'd want your subsidiary page version on tap to express yourself".

        There used to be Filenes & Filene's Basement. Filenes was staid, proper, ... and priced that way. Filene's Base

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      The writer couldn't be farther from truth. 98.3% of users are inactive because rest of the 1.7% users have formed a self-serving "community", and most people who are contributing in their spare time don't have the energy and will to fight their way inside this community.

      You don't need to fight your way inside the community per-se, but there's definitely a massive cliquishness to the whole thing that makes it stink like month-old fish.

  • by onion2k (203094) * on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:16AM (#26279387) Homepage

    The article makes a perilous, and all too common, assumption - that the addition of adverts will make no difference to the way users respond to the site. It's getting 10 billion hits now, but would "a simple text advert" drive any of them elsewhere? Would the text advert drive away contributors who are basically what Wikipedia is selling? Would someone else fork wikipedia and set up an ad-free rival?

    It's easy to think that massive traffic now equates to massive traffic forever, and you can monetize that traffic without upsetting people, but you can't. It's that simple. Introducing big changes (and it would be a BIG change) would have far-reaching consequences that I don't believe the article writer has fully considered.

    • by glop (181086) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:53AM (#26279701)

      I thought there could be an opt-in for ads.
      People who want to support wikipedia could choose to view it with a couple ads.
      Then they could show ads to the people who opted in.
      They could even stop showing ads when they have enough money to pay for bandwidth, servers and whatever.
      As a result, nobody would be pissed off and since the money stops pouring in when there is too much of it, we reduce the pressure to pay contributors back as the money was only to pay for the operating costs.

    • Would the text advert drive away contributors who are basically what Wikipedia is selling?

      I'm not sure I understand this thinking. Why should I, as a potential contributor, turn away from Wikipedia because it carried advertising? Now I certainly have no interest in working for free so someone else can profit, but if the money went to a non-profit that did good things with it (such as keeping Wikipedia online), I don't see the conflict.

  • by gandhi_2 (1108023) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:16AM (#26279389) Homepage

    I can understand the idea that by accepting advertising dollars, you somehow compromise your journalistic integrity.

    NPR (I am pretty right wing, but NPR is the only non-braindead radio in my area) does a good job of what is called a firewall [findarticles.com] whereby editorial teams are separated from funding decisions and funding teams are not included in editorial decisions.

    It's pretty reasonable that Wikimedia could do the same thing. I know, not having ads separates wikipedia from the rest of the icky for-profit websites out there...but as another /. poster pointed out: begging for money all the time isn't a business model.

    • "begging for money" (Score:3, Informative)

      by saibot834 (1061528)

      begging for money all the time isn't a business model.

      No, it's not a business model. It's a way of keeping up a non-profit website.

      You see, most people think ads are the easy way out of a financial situation that could well be improved.
      They're not. These are the reasons why ads suck:
      1. Ads suck for the reader. If a user visits Wikipedia, he wants information, not ads. Ads distract the user from what he wants (granted, big banners asking for donations kind of do the same, even though they suck less)
      2. The "c

  • by sam0vi (985269) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:20AM (#26279435)

    1. Keep them simple: no flashy "shoot the monkey and win $10,000" kind of ads.

    2. Make them context sensitive but not insensitive: No porn ads on "Erectile disfuction" articles.

    3. Try to use the ads for the common good: focus on open and innovative initiatives

    4. Make some sort of mechanism for users to rate the ads (other than by (not)clicking on them)

    Any more ideas on the subject?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gmac63 (12603)

      Very similar to how Public Broadcast System in the US used to work.

      ie: "Sunkist Raisins proudly supports PBS programming and the development of young minds through proper nutrition"

      Neutral and relevant to the theme of PBS and still gets advert message across.

      • by Dun Malg (230075) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:16PM (#26281765) Homepage

        Very similar to how Public Broadcast System in the US used to work.

        ie: "Sunkist Raisins proudly supports PBS programming and the development of young minds through proper nutrition"

        Neutral and relevant to the theme of PBS and still gets advert message across.

        I've never much cared for that stuff. "Sponsorship" where the advertiser still gets mentioned by name and function is just advertising to a different type of audience. In the early days of television and radio, the above is exactly how regular advertising was done.

  • Public Traded... (Score:3, Informative)

    by jellomizer (103300) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:20AM (#26279439)

    I would say no but not for that Lame reason the author mentioned. Wikipedia is a not for profit organization (NPO), the real difference between a NPO and a For Profit Organization (FPO) oddly enough isn't profit NPO reason for being a NPO because they just account it as Excess Revenue, then treat it internally like profit. But the Excess Revenue for a NPO should go to focus on its mission. So you have excess revenue well put the money in the bank and use it for a dry spell, or to help expand Wikipedia. But giving the Profit back to the "Share Holders" makes it a for profit organization. Once they do that they will loose all their NPO advantages, as well the subconscious ones. You are not going to donate $5 - $50 dollars of a for profit organization, who makes enough to pay the people and keep operating efficiency. You are not donating to Wikipedia if you expect a monetary return form you investment. Within time you will get some investors who are so heavily invested in Wikipedia that Wikipedia will need to take strong considerations of their interests.

    But for things like adds effecting the content. I doubt it... Most internet adds go threw companies ie Double Click / Google.... And bitting the hand that feeds them doesn't normally get them in to much trouble especially with public generated content. If Wikipedia was a Blog or had some ways of tightly controlling its content I would say advertisements could effect the service. However the danger is not by adds but paying the investors, who can change the direction of Wikipedia Corp. To do what will maximize profit.

  • by UPZ (947916)
    From my understanding, the goal of wikipedia is to create a knowledge base free for all people. Are they successful in that goal? I'd say yes. Even with 98.3% inactive users and only $6 million in contributions? I'd say yes.

    It would be nice if wikipedia had more money or had more participation. Yet it does not seem like a big deal since neither were wikipedia's goals. Personally, I like the free from advertisements feature and I'd be glad to donate some to keep seeing that (did some yesterday!).
  • I would not want for myself, monetary rewards for editing Wikipedia. Also "paid for contributors" might be willing to compromise in order to keep money coming, by making their contributions more "attractive" than more "correct". On the other hand I would not object to see one or two ads per day in Wikipedia, if it would help the finances of Foundation. They can use extra money for hiring more editors, instead of only relying on contributors.
  • Integrity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:29AM (#26279509)

    Why does everyone think as soon as you start to throw up billboards and advertisements that the organization in question has become unethical? Wiki provides a service to the community. Do you think those services are free? The internet has many services that are free except for advertising, simply because publishing information is very cheap (but not free). Even this website you're reading this comment on is supported by advertising. I don't think wikipedia should be any different from a million other websites that are supported by advertisements.

    There are only a few other options here;

    Micro-payments. Hahahaha! lolz. Great idea, but where's the infrastructure? In other news, where are those fleets of alternative-fuel cars? Oh yeah... On the drawing board, waiting for the infrastructure to be built.

    Fee-based. Sure, charge maybe $12 a year for access to wikipedia... aaaaand 95% of their userbase says "Oh screw that" and the site tanks. This is pretty much committing suicide online to attempt this; Very few websites have survived the transition.

    Subsidized. You know, like the BBC. Quality content, paid for by your tax dollars. Ah, wait... This is the United States and we ere hates dem dar communist bullshiat.

    Clearly, advertisements is the best way to go for wiki.

    • Re:Integrity? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Mr. Slippery (47854) <(tms) (at) (infamous.net)> on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:58AM (#26279755) Homepage

      Why does everyone think as soon as you start to throw up billboards and advertisements that the organization in question has become unethical?

      When a publisher gets paid by advertisers, those advertisers have tremendous influence over what gets published. When the evening news is "brought to you by Amalgamated Profits, Inc.!", don't expect to see any coverage of that company's shady dealings.

      If the Encyclopedia Britannica had ads for Pepsi on the endpapers of each volume, would you trust its entry on Coca-Cola?

      There are only a few other options here...

      And then there's the one that they're using, and that is working: asking for donations.

    • I don't see the cause for panic. The donations system appears to work great. I just donated $10 through paypal when I saw the funding drive. It's easily the most useful website online and is ad-free. If $6M/year covers the expenses, we could do this every year no problem with the 150M/month visitor base. Why risk a working system with an inherently contradictory, alienating revenue model that is ads ?
  • I think that the writer needs to start his own encyclopedia and run it as he sees fit. I'm sure he'll make lots of money.

  • by Vellmont (569020) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:32AM (#26279533)

    So some guy with a blog makes a post claiming that Wikipedia needs to change. I missed the part where there was a problem.

    The facts are that the goal is within spitting distance. They're 97% of the way their. So what's the problem with this model?

    As for the 98% dormant figure, it's irrelevant. Isn't what we care about if Wikipedia is expanding its coverage, increasing it's quality, and serving more people? The percentage of active people could be 1%, it could or it could be 50% and that wouldn't necessarily impact quality, scope, or number served.

    (I'm also fairly sure quality, scope, and number served are increasing, but I have no evidence to support that).

  • Wikipedia could thrive with benefits from both worlds.

    Solid, intuitive research doesn't come free. Even research in colleges is based on funding. In fact, university professors spend most of their time finding funding for research projects. This is why they're not in the class rooms. It's the research project funding that keeps them at the university.

    Researchers would post their studies of all different topics if they could see a financial benefit from doing so. Otherwise, they go around chasing public

  • They couldn't pay me enough to work on Wiki[pm]edia, on the other hand I do it for free.
  • Another solution would be to not allow anonymous contributors, and have content subject to academic scrutiny. ie. Place significant control in the hands of an academic based board. The site would be eligible for grants from the library of congress, other education oriented grants, and direct contributions from academia. Getting the "contributing community" that surrounds Wikipedia to give up that much freedom would probably be very difficult. But, balancing security and freedom can be a measure of ego.

  • It's probably a reasonable assumption that at least 98.5% of the population is unfit to post articles on Wikipedia so that 98.3 number is meaningless.

  • by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:41AM (#26279619)
    It shows a very poor understanding of human psychology. Go to this page [pbwiki.com] and do a text search for "drag circles". For boring tasks (such as maintaining Wikipedia), people actually perform worse when they're paid money. If you want the best work out of someone, don't pay them.
  • by GCZFFL (875085) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @10:44AM (#26279655)
    While I would hate to see ads on Wikipedia, I would hate it more if Wikipedia were to close its doors. Therefore I would take the lesser to two evils in this scenario, and go with the ads, but again, only if it was to avoid the financial demise of Wikipedia. This is a non-profit organization, so I would think it should be fairly clear what "required" means from a financial standing. Regarding the second question, I personally don't believe contributors should be financially rewarded. Currently, people contribute to a topic they're knowledgeable about because they have a passion in that topic. If there was a monetary reward involved, people would apply far less integrity to their content.
  • How would that even come close to functioning currently? I could create a page for myself, and then get paid to add/edit content about my daily life.

    Now I would assume that's an extreme example of how it could go badly, but I already get annoyed with their editors now for complaining about trivia sections or removing pop culture/gaming/interesting articles because they aren't relevant long term. How bad would it be if people were expecting payment, and someone decided their content wasn't relevant enoug
  • One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that people stop contributing is the lack of financial reward.

    I think this is nonsense. The reason people stop contributing is because the articles they are interested in are eventually pretty well fleshed out. There is nothing left to contribute. Eventually, we reach a point where pretty much all that can be said about a subject is written.

  • Someone looking up plumbing finds an ad for plumbers...
    Someone looking at the London listing finds hotel and air travel...
    Someone looking up nukes gets an ad for the FBI...

    A simple google ad, text only, wouldn't kill off anything that Wikipedia is trying to accomplish.

    However the idea of paying people to moderate, edit, or create articles is a horrid idea. The reason I trust Wikipedia is because it's run by the commons and while they don't get everything right, they get more right than most encyclopedias a

  • If I had a web site as popular as Wikipedia I'd be milking that sucker for advertising dollars hand over fist.

    Wikipedia is a great service. I would not mind advertisements on it any more than I mind them on Slashdot. I ignore them, Slashdot get paid, I get to enjoy Slashdot. All is well.

  • I'm sorry, but I think the dangers of Wikipedia accepting advertising are overstated, at least so long as it's kept fairly anonymous. A simple Google text ad creates almost no possibility of feedback between Wikipedia editors and contributors and the advertiser themselves. I suppose that it could, in theory, create some kind of tie to Google, but even that could be avoided by splitting business between various Internet advertising providers (and don't I recall that Wikipedia already takes money from Googl
  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @11:13AM (#26279929)
    and have come to seriously question its veracity of late, because just in the last couple of years, nearly every article to which I tried to contribute had a band of "campers" hanging around it, who were much more interested in maintaining their own version of the truth via the preferential enforcement of technicalities in Wikipedia's rules, than they were in the truth content of said articles.

    If you want to insist that I cite examples, then use the example of the article on naked short selling in the stock market. If you are not familiar with that case, look it up. It is hardly an isolated case.

    Wikipedia was a good idea, but it has been seriously corrupted by people like these, and the foundation has not done anything to address the problem. On the contrary, it has, in some cases, supported people who have worked hard to keep certain articles inaccurate.

    They don't get any of my money until they take serious measures to address this problem. Unless they do, Wikipedia will continue to go downhill... just as it would deserve.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by solios (53048)

      nearly every article to which I tried to contribute had a band of "campers" hanging around it, who were much more interested in maintaining their own version of the truth via the preferential enforcement of technicalities in Wikipedia's rules, than they were in the truth content of said articles

      Clearly Wikipedia is an MMO for people who lack the hardware for World of Warcraft.

  • I'm a contributor because I noticed something in Wikipedia that I could provide more details on. Now and then I've fixed typos or updated articles, in passing, as a user.

    That doesn't mean I feel any obligation to roam the wikisphere and poke my nose in everywhere I can, or obsess about the details of one entry.

    If most people are like me (and I'm not claiming they are, but if they are) then most contributors are going to be idle most of the time, only contributing when they notice some place they can, you kn

  • 98.3% (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TorKlingberg (599697) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @12:05PM (#26280749)
    98.3% of registered users are inactive because they created an account edited something and forgot all about it. What percentage of registered Slashdot accounts are active?

    About advertising, some people seem to thing of it as money for nothing. It's not, you are selling something. In Wikipedia's case its integrity.

    The fundraiser seems to have met its goal, and if that is ever a problem there is some fat to cut from the foundation expenses before ads are necessary.
  • by damburger (981828) on Wednesday December 31, 2008 @01:07PM (#26281615)

    But it may be too late anyway.

    In my experience, the Wikipedia community has been deteriorating for some time now. I suspect the percentage of people inactive was lower than 98.3% a year or two ago, but people have been driven away.

    Most pages of any significance have a group of people that have appointed themselves overseers, and resist new additions on general principle. Often, they have a collective ideology slant and have chased off everyone who disagrees in any significant way. In this state, the odd person coming along and trying to modify the article against the views of the established mass is shouted down, accused of going against consensus, and chased off. If you took all editors of an article over all time, there would be a completely different consensus than the momentary ones that occur when a single dissenter arrives.

    Adding monetary incentives would make this worse. It would make the local tribes more militant and more powerful, finally ending the principle of a free encyclopedia that anyone can edit.

    Wikipedia was an interesting and important social experiment, but I think it is past its peak and is due to decline. I personally believe that history will be more interested in the talk pages and edit logs than the content itself.

    • People arrive and leave. Even if the number of stable users stays static, or grows at a rate slower than that of new people arriving, the proportion of active users will drop. Hell, look at Slashdot--total contribution volume by commenters is larger than it was, but the vast majority of accounts are dead.

      You may as well say that the percentage of dead projects on SourceForge and Freshmeat mean that nobody's contributing to those sites.

      If you took all editors of an article over all time, there would be a completely different consensus than the momentary ones that occur when a single dissenter arrives.

      Well, yes. That's what consensus means. People who join Wikipedia and int

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