Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Wikipedia News

Wikipedia Meets $16M Budget Goal 255

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the burn-that-portrait dept.
netbuzz writes "Thanks to some 630,000 individual contributions that averaged $22 apiece, Wikipedia has reached its fundraising goal of $16 million, founder Jimmy Wales announced over the weekend. Writes Wales, '... this year is a little more incredible than most because this year we celebrate Wikipedia's tenth anniversary. It's so important that we kick the year off just like this: by fully funding the Wikimedia Foundation's budget to support Wikipedia and all the sister projects as we head into the next decade of our work together.' The online encyclopedia now boasts of being the Internet's fifth largest site, which renews questioning by some as to whether it can afford over the long haul to stand by its policy of refusing advertising."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Wikipedia Meets $16M Budget Goal

Comments Filter:
  • I think we are increasingly moving toward a model where people will subscribe to sources of information/entertainment if they don't want to see the ads, or they will get a free version that includes ads (and possibly presents other limitations in format or content).

    Wouldn't surprise me to see Wikipedia go this way.

    • Wouldn't surprise me to see Wikipedia go this way.

      This is fine reasoning, even the opinion article linked to advocates this. But there is an important issue that needs to be addressed first and that is how ads are handled for each particular page. Google's highest bidder model is what I am most afraid of. These don't even have to be selling advertisements. For example if I went to the page on Anti-lock Braking Systems I would suspect automakers would pay large amounts of money to be the ad banner for that page with the simple statement of '<highest bidding automaker> provides the #1 ABS with a safety rating surpassing all others.'

      And, though insanely lucrative, a part of me fears that this would really disrupt or even destroy the concept of a peer reviewed encyclopedia. When I edit a page and look at it, I don't want to see some banner ad with lies or half-truths at the top of it and you know as well as I that that is exactly what advertising degrades to. The problem is that online advertising has become so savvy that these pages would specifically be targeted en mass by manufacturers and bid on through whoever provides the advertising for Wikipedia. And I will make the statement that giving them the ability to put advertising would be severely detrimental to the integrity for Wikipedia ... if not for no one else than at least to a high degree for me.

      • So why don't they do an Opt In ad system? I use wikipedia a lot, and I'm willing to see ads on it. Unlike other sites, Wikipedia can make the ad section blatantly obvious, so to distinguish between ads and content. You'd still have advertisers falling over themselves to advertise there.

        Allowing the users to enable ads would be a nice way to supplement my $30 donation.

        • by tnk1 (899206)
          I agree with this, although honestly, if they can continue to make ends meet through donations, I think they should continue to do so until they project that they simply can't. And with good management, continued focus, and more than a little luck, that time may never come. I think they will be okay as long as they don't suddenly go berserk with some sort of flashy, expensive boondoggle project.

          There is also my concern that once advertising shows up, a Somebody Else's Problem field might pop-up around Wik
        • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:17PM (#34744326) Homepage Journal

          Wikipedia can make the ad section blatantly obvious, so to distinguish between ads and content.

          I think you missed eldavojohn's point. The fear is that the ads will inevitably leak into the content -- that is, not only will you have the "blatantly obvious" ads on some separate section of the page, you'll also have content rewritten to push products. And this fear is quite justified. Any time you take money from someone, you have aligned your interests with theirs. We /.ers love to complain, with good reason, about the "Senator from Disney" and the blatant corporate spin in the mass media, and it's easy enough to see why this happens: campaign contributions and advertising money set the agenda. There's no particular reason to assume Wikipedia would be immune to this sort of corruption.

          • Good point.

            I could think of a few ways to combat that, non-contextual ads, or corporate sponsors, but both of those would come with their own pitfalls too. Although corporate sponsors has worked to a certain degree for NPR, they might not be the right thing for Wikipedia.

            Anyway, they made their goal with donations, so maybe the argument is moot.

          • It already is. Jason Scott has done some presentations on this.

      • And, though insanely lucrative, a part of me fears that this would really disrupt or even destroy the concept of a peer reviewed encyclopedia.

        If Wikipedia were a peer reviewed encyclopedia, that would be a valid fear. But it isn't. Never has been.

        Wikipedia started as a community review encyclopedia that anyone could edit - regardless of their actual expertise. That kinda worked for a while, but now that model has been replaced by Wikipedia The Role Playing Game where to goal is to accumulate poin

      • by Thing 1 (178996)
        Editable ads!
    • by Anthony Mouse (1927662) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:17AM (#34743718)

      I think we are increasingly moving toward a model where people will subscribe to sources of information/entertainment if they don't want to see the ads, or they will get a free version that includes ads (and possibly presents other limitations in format or content).

      Wouldn't surprise me to see Wikipedia go this way.

      Honestly, I would expect them to stay just the way they are, if they want to badly enough. Think about it: They're already the fifth most popular website. They are unlikely to become substantially more popular than that, which means that their operation costs are already close to their peak level. Now consider this:
      1) The cost of bandwidth and servers, which has got to be some large fraction of their expenses, go down over time.
      2) They made their financing goal for this year, a year in which by (1) their costs are likely to be higher than in future years.

      Also, $16M in the scheme of things is not a lot of money. If that's their yearly budget then all it would take is one billionaire to provide them a $350M or so endowment in a will or something and they would be set forever just on the interest. (That is, once interest rates get back above 0% again.)

      Realistically, the biggest threat to Wikipedia is ISPs violating network neutrality. If Wikipedia had to pay whatever tithe each ISP decided they were entitled to in order to reach their subjects, that could explode their costs pretty quickly and require them to seek other sources of funding.

      • ... or Wikipedia could just refuse to pay a single penny, and go ahead and let that ISP cut them off (or degrade the performance to the point of frustration/unusability). Within 2 days that ISP's support lines would be flooded with angry callers wondering what happened to the source of information they pretty much rely on to run their lives.
        • by tepples (727027)

          Within 2 days that ISP's support lines would be flooded with angry callers wondering what happened to the source of information they pretty much rely on to run their lives.

          ISP's reply: "Add Wikipedia to your plan for just $2.99 per month for the first 24 months, plus tax and franchise fees."

      • by nbauman (624611) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:11PM (#34744260) Homepage Journal

        TFA misses the point.

        He's used to dealing with companies whose goal is to make money.

        The goal of Wikipedia is not to make money.

        The goal is to have reliable, objective information, and it's an ongoing effort to do that already.

        Advertising will make it worse. If Pepsi-Cola is a major advertiser, will that affect the presence of unflattering material on Pepsi-Cola's page? The experience of advertiser influence on print and broadcasting media is that it will.

        Financial analysts made similar recommendations for Craigslist. Craigslist could make more money if they took advertising. But the purpose of Craigslist wasn't to make money. Craig already had money. He wanted to do something cool.

        It's like saying, "Your household is operating according to the wrong model. If your wife were to work as an escort, and if you were to sell your children for body parts, you could make a lot more money." But the purpose of your household isn't to maximize your income.

      • by Seumas (6865)

        I think we are increasingly moving toward a model where people will subscribe to sources of information/entertainment if they don't want to see the ads, or they will get a free version that includes ads (and possibly presents other limitations in format or content).

        Wouldn't surprise me to see Wikipedia go this way.

        Honestly, I would expect them to stay just the way they are, if they want to badly enough. Think about it: They're already the fifth most popular website. They are unlikely to become substantially more popular than that, which means that their operation costs are already close to their peak level.

        Not to mention, "subscribe to remove ads" in absolutely no way addresses the real problem. If you have included, censored, removed, or otherwise modified some piece of content to appease a sponsor (either by sense of obligation or direct demand), then the damage is already done. Whether or not there is also a banner ad from the company along side it -- or it has been removed because I gave you cash -- is irrelevant.

      • by tepples (727027)

        The cost of bandwidth and servers, which has got to be some large fraction of their expenses, go down over time.

        The number of users goes up over time, as does the amount of data that Commons is expected to push out due to the introduction of larger pictures, audio, and video.

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      And us, geek communist elitist, navigate throught this thanks to AdBlock and NoScript, thinking no one will ever think about doing the same...
  • Hey! (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:35AM (#34743344)

    You're not supposed to cite Wikipedia!

  • by Pojut (1027544) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:35AM (#34743356) Homepage

    ...I'd be fine with advertising on Wikipedia, so long as it's the silent, non-flyover non-flash on-topic kind. Actually, Google Adwords would go perfectly on there...it would remain unobtrusive, stay topical, and provide some income.

    • by corsec67 (627446)

      Except that Google Adwords has requirements about the content, which is why Wikipedia doesn't do that: they don't want to be restricted to what the advertiser wants.

      (For example, Google might consider the "Bikini Waxing" article to be porn)

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        Isn't there an option in AdWords to use a preselected set of advertising if no "automatically generated" advertising is found based on the web page? As in, couldn't they just leave the adwords box blank for certain pages? It wouldn't be that hard to automate, if what I'm thinking is accurate...

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        Well don't do add words but use an Adwords type system. No pop overs, no pop unders, no flash, and no animation. Being the 5th most popular site on the web would mean that companies would flock to it. If they kept the cost low they would get a lot of business.

    • by cdrudge (68377)

      ...and easily blocked by a variety of add-ons/extensions/adblockers. Works for me.

    • I've been saying this for a while, and I'm sure advertisers have been foaming at the mouth. I don't see anything wrong with non-invasive ads that are topical to the page I'm viewing. If I'm reading a history article maybe I would actually click on an ad that shows some related books at amazon.
      • by tukang (1209392)
        Maybe a lot of articles will suddenly become related to products. Pass
        • by BeanThere (28381)

          A lot of articles already are just about products on Wikipedia, but only for big companies. I find this a bit odd ... smaller companies can't have articles about their products on Wikipedia because that would supposedly be commercial and biased, but bigger companies / products can. I understand that some products are so pervasive in so many peoples' lives that they become "notable", but it feels a bit fuzzy somehow to be drawing an arbitrary line somewhere and saying "this company we'll advertise for free f

      • The invasive ads get a substantially higher click-through rate. That's why so many advertisers use them. Plus you can present a lot more information in a flash rollout that covers have the screen than you can in a little ad-banner.
    • Wikipedia might be a good candidate for opt in advertising. Leave ads out by default, but give us the option of indirectly paying for usage. Who knows, opt in ads on Wikipedia might even be able to generate more revenue per view than most places.

    • by melikamp (631205)

      Google Adwords would go perfectly on there...it would remain unobtrusive, stay topical, and provide some income

      Provide some income, yes. The rest is subjective, and for many people false. When I look up encyclopedic or scientific information, any ad on the same page would be obtrusive and not topical: I did not ask for this information, and it has NOTHING to do with my query. When I look up "shoe" in an encyclopedia, I want to see encyclopedic material, not a link to nike.com. This is because Nike provides actual shoes, and not objective factual information about shoes. In fact, Nike is notorious for bullshitting an

    • by mu22le (766735)

      You know... someone should take the tame to setup a wikipedia mirroro with addwords, encourage people to use that instead of the original wikipedia and then donate the revenue to the wikimedia foundation. Just to give Jimbo a taste of the idea.

  • Begging (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Is begging for donations every year really a viable model for one of the most popular websites in the world?

    • Re:Begging (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jhoegl (638955) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:38AM (#34743374)
      Ask NPR, it has been their business model for quite some time.
      • Re:Begging (Score:5, Insightful)

        by at_slashdot (674436) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:55AM (#34743520)

        Sometimes I feel like I prefer the ads than the constantly begging for money...

        • Re:Begging (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Rude Turnip (49495) <valuation@gmail. c o m> on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:21AM (#34743760)

          I prefer to put my money where my mouth is and support public radio. After not watching any commercial news for probably the last few years and just relying on NPR and BBC for the most part, I happened to visit a relative when the TV news came on. I am not exaggerating when I say the news show had a jittery cartoon-like appearance in its speech and presentation style. And it was mostly commercials. That is the mindless garbage you get when you let someone else pay for your news.

          • by GooberToo (74388)

            In all honestly, unless you are getting your news via radio or over the air broadcast, YOU did pay for the news.

            Cable and satellite owners pay for programming via their extremely high subscription rates whereby the service provider then turns around and collects fees to place commercials. They are double dipping - only you have absolutely no say in what you receive in exchange for your subscription fees.

        • Re:Begging (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Blue Stone (582566) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:44AM (#34743966) Homepage Journal

          >Sometimes I feel like I prefer the ads than the constantly begging for money...

          Indeed ... until, I's warrant, you have reason to consider the power and influence the companies that adverise, then exert over the content broadcast.

          Corporate censorship is pernicious as government censorship (esp. as we've seen recently where the two walk arm-in-arm).

        • Re:Begging (Score:4, Insightful)

          by melikamp (631205) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:11PM (#34744266) Homepage Journal
          That's great, because Wikimedia is not begging. They would be begging if they gave you nothing in return. As it stands, they encourage you to become a patron. When people slander them by calling them beggars, it only shows how little these people appreciate the Foundation's work.
        • Re:Begging (Score:5, Interesting)

          by nbauman (624611) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:25PM (#34744398) Homepage Journal

          Over the last 50 years, cigarette companies were the biggest advertisers in women's magazines. Half their ad pages might be cigarette ads.

          Women's magazines warned about every cancer but one -- lung cancer. For 50 years, health coverage was a major topic for women's magazines, but they pointedly avoided any mention of the health effects of cigarettes. The editors of these magazines admitted it, and it's been proven in published academic studies. Or you can just go to the library and look at them.

          Conversely, the few women's magazines and consumer magazines that didn't take cigarette advertising did run articles on smoking and health.

          Cigarettes are the most obvious example, but you can find that same bias in the coverage of all the major advertisers in most news media -- alcohol, automobiles.

          Public radio is now taking advertising. I've heard a lot of local news stories about their advertisers, particularly in the music and entertainment business.

          Wikipedia is already getting all the money it needs. (TFA doesn't explain *why* they need more money -- more server farms?) There's a real risk advertising would compromise their objectivity. It has everywhere else.

          • by Teun (17872)

            Wikipedia is already getting all the money it needs. (TFA doesn't explain *why* they need more money -- more server farms?)

            Oh, please show us where that money is c.q. was before the campaign was started.

            Besides, I think we can trust them more when a large portion of their finances is from individual and even anonymous donors.

        • Begging for money IS advertising. They even offer a product for sale if you donate enough, usually with the phrase "our gift for you with a pledge of $xxx.xx per month"

          Meh

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by JDRucker (1828236)
        But NPR doesn't have a creepy stare hovering over you as you watch all of their content.
    • That thing on top is a Beggin' Strip! Beggin' Beggin' Beggin!

  • by fotbr (855184) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:39AM (#34743388) Journal

    That begging campaign got so annoying that I haven't been to wikipedia in the last two months. I don't think I'll go back either, so consider that my contribution -- an infinitesimal decrease in server load and bandwidth required to keep the site running.

    • That begging campaign got so annoying that I haven't been to wikipedia in the last two months.

      The non-invasive banner ad at the top was too much for you? Or was it the begging?

      • by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday January 03, 2011 @10:52AM (#34743506)

        It was the non-stop display of smug holier-than-thou photos of Jimmy Wales and all his cronies that did it for me.

        • by RulerOf (975607)

          It was the non-stop display of smug holier-than-thou photos of Jimmy Wales and all his cronies that did it for me.

          Just think of it... The Jimmy Wales mug, the Time Magazine mug from Zuckerberg, and the mug of Cristopher Walken.

          All staring at you. Staring deep into your soul.

          Wales wants what you have. Zuck knows what you have. And Walken will be damned if he doesn't convince you to give it to them.

        • by sznupi (719324)

          He is such a whore...

          (but, heck, such exposure itself would be worth all the hardships along the way ;p )

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        For me it was the incompetence. After the first ten times I've closed your fucking ad, stop showing it to me. It's obviously a waste of everyone's bandwidth (assuming I visit enough other sites to remove it from my cache...)

    • I did just the oposite, I laughed so hard at the advertisement, I used the chrome extension to add it to every page
      https://chrome.google.com/extensions/detail/idkjdjficifbfjjkdkiimioljbloddpl [google.com]
    • oh gee. alright. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by unity100 (970058) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:10AM (#34743654) Homepage Journal
      so, because they begged, you are not going to wikipedia. before, you had no issues using the communal resource everyone came together and created, for FREE. however, when they asked you to give a hand for the costs, you have suddenly got irritated.

      maybe its good that you are contributing to the effort, by not going.
      • by fotbr (855184)

        I quit contributing when the "editors" started going completely bonkers a couple years back. Prior to that, I contributed to articles fairly frequently, and money on occasion.

        But enjoy your high horse.

      • Yeah, you have to pay to keep it free *rolls eyes*

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        so, because they begged, you are not going to wikipedia. before, you had no issues using the communal resource everyone came together and created, for FREE.

        Why Should I have any issues? They advertise themselves as being open and available to everyone. Don't try and make me feel guilty for using them in exactly the manner they made themselves available for use. That's bullshit.

        however, when they asked you to give a hand for the costs, you have suddenly got irritated.

        No, I got irritated when they

  • renews questioning by some

    Well, from the looks of it, it seems to have only re-invoked the same old perpetual whining. I know January 3rd is a slow news day, but seriously, again with the generic, unsubstantiated argument?

  • I hope... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ido50 (967259) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:00AM (#34743574)
    I hope that means I won't have to see Jimbo's creepy face any more.
  • Just collect a tax on ISPs and distribute it to content producers!

    (ducks)

  • by BeanThere (28381) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:20AM (#34743744)

    Obligatory just-to-try-set-the-record-straight (as the summary perpetuates the common myth) Jimmy Wales isn't "the" founder of Wikipedia, he didn't come up with the idea for Wikipedia, didn't agree with the idea initially and had to be convinced, didn't come up with the name, didn't build the initial software, and didn't create the first Wikipedia community. Most of the credit for all of the above goes to co-founder Larry Sanger; in the beginning Wales acknowledged this but he has since been attempting to rewrite history by going around marketing himself as "the founder" of Wikipedia. He is at very best "co-founder".

    http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/001424.html [sethf.com]

    I just believe strongly in credit where credit is due, and in not taking credit for other people's work.

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:38AM (#34743916)
    That banner ad wasn't just annoying - it was a rather large image, and it changed often enough that it wasn't always in cache. Given that, I suspect the ad itself was responsible for quite a bit of server load - possibly more than it brought in. I also doubt the ad was that effective. It could even have been counter-productive - "Jimmy is watching you" photoshops are now a minor meme, and not the kind an advertising agency wants to create.

    So, we have an ad that was (for a non-profit) somewhat expensive, and was not (in my estimation) particularly effective. I would like to see some more in-depth analysis of that ad's cost-effectiveness, or lack thereof.
    • Yeah I think 16mil dollar covered that

    • by hipp5 (1635263)

      Given that, I suspect the ad itself was responsible for quite a bit of server load - possibly more than it brought in.

      You're trying to suggest that serving that ad cost $16 million!?

      • by gman003 (1693318)
        No. I am suggesting that the ad cost more than it brought in - many of those who donated probably would have done so without any advertising. Also, remember that the ad was considered, by some, to be rather annoying - the ad had a secondary cost of people who intended to donate but chose not too after being bothered by the advertising.
    • by Tack (4642)
      I think the ad also required Javascript to even be visible. At least, I use NoScript and didn't even know about the fundraiser until a friend mentioned it, and I never saw it until I enabled Javascript on Wikipedia. Might not be a large number of people, but you'd figure those who browse with NoScript (or with JS otherwise disabled) are the type who would be inclined to donate (likely technically savvy, probably gainfully employed, find Wikipedia useful, etc.).
  • by _xeno_ (155264) on Monday January 03, 2011 @11:38AM (#34743918) Homepage Journal

    I would have donated, but apparently I'm not notable enough, and so my donation was speedily deleted.

  • by santiam (1279644) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:07PM (#34744222)
    Who knew that I could just ignore all the pleas and everything would turn out ok.

    Now that I know that it works, I will apply it to all my problems throughout my life!
  • by ciaran_o_riordan (662132) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:08PM (#34744226) Homepage

    I can't understand the mentality of the story summary.

    The news is: the annual fund raiser was a success. It raised more money than ever before, in a shorter time than the previous fund raisers.

    How does raising oodles of money without ads make someone wonder if ads will soon be required?

    The news story answers this question: No, there is clearly no need for ads.

    Ads could even ruin Wikipedia's funding model. Would so many people donate if there were ads and if Wikipedia had a conflict of interest (don't offend the advertisers)?

    • The point is that some people just can't accept that a successfull site can be run without ads. So they use every single event to push their idea EVEN if the event disproves it. See climate change denialist. Hottest year, coldest winter but everything is just fine...

    • How does raising oodles of money without ads make someone wonder if ads will soon be required?

      Possibly because Wikipedia used obtrusive ads to raise money this time.

      • > Possibly because Wikipedia used obtrusive ads to raise money this time.

        There's a difference. Wikipedia has to get money from somewhere. The question is, should it be dependent on its readers for funding, or dependent on companies that buy ad space?

        Whoever it chooses, Wikipedia has to please its funders. I'm glad they continue to choose to please their readers.

        What effects would there be on the content and policies if Wikipedia had to please the buyers of ad space? How much poo flinging and how many

    • if a lot of the new donors confused Wikpedia for Wikileaks (or thought they are synonymous).
  • by raving griff (1157645) on Monday January 03, 2011 @12:21PM (#34744366)
    I remember reading a Slashdot comment last year suggesting that even placing something as small as a Google Ad on the frontpage would be enough to generate the year's worth of revenue. Because Wikipedia is so popular, might it not be sustainable to introduce ads with a free opt-out? Nobody who doesn't want to see ads is exposed to them, and those that don't opt out, whatever minority they are, could sustain the site.
    • by pz (113803)

      I remember reading a Slashdot comment last year suggesting that even placing something as small as a Google Ad on the frontpage would be enough to generate the year's worth of revenue. Because Wikipedia is so popular, might it not be sustainable to introduce ads with a free opt-out? Nobody who doesn't want to see ads is exposed to them, and those that don't opt out, whatever minority they are, could sustain the site.

      Slippery slope argument. In other words, this small amount of advertising that you can readily turn off is OK. Next year, it's a little more intrusive, and then more, and more. Finally the central repository of knowledge is not Wikipedia, but WikiCocaCola.

      Try not getting your news from corporate/network sponsored television for a month, and listen to NPR and the BBC (and read them online, if you wish) instead. Then view one of the standard network news broadcasts. You will, I suspect, react like many t

  • ...by over-the-top, intrusive, nagging fundraising by Wikipedia. Yes, of course I know how to click the "close" box. Yes, Wikipedia is important to me. Yes, I made a small donation. No, I'm not a marketing or "development" (fund-raising) expert. Yes, the Wikimedia Foundation can do what it thinks best.

    I'm just saying I was really annoyed, and this is the first time I've found it annoying.

    What next? Pictures looking down at adorable impoverished third world toddler girls staring up into the camera with big s

  • I refuse to believe, that "advertising" pays for all of "this" *points around the room, at the skyline, at my car, street, schools and a history book*.

    Why does Wikipedia need 16 MILLION United States Dollars? I have a server up and running, it doesn't cost 16 million dollars. Ok, so it's not the fastest server, so an expensive internet connection. Expensive hardware yadda yadda yadda. I know it's not "cheap" by personal standards, but 16 million dollars is a helluva lot of money. Why does a "free" site

"There are things that are so serious that you can only joke about them" - Heisenberg

Working...