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Wikipedia Advertising The Almighty Buck The Internet

A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand? 274

Andreas Kolbe writes The latest financial statements for the Wikimedia Foundation, the charity behind Wikipedia, show it has assets of $60 million, including $27 million in cash and cash equivalents, and $23 million in investments. Yet its aggressive banner ads suggest disaster may be imminent if people don't donate and imply that Wikipedia may be forced to run commercial advertising to survive. Jimmy Wales counters complaints by saying the Foundation are merely prudent in ensuring they always have a reserve equal to one year's spending, but the fact is that Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years. And by a process of circular logic, as spending increases, so the reserve has to increase, meaning that donors are asked to donate millions more each year. Unlike the suggestion made by the fundraising banners, most of these budget increases have nothing to do with keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free, and nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content, a task that is handled entirely by the unpaid volunteer base. The skyrocketing budget increases are instead the result of a massive expansion of paid software engineering staff at the Foundation – whose work in recent years has been heavily criticised by the unpaid volunteer base. The aggressive fundraising banners too are controversial within the Wikimedia community itself.
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A Mismatch Between Wikimedia's Pledge Drive and Its Cash On Hand?

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  • Well (Score:5, Insightful)

    by war4peace ( 1628283 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:32AM (#48506525)

    I always thought that transparency should be right there in the banner. "Hey guys, we have 60M worth of assets but we need more because $REASON".

    • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

      by fibonacci8 ( 260615 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:51AM (#48506657)
      So just tag the banners with [Citation Needed]?
    • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

      by JMJimmy ( 2036122 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:53AM (#48506667)

      I always thought that transparency should be right there in the banner. "Hey guys, we have 60M worth of assets but we need more because $REASON".

      The reason is simple, they over pay their staff significantly. Even for being in silicon valley which is about 29% higher salaries they fail to understand they are a non-profit. Over 20% of WMF staff get paid over $100,000 per year. The executive director makes over $200,000 while the median salary for a non-profit executive director in the US is closer to $60,000.

      • Re:Well (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:57AM (#48506729)
        In California, you'll find a lot of people making over $100,000. It is just a high cost of living, coupled with what a "good" job pays. I'm a Solutions Architect in IT in CA., and I get just over $200,000. I'm not executive director or anything so high-falutin'. These are pretty normal salaries in good / very good jobs. (I'm not saying Walmart workers get $100,000 in CA.)
        • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

          by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @12:05PM (#48506779) Journal
          Sounds like a good reason for money-conscious non-profits to hire people outside of California...
      • problem is that every firm, for-profit or non-profit, competes in the marketplace for talent. And if Wikipedia wants to hire qualified people, they need to compete on compensation with other for-profit firms. Maybe you should stick to running your own affairs and let Wikipedia to run theirs. Presumably you could always fork the content to JMJimmyPedia, and pay indian IT folks to code it for you. See how well that works... oh wait a minute, JMJimmy, as in Jimmy Wales? Are you astroturfing?

        • lol

          I get having to have talent equal to the task, however, there are two aspects: first, non-profit board members have traditionally taken significantly less than comparable positions in the for profit sector. The a good chunk of the staff that make over 100,000 have zero technical skills, they are management. Second, the HIGH end for those positions is $110,000 not $200,000+. At the ~30% premium for silicon valley, you're still under $150,000.

          • nobody said anything about board members. at many nonprofits, board members donate to the cause. the reason management make as much as technical people is because managers were promoted from technical positions, and obviously they're not going to take a pay cut as part of a promotion. I go back to my earlier comment, maybe you should mind your own business and not try to armchair quarterback their decisions. if you feel strongly about it, don't donate.

            • You don't like reality so you attack the messenger? lol

              As to taking less money as part of a promotion, people do it ALL the time. My brother in law just did it to get a promotion to a VP position at Amex, he traded salary for job security. My father did it when he was CFO of a sizable company - he actually recommended that he be fired and the salary for the position he was in be reduced as they were paying more than the company could afford. His re-structuring kept the company from going bankrupt and th

        • There is qualified talent all over the country and all over the world. You don't need to look in silicon valley to find someone qualified to work on a wiki. And aside from some of the infrastructure guys (the flavor the DC will usually supply if asked) nobody needs to be in California. For that matter there are plenty of well wired DC's that aren't in California.
          • Hell, they could hire me for 50K a year and that way they'll have a 50% salary reduction for that position while I would make 4 times the amount I'm making now, working for an USA-based company.
            Batshit crazy, ain't it?

      • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Hussman32 ( 751772 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @02:03PM (#48508313)

        Non-profit corporations are not allowed to give equity to their employees, and that automatically keeps them at a compensation level below private corporations. If you want talent that can sustain the number 6 site in the world, you'll need to hire them where they are (in CA) and pay them commensurate to the industry practices.

        $200,000 is not a lot for an Executive Director, and $100K is needed for a 'good' programmer here.

        You can suggest that they move, but why? There is infrastructure and access to local contractors that you wouldn't have anywhere else.

        I don't begrudge Wikipedia for making a few bucks, and I will still pay my $5 a year based on how much I use the site.

        • I don't take issue with 100k devs, but management absolutely. Look up the data on non-profit executive director compensation - it's over double the high end and nearly quadruple the median.

    • Exactly. They could tell people what they actually want the money for, cause it ain't to keep Wikipedia online and ad-free. If they provided that info, then people could make an informed choice whether to support that effort or not. It would introduce some accountability. Two flagship projects that Wikipedia donations paid for over the past couple of years were considered abject failures [wikipediocracy.com] by the volunteer community. The third, Wikipedia Zero, is controversial [accessnow.org] because it violates net neutrality.
  • by HBI ( 604924 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:32AM (#48506527) Journal

    That's the usual method of solving these problems. Wonder why no one is trying to do that if the fundraising is so controversial?

    • Forks of wikipedia already exist. There are also other wikis that carry stuff wikipedia doesn't. The forks don't have the same pagerank as wikipedia. Your not going to find results on the first 10 pages of Google. The other wikis show up in results because they don't compete with wikipedia. (because their content is considered non notable by wikipedia editors)
  • by i kan reed ( 749298 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:35AM (#48506539) Homepage Journal

    Big software projects need developers. Full time, accountable ones with a paycheck and an office. Mozilla feeds theirs with ad revenue, Linux has some corporate supporters who pay the bills.

    MediaWiki, that drives Wikipedia, is really complex. And they need new features to support the site better, especially admin tools and backend tech.

    But, at the same time, screaming in desperation when you're doing okay and just need support for your functionality means that when you are in trouble, no one can tell.

  • by sribe ( 304414 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:39AM (#48506569)

    There is nothing "circular" about higher expenses leading to a need for higher reserves. It would only be circular if in turn the higher reserves led to higher expenses, which is not a point that you have made at all.

    • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:48AM (#48506635) Homepage Journal

      It's hate posts like TFS that reassure me that Wikipedia is being well-managed. The best he can come up with is "look at this evil financial prudence!"

      • by sribe ( 304414 )

        It's hate posts like TFS that reassure me that Wikipedia is being well-managed. The best he can come up with is "look at this evil financial prudence!"

        Hadn't thought of that--good point.

    • if they could prove that all the increased funding was going toward paying developers to develop ever more complex fund raising campaigns, then it would be circular.
      This reminds me of when Oklahoma City invented the parking meter to raise additional money for infrastructure downtown. Shortly afterwards, they realized that some people were not paying the parking meters. So they invented the parking enforcement department, the budget of which was approximately equal to the amount of revenue received from the
    • lol like the primary source of Wikipedia expenses was banking fees at a shitty bank that charges fees based on the size of your banking account.

    • It is circular if the more money they are able to take as "reserves", the more they feel they can spend. You could give them $500m, and they'd eventually expand to spend that ... and would then go for a $500m reserve the year after.
  • by t4eXanadu ( 143668 ) <t4exanadu@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:39AM (#48506575)

    They still show those scary WIkipedia-is-doomed-without-your-help banners? LOL. I use Wikiwand now, so I don't see those anymore. What I disliked most about those banners is that once you donate, they don't go away. They keep hounding you for money! As part of my reward for donating, I shouldn't have to have your pledge drive shoved down my throat anymore.

    • by Andreas Kolbe ( 2591067 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @01:10PM (#48507597)
      Wikiwand is one of those engineering shops they are scared of [wikimedia.org], because WikiWand have been doing better work than their own programmers, and are presenting Wikipedia content in a prettier format. And if people migrate to Wikiwand, then as you rightly say, people don't see their fundraising banners.

      Their new VP of Engineering, Damon Sicore (ex-Mozilla), spelt that fear out [wikipediocracy.com]. According to Sicore, the WMF will have to “scale to a size that enables us to compete with the engineering shops that are trying to kill us. That means we need to double down on recruiting top talent, and steal the engineers from the sources they use because well they are REALLY GOOD. ... I want everyone to keep this in mind: If we don’t move faster and better than google, apple, and microsoft (and their ilk and kin), they will consume us and we will go away. It’s that simple.”

      Note well that what he's talking about going away there is the Wikimedia Foundation, not Wikipedia. The Wikipedia volunteers work for nothing; they are not reliant on donation money. And Wikipedia itself is also free, meaning it can be hosted by WikiWand, Google or anyone else who thinks they can present the content better than WMF. And if they managed to improve the content at the same time ... As I see it, this is what this expansion is about, not about keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free. And that's not what they're telling the public.
  • Wikipedia is still a very usable web site. By comparison slashdot went commercial some time ago and has become less usable with each passing year. Similarly while the content on wikipedia has continued to improve, the content here has continued to get worse.

    Someone could learn something here, I'm pretty sure.
    • Someone could learn something here, I'm pretty sure.

      They could, but they won't. The slashdot lawn is now thoroughly trampled.

    • > Wikipedia is still a very usable web site. By comparison slashdot went commercial some time ago and has become less usable with each passing year.

      Thanks to the unpaid community volunteers. About the only thing I can point to in the recent history done by a paid team that was mildly successful was the Vector skin. Remember how awesome LiquidThreads was that it got deployed everywhere? Oh wait.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Wikipedia has been getting noticeably worse as certain kinds of editors and admins became entrenched. You can see some very questionable edits, in some case straight up corruption which even gets Jimbo Wales himself to argue against them go uncontrolled and unpunished, with pundits being allowed to basically poison the well.

      Wikipedia's main advantage is quantity. It has an article on almost everything at this point. It's quality on the other hand is anything but good for any even marginally controversial su

    • by Kagato ( 116051 )

      If I were to compare the wiki editor to commercial Wiki products I'd say they are a good ten years behind. The enhanced editor that Jimmy himself touted here in his /. interview was met with a lot of WP:OutrageOverEnablingTheMassesContribute and WP:Don'tMessWithOurEditorClique.

  • by kruach aum ( 1934852 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:48AM (#48506639)

    Circular logic is assuming the truth of the conclusion as a premise. For example, "I know that everything I know is true because, among the things that I know, one of the things I know is that everything I know is true" is circular. "We like to keep a reserve equal to one year's spending. Spending increases, therefore the reserve has to increase" is not circular.

    • Not on it's own, but it becomes circular when combined with "reserves have increased, so we can increase spending". Which is clearly what has happened if spending has increased 1000% despite there being no substantial increase in the expense of just keeping Wikipedia online.

      • That's still not circular logic, that's a feedback loop, a virtuous/vicious circle.

        • True, but you appeared to be directly attacking the circularity claim, not the logic.

          And I think "We need more money to support the greater spending we'll do if we have more money" is getting rather close to fitting the definition of circular logic. And once the pattern is clearly established, that is exactly what is being stated.

          • Please read my example again if you think that approaches the definition of circular logic, and keep in mind that there is a difference between similar and identical. You wouldn't want to drink apple juice made with pears just because pears are "close enough".

    • The author of the summary probably meant cyclical, and put "circular logic" because it sounds fancy, without knowing what it means.
  • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:51AM (#48506659) Journal

    > Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years.

    That could be a problem.

    > Jimmy Wales counters complaints by saying the Foundation are merely prudent in ensuring they always have a reserve equal to one year's spending

    Yes, a one year reserve on the low end of normal. You don't want Wikipedia to disappear when something bad happens, and SHIT HAPPENS. It's a top 10 web site, meaning it's in the big leagues with Google, Microsoft etc., except it's nonprofit. They may have to deal with stuff like Google is dealing with in Europe - disputes with multiple governments on the other side. You don't want Wikipedia to go bankrupt when some government or some company somewhere doe something stupid that costs the foundation $5 million to deal with and repair the damage.

    > nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content, a task that is handled entirely by the unpaid volunteer base.'

    False. A large chunk of the budget is developing software for "generating and curating Wikipedia content". It's disingenuous to claim that developing tools for generating and curating content "have nothing to do" with generating and curating content.

    • by sandytaru ( 1158959 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @11:58AM (#48506735) Journal
      An example of what they've done would be the recent Monuments project. They built a back end, complete with a Google maps API interface, to tell you exactly where they needed photos of which historic monuments, in relation to a given ZIP code. Based on that, I learned there was 200 year old farm house about a half a mile from my office, and I spent a productive lunch break driving over there and photographing it. Their website handled the upload, licensing, and then distributed the new photo to the Commons as well as the Monuments project. There were no errors during this entire process which means the entire thing was rigorously tested and properly coded. It was a painless user experience, if a bit dry because of the spartan aesthetics of Wikimedia, but my "generated content" was incorporated seamlessly into their project in about five minutes. That's good website engineering.
    • A large chunk of the budget is developing software for "generating and curating Wikipedia content". It's disingenuous to claim that developing tools for generating and curating content "have nothing to do" with generating and curating content.

      Except the software was already 90% developed back in 2003, when the Wikimedia Foundation came into existence. The additional software tinkering (if you had read the linked articles) has been for needless, non-working trinkets like Visual Editor (which the vast majority of editors hate) and Media Viewer (which 900 editors signed a petition pleading to the WMF to not force down their throats). Have you ever seen 900 vested Wikipedians ever agree on anything else?

      Wake up, inform yourself, and discover that

      • Dont forget LiquidThreads. Which has been replaced by Flow, which will get replaced by something else, ad nauseum. It's basically a make-work program at this point.

      • > Except the software was already 90% developed back in 2003

        Oh BS.

        The current software is absolutely nothing whatsoever like it was in 2003.

        I say that as someone that joined well before 2003, and have been editing continually since then.

      • > > It's disingenuous to claim that developing tools for generating and curating content "have nothing to do" with generating and curating content.

        > The additional software tinkering (if you had read the linked articles) has been for needless, non-working trinkets like Visual Editor (which the vast majority of editors hate) and Media Viewer

        You, and many others, may be of the opinion that Visual Editor was needless, but to say the tool for editing content "has nothing to do with generating and cura

        • It's difficult to argue with someone who believes that adding a diamond-encrusted, solid gold frame (in the shape of a trapezoid) to the Mona Lisa would be "generating and curating" artwork.

    • > Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years.

      That could be a problem.

      > Jimmy Wales counters complaints by saying the Foundation are merely prudent in ensuring they always have a reserve equal to one year's spending

      Yes, a one year reserve on the low end of normal. You don't want Wikipedia to disappear when something bad happens, and SHIT HAPPENS. It's a top 10 web site, meaning it's in the big leagues with Google, Microsoft etc., except it's nonprofit. They may have to deal with stuff like Google is dealing with in Europe - disputes with multiple governments on the other side. You don't want Wikipedia to go bankrupt when some government or some company somewhere doe something stupid that costs the foundation $5 million to deal with and repair the damage.

      > nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content, a task that is handled entirely by the unpaid volunteer base.'

      False. A large chunk of the budget is developing software for "generating and curating Wikipedia content". It's disingenuous to claim that developing tools for generating and curating content "have nothing to do" with generating and curating content.

      That's a fair point – I meant it in the sense of actually researching and writing the text that appears in Wikipedia. And I did say "most" of these budget increases had nothing to do with that. For example, they are not using money from donations to have medical experts check the thousands of medical articles in Wikipedia for accuracy: that to me would be active content curation. Those tasks are left to volunteers, or, in one or two cases like the Cancer Research UK initiative, people funded by others

  • Indeed, I've received multiple emails from ol' Jimmy again this year, one to a WP-specific email, and one to paypal. I don't care what your organization is, spam is spam, and unsolicited begging for funds qualifies just as well as any. I never agreed to allow them to contact me at my paypal address, they just scraped it from the time I did donate.

    So Jimmy and WP can kiss my butt this year. Bah humbug to them.

  • You illiterate moron.

  • Ever seen a blood drive? It's all marketing. I Get an email in my work in-box at least once a week declaring the RedCross is X days away from running out of blood and people dieing on the operating table!!!

    I used to volunteer at the redcross, I never saw them get "low on blood" lol. Most went into Biohazard disposal. But the fact of the matter is, if they don't scream "PANIC" at every possible opportunity, then no-one shows up at all. The actual use of donated blood has been declining at an insane rate... d

    • by Ksevio ( 865461 )
      Well it's still true - if people don't donate blood, the existing reserves will be used or go bad in a few days (maybe weeks depending on circumstances).
  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @12:07PM (#48506803)

    I also object to getting bombarded with annoying and often intrusive ad banners begging for money for extended periods of time when a site with the traffic of Wikipedia could probably get as much money with real ad banners in an order of magnitude less time.

    I'd wager they'd get more money with one day a year of real ads than they do with their current weeks of begging.

  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @12:09PM (#48506833) Homepage

    ...but the fact is that Wikimedia spending has increased by 1,000 percent in the course of a few years... most of these budget increases have nothing to do with keeping Wikipedia online and ad-free, and nothing to do with generating and curating Wikipedia content...The skyrocketing budget increases are instead the result of a massive expansion of paid software engineering staff...

    So from this information alone, I'm not sure I see the problem. You have a very large website that I'm sure gets unimaginable amounts of traffic, operating for free and supported by voluntary donations, and their budget is increasing because they've hired engineers to keep the thing running. That all sounds reasonable enough.

    I think if you want to raise a red flag here, you have to show that the software engineering staff is unwarranted, or that they're working on things that the donors don't want to see done. So how many engineers do they have, and what are they working on? It seems to me that they're doing a competent job, since you have a relatively large, complex, and popular website that doesn't seem to have a lot of serious technical trouble, as far as I can tell. I'm sure they've had to scale up their capabilities over recent years, which requires some development in making the site scale and handle large, sudden increases in traffic. It looks to me like they're doing more than just maintain the Wikipedia-- they have the Wiktionary, Wikiquote, something called "Wikidata", and a bunch of other projects that all seem like they're probably legitimate, even if I don't know what they are. In that context, I can imagine them needing to keep a fair number of engineers on staff.

    So what's the complaint here? Do you think someone is embezzling money, or that they're just stockpiling money for no reason? Do you think that they're spending money in the wrong places, and if so, where you do think they're spending money, and where do you think they should be spending money? I think you need to give me something before I can figure out how to be outraged at all of this.

    • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @12:36PM (#48507129)

      So from this information alone, I'm not sure I see the problem.

          You have a very large website that I'm sure gets unimaginable amounts of traffic, operating for free and supported by voluntary donations, and their budget is increasing because they've hired engineers to keep the thing running. That all sounds reasonable enough.

      So what's the complaint here? Do you think someone is embezzling money, or that they're just stockpiling money for no reason? Do you think that they're spending money in the wrong places, and if so, where you do think they're spending money, and where do you think they should be spending money? I think you need to give me something before I can figure out how to be outraged at all of this.

      That's because this is Slashdot and you haven't bothered to actually read TFA.

      Improving Wikipedia’s content is not really in the budget. Nearly $20 million goes toward salaries and wages, despite the fact that none of the staff edit Wikipedia as part of their job function. Almost $6 million was spent last year on awards and grants which certainly help produce some content for Wikipedia,but the writers are not typically compensated with anything more than pizza, sandwiches, and soft drinks.

      Less than 6% of the WMF budget is spent on Internet hosting even though most people probably believe it’s their biggest expense. Meanwhile, they spend almost as much money (about $2 million) on travel and conferences. There is also a huge bucket for “other operating expenses” totaling nearly $12.5 million — some of which certainly pays for expensive downtown office space in San Francisco.

      The WMF staff busy themselves on things that rarely have anything to do with writing, organizing, or exercising editorial discretion over the actual written product of Wikipedia. Instead, the WMF now considers itself a software and technology organization, but ends up doing more harm than good with its software "innovations". The last two software roll-outs — Visual Editor and Media Viewer — were loathed by a wide swath of users. The WMF responded to the community’s rejection of its software by literally forcing it back on the community with a tool called “superprotect”.

      It appears that the Wikimedia Foundation has nearly run out of legitimate ways to spend the donors’ money, because much of it ends up in the organization’s savings accounts and bonds, or pays for software programmers who don't really seem to be doing anything worthwhile.

      • > but the writers are not typically compensated with anything more than pizza, sandwiches, and soft drinks.

        I've written some measurable amount of the entire Wikipedia. I have no received pizza, sandwiches or soft drinks. Where do we get these?

        > Meanwhile, they spend almost as much money (about $2 million) on travel and conferences.

        Good. And maybe by continuing this, they will convince more people to open up their locked-away storehouses of dead information so I can use it to write more articles. Becau

      • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @01:28PM (#48507825) Homepage

        That's because this is Slashdot and you haven't bothered to actually read TFA.

        I actually skimmed them, but there are 5 articles, including what seems to be Wikimedia's budget report. I'm not going to read all of that in detail unless someone can explain what the real problem is.

        It seems like your complaints (and these were also in the various articles) boil down to two things:

        A) They don't spend all of their money on content: Well, I wouldn't expect them to. My understanding was the the Wikipedia has always relied on volunteer contributions, and the idea was that it always would. I'm not familiar with the inner politics of the thing, but it seems like they're largely providing the platforms for volunteers to create content on, and obviously those platforms will cost money. If you had asked me yesterday (before I heard about this controversy) to guess what Wikimedia spent their money on, I would have guessed "Mostly hosting, web/software development, and administrative overhead." I wouldn't have guess they spent very much on content at all.
        B) They released some tools for editing content and viewing media, and some people (perhaps "a lot of people" or even "most people") didn't like these tools: It's not clear to me what the real problem here is. Do you think that they should not have programmers attempt to improve their platform? Do you think that they shouldn't pay those programmers? Do you think that it's fine to try to improve the platform and pay programmers, but they just did a bad job? If it's the last one, then it seems like the issue isn't a complaint about the budget as much as "I'm just not happy with the output of the developers." Maybe they should get new developers or something, I don't know.

        And then there's this:

        Less than 6% of the WMF budget is spent on Internet hosting even though most people probably believe it’s their biggest expense. Meanwhile, they spend almost as much money (about $2 million) on travel and conferences. There is also a huge bucket for “other operating expenses” totaling nearly $12.5 million — some of which certainly pays for expensive downtown office space in San Francisco.

        Ok, so that seems like a lot of money to spend on traveling and conferences, what what was the effect of that? Were those conferences things that they shouldn't have gone to or presented at? If you want me to be angry, I think you need to paint me a picture. Did they spend so much money because they were flying a single guy around in a private jet, or were they flying around a lot of important people to important conferences, paying for conference materials and placement, in a way that resulted in some improvement to Wikimedia? You say they spent money on office space in San Francisco-- is that unusual and unreasonable for a company in their position? Did they spend too much? Or is the problem simply that they've thrown so much money into "other operating expenses" without breaking it down to allow us to determine whether those expenses are valid?

        I just feel like I'm supposed to be outraged, but I don't really see what the problem is, other than a vague sense of "They're spending lots of money, and we don't think that it should cost that much." Having run a business, I know that a lot of things end up costing more than you'd suppose that they would.

        • First of all, a lot of money has been mis-spent. Sue Gardner herself voiced her qualms [dailydot.com] about this shortly before she left the Foundation, warning of the potential for log-rolling and corruption and spending money without benefit to the end user. In one case I have knowledge of, the entire board of a national Wikimedia organisation was flown into a city and put up in hotels for a "community consultation" where exactly one (1) community member turned up. That was $5,000 of donors' money gone right there, for
    • by thekohser ( 981254 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @12:49PM (#48507303)

      So from this information alone, I'm not sure I see the problem. You have a very large website that I'm sure gets unimaginable amounts of traffic, operating for free and supported by voluntary donations, and their budget is increasing because they've hired engineers to keep the thing running. That all sounds reasonable enough.

      Then you are a shining example of someone who has accepted the Wikimedia Foundation's spin.

      Let me help you with some facts. In late 2005, all of the Wikipedias (in every language then supported) generated about 5 million edits per month. The WMF monthly budget then was $58,000. So, cost per edit was 1.16 cents. The current edit load is about 10 million per month. The WMF current monthly budget is $3,750,000. Current cost per edit is 37.5 cents.

      Considering how hosting and bandwidth costs have decreased dramatically since 2005, how do you explain a 30-fold increase in spending per edit? Please don't say that it's accounted for by increased page views without edits, because I can give you those stats, too. The reason for the increase is that Sue Gardner built a staffing empire around herself, then told all of these programmers to do exciting new things with the software that nobody on the Wikipedia editing community had actually desired. Then, after years of literally a hundred programmers working on things like "Visual Editor" and "Media Viewer", when they rolled them out, they didn't work well at all, and the community literally wrote patch scripts to keep the software enhancements off Wikipedia, to which the Foundation responded with a hastily-written "superprotect" script that forces the terrible, disliked software enhancements back on the users.

      This is exactly how you waste about $20 million per year.

      • Then you are a shining example of someone who has accepted the Wikimedia Foundation's spin.

        I don't think so. This is the first I'm hearing about the whole issue, so I haven't been exposed to spin. I was just saying that, as someone who is completely unfamiliar with the controversy, the person writing the summary didn't come close to making a case that there was a problem. I skimmed the articles, too, and it didn't seem clear what the real problem was there. It's clear that they're not spending all of their money on paying for content, and that they've developed some software tools that some p

      • > Let me help you with some facts

        RED HERRING ALERT! RED HERRING ALERT!

        Watch carefully kids, "thekohser" constructs a totally bogus metric, posts his conclusion as a question because he's gutless, and then uses that "conclusion" to moan about this and that.

        > generated about 5 million edits per month

        Well anyone reading this who has even the slightest clue about how internet billing is handled, which I assume includes "thekohser", knows that the cost of hosting is based on throughput, not "the number of

        • Don't tell me I'm wrong until you've written your FA and got the admin bit.

          ALERT: Basement-dwelling Wikipedia admin at work (above).

          Here's some data about data for you, Maury -- from IDC, a leading technology analyst firm. http://www.networkworld.com/ar... [networkworld.com] Between 2010 and 2014, the cost-per-bit delivered over the Internet has fallen about 58%. If we assume that curve continues the same way back to 2005, then we can assume that bandwidth costs have come down about 80% to 85% since 2005. So, if you say that total bandwidth on Wikipedia and related projects from 2005 has increas

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Tuesday December 02, 2014 @01:25PM (#48507775)

    It is true that some advertisers may pull their campaign if they don't like the content, but a popular site will always generate enough interest from someone to cover operating expenses. No pandering or user tracking needed.

    In fact, why not focus on educational content, like books on the subject related to the page? There are few other opportunities to promote specialized science/history books, and it would be in line with the mission of educating the world.

  • I don't see much of it. And if I ever do, one right click makes sure I don't see it again.

"Intelligence without character is a dangerous thing." -- G. Steinem

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