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The Internet The Almighty Buck

War of Words Over Wikipedia Ads Continues 353

Willis W. writes "Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales reiterates his opposition to advertising in response to reports that Wikipedia needs a major cash infusion. Responding to Jason Calacanis' charges that he 'has a fringe, anti-corporate bent to him' that is 'holding Wikipedia back,' Wales says that running ads on Wikipedia is not his decision to make. Though he personally dislikes the idea of advertising on Wikipedia, any decision to utilize ads would have to come from the community. At the moment, he won't rule anything out. 'I can't say if I would ever support something like that,' he tells Ars, 'but I can say that I currently maintain the same position I always have: I am opposed to it.'" What do you think Wikimedia should do to shore up the financial situation of the Wikipedia?
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War of Words Over Wikipedia Ads Continues

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:23PM (#18047212)
    Sell pot.
    • Wiki ads (Score:3, Funny)

      by Obaida ( 939704 )
      I have no problem with ads on long as everyone can edit them like articles! And with AdBlock Plus it's not like I'll be seeing them anyway.
  • Philanthropy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ScrewMaster ( 602015 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:25PM (#18047216)
    It seems to me that there would be any number of private foundations and individuals that might be willing to help. Granted that takes a lot of work, but at least you won't have to commercialize Wikipedia.
    • Re:Philanthropy (Score:5, Interesting)

      by SnowZero ( 92219 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:57PM (#18047406)
      I would probably donate to Wikipedia, but I'd want them to do something about their now rampant cronyism and favoritism first. Any interesting topic on Wikipedia not only has annoying nonconstructive people who are (rightly) shunned, but a small number of editors can crap the place up, yet seem able to "do no wrong" because they have connections. It reminds me of the worst part of scientific circles, without the tolerance of open and public debate.

      Now, that is not to say that Wikipedia isn't doing something cool, so don't brand me as someone who is against it. Complaining about corruption in a police department, for example, doesn't mean you want the entire police force to disappear. On the whole, Wikipedia is a very useful resource and a good starting point for serious investigation of many topics. I want to see them succeed. However the rapid growth has given them some problems, and until they show that they are trying to address these problems I'm unlikely to donate. That way, I can save my money for a better successor if they end up dying.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bky1701 ( 979071 )
        I agree. Wikipedia is a good example of the failing of populism and bureaucracy. How many wikipedia users are admins? I don't know, but it seems like every other one is, and they all have an agenda. Those who have greater power than normal admins seem to never use it, or maybe are just so awfully out-numbered that they can't do anything.

        Wikipedia is like the wild west, except that the good guys and bad guys both have machine guns that they like to shoot at the citizens in their free time.
    • It seems to me that the best option would be to use a system much like that used for keeping the Nations roads clean. You know those signs that are all over the roads, that say that certain businesses, clubs, and other organizations have adopted certain roads. Well, what they are doing is not cleaning the stuff themselves, but paying for the road crews. In return they get to claim that they "adopted" that mile of roadway. What Wikipedia could do is allow organizations to sponsor certain pages, where the
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by eln ( 21727 )
        The problem with that idea is that with a corporate logo there, it gives the impression that that company has control over that page, or at least has influence over it. Even if that is not really true, the perception of bias would be very strong.
        • I agree, I don't think it works if you let companies stake out particular pages. I think you've got to just randomize them so there's no appearance of connection between content and commercials. Unfortunately, that significantly decreases the value of the ad space, but otherwise it just undermines the appearance of independence that's necessary for a reference work.
    • Re:Philanthropy (Score:4, Insightful)

      by malsdavis ( 542216 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:53PM (#18047750)
      Philanthropy is an amusing concept. First you wait for someone to come up with a method by which to rip off the public and thereby make billions of dollars, then you ask them to contribute some of that money back to the community.

      Surely a better idea would be to just stop them ripping everyone off in the first place and then use that money (via say a fairer tax structure) to fund projects like Wikipedia and the many other "worthy causes" that Philanthropy supports.

      • You think it's impossible to sell products or services to vast numbers of people in exchange for money without ripping them off? How do you get your food? Or your computers? Or your internet service? I mean, if you're being ripped off so badly, why do you continue paying your money?
    • by kerrigan778 ( 1065208 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @12:47AM (#18048060)
      A lot of people don't want to donate but many would be more than happy to donate a few gigs of my hard drive and some small part of my bandwidth to wikipedia on occasion. I cite F@H (Folding at Home) for all those who know of it (thanks to all who do it) which I am already doing. If that concept could be applied to hosting Wikimedia then their hosting fees could drop dramatically. (possibly to zero). All those people who already use wikipedia could pay back some of the debt they owe to it by helping host it.
      • by gilroy ( 155262 )
        Blockquoth the poster:

        A lot of people don't want to donate but many would be more than happy to donate a few gigs of my hard drive and some small part of my bandwidth to wikipedia on occasion. [emphasis added]

        I can't speak for anyone else, but I for one would be willing a few gigs of his hard drive as well as a small part of his bandwidth. Just leave mine alone. Anyone else with me? :)

    • by Skim123 ( 3322 )
      I, for one, was surprised to hear this news. I thought my $50 donation would have helped nip this capital problem in the bud.
  • by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:30PM (#18047248) Journal
    'has a fringe, anti-corporate bent to him'

    I don't think that anti-corporate is all that "fringe". Most People feel that Mega-Corps have too much power. Making them a source of revenue, gives them control over the product. Look at the difference between PBS or BBC and most other TV networks. Or just ask your congressman what corperate sponsorship really costs.
    • I would not be opposed to a simple 125x125 sponsor spot at the top of each page header. Wikipedia is sponsored by [corp]. Simple and effective. There could be a vote on ad approval by the Wikipedia community, only community approved sponsors or something similar to weed out undesirables.

      Silulu. Hot Polynesian geek chick. Hot tech news. []
      • I think that it could go even further. Just put up a voting booth, and allow people 3 or four options, like no, yes, -text/graphics/3 second ad to get in for 3 days. Things like that could go very far.
    • Agreed. Disliking advertising is pretty mainstream.
  • Google (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dan East ( 318230 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:33PM (#18047258) Journal
    What about Google? Practically anything I google for results in a Wikipedia article as the first hit. I can't believe that pagerank alone results in Wikipedia articles ranked highly so consistently for practically every search topic imaginable. I think it would be an advantage for Google to buy out Wikipedia, as they seem to rely on Wikipedia already.

    Dan East
    • Well, there is the whole "anti-corporate bent" thing Jimmy was talking about. Like it or not, Google is a megacorp now, answerable only to their bottom line no matter what they say about not being evil.

      So the question would be: what's in it for Google? PageRank puts Wikipedia at the top because Wikipedia articles get linked to quite a bit.
    • Re:Google (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:57PM (#18047402)
      I'd rather google just by generous enough to donate money to the Wiki project rather than buy them out. We all saw what happened when google bought youtube. Youtube sucks now. It's copyright infringement take down notice frenzy over there. Once there's money behind something... they start coming for you no matter what.

      Think of all the wiki's about games or tv shows or whatever that have pictures etc. I just see it as a problem. Once there's money, some fucking lawyer from some fucking corporation is going to want to pressure wiki to do things as they see it, or else.

      Google or someone else with money like BILL FUCKING GATES should donate money to wiki to keep them afloat. It's a nice public service created by the public with good intentions for all.

      It would be a shame to see it go the way of corporate buy out or internet advertising and so forth.

      Maybe Gates wont donate money cause Microsoft wants to do something similar.... Same for google... but inject ads all over the fucking place. See why Wiki needs to stay ad free? Remember the Do no evil Google statement? Youtube blows. They over censor, you can see violence but not tits, you can type "go suck my dick" in a comment, but you cant show it. You cant post anything as a public video that contains a clip from some tv shwo or anything without being taken down.

      I just see it as a nightmare situation and another win for old corporate America if Wiki goes this route. In some respects, i'd rather see them just end Wiki rather than sell out to the sleeze.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by risk one ( 1013529 )
      Buy out? Wikipedia isn't something you can buy. It's backed by a foundation, which as far as I know, can't be bought, and even if it could, such a purchase would mean the instant end of the Wikipedia community (and the birth of Wikipedia 2.0, with new anti buying out protection).

      Besides, I think Google has a dual position on Wikipedia. They like them because Wikipedia increases the usefulness of the internet, which improves Google's market. On the other hand, for 90% of my information needs, I check Wikiped
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by daviddennis ( 10926 )
      A site i like very much, The Truth About Cars [], thought about charging a subscription for use but realized it would cut down traffic enormously and make themselves a less useful resource in the end. I had a long discussion with the very nice fellow who runs the site and he considered ads to be a solution of last resort because they would give advertisers power over him and eventually they would wind up influencing what was written.

      I pointed out to him that adding Google text ads would in no way do this, bec
    • Ack - speaking of selling out. Google has proven themselves to be no better a company than any other. They made a mockery of their "do no evil" pledge with the whole search in China thing, and with their lobbying efforts in the various states. You may as well sell Wikipedia to Microsoft or IBM.

      Wikipedia serves a lot of functions, and it serves a lot of people. I personally have donated to their cause. I guess it just surprises me how many people are willing to use Wikipedia, but how few are willing to pay

      • Re:Google (Score:5, Insightful)

        by John Nowak ( 872479 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @01:39AM (#18048360)
        Ack - speaking of selling out. Google has proven themselves to be no better a company than any other. They made a mockery of their "do no evil" pledge with the whole search in China thing, and with their lobbying efforts in the various states.

        Please stop seeing the world in black and white. They did the right thing given two crappy options and are being punished for it by self-righteous westerners.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      While we're talking about Google... Instead of being bought out, Wikipedia should look for someone with too much money to spend in a lifetime and give that person a chance to buy himself a place in history by creating a foundation that finances Wikipedia but does not own it. What kind of world do we live in where some people have enough personal wealth to buy small countries but something as useful as Wikipedia can't get funding without selling out?
  • by tomstdenis ( 446163 ) < minus punct> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:34PM (#18047268) Homepage
    Disregarding financing and expenditures ... Wikipedia is just plain wrong. I spent the last 90 minutes tracking "recent changes" undoing a bunch of "LOL PENIS" edits. At that rate of destruction Wikipedia would be TOTALLY worthless after only a month or so if all the volunteers stopped performing "undo" operations.

    Also, I think anonymous edits is just a bad idea. I understand that some folk can't attribute their identities to their edits, but too bad. Without volunteers WASTING THEIR TIME on revision edits wikipedia wouldn't even be a good STARTING place let alone reference...

    And please, if you're one of those trolls adding "LOL PENIS" to wiki articles, please stop. It's childish and doesn't make you cool, it makes you an ass making work for others. /rant

    • Don't look at me. I just add "LOL PENIS" to Slashdot posts. See parent.
    • by STrinity ( 723872 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:52PM (#18047380) Homepage

      I spent the last 90 minutes tracking "recent changes" undoing a bunch of "LOL PENIS" edits.
      Thanks a lot jerk. It took me three hours to do those.
      • I spent the last 90 minutes tracking "recent changes" undoing a bunch of "LOL PENIS" edits.
        Thanks a lot jerk. It took me three hours to do those.
        Jerk, meet penis. Penis, meet jerk. Something tells me you two have a beautiful, if lonely, future ahead of you.
    • I think that anonymous edits may be a necessary evil because without them the wiki would have stagnated. That being said, I think there are some simple checks that could be done on edits that would weed out at least a good chunk of "LOL PENIS" vandalism.
    • Maybe if Wikipedia didn't allow anonymous edits, LOL PENIS edits wouldn't be nearly as frequent.
    • Middle ground: Anon can contribute to the "talk" page, but only registered & logged in users can edit the article itself. That way anonymous can still contribute by suggesting info in the talk page. However, since the average person looking for information on stress tensors won't look at the talk page, there's no point trolling because none of the intended victims see it.

      A small delay before an account can be used, like on Fark, might also be useful to prevent throwaway accounts.
      • by daeg ( 828071 )
        I'd really like to see a better "talk" page. It's far too easy to screw up the Wiki talk pages. It's intimidating to edit.

        A simple "Have a suggestion for this article? Leave it for the editors! _____________ [submit]" would be better.
  • by timeOday ( 582209 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:34PM (#18047272)
    "Fringe, anti-corporate bent"? Obviously. Otherwise Wikipedia wouldn't exist in the first place. To a businessman, the market was already saturated, between MS Encarta and Brittanica. Innovative ideas don't come from businessmen. Only after something catches on can it be exploited to the point that it's just barely worthwhile (i.e. "fully monetized").
    • I can imagine the dumber business men would consider two players as a saturated market, but I don't think that's necessarily the case. It seems as if the opposite is true, they continue piling in with a "me too" even when it is unwise, if the market has a million players and with sufficient turnover that 90% of them die in six months.

      I suppose you might point out certain things like OS software, or telecom where there are only two or three players and it's often unwise to try to jump in without enormous ba
  • First (Score:5, Insightful)

    by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:37PM (#18047286) Journal
    Find a different chairperson. This one would let the corps in and ruin it. Remember what happened to CDDB. Expect the same thing to happen here.

    Donations continue to pour in, the staff is minimal, and the Wikipedia brand is too powerful to simply disappear into the ether if money ever does get tight.

    There you have it. The brand name is what the corps want to exploit. Well if they get their hands on it, then it wil be time to create an alternative based purely on the community. Because this one will become just another "Clear Channel" of web based encyclopedias.
    • Find a different chairperson. This one would let the corps in and ruin it. Remember what happened to CDDB.
      And look at what happened to IMDb when they went all corporate. They like ... went all corporate. And ads! And ... uh, stuff! Stupid corporations.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:39PM (#18047292)
    I've now edited Jimbo Wales to make him in favor of advertising on Wikipedia, thus saving Wikipedia. You can all thank me later.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Wikipedia needs to do whatever it can to prevent the need to use corporate advertising on the site. The primary reason the service has become so popular is that there are not any ads; without ads, it feels like a more authentic source of information.

    As soon as advertisements are introduced into a project like this, the number of private donations will decrease because the average joe who uses wikipedia and chooses to donate $20 here and there will feel like his money is not what is making it tick anyhow.
  • by Eustace Tilley ( 23991 ) <> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:41PM (#18047302) Journal
    Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) prices bandwidth at $0.20 per gigabyte. Host Wikipedia on S3, and write some glue code so that people can have Wikipedia browsing accounts which are billed by Amazon. People who cannot have an account due to being minors or developing-country-dwellers can perhaps have their fees paid by a charitable foundation. Storage is $1.80 per gigabyte per year from Amazon, so if Wikipedia is a terabyte, it's under $2,000 per year. How big is it?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      User fees for bandwidth is probably the worst idea I've seen for mitigating Wikipedia's troubles. The entire point of the project is to make information available to the most people possible for free. I understand that the foundation needs funds to make the project work, but charging users for access runs contrary to the goals of the project. Advertisements won't work, but neither will this. The answer is increasing private donations. How to accomplish that is the real problem here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      .20$ / gb is a high bandwidth cost. Bulk, wholesale, right off the pipe like Wikipedia pays for it, I'd say something like .01-.03$ / gb. I can buy, pseudo retail, at .045 - and that's expensive. Really very much so. HOWEVER, Wikipedia went through ~192,600$ in staff and power and bandwidth costs in Q4 2006. A huge chunk of that is bandwidth. So yes, it's expensive to run Wikipedia.

      If you're transferring more than about 100 GB / month with Amazon, by the way, you're getting ripped off to no end. Bu
      • Still, a mil a year is peanuts to any major corporation, or for that matter any seriously rich philanthropist. Wikipedia just needs to find a sugar daddy, that's all. Preferably one that uses Wikipedia a lot and wouldn't want it to go away.

        Regarding some of the comments elsewhere in this thread, I think it's a mistake to assume that all corporate money is tainted. Take an entity like, say, IBM. Do you really think that a company the size of IBM is going to need to "monetize" Wikipedia? Put advertising al
  • You want wikipedia to survive, you have several choices:

    • Ads - Easy to implement and easy to ignore.
    • Donations - Yeah, right, if you can't get someone to contribute to an OSS project, what makes you think you'll get enough donations
    • Pay for High Request Content - Death knell
    • Sell User Info to Marketers - More penis emails
    • Taxes - What are you, liberal?

    Your choice, what is more tolerable?

  • by stinerman ( 812158 ) <> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:49PM (#18047354) Homepage
    The hell he is. He's an objectivist []. Objectivists practically get sexually aroused at the thought of corporations.
    • And that somehow means that he has complete faith in corporations? Utter BS. He has a community that has an ideal, and he doesn't want it dilluted with advertising, which could easily, in his mind, have a negative effect on the quality of the site.
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <> on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:54PM (#18047386) Homepage
    What possible reason could you have to oppose opt out ads for wikipedia? If you don't like them you could turn them off and wikipedia would get lots of money it could use for hosting and potentially even enough to fund other projects.

    Frankly I don't see any good reason not to put even mandatory small tasteful text ads on wikipedia. I think it's silly enough for public radio/TV not to support themselves by ads but at least they do short sponsorship bits and they at least have the argument that they need to maintain the appearance of not being influenced by corporate money but wikipedia, by it's very nature doesn't need to worry about appearing to tailor its information to advertisers.

    As far as Wale's claim that the decision isn't up to him it's up to the community it is correct but may not be the right point. My understanding is the default position is that wikipedia will remain without ads and the community would have to get up and make a demand for it to change. It is Wales (and other foundation members) decision to set the default policy and I think it should be the opposite.

    Still, having said all that if other people care enough about wikipedia being ad free to donate money to keep it running then that's their prerogative. At one point I donated money for wikipedia but I won't do so again. I have no problem viewing ads to keep wikipedia afloat but since wikipedia could damn well support itself with zero detrimental effect my money could accomplish a great deal more being donated to projects that actually need it.
    • What possible reason could you have to oppose opt out ads for wikipedia? If you don't like them you could turn them off

      Or better still: If you don't like them, you could pay a fee to have them turned off.

      One of the things that drives me nuts about public radio is that even if you contribute, you still have to endure the pleas for money. PBS would probably get a lot more donors if donating let you shut them up with their fund raisers.

      But the Internet doesn't have to force you endure fund-raising wher

  • by malsdavis ( 542216 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @10:55PM (#18047392)
    Government / Public funding is the answer. Wikipedia offers the general public of developed countries a great resource and Wikipedia should therefor look to the governments and public institutions of various countries to contribute the (relativity) minuscule amounts which are needed to support it.

    You only has to look to the BBC for proof that this would work. They seem to be able to operate one of the Internet's great resources (with multimedia features which are surely far more demanding than wikipedia's) without the need for adverts or such.
    • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
      i'd rathe corp influence than govt. influence
      • "i'd rathe corp influence than govt. influence"

        The U.K. government has absolutely zero control over the BBC, which is completely commanded by a group of 'governors' who are people who have worked their way through the organisation and have never had anything todo with national politics.

        Furthermore the BBC is often among the present government's harshest critics, as was clearly demonstrated a couple of years ago when BBC investigative reporters (supposably falsely) made several "unfounded" accusations agains
        • by Lehk228 ( 705449 )
          the US Government wouldn't do things that way, they would instead demand all sorts of controls be placed on wikipedia content "for the children"
  • Board of Directors (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ezratrumpet ( 937206 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:04PM (#18047434) Journal
    The Wikimedia Board of Directors (or its equivalent) must make decisions that guarantee the long-term viability of the nonprofit organization. If they fail to do so, bad things happen.

    The revenue from Google ads on the front page alone would surely guarantee the financial viability of the whole Wikimedia brand for years to come.

    I see this as a board decision alone. While the community would have an uproar, the organization would survive. The vast majority of their "clients" would never realize the difference.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Alef ( 605149 )

      I see this as a board decision alone. While the community would have an uproar, the organization would survive. The vast majority of their "clients" would never realize the difference.

      The problem is that with Wikipedia, the community is much of the organisation. While it would survive in some form, it would be severely decimated, losing a large portion of the most frequent and important contributors. The vast majority would perhaps not notice any difference immediately, but Wikipedia would have a tough

  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <> on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:04PM (#18047436) Homepage
    Also I should remark that most of the objections I have heard to ads on wikipedia center around the annoyance of seeing ads or some other supposed cost to making the visitors see ads. Now if you don't donate to wikipedia yourself even a little I don't think you really have much standing to object to ads but whether you do or not consider the following point.

    The question should not be whether wikipedia is better with or without ads. Obviously no one favors hosting ads for free on wikipedia. The question is whether the cost of having ads is more than the benefits ad money can buy.

    Can anyone here really say they would take a million dollars from other needy open source/content projects or other worthwhile charity (cancer research etc..) just so people didn't have to see (opt out?) ads on wikipedia? Yet a million dollars is at the low end of the ad revenue wikipedia might generate, the potential to benefit the community is huge. Can you really say that not seeing ads is worth denying the community that much benefit?
    • Should have made it clear that the million dollars is for three-four months of wikipedia without ads.
  • by unger ( 42254 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:16PM (#18047524)
    ok, not all of the time, but much of the time.

    two examples:

      - mile after mile of billboards as you are driving
      - the yellow pages

    in the first example you are essentially held captive and forced to see advertising.
    in the second you've made the choice to look at advertising in search of products and services.

    the first example is for all intents and purposes against your will (thus violent).
    the second example is something you choose freely.

    if the community wants advertising, my preference would be for a "yellow pages" type of advertising model.

    if you are for wikipedia advertising, which example most closely resembles the type of advertising you would choose?
  • Get the government to fund Wikipidea. Socialize it. Make it a public service.

    Additionally. with government funding, they have no right to edit content, because of the first amendment. UNLIKE a private corporation, which can ignore first amendment rights.

    It's like how some cable public access channels show porn, because of this free right.
  • by magixman ( 883752 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:19PM (#18047542)
    After reading this I went to donate $25 because I use this service a lot and it is an ubiquitous part of the information appliance aspect of the net for me. I had to click around and then reach for my glasses to find the little "your continued donations keep Wikipedia running" link in like 6 point type. Come one folks - ASK FOR WHAT YOU NEED!

    Before turning this over to advertisers make an appeal. Put it at the top of every article that comes up on search. You can't just say donations don't work when you don't really make an effort to us know you need them.
    • They actually just did a big donation drive over several weeks. The progress bar was moving pretty steadily -- the last time I noticed it I think it was 3/4 of the way to the goal. Now if the goal was representative of what they actually needed, shouldn't they be in relatively good shape at the moment? I don't understand why they're crying about money after what looked like a very successful pledge drive.
  • They should make an enterprise version of mediawiki and sell it just like did with their GPL product.
  • Decentralize? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by femto ( 459605 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:30PM (#18047612) Homepage

    One way would be to figure out a way to decentralise the database. Rather than living on 350 servers perhaps it could live in 35,000,000 screen savers, all communicating peer to peer?

    How? Beats me. Maybe start by experimenting with moving mediawiki's change tracking to modeled on Arch []? Rendering a wikipedia article would then become an exercise in gathering all the necessary changesets from the P2P network. Instead of querying wikipedia's servers, you could just query your screen saver. Editing an article would consist of making a change then publishing the changeset on the P2P network.

    Any other ideas? These are just random musings. There are plenty of people who are seriously studying this stuff.

  • Mu. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yurka ( 468420 )
    There's an old story about Coleman Hawkins, a noted jazz saxophonist. Once he was assembling a band for several gigs, and decided to give a call to an acquaintance in another city, also a sax player, to invite him in. "How much is the pay?" - the guy asked. Hawkins told him. "C'mon, Hawk, that's barely enough for a bus ticket to New York!" "You know, young man", said Hawkins, "there are jobs worth saving money for". And hung up.

    My point is - "what should Wikimedia do about the financial situation of the Wik
  • by troll -1 ( 956834 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:49PM (#18047718)
    Perhaps the debate about BBC ads [] has some relevance to Wikipedia.

    According to The British Internet Publishers Alliance (BIPA), showing adverts to non-UK readers of BBC websites would also undermine the BBC's "worldwide reputation for integrity and impartiality."

    Wiki articles are supposed to be written in the neutral point of view and while ads may not compromise that goal, it may be difficult to convey neutrality when you're writing about a product and running a related advertisement at the same time.
  • paid memberships (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drDugan ( 219551 ) * on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:52PM (#18047746) Homepage
    I'd rather see paid memberships before ads.

    Everyone still has the same free access, but paid members are cited as supporters, with the length and amount of their support - creating a public log of how much they have given to support the encyclopedia. This type of membership is directly in line with the non profit purpose of the organization, so the fees are tax deductible donations.

    Basically, it will tie in to the same reason why people give time and knowledge - to support the cause.

    Memebers get a little "star" or a bold username of something - and membership is like $25/year.

    Users who visit the site without a membership are greeted with a splash screen with the current financial information of wikipedia, burn rate, and a simple way to sign up and become a paid donating member.

  • 9th grade biology (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scarolan ( 644274 ) on Friday February 16, 2007 @11:54PM (#18047754) Homepage
    As my 9th grade biology teacher Mr. Devlin used to say, "There's no such thing as a free lunch!"

    As with any project of this size and scope, someone has to pay for it eventually. Whether it's through paid advertisements, user donations, subscriptions, or quasi-advertisements (sponsors) like they have on PBS and NPR these days, someone has to foot the bill.
  • Wikipedia should meter their bandwidth by country/region. They can then use the data to petition local federal governments/states/provinces to pay for their share. The funds could come from the 'library' budget.
  • (Score:2, Interesting)

    by lkesteloot ( 132901 )
    Would it make sense to have both and Both would point to the same data, the same database servers, but would have ads and would have some other subtle advantage, like maybe some more bandwidth or more web servers. You'd get a slightly better response at the cost of seeing ads. I'd still choose the .org version, but many people don't mind ads and would prefer the better response time. There are a bunch of disadvantages, like the response time of .org might suffer ex
  • by cperciva ( 102828 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @12:22AM (#18047924) Homepage
    Can someone explain to me when the Wikimedia Foundation suddenly became poverty-stricken? The latest financial statement [] from the Wikimedia Foundation indicates that in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, they received $1,508,039 and spent $791,907 (leaving them with net assets of $1,004,216); according to the Wikimedia fundraising website [] they received a further $1,096,299 in the second half of 2006 and have received $275,427 so far in 2007. In order for the Wikimedia Foundation to be in trouble, they must have gone from spending $791,907 last fiscal year to spending over $2,000,000 in the first 8 months of this fiscal year.

    Personally, I'm not going to make any donations or support advertising on Wikipedia until someone explains where all the money is going.
    • by bawolff ( 984111 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @01:40AM (#18048366)

      Can someone explain to me when the Wikimedia Foundation suddenly became poverty-stricken? The latest financial statement [] from the Wikimedia Foundation indicates that in the fiscal year ending June 30, 2006, they received $1,508,039 and spent $791,907 (leaving them with net assets of $1,004,216); according to the Wikimedia fundraising website [] they received a further $1,096,299 in the second half of 2006 and have received $275,427 so far in 2007. In order for the Wikimedia Foundation to be in trouble, they must have gone from spending $791,907 last fiscal year to spending over $2,000,000 in the first 8 months of this fiscal year.

      Personally, I'm not going to make any donations or support advertising on Wikipedia until someone explains where all the money is going.
      This link [] sort of answers your question.
  • by TheSlashaway ( 1032228 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @12:24AM (#18047932)
    Wikipedia needs to give out their data and let others host parts or all of it. They need to think like Bittorrent. They need one place for edits but multiple places for viewing. This will reduce their costs significantly because others will share the burden of hosting. But I suspect that they just want to cash in and commercialize it. It's also likely there are interests out there that want to control Wikipedia because they want to control information. BTW - Let me ask this. How can I get a copy of all the Wikipedia data? How can I get updates?
  • Advertising isn't wrong, its what you advertise, the deals you make, the concessions you make, and what you give up.

    Before somebody hits me with the predicable Bill Hicks quote, everyone uses google, and they have advertising. They've just chosen to keep it more tasteful and less intrusive than others. The problem with the amount of specialization in our society is that people are hired because they have a really really really good hammer. The challenge is keeping people in an organzation from making decisi
  • I totally agree with founder Jimbo Wales and like him think that the best course of action is to wait until gnomes and elves spawn from thin air and resolve the problem with a magic incantation.
  • by Zaphod2016 ( 971897 ) on Saturday February 17, 2007 @03:22AM (#18048788) Homepage
    Jason Calacanis is a pompous twit who needs to go away. I hereby "shush" him in the name of sanity. If Jimbo "Mr. Wiki" Wales is running out of cash, he'll need to figure something out. If he can keep a cashflow without resorting to more Google Ads, more power to him. Being that I use adblock, this will most likely not affect me at all. And being that Jason Calacanis doesn't even work for Wiki, I fail to see how this is any of his concern. He might be interested to know that I am having a tight month myself. Perhaps he could rant about that for a while, and drum up some PayPal donations for me. If all else fails, he can go back to trolling on Digg.

It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence. -- The Earl of Birkenhead