Proposal:Corporate sponsors via corporate pages

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Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

Every proposal should be tied to one of the strategic priorities below.

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  1. Achieve continued growth in readership
  2. Focus on quality content
  3. Increase Participation
  4. Stabilize and improve the infrastructure
  5. Encourage Innovation



Summary

To raise money for the WikiMedia Foundation to supplement or replace the annual donation drive - by creating a paid advertising namespace in Wikipedia. Later: To allow any Wikimedia project to provide a similar advertising namespace, where appropriate.

Proposal

To create a new namespace within Wikipedia for paid advertising. www.wikipedia.org/advertiser/*

These pages would not replace, or interfere with, the mainspace articles. At most, a small text-box would point to the advertisement-space article; similarly to the Wiktionary outboxes on many articles. Beyond that, they will only attract people by being useful and informative to readers and editors, just like any other WikiMedia project.

Companies, organisations or individuals would be able to buy articles at a fixed price. (Purely for example, US$1,000 per article for individuals & NPOs, US$10,000 per article for commercial entities. For example, Microsoft (to pick a classic much-hated company) might buy pages for "Microsoft", "Windows", "Bing", "X-Box 360" and so on, at ten grand a pop.)

The buyer would be required to create the page, provide all the material, and conform to Wikipedia's rules about references, libel, copyright, etc. Only the POV, notability, page-ownership and maybe original-research rules would be eased.

These pages would be in a different colour to any other WikiMedia page (does anyone use green?) and carry a banner at the top:

This page is a advertisement paid for and maintained by [companyname]
Report breaches of the [link|code] of conduct [link|here]

Similarly any links to a sponsored page would be noticably different from the standard blue-links (again, perhaps green.)

A special group of admins would be empowered to oversee the pages to ensure the buyer complies with whatever rules are created for such pages. A separate ethics board would review for any violations of a code of conduct by WikiMedia and the admins.

If the idea proves successful for Wikipedia, it might be expanded to other WikiMedia projects. For example, WikiNews might adopt a press-release name-space: www.wikinews.org/pressrelease/*. It may even be possible to create entire sponsored projects that wouldn't otherwise exist.

Motivation

Keeps Wikimedia projects free for consumers and fundraising is hopefully no longer necessary. To provide a constant source of external income for the Foundation without begging for donations every year, and without the perceived conflict of interest of any other form of sponsorship.

Providing an incentive for organisations to create and donate public domain or at least Wiki-licensed material about themselves, especially logos and other images, which would be usable in the article main-space. (Often these are locked behind restrictive copyright, even though they are intended for publicity.)

To change the whole idea of advertising to being about providing information into the public domain. Every organisation should have a publicly available encyclopaedia and historical archive. Most barely manage more than their current "special offers". We need to spread the ideology of free information being fundamentally good. Psychologically, getting them to pay for it means they will value it more.

Key Questions

  • Can this be done in a way that doesn't invite editorial interference?
  • Would this increase rather than decrease the tendency to POV-vandal and edit-war main articles about those same companies/organisations/products/individuals?
  • Conflicts over ownership of names. To use the above example, does Microsoft sufficiently own the generic term "Office", simple because it is a product? Solve with overly tight rules, or first come first served, or highest bidder wins?
  • Does buying an ad-space article suddenly make you notable in the main-space?
  • Are there enough companies with enough money to act as sponsors?
  • Will existing users get irritated now ads suddenly appear?

Potential Costs

Minimal cost to physically set up.

Buckets of legal cost to establish standard binding contracts, external to the Wiki-rules.

Volunteer time cost, to administer the advertisement namespace. We can assume any major company will always try to push the rules, even the contract agreement, to its limit.

References

(I'm sure proposals like this have been discussed ad nauseum. Feel free to add links to previous WikiPolicy debates here, along with external articles on the theme.)

Community Discussion

Do you have a thought about this proposal? A suggestion? Discuss this proposal by going to Proposal talk:Corporate sponsors via corporate pages.

See Also

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