Proposal:Show ads to unregistered users and encourage them to create an account (and contribute?) to go ad-free

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

Edit this page to help identify the priorities related to this proposal!

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


Show ads to anonymous/unregistered users in order to raise money for Wikipedia. Make it clear alongside the ads that they can be made to go away if the user registers and perhaps attains a certain threshold of contributions. Then, whenever the user is logged in, no ads will be shown.


Ads are an obvious source of revenue, and could raise a torrent of money, given Wikipedia's rank as the sixth most popular web site in the world. But advertising is anathema to many Wikipedians -- disrupting the non-commercial, dot-org aspect of Wiki, annoying users, and perhaps dissuading further contributions from people who more clearly see that money is being earned off their work but not going to them.

This proposal is designed to gain the benefits of advertising while minimizing the downsides. If ads are shown only to unregistered users (or those who have not made more than a certain threshold of edits), existing editors will not be troubled by them. Moreover, the ads could state clearly a means to avoiding them: to contribute as an editor, whether registered or otherwise. This in turn could draw more editors into Wikipedia, as they become curious about turning off the ads, and expressly invited to take a step towards editorship.


First, to raise money for Wikimedia in a way that assures continued editorial independence.

Second, to encourage an influx of new participants and editors, by making more salient the availability of participation -- and by modestly rewarding those who participate.

Key Questions

How adamant are people about rejecting any form of advertising?

What should the thresholds be in order to avoid ads? Must one register, or would sufficient edits from an IP address allow for ad-free displays to unregistered users coming from that address? What constitutes sufficient edits? A certain number over a certain time period to assure commitment and avoid gaming?

Potential Costs

Community warfare over advertising. Costs of implementation.


Jimmy Wales blog post about Wikipedia advertising - October 2006

Community Discussion

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