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Proposal:Users Can Choose to Take Advertising

From Strategic Planning
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The status of this proposal is:
Request for Discussion / Sign-Ups

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

Wikipedia Foundation needs money to operate, survive and thrive. It can't exist on wishes, prayers, good intentions, grand philosophies, passion and hot air.

One always very tempting and probably very lucrative approach is to take advertising.

But many people oppose advertising probably on philosophical grounds. It has been constantly rejected by the "powers that be".

But my personal philosophy is I would much rather have advertising than have Wikipedia limited by inadequate funding.

Wikipedia needs to give serious consideration to how it can benefit from advertising, without compromising the principles of its members.

I propose what I hope is a very acceptable AND lucrative proposal.

Let each member choose for themselves. Do I accept advertising or do I not ?

If even 20% of the members accept advertising, then, as the web's most visited site, we should have bucketloads of money.

Arguments For

If done well, it probably solves our funding needs forever. If done well, it should not upset the vast majority of those who just don't want advertising on the pages they view, but perhaps will never satisfy those who are zealously opposed to advertising of any form.

Sometimes, on looking at certain information, I would actually appreciate relevant, targetted advertising. Most of the time I wouldn't mind subtle, inoffensive advertising, not crowding out the information I am looking for, not hogging the bandwidth.

I'd rather have advertising than begging. Constantly asking for donations begins to feel like begging. Are we really any less in the hands of those who donate than we would be in the hands of advertisers ?

I don't have much money to donate. I'd rather make money for wikipedia by accepting advertising.

Arguments Against?

There are several arguments over how we would best transition to such a situation. But these are not arguments against doing it, only for doing it well. Are there any real arguments against this proposal? Allowing each member to make their own choice, rather than a few people making the decision for everyone.

The vast majority of our access is by anonymous readers and it would be difficult to give them a choice as to whether or not to see advertising. If we default to advertising and give them an optout we lose our reputation. If we default to opt in and give them a choice scarcely any will choose to see our ads. Either way if we have anything to do with advertising we risk another damaging fork such as in 2002.


  • Non-members (anonymous, not logged on users) will get advertising.
    • This will actually give some people an incentive to sign-up and log-on

  • The default for new members is that they get advertising.
    • Alternative: The sign up process could ask them if they wish to tailor the advertising they receive.
    • Alternative: They could be offered this option once they have, somehow, proved their value as a citizen-member. eg: Useful contributions, no warnings for abuse etc.
  • Tailoring advertising. The user could indicate the kind of advertising they don't want, or the type of advertising they do want.
    • On Facebook they have a thumbs-up, thumbs down system. If you like a particular ad, give it the thumbs up. You'll get more of those. I give the thumbs up for anything to do with canoeing, the thumbs down for annoying things like obvious scams. I'd probably thumbs down the exploitative ads (Sex Sells). But for Wikipedia I'd probably even accept gambling, drinking, even smoking ads, if I knew Wikipedia was getting paid just to show these ads.
    • Need to be able to choose only those Ads for which Wikipedia gets paid for display, and not relying on a click-through for payment.
    • I find the smallest google text ads very, very inoffensive. But ads that fire off movies with sound I detest, regardless of the product. The user should be able to select which type of ads they accept / don't want. (Whilst being constantly but subtly reminded that Wikipeidia benefits by having advertising.)
  • Give all members notice that the system will be coming in, and give them say a month to complete their "Advertising Preferences" settings before actually beginning to include ads. Sure, we'd get a few complaints when people get ads and they haven't paid attention to the notices, might even even lose a few people. but, if handled properly, this should not be a significant problem.
  • Regulate the rate of advertising
    • If advertising can become a main part of resource, and risk to disturb or perhaps destroy Wikimedia, we must regulate it before.
    • Main rate for non-members and new members is the same as statistic mean rate of the members they have choose their.
    • Default tailoring for non-members and new members is the statistic main tailoring of the members they have choose their.
    • Accept many little advertisers, but discard a monopolistic advertiser.
    • Limit advertising to 200% (to study) the rate of donating.

See also


Past discussions of optional ads (opt-in ads)

Since starting this page I have found this reference, but not yet followed it up

Please see Wikipedia:Advertisements and Wikipedia talk:Advertisements.

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