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Proposal:Wikpedia Fundraising Strategy (small donations)

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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


Raise funds from small donations (a lot of them), and make Wikipedia self-sustaining. It is simple to do: you only have to include everything on Wikipedia instead of deleting.


Without money to pay for servers, professional staff, etcetera, etcetera ... there is no Wikipedia. Period. No matter how Noble and Important this project is.

Wikipedia is in an ideal position to sustain on modest yearly individual donations from an enormous pool of potential donors. Every contributor that sees their stuff in Wikipedia is already in a favorable state of mind (i.e. softened up) for an appeal to donate money. By requiring a brief registration before submitting edits, you also capture the donor information electronically which makes this all low cost to implement.

However, every contributor to Wiki that has been crapped on will never donate money to Wikipedia. Ever.

Right now, Wikipedia is sort of in the crap-and-pounce-on-every-newbie mode and letting the potential for tens of millions in yearly contributed monies go by the wayside. This attitude is for all the "correct" reasons (quality, principles, etc.) but killing Wikipedia.

A while back a person in my office, who gave a lot to charity, said he submitted an article to Wikipedia that was rejected as not notable enough (or whatever the heck it was called by then). He had a hurt puppy dog look on his face. I don't think he would ever consider donating money to Wikipedia.

Just recently I placed some material on the Village Pump, and was called a moron, idiot, lunatic, and worse. I also read of some cartoon people ticked off their stuff was deleted, and there seems to be an endless stream of angry people that took Wikipedia's philosphy that everyone can edit it at face value, only to find it wasn't so.

That is what causes the slow burn in folks. To read that everyone can edit Wikipedia, be bold, and break rules ... only to find in practice none of this is true. If told upfront that new contributions will be reviewed and maybe (or likely) not added, people would accept when their stuff was rejected. (In America, this is known as "truth in advertising".)

There are only a few important requirements for Wikipedia:

1. Raise money

2. Increase # of monthly hits.

3. Increase # of articles/contributors to articles.

4. Stroke the egos of everyone involved with Wikipedia. (Abraham Maslow calls this the "recognition phase" in his hierarchy of needs. There is something called self-actualization above this, but I don't think anyone cares if they make it that far.)

5. Raise more money.

Quality does not appear on this list. People usually shop for "best value", not "highest quality". Once in a while the best is needed, like a pharmaceutical to save your life, but otherwise folks spend the least money needed to meet their requirement. (This is how economists introduce concepts of price elasticity and stuff.) So while quality is a laudable goal that must always be of the highest ... in reality it only counts now and then. Car makers spend enormous money on the paint and finish of a car body, that is absolutely crucial to a sale. No one bought a car for what the underside looked like, so car makers don't spend any more then needed for mechanical functionality on the underside.

This is the point in my proposal where Principled Wikipedians will blow a nut.

Simply put, you have to allow as many contributors and as much data be contributed ... as possible. Be oozingly nice to newbies and hit them up for money at least once a year. And it is easy to do. Let people contribute to the article all the text and edits and links they want, that appear at the bottom. The page editor can keep their ideal perfect version at the top (locked down - we have to get a little real here).

You will end up with a LOT more articles, maybe 30 million. A 1% response to a fund drive appeal with avg. of $100 per donation from a 30 million pool of donors is ... $30 million. Contributors don't even have to do any heavy lifting like writing an article. A lot are satisfied by just submitting an innocuous edit.

Now you will end up with a lot more in Wikipedia, tha majority of which Strict Wikipedians would call trash. Although one man's trash can be another man's gold mine, for sake of argument I'll defer to the Strict Wikipedians here.

There are no hardware or software capacity reasons to reject information from Wikipedia nowadays. So data being rejected now is based solely on editorial reasons, that at present are capricious, inconsistent, and increasingly nit-picky.

The hard-line Wikipedians will have a cow over this, but they are still thinking in terms of paper encyclopaedias. When you flip through a volume of a paper encyclopaedia you see a lot of articles in between. When you search a computer database, just the pertinent articles turn up. All the off-topic, non-notable, who cares what this contributor's cat name is type stuff isn't returned in the search.

The trash, so to speak, both in the searches and on the pages, appears at the end. (This is what Google does. You get the top ten out of a zillion hits in a google search on the first page and folks only read maybe the top two or three on the page.)

However, in this strategy you DO still retain all the pet data people have contributed that they are proud of. And have a good feeling about. And could easily transfer that good feeling about to feeling good about contributing money to Wikipedia.

I work at a major computer data center, that is full of WORN data (write once, read never). So maintaining a lot of data no one is interested in is a common occurence in computer projects anyway.

In summary, keep all the data, edits, articles, and links you can. Let the trash naturally sink to the bottom of the article pages and searches, and hit up folks for a donation.

The only question this proposal needs to address is how to beat down all the admins still in their dreamlike Wiki-utopia. They are really going to hate this and would prefer to go down in flames rather than raise a dime for Wikipedia.

Any questions?

(In addition, more emphasis should be put on donations from GoodSearch, a search engine which donates money for every search. Wikimedia is listed on it.)

Community Discussion

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