Jimmy Wales says Wikipedia may accept advertising. I think it’s a good idea. Some will have a kneejerk response against filthy lucre. But I say the right question is: What could those resources buy? The full Times of London interview with Jimbo here.

  • If advertising can fuel “All the News That’s fit to Print” then Wikipedia deserves some support.

    or, “Some of my best friends are in advertising.”

    or, “Even BuzzMachine has ads.”

    oh loyal BuszzMachine reader — did it ever occur to you to click on some of Jeff’s Yahoo! ads just to help fuel his passion(s). Common now!

  • jf

    I see the Seigenthaler affair had to be mentioned in the article. What I never see mentioned is that in less than 5 minutes Siegenthaler himself could have fixed his enclopedia entry, had he bothered, instead of whining and crying for someone else to fix it.

  • I think it’s a good idea too. Wikipedia is a useful source of information that might be even better if they had some ad revenue to support it. It’s not like they’re planning to build an advertising pyramid, the way Squidoo is trying to do for example, lining their own pockets by taking advantage of people’s desire to share information online while telling us they’re really doing it to bring meaning into our lives and help charities … trying to sell us that old purple-painted beachfront property at the bottom of Lake Wobegon that’s been on sale since time began.

  • Cal

    What does it say when some of the most successful WWW entities are done by people offering their service for free? Everyone touts Wikipedia and Craigslist as great models to use and follow, when they both are founded by people who don’t care about money and aren’t trying to make any.

    That you’d even think to mention the “filthy lucre” aspect shows how significant the skew is–people would criticize the guy for making money from his site. The very idea!

    I really think it’s absurd to celebrate media outlets that rely on deep pockets as the wave of the future, or models that the nytimes, etc, should follow.

    “Also, they didn’t take the time to build a community. They just started promoting it wholesale to the general public. So that rather than having a core community of people who cared about the site and to look after it they just had people wandering in with no real personal stake in it.”

    This is a classic example of another type of skew. There are other ways that the LA Times could have managed the problems they had, but to Wales, the only possible solution involves “trusted users”, “personal stakes”, and so on. As long as that’s the only model businesses have, they’ll continue to avoid any group website, whether it be forums or wikis, because it’s a ridiculous requirement that could only be offered up by a guy who isn’t in it for money.

  • Having spent my career working for non-profits I may have a jaundiced view of commerce, but it seems to me we are close to losing this aspect of society completely.

    A non-profit can do things that are not profitable, controversial, or not subject to influence by customers. By accepting ads a site risks becoming compromised by the fear of losing revenue. Some of the small magazines and public interest groups manage to hang on by means of membership dues and contributions. I think this a safe model for something that is trying to promote itself as a neutral source of information.

    Once everything is for sale, then everyone’s motives become suspect. This is one of the problems with the major media. Are they beholding to their advertisers, stockholders or the government which can pass legislation which will adversely their business prospects?
    Since we can never be entirely sure, we always take their reporting with a bit of scepticism. I don’t think this is what is wanted in an encyclopedia.

  • Marina Architect

    Wikipedia should consult with NPR, PRI, KPCC and KCRW: aforementiond public funded operations remain valid and indispensible now with podcasts. Wikipedia can operate on an identical model.

    NPR accepts modest sponsorship but has managed to filter the sponsors as to reduce be unobtrusive: that’s an acquired skill of experience.

  • It’s not clear Siegenthaler could have changed the wikipedia entry in under 5 minutes. Those familiar with wikipedia could have. Siegenthaler might have been able to find a kid or grandkid, or perhaps the kid next door, to help him. It’s wrong to assume….there are several tech-savvy individuals in Siegenthaler’s age bracket. However, it’s also wrong to assume making changes on wikipedia is equally easy for everyone.

  • Jorge

    Just what would be the right advertising for a garbage site like Wikipedia?

  • As a response to Robert Feinman’s comment: one important difference in the case of Wikipedia may be that it would rely on the Long Tail effects. And that solves problems with advertisers who withdraw their business because they disapprove of some content. Put differently: I should think that since Wikipedia has become such a central ressource, it would attract a broad variety of advertisers from all kinds of areas and niches so that a single advertiser (or some advertiser oligopoly) could never exert enough influence to corrupt it.