Ads worse than begging banner?
When I think I once gave 25$ to WPF. Now, I'd rather have ads than a begging banner. Or maybe I should add it to AdBlock...
The latest accounts for the charity behind Wikipedia show it has assets of $60m, including $27m in ready cash: up more than $12m from 2013. That's far more than the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) needs to run a website. And the timing is embarrassing: Wikipedia is currently begging for more cash to (in its own words) "keep …
Upside Down Christmas Tree
I used Wikipedia to read up on this. On their page for this, it is claimed it was first introduced as a marketing scheme, and honestly it could of been (I don't care). However, their source was the ONLY source for this claim. Unsurprisingly, there are numerous sources that align in origin of many beliefs that in no way suggest that its origins are of marketing. So 1 vs. MANY. How could you possibly cite Wikipedia with when there is such little background information in their sources?
In my experience, most Wikipedia sources no longer exist at all if they ever did. Broken links or links to non-existent material seem to comprise the majority of their sources, and appear to be written in as "support" for the editor's opinions. Another problem is that links that do work are often to a source that is completely contradictory to the opinion formed by the Wikipedia editor.
Wikipedia used to be somewhat useful when you could follow their links and form your own opinion of the source materials. But now? Worse than worthless as far as I can tell.
> the millions of broken links
This state of affairs is inevitable, given how long lived many articles are; I've often encountered this same problem when preparing technical documents over a period of a few months, discovering content that has changed, moved etc..
What is irritating are those references and sources where only a URL has been given. Once these are broken, locating the referenced source can be challenging. At least where a publication is named, you can (potentially) go to a decent library and look the article up. But as more and more is published on the Internet this will become more problemmatic, both to users and Wikipedia editors (how can you tell if a revision is correct or not, if you can't access the original sources to determine the correctness or otherwise of the original wiki article?).
@Luc Le blanc
Whatever you - or anyone else - might think of the WMF, there is a clear reason to prefer donations over ads: ads introduce potential conflicts of interest.
Mr Orlowski clearly has issues with WMF but I am sure that, in his role as editor of The Register, he is familiar with the accusations that get leveled at any website where there is seen to be a vested interest in keeping the advertisers happy and not saying anything to upset them.
There are enough criticisms of Wikipedia without adding that.
The IBAN on Wikipedias page is a Swiss Post Office account in Zurich. Why do Jimmy and the board feel the need to put the donations into a Swiss account when the head office is in San Francisco.
Even though they are a Post Office per se, ( They are actually a bank), they also are held to the "Secret Bancaire." which means that no-one can take a nosey though the accounts.
So before you start making big donations, ask yourself some questions about how the money is really being used....
When it smells like fish.....
... is in constant threat of being extinguished. Removal of a child's photo of a butterfly and they cry that wikipedia will collapse. Pending changes - wikipedia will collapse. Image filter so you don't get some crap porn when you multimedia search for "tolling bell" - wikipedia will collapse. Removal of biographies of z-list celebrities and wikipedia will collapse. Google not linking of decades old, out dated information has Wales screaming wikipedia will collapse.
My view is that I'd rather have Wikipedia seek donations (beg for money) than place paid advertisements - once advertisers start funding it, they'll be after editorial control either subtly or not so. While Wikipedia's veracity is sometimes questionable, I'd rather it was because of human error than down to the influence of the filthy lucre.
I just wish they could do it more subtly rather than the big yellow boxes and the 'sky is falling' messages which just turn people off.
OOh! Think I touched a nerve with a couple of employees there.
There are several pro money for Wikipedia comments here that almost look as if they were dictated.
I find Wikipedia useful and probably look up something two or three times a week, however if they did not exist I would just search past where they would have been and most of the time still find the info' I am looking for.
My Little Pony included.
Wikipedia is so big it makes for lazy searching, not necessarily a bad thing but it does lay them open to the often made comment about biased writers and editors because many searchers don't go beyond the 'top of the search' wiki article and the bias becomes accepted as gospel.
That is why I would not donate to them, if the content was guaranteed bias free then I might be so inclined but not when they clearly have a large surplus and a penchant for spending that money on possibly spurios things without being accountable.
Downvote me as much as you like, it's your right as much as it's mine to have this opinion.
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I stopped donating when I read last year's annual report. Not only do they have a staff that might be oversized, but your donations also end up in all sorts of endowments for media projects and research. I'm fine with funding their servers, I could even understand them having some fat (although they're overdoing it, it seems), but if (a part of) your money goes straight to whatever projects someone (no clue who) thinks are interesting and worth funding... That's the proverbial drop.
A better option would be to offer donors options of how their money will be used. This is something that some charities are doing, allowing you to donate to the charity generally or to specific appeals or causes or countries, right down the the specific project or item in some cases. Some allow you to contribute to the admin costs separately.
This would be the best way for WMF to set this up - have options so you can give to the foundation as a whole, to one group or another or even to a direct component, such as server costs or the various initiatives.
That would allow people to focus their money on those areas and projects they personally support. (Or make use of.)
Than take millions from the Koch brothers or George Soros and articles start subtly being revised to fit their political slant.
I'm more concerned about the poster above who says the money is going into a Swiss bank account. If true, what possible reason could there be for that, unless the founders want to skim some of it without anyone finding out?
Maybe because they want to take donations from all over the world and the Swiss can actually make that happen? Many of the same qualities that attract money launders, tax cheats and kleptocrats are also attract honest business.
Jayzus! I need to got take a shower - I'm not only defending Wikipedia but Swiss Banks...
I'm perfectly able and willing to help pay for a site that I make use of and I would prefer to pay than the site go ad-supported (and all that comes with it). I've donated to Wikipedia a number of times in the past.
But I stopped when they tried to take the product of someone else's work on a technicality (the "Simian Selfie") and decided that not only did they not care about the individual who paid for the equipment, set everything up, spent many days slowly becoming accepted by the macaques and had specifically travelled around the world to photograph them and did all the post processing on the image - all on a legally untested contention of theirs; they also wanted to set themselves up as the moral arbitrators of right and wrong. The Wikipedia page on the subject is the smuggest little thing I've ever seen on there, dripping with fake objectiveness. Clued me in to the nature of some of the people there. Not impressed.
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Nonetheless I'm pleased that they have a surplus that will allow them to weather storms and pay for research. This has to be by far the most ingenious and useful service on the World Wide Web. I and millions of other donors don't take offence at the occasional appeal, but realise that this is amazing value for money. If we don't support it, it will die. If it starts accepting advertising it will become the advertisers' dead poodle. Advertising is the unspoken madness of the modern world.
Last week was not the first, and certainly won't be the last, time I gave them a donation.
got this a short time ago (after I read el reg story)
Thank you for helping keep Wikipedia online and ad-free. I’m sure you’re busy, so I’ll get right to it. We need your help again this year. Please help us forget about fundraising and get back to improving Wikipedia.
If all our past donors simply gave again today, we wouldn't have to worry about fundraising for the rest of the year.
To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations from our readers. Now is the time we ask.
If Wikipedia is useful to you, please take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year.
For a charity, the number you need to look at is "free reserves", which isn't a number on the balance sheet, but may be in the Trustee's report, or you can work it out yourself.
Assets that the charity needs in order to carry out its activities, such as the servers the site is hosted on are not free reserves. The cash is, provided it isn't restricted funds, but you need to deduct the liabilities and commitments from that.
 Commitments are also not shown on the balance sheet, but should be in the notes to the accounts somewhere. Where you have a contract with someone to provide services, and the money isn't due yet, because the service has not yet been provided, that is a commitment.
I'd really love to bitch about Wikipedia too except that I use it all the time and find it the most useful site on the Internet so it wouldn't make sense. It appears that a large chunk of the connected population does too.
On the other hand, we could make a principled stand and leave the dissemination of information to Internet mega-corporations with more-or-less opaque management practices, billions in the bank, and an interest in optimising the content and style for their own financial gain. WTF.
I don't have much of a problem with Wackypedia itself, but the WMF must die, for the good of Wackypedia itself.
Self-appointed bureaucracies taking control of open source / crowd sourced projects is not a good way to go. Firefox is another good (bad) example.
The problem with your complaint is that all of the wikipedia content is already available elsewhere. If you are in the UK you have free access to Britannica through your library membership. Plus all the Oxford reference works. Plus loads of music and art references. True they don't have 1000s of "My Little Pony" articles but I suspect that isn't what you are looking up.
What has happened is that WP has polluted the internet, its pages dominate search engines to the exclusion of better works. The result is that you will almost always get 3rd rate information for any search query.
One could argue that the Wikipedia(s) provide coverage of topics that the more established encylopaedias chose not to cover (eg the My Little Pony, Transformers etc, "youtuber"s) but then they have editorial boards that define what goes in.
In theory on Wikipedia if enough reputable authors have written enough about a topic, then it may warrant inclusion. But there's no editorial board, just a pile of editors discussing (though often arguing) amongst themselves as to whether the coverage is sufficient. And sometimes those arguments turn into arguments among editors about each other.
Articles balloon into great tracts rather than the pithy content you get in encylopaedias, until they become précis of the several books the editors have read. What is needed some times is a short introduction to the subject, and then a list of books to read where the detail is. Instead, you get something like the list of people who where on the Titanic ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passengers_of_the_RMS_Titanic ) which names every benighted soul that was on that fateful journey, and which is - for the most part - of no use or interest to anyone save the Titanic obsessive or a descendant.
[for the most part - of no use or interest to anyone save the Titanic obsessive or a descendant.]
They claim 4.5 million articles but the vast number of them are of the form "X is a village in Outer Mongolia with a population of 216", "Y is a moth in the A family", or "Z is a football player in the 4th division of the Turks and Caicos Islands league". As such they contain no extra information than that which you had to start with.
"leave the dissemination of information to Internet mega-corporations with more-or-less opaque management practices, billions in the bank, and an interest in optimising the content and style for their own financial gain"
Sums up Mr Wales' approach nicely. Apart from currently only having millions rather than billions in the bank, a problem he is working hard to solve. Wiki management practices are more opaque than any mega-corporation.
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...banner ads suggest disaster may be imminent if people don't donate..." -
Hardly the collapse of civilisation is it? Just means a few more students will have to actually open those papery things they buy at the start of the year, do some reading and then actually come up with their own essays!
Seems to be a lot of hostility toward Wikipedia of late.
I've had text books (pre-internet) with greater number of mistakes compared to this site.
Name one private encyclopedia that covers as many subjects with as much depth as wiki?
It has its problems. Some contributors may make mistakes, some pages are vandalized (occasionally by "academics" trying to prove a point) and some pages are written by marketing scum, but these get weeded out by an open system.
Speaking of marketing scum... Who stands to gain if Wikipedia slips off into the night?
M$? Think they've given up on Encarta.
A begging banner is annoying, but the site has always been free and ad-free at point of use. I've always found it very useful for a quick check, mostly unbiased and easy to reference.
"Who stands to gain if Wikipedia slips off into the night?"
People looking for solid, reliable information not amateur written and agenda edited only to get to the real citations at the end of an article?
One could garner "facts" from a WP article just before the editors cleaned up some nonsense and put that BS into a paper. The citations can be dangerous as well.
With all the sources of information available on the web, I wonder why anyone uses WP.
In answer to your question: "Who stands to gain if Wikipedia slips off into the night?"
Wikipedia badly needs competition. It isn't hard to imagine an open access, free Wikipedia that simply prohibited anonymity (the single biggest cause of grief) and funded some fact-checking. Only ideology prevents Wikipedia doing this tomorrow, even though the quality would improve enormously, and the reach (into schools, for example) would also expand.
Nothing convinces me the world needs another monopoly.
Hi Andy, I am the founder of Newslines, which aims to replace all of Wikipedia's biography and news-based pages (the most popular pages), by creating crowdsourced pages based on news events.
Because we built Newslines' editing system from the ground up, we have found that many of the ideas people have about creating "the next Wikipedia" do not work in practice. For example, we have found that anonymity is one of the key points to avoid harassment, and is not an indicator of quality. Real names policies and other identifiers are used by Wikipedia editors to gain advantage. By making our system completely anonymous during the edit process, editors cannot reject posts based on the identity of the writer, a situation that happened to me when I was a Wikipedia editor.
Another counter-intuitive point is that because we pay our writers ($1 per post) we have found that, unlike Wikipedia, which has 90% male editors, Newslines has 80% female and minority writers. In the end,. I came to the conclusion that the wiki software itself causes almost every one of Wikipedia's public problems.
WIkipedia is one truly bright star on the webs. I'm a fan, a supporter, a defender. It is stunning to me that envious, know-it-all critics sit out there on their terminals and poke barbs at how they raise and spend money. Nobody's perfect. But they have done so well, creating a brand new thing, that works well, not perfectly, but so well, that I say, "Shut up and sit down."
I want WIkipedia to have a nice, fat cushion of funding. I don't want Wikipedia to ever be threatened. I don't want Wikipedia to be ad supported. Ever.
You are exactly the type of donor that the Wikimedia Foundation has brainwashed with their annual spin, that your money is used to keep the site working well. They do that with 10% of the money they receive. The other 90% they use to stuff savings accounts and buy treasury bonds, pay software developers to write non-functioning code, pay rent in one of America's most expensive cities, and travel the world to expensive locations like Haifa, Hong Kong, London, and Rio.
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