What’s Up With The Wikipedia Plea for Donations?

Update: Wikipedia reached its goal. See below.

If you’ve visited Wikipedia lately, you may have noticed a new banner displayed across the top of every page. The banner, shown below, directs users to a plea for donations by Wikipedia founder, Jimmy Wales.

Wikipedia Plea for Donations 

Why Do They Need Donations?

According to the plea, Wikipedia needs donations to cover its operating expenses of about 6 million dollars per year which pays the salaries of its 23 employees, as well as the additional costs of managing the website. Wales says:

Your donation helps us in several ways. Most importantly, you will help us cover the increasing cost of managing global traffic to one of the most popular websites on the Internet. Funds also help us improve the software that runs Wikipedia — making it easier to search, easier to read, and easier to write for.

Now, all of us seasoned bloggers and webmasters can easily think of a great solution: advertising. But for some reason, Wales does not want to place ads on the Wikipedia website. In the plea, he states that he wants to keep Wikipedia free of charge and free of advertising. Again, I wonder, what is wrong with advertising? After all, some might say that the persistent banner solicitation of donations is akin to advertising…

Wikipedia Appeal 

Just Put Up An Ad Already!

If Wikipedia were to place advertisements on their website, they would be able to generate more than enough revenue to cover their operating costs. Alternatively, they could also attract paid ‘category sponsors’, who would pay top dollar for Wikipedia advertising spots. And if advertisements were tastefully added, Wikipedia could monetize its traffic, all without changing the user experience.

In this economy, using donations as a sole source of revenue is probably not the best business model, especially given the potential for the website.

What do you think?

Wales doesn’t say why he wants to keep Wikipedia ad-free, but perhaps he is worried about how Wikipedia users would react. Would they stop adding information? Would they stop volunteering their time?

What do you think? Would you stop using Wikipedia is ads were present? Would it dilute its authority and change its use as a web encyclopedia?


Update: Wikipedia Successfully Meets $6M Fundraising Goal

According to Venture Beat, Wikipedia successfully met its fundraising goals and raised over $2 million in just 8 days of advertising for donations! Read more in their article "Wikipedia raises $6.2 M, exceeds 2008 fundraising goal".

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31 Responses to “What’s Up With The Wikipedia Plea for Donations?”

  • Kurt Avish December 30, 2008 at 10:50 pm

    Out of subject: By the way there was a PR update yesterday :-) I managed to reach a pr 1 atleast lol. Domain name age 28 days.

    Now concerning the post:

    I personally dont think that adding some advertisements on wikipedia will ruin user experience. If they place the adverts at the right place and not bombard users with too much annoying banners of the type “Hey you are the 1000th visitor and you won 1 million dollars” then it should be fine.

    Wikipedia contain very useful content and content matter most. For example if I am looking at a website which is giving me valuable information, I wont matter about the little ads by the side.

    However for a site which have poor content and an overdose of ads…that really ****.

    I think wikipedia should not only depend on donation. They can do a little survey or poll to know about people opinion about the ads.

    • Velvet Blues December 31, 2008 at 12:24 pm

      Congrats with your PR. That’s pretty good for a new domain. :-)

      Yes, if tastefully done, then ads would be a good idea. And you’re right, they should poll their users to see what is the best solution for the future.

  • Jen Patton December 31, 2008 at 8:11 am

    It kind of blows my mind when I think about all of the food banks who are begging for donations because so many less people are giving and here is a site that would be able to easily attract advertisers yet they are asking people to donate.

    I say- get the advertisers- it is not going to detract from Wikipedia if it is done tastefully. Use the tools that you have available to you- how many people would kill to have a site like that so they could have advertisers.

    • Velvet Blues December 31, 2008 at 9:35 am

      You are right. There are so many other important causes which help people with more pressing needs. So it does seem a bit unfair that a web encyclopedia is also asking for donations, especially when it would be relatively easy for them to raise their own money through advertisements.

  • Miguel @ Simply Blog January 1, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Interesting, if organizations were transparent about their spending and needs, folks might be more willing to give. You all are right- these are apparently tough times for people. Yes, Wiki should consider allowing ads but with tact of course. :)

    • Velvet Blues January 1, 2009 at 3:25 pm

      That is so true. Wikipedia isn’t that transparent. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not they decide to implement advertising, because I doubt that donations will be going up.

  • haverhill01835 January 1, 2009 at 4:08 pm

    If Wikipedia began taking ads – what would make it overall different than lets say Google? There’s continued questions as to the reliability of information that can be garnered from Wikipedia. I’m all for keeping the non-commercial nature of Wikipedia the way it is, but I’m also for better reliability of the material on the site. If advertising were to help offset the cost of paying for reliability – then I’m all for it. (I go Google anyway when it comes to research…Wikipedia usually doesn’t even make it to my radar screen…)

    • Velvet Blues January 1, 2009 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks for visiting. Yes, Wikipedia is generally regarded as a resource because at the very least, it does link to credible sources. One of the reasons why Wikipedia isn’t regarded as that reliable is because it is edited by volunteers. If Wikipedia had more revenue, they could devote more energies to moderating the different articles and fact checking, or by rewarding volunteers or part-time workers for doing this. Either way, I am pro-advertising. I think that it would cover their operating costs and pay for additional improvements.

  • qarla January 2, 2009 at 2:26 pm

    100% correct!

  • Forsaken@Domain Marvelous | Domain Name Information | January 3, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    Wikipedia is the number one source of information on the web and putting up ads on it would not affect its visitor numbers in anyway.

    The only way they can spoil their reputation is by asking for money or worse, consider membership or subscription features. God-willing, the latter is never implemented in Wikipedia.

    • Velvet Blues January 3, 2009 at 8:15 pm

      Yes I doubt that ads would change Wikipedia. But apparently they won’t need ads. They announced that they not only met, but exceeded, their fundraising goals. In 8 days, they raised over $2 Million Dollars! So, I stand corrected on this one.

  • TrainWreckIdeas January 8, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    I am just so glad that they met their goal. Whenever I am bored, wikipedia lifts me from that place of solitude. After I watch a movie, and there is something I think I missed, Wikipedia usually brings me up to speed.

    • Velvet Blues January 8, 2009 at 11:03 pm

      Yes, I suppose it is good that they reached their target. And I definitely overestimated the support of the Wikipedia community. Donors definitely stepped up to the plate when asked to contribute.

      And yes, I use Wikipedia for everything as well. It’s always a great starting point for learning about something.

  • Christopher Williams December 19, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Maybe the worlds governments should sponsor wikipedia and similar projects, as they are for everyone.

  • greg November 16, 2010 at 12:22 am

    i think its jimmy’s personal scam for gettn rich. hes been doing this every year for the past several years–last year i think he raised even more than 6mil. so my question is: EXACTLY how much does it cost to run a free info website where the vast majority of the information is being posted by free volunteer labor?

  • semra December 11, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    I think Wale doesn’t want to pay money to people who write for Wikipedia. if Wikipedia gets advertisement, the revenue will increase highly and writers want to receive a share logically. Wale forced to pay them if he wants to keep on. However, it is not going to be easier than right now.
    Excuse my English

  • Florin December 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm

    If they have the 6 Million foundraising goal , why they put now the 16 Million goal up???? Let me tell you why, because some hosting companies will be overpaid and they will give some money underhand back. Somebody gets a new car, a house and a pool for Christmas this year :) ) Easy beasy!!!

  • Paula December 26, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Seriously people, ya, how much does it cost to run a website like Wikipedia?
    I’ll be interested to see if the website looks different after all the cash has been raked in.
    Wikipedia, although helpful, not entirely dependable or 100% factual information.
    I enjoyed the post about the “food banks”, people are starving and we are paying some British dude gobs of money. It doesn’t make sense and no, I did not donate.

  • Salbaba December 30, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    16 millions is kinda bullshit for website. I bet he wanna buy lamborghini, hollywood palace with that big money. server only cost 30k and he asked 16 million that is bullshit, better donate yer money to haitian…

  • Peggy October 15, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    Advertising can and will affect content posted on the site.

    Say Wikipedia is sponsored by Tylenol, and a user adds the story about Tylenol laced with poison back in the 1980′s, well all Tylenol has to do is tell the moderators at Wiki “We will pull our advertising dollars, if you do not remove the articles involving poison scares and our products”. Every company especially large ones have some skeletons in the closet that they don’t want people finding out about. It’s better to keep it donor only.

  • Paul November 28, 2011 at 12:18 am

    Sorry, but since Wales has such disdain for the “White Male” version of reality, this white male says screw him.

    Wikipedia is a joke. Try and post anything critical of Obama and it gets taken off immediately. These are a bunch of lefty punks getting rich off of volunteer efforts.

    Screw them all!

  • nicolapie November 28, 2011 at 2:13 am

    I’m just curious about them raising 6million to cover costs of the salaries of the 23 employees, plus “website-management costs..” That’s $260,000 a year each if split equally? That’s a pretty huge salary. So I’m wondering how much they really need to make in donations.
    I also think that is important to question which is better: for Wikipedia to get adds, make some revenue, and therefore have a secure income and better reliability of information… or to not risk letting it decrease in popularity by introducing advertisements? Would it stop being a universally used service? Wikipedia is powerful now because informed people trust it and use it (with discretion of course), and less informed people use it, too. It is equally accessible information, by anyone. People can empower themselves.
    Wikipedia is great because it is a great reflection that we are curious, by nature, to seek truths. A nice commonality of the lovely race of humankind.

  • Robert January 17, 2012 at 4:10 am

    I wish Wikipedia would just quit whining and just run ads already. They are “holier than thou” with their attitude against ads.

  • Elliander Eldridge November 15, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    They are doing it again. Honestly, I think they should just close down. It’s become nothing more than a place for different companies to go to war over making themselves look better and their competition worse.

  • Andrew November 15, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    I understand!!

    It keeps it unbiased and it keeps it unmanipulated and free from market pressures and Agendas. The only true media is media that is free from Political & Commercial Agenda. If you have sponsors providing funds, then they can exert influence in order for you to keep those funds.

    • The Watcher November 27, 2012 at 7:03 pm

      “It keeps it unbiased and it keeps it unmanipulated and free from market pressures and Agendas. The only true media is media that is free from Political & Commercial Agenda.”………ha ha ha ha ha ha

      SERIOUSLY…you are dreaming… They should get the CIA to donate…they could spare a few million from their massive opium profits from Afghanistan…

      see this link


  • Jan November 16, 2012 at 3:56 am

    If Wikipedia were to accept ads it would lose its non profit status most likely. That would put it into a different tax bracket and add additional regulations which could increase their expenses. As a non profit, I believe you can write them and get a prospectus which they are legally required to supply.That will show you where the money is going. I personally prefer it without ads but if push comes to shove then ads would certainly increase revenues for them which would more than likely cover the added expenses they would incur by allowing ads.

    • Velvet Blues November 17, 2012 at 11:45 am

      Non-profits make money all the time without relying solely on donations. It is how the organization uses the money and its mission that determines whether it is a non profit.

  • blake November 26, 2012 at 2:44 am

    i really do not care wik goes down closes etc there are more important things to give my money to like childrens hospital if wik keeps asking for donations ill just go somewere else simple

  • John December 9, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    They don’t like advertisement on their site, yet they’re advertising for donations. What the hell? Putting adds up on a website wont hurt anyone. They can find ways to make their website faster with ads. The the CEO is an idiot.

  • blake December 14, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    tired of constant pley for money i do not need to use your site u keep interupting my searches if your wikipedia goes out of business i really do not give a hoot there mort important people like sick children who could use my donations than wikipedia so shut down your web site already ill never give any donations


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