Thu 27th August 2009, 3:06am
QUOTE(Limey @ Wed 26th August 2009, 6:20pm)
QUOTE(GlassBeadGame @ Wed 26th August 2009, 10:41pm)
A seat on Ebay's Board of Drectors would be highly paid. Wikipedia has nothing to trade, all ethics aside (where they are usually kept anyway), that would be worth that.
I must disagree about what Wikipedia has to trade. In my opinion, advertising on Wikipedia is a matter not of if, but when. When you take into consideration the WMF's voracious demand for money, I am certain that there will come a time when private donors and foundations simply can't come up with the money it demands. When that time comes, they will start selling ads. A lot of people say "but the community will leave". This is probably wrong and certainly irrelevant. The research shows that Wikipedians burn out quickly anyway and there's humongous turnover, so even a post-ad exodus wouldn't really be that different from anything else. You might lose some high-profile long-time contributors, but so what. No matter what, Wikipedia would stay on top of the google rankings, and in the end that's all that matters.
When the day comes that the WMF starts to sell ads, whoever it partners with in that business will stand to make an enormous amount of money. All of the sites above Wikipedia on the Alexa rankings make most of their money in advertising; and they make lots of it. Facebook made $300 million selling ads last year; Wikipedia would certainly generate revenues in the 10s of millions and most likely in the 100s of millions. A few million dollars for a chance at getting in on that game is more than worth it.
WMF is relatively well positioned in terms of its financial position. Many non-profits hit a wall a few years out from inception, even if the mission of the non-profit is well received by foundations. Foundations are much more willing to fund pilots and the first three years of operation. After that the development staff of non-profits are constantly pressed to create new innovative program aspects that often take the non-profit on tangents and even if they attract grants it will not be able to sustain the core mission. WMF's development of foundation funding was retarded because of the cluelessness of the first generation or two of the "Office." In the meantime it has developed a base of individual giving that can sustain much, if not all, core functions at some baseline of activity. Of course it also has the hole card of ad revenue, which is appropriate for a non-profit to use providing they create a for-profit, tax paying arm.
The important thing is that WMF use the immediate period ahead in which it has foundation support in addition to the other revenues to rapidly build administrative and programmatic staff
capacity. If they did this and
made the right priority choices they could put in place a staff
driven infrastucture needed to a address content quality, BLP concerns, child protective issues, enforce editorial policies and behave in a socially responsible manner. This would take scores of full time employees addressing editorial and programmatic concerns. Or they could just go on endlessly self serving public relations campaigns with ever more reliance on a irresponsible community, immunity and maybe get a couple of Jimbo Jets.