Interesting Wikipedia stat: 98.3% of registered Wikipedia users are inactive.

While researching for a topic, I was led to Wikipedia. I noticed that they had almost reached the $6,000,000 figure they were targeting for donations. ($5,775,345 at the time of writing this).

Just before this round of appeals, there was an earlier donation appeal (and I think, one earlier as well). Given the track record, and current state of the economy, I doubt this will be the last of donation appeals.

Why does the Wikimedia foundation (who run Wikipedia) not want to place any ads on Wikipedia? If Wikipedia places a simple text link ad (Adsense?) on their pages, they can earn millions every month.

Wikipedia receives over 10 billion page views a month. For the sake of calculation, I will consider 10 billion page views exactly. Typical Adsense CPM for big sites is $5-$10 (not a proven stat – this is just the consensus).  That translates to $50-100 million a month! Even consider a 10% fraction (a very unrealistic $0.50 CPM) and it is still $5-10 million a month.

Is the Wikimedia foundation afraid to take on that much money? Are they afraid that they will be served with all sorts of lawsuits (copyright, defamation, piracy, etc…) when they see some green? Isn’t that what happened with YouTube when Google bought them? No one wanted to sue a small YouTube company, with no money. Once Viacom & co. saw the money in Google’s kitty, they attacked!

Here are some options for Wikimedia to earn just enough ad money:

  • Show ads at random intervals of time.
  • Show ads at the beginning of the month and stop when the monthly goal is reached.
  • Only select important pages to show ads.
  • Provide affiliate links to Amazon (or similar companies) for books, CDs, videos, etc… and venture other affiliate opportunities.

Or why don’t they just share money with contributors? One of the main reasons (if not the main reason) that people stop contributing is the lack of financial reward. Editing a wiki is exciting at first, but the amount of time that has to be invested, especially in this kind of economy, is not appealing to many people. The sheer statistics are overwhelming. There are a little over 8.5 million registered Wikipedia users and just under 150,000 active users (users who have a logged action in the past 30 days). In other words, 98.3% of users have become inactive. Why? 98.3% …. that is staggering. TANSTAAFL – the acronym for the popular, and very true adage “There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”.

Wikimedia Foundation – it is time you start making money and rewarding people, starting with your employees.

To close, here is a tid-bit from the archives (March 2002) where Jimmy Wales talks about advertising:

Therefore, all plans to put advertising of any kind on the
wikipedia is called off for now.

We will move forward with plans for a nonprofit foundation to own
wikipedia, and possibly to solicit donations and grants to help us
carry out our mission.  (Ironically, I think that grant money would
come with many annoying strings attached, which we could not accept,
comparted to advertising money, which is virtually 100% string-free.)


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