So, it’s been almost a year since my last post (again!). Reading through the archives of the site, which has been up for a little over 3 years now, I’m tempted to post an update to some of the older posts. What better way to restart blogging?

In November 2007, I wrote about the iPhone and the hype surrounding it. I suggested looking at alternatives. Since then, Apple has released the iPhone 3G, 3GS and 4. Some of the issues I had with the 1st iPhone version were that it didn’t support 3G, corporate sync and 3rd party apps. The next iPhone release (iPhone 3G) addresses all these, and so I went out and bought one. I owned it till recently. I now have an Android device – the DroidX on Verizon. As an engineer (a Java one at that), I absolutely love the Android OS. Also, Verizon is so much better than AT&T. I hope Verizon’s networks don’t get clogged when the Verizon iPhone comes out next year. I am waiting for the 2nd generation of iPad though.

Fast forward almost a year to September 2008, when Google Chrome was first released. I posted an initial review of the browser (within minutes of it being available for download). A couple of days later, I discovered that my laptop was randomly BSOD-ing when Google Chrome was playing a video. [BSOD = Blue Screen Of Death]. A lot of other users faced the same problem, and that post is, till date, the most commented post on this site.

Apple was dominant then (PC manufacturing and iPhone apps among others), and Apple is dominant now.

In September 2008, I had a look at the initial draft of HTML5 and decided it was a game changer for the whole web experience.  HTML5 is becoming more common with Apple deciding to shun Flash, and more internet-enabled devices (Google TV, for example) appearing on the scene.

One day before we rang in 2009, I wrote about why Wikipedia should stop appealing for funds and place text ads to generate revenue. This post was slashdotted and brought in over 5000 visitors that week, which was pretty impressive considering it was the holiday season. It’s almost time to ring in 2011, and guess what? Another campaign appealing for funds – and this time, there are bigger banners, more people and more money. They were looking for $6 million back then. They’re looking for $14 million now. Wikipedia is an amazing resource and I would hate for it to close. There are a lot of people out there who would like to help, but cannot afford $50 or $100 (this is like a months salary for the labor class in developing countries). These campaigns are becoming more frequent and more intrusive (even more than a simple text ad display).

That’s pretty much a current update on some of my past posts. It’s interesting to observe that technology is advancing everyday and is become more and more ubiquitous and unified. And then, there are some things that don’t change.

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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