Thinking about how wikipedia asked for funds and included an “ad” by the founder Wales asking for money, is the business model for Wikipedia – collaborative commons-based – a sustainable one?
Here is an interesting blog I found
-I would recommend also reading the first response to the blog which shows a different side to the story.
I’ve been wondering whether the model for wikipedia is best for wikipedia, and how other models would work. It seems to me that with the donation-funded model that wikipedia presently uses, the contributors and wikipedia community are a large part of the donating group as they are committed to the program, even if they might not be the ones who use the site the most.
So is the funding-base of wikipedia consistent with its democratic, community style of operating? It seems that ads would evenly distribute themselves so that the more you use wikipedia the more ads you would encounter. This way people are indirectly contributing to wikipedia’s funds based on how much they access wikipedia.
Another possible positive for ads is that incorporating them with wikipedia might generate far more income for wikipedia than the organization is getting from donations, and even more than the current operating budget needs. This could be positive in that it could let wikipedia expand, put more money into technology and research, or do something else like start a collaborative charity fund.
But a possible problem to all of this that is brought up in the article is that ads in the modern way they are being used (facebook style, user-specific) are not really feasible on facebook, because like youtube, content is user-generated, and not always screened by the advertiser. So wikipedia would either have to find some way to entirely separate the content of wikipedia from the ads it runs which would seem like a regression back to old-style ads (TV commercials) or could do something like get sponsors for specific related pages, which like the previous problem has the short-coming that users can still change content with sometimes little discretion.
I think it will be interesting to see what, if anything, wikipedia does to solve this issue, and it could have vast implications for the way future wikipedia-style, collaborative, cummunity-based organizations are run and funded.