Brainstorming for revenue sources

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Please post links to relevant previous work here at the top and insert new discussion below as the spirit moves you.

Making Wikipedia profitable (w:Neeklamy and others)

Why does a community need revenue independent of philanthropists or sponsers?

See the previous wiki experience of one of our enthusiastic new wikipedians. w:user:Tim Chambers

Links to draft case studies:


Local discussion, hopefully heavily edited and/or consolidated into the case studies above.


Potential product list
  • CD/DVD sets
  • B2B services for web portals
  • Applicable book referals through an affilate program
  • Applicable product referals through an affiliate or catalog program (small percentage commissions on bulldozers add up)

Advertising, standard methods.



Planning for Success

Since wikipedia.com is nearing critical mass and there will soon be lots of traffic and heavy contributor load we will soon be needing lots of computer resources, administrative staff, and bandwidth and of course profits to provide ROI.

What are our current plans for revenue sources?

Some initial thoughts of mine:

Advertisement ..... yuck! Well I can live with but some people do not like it much.

Book sales commissions.

Affiliate program with online booksellers such that wikipedia.com gets a commission on click through purchases.

Providing links at the bottom of articles should not be too offensive to most people. At least IMHO. At any FreeEngineering wiki's I setup we will certainly be attempting this with useful engineering texts and references. A lot of people like books for reference and study mode and do not mind paying for them even when available online for free.

Web store Consumer merchandise. All the usual publicity aid profit centers. Shirts, mugs, patches, hats, etc. One button access on front page should bother people.

Longer term

CD sales, entire wikipedia sets, specific subjects or books.

User subscriptions Yuck! I am in the project because free access to educational materials online could accelerate larger goals of the global society I would like to live in. By donating some time I can help myself and all others with internet access.

Forking and Mirroring

If the local material is truly free and subscriptions become necessary to commercial success, then a fork may occur.

Perhaps we should pre-emptively setup a non profit organization friendly and sympathetic to Wikipedia's owners and contributors interests before someone else does so. The non profit could implement sufficient revenue models to sustain itself and provide free beer services to the public while the commercial Wikipedia could focus on more demanding revenue sources requiring constant professional attention to maximize profits.

I think forking would be a terrible idea -- it is difficult enough to maintain one version of an article. "Forking" of free software/content should only be considered if there are irreconcilable differences between two or more significantly large groups of contributors to a project on how the project should continue. However, read-only mirrors that get backed-up every so often or even simple backing-up of the wiki software (which is under the w:GPL) and especially content is a necessity. BTW I know this isn't your intention, but I feel that I need to say something anyway (in case someone else reading this only skimmed what you state above): Jimbo and his company have every right to make a profit off of wikipedia content. Of course, he does have to conform to both the w:GNU FDL and w:GNU GPL -- both licenses legally preventing anyone from making a non-free version of wikipedia. I'm just worried about some act of god destroying the data or for Bomis to fold without making sure the content of wikipedia is handed over to someone with the spare server space and bandwidth to continue the project. Oh and according to Larry Sanger a non-profit is being seriously considered as the administrating body of wikipedia. maveric149

If a fork occurred then I would expect different user communities to evolve. As you point bouncing between multiple sites would be difficult and I suspect most people would choose to donate/maintain their work at either the fork (free or commercial) or the original commercial entity, Bomis; but not multiple sights.

As the front page is current setup I think it takes advantage of the public image of the FSF and open/free movements to encourage new user buyin. If after a weeks of participation new users/contributors/free developers find that they have misunderstood the purpose and intention of the site then there will never be a large group of dissatisfied wikipedians here.

If this mode of operation is intentional to help a commercial entity achieve critical mass then in my view it may be fraudulent exploitation of the applicable licenses. Even if unintentional it has the potential to damage the prestige of the licenses and should be repaired as quickly as possible.

Sure wikipedia has every right to make a profit. The terms of the licenses cited as intended to preserve everyone else's right to use the same commons collaboratively created to make a profit providing similar or different services around the open/free content.

I suspect that few new users will be familiar enough with the way wikis operate under these licenses to know that the content may useless to competitors unless the attribution data and revision control information along with previous versions are provided. Particularly since extensive discussion around related issues are taking place attempting to resolve these issues.

The licenses are intended to help maintain truly free marketplaces, not assist commercial entities in establishing captive market share.




CD one offs

Perhaps for the nearterm there would be a market for burned snapshot image archives at a modest fee to get mirror sites and new developers up and running without massive downloads.

While in my view this data should be available for download online; many potential developers have slow internet access at home and might leap at a starter CD at a modest fee.

Another related thought, we might focus on an initial collection of public domain material and get it complete enough to be commercially attractive long before the entire encyclopedia is complete enough to be commercially viable. --user:mirwin