Fundraising committee/2006/Merch ideas

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Fundraising so far has focused mostly on asking for donations -- which is vital, of course. But there's a lot of potential for selling Physical Stuff, because (as webcomics authors and for-pay bloggers have discovered over the past few years) people are much more inclined to pay for physical objects than for bits/abstractions alone (like access to a hidden webpage or a feeling of Deep Moral Satasfaction). w:John Gruber, who writes his mostly-ad-free weblog for a living (and lives off the T-shirt sales), estimated that w:Jason Kottke could have more than doubled his intake if he had sold t-shirts (as a subscription incentive). Wikipedia doesn't have to follow this model, but (in short) Gruber is a fundraising badass and we should get his advice.

Wikipedia has an advantage over Gruber or Kottke: they're individuals, and we're a crowd. The challenge lies in making it interesting for people from that crowd to help fundraise.

Merch Peer Production[edit]

Creating designs[edit]

There's no reason we couldn't have (say) 200 different designs. We already have content that people are interested in and identify with (indeed, content they helped create) -- that content should go on merchandise.

Stuff like that sticker is a start, but the ultimate goal should be to sell article-text merch on a huge array of cool topics, all in the same, recognizable format. We should find a way to programmatically create image files that look like the sticker, using an arbitrary amount of plain text as an input (possibly I could figure out how to do this using photoshop actions; and I'd be surprised if GIMP didn't offer something similar).

Potential challenges[edit]

  • Scarcity creates demand (especially in fashion); 200 designs, available all the time, could be overwhelming. We could change the roster of available designs every month (as w:Threadless does), and make discontinued designs available as donation gifts.
  • We need a final (or semifinal) layout to use as the basis for the text algorithm thingy. (For example, Gyre thinks the Wikipedia name should be bigger.)
  • How open should the image creation process be? We definitely don't want official-looking images (and hopefully anything in the minimalist monochrome Hoefler Text style will connote "wikipedia" after awhile -- or another style will, if another's chosen) floating around with offensive text, for example. We should probably have people suggest articles they want to see made into bumperstickers (or calendars or whatever) and have someone else actually generate the images. (We don't have to go to lengths to keep the algorythm secret -- that would be insane -- but we probably shouldn't have, say, a web form that anyone can type text into.)
  • Text doesn't print well on cloth; clothing could only have a line of text or so without being prohibitively expensive.
  • We need to make sure the finished products work as objects, not just as images on the screen. (Anectdote: I just bought a couple shirts from ThinkGeek and desipite having cool designs, they look mediocre -- ThinkGeek's probably lost a lot of customers because their shirts are box-shaped.)
  • There's added incentive for companies to slant articles in their favor if they know the article will go on a product. The following paragraph, borderline-acceptable in the Mousepad article, really shouldn't be on an actual mousepad that wikipedia sells: Most users treat mousepads as an unnecessary accessory and cheap throw-away item. However, there is a growing trend, especially with gamers, for high quality mouse pads. There is now a fairly large variety of high quality "gaming grade" mouse pads. In the beginning, there were only three such manufacturers: Everglide (arguably the first to come onto the market), closely followed by fUnc Industries, and Ratpadz (made by [H]ard|OCP). In 2005 several more companies followed suit, including Steelpad, Icemat, Razer, Qpad, Corepad, Xtracpads, X-Ray, Gamerzstuff, and Allsop. These pads are available in a wide variety of sizes to suit the different sensitivity settings that gamers choose. Possibly the largest pad on the market, the Corepad Deskpad XXXL, is a massive 90cm x 45cm.


One possibility is for Wikimedia not to be involved at all with the making or selling of the merchandise. Wikimedia would only be involved to the extent of approving products and licensing its trademarks and/or copyrights, which it would do for a certain fee. Running a store with any significant amount of revenue is a complicated business, and it doesn't seem to be at all related to what Wikimedia is good at.

It is important to note that Wikipedia's trademarks should be protected for use in merchandise.



Insert expected costs for the first year here.


How much volunteer time is going to be needed to run this business? Everything which needs to be done should be included under "Costs" or "Time"


How much money in sales could reasonably be expected to be made? What are these estimates based on?

Other benefits[edit]

Will there be significant benefits realized which can't be expressed in terms of money? For instance, do we expect WMF T-Shirts to significantly increase interest in the organization? Can this be quantized?

Other problems[edit]

Insert image problems and other intangible detriments that can't be adequetely expressed in terms of costs/time.


We have a lot of images at our disposal; some of them are great. We also have possibly the most extensive set of on-this-day lists ever assembled. There's a potential for dozens of themed calendars (ones with military battles marked, or the birthdays of snowboarders, or just silly non-events like the first confimation dog show (which was held 147 years ago today)).

- Tlogmer 01:47, 28 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Yes. I am collecting some images that could be used to this end at the moment, see commons:User:Pfctdayelise/Commons:Packs. Suggestions and help welcome. pfctdayelise 02:18, 28 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]
Cool. On a similar topic -- at one point I had an idea for an art project combining threaded wikipedia article texts with some of the wpedia featured pictures (though I never got around to making it). Tlogmer 08:14, 28 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Text overlays[edit]

I've put together a demo idea that might be cool for a calendar: the text of an article is colored to produce a picture of the subject. This one's grand central:

(There's also a white version that's easier to read and might be cheaper to print.)

You can read whatever metaphor into the idea (wikipedia changes the way you look at the world, externalization of knowledge, etc.) but this approach also has some practical benefits:

1. It's pretty simple to put together. 2. Wikipedia has plenty of great looking images that aren't high-res enough to print well. Converting them to colored text masks any blurriness. 3. The image is detailed enough to keep you entertained for the month you'll be looking at it on the calendar.

(This particular image isn't layout-ready -- needs copyediting, heading formatting, scaling to the right dimensions, etc.)

Tlogmer 23:00, 1 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

That's beautiful! It would certainly make a good calendar, but I can just see it making a fantastic jigsaw - unfortunately that's something cafepress don't offer. Any suggestions? the wub "?!" 13:17, 22 January 2007 (UTC)[reply]