Opt-in Google-ads

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This page does not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation. It is just a proposal under discussion. For more info see Wikipedia:Advertisements.

Concept Summary[edit]

On June 12 there was a Slashdot interview with Wikipedia founder Jimbo. In the comments, there was an intriguing suggestion: have an opt-in user preference to have GoogleAds shown on article pages. Users would have to specifically request ads to be shown to see them. As the poster said, "sometimes there could be some intresting stuff from google ads on some weird pages."

This goes against the Wikimedia policy of not using ads, but I can't see how one could object to advertisements you have to specifically enable. On the other hand, Google ads are so well targetted that many active community members might enable them (I would). And a little more money to Wikimedia could never be a bad thing.

What are your thoughts? I'd prefer opt-in Google ads to the red box suggesting making a donation that I can't easily make -- since I have no credit card and live overseas. -- Anon. Wiki Gnome 21:57, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Use it to encourage memberships and contributors[edit]

I think this is a good idea, and I also think it could be be better.

I propose that when a person does not have a Wikipedia account or is not logged in, that person must receive the Google ads. Once the visitor becomes a member the ads should be off by default, but at the same time remain an option in the settings panel. If this were to happen, Wikipedia would have more members and also the members it has would probably be logged in more of the time. It would build the community without imposing.

Bad Idea![edit]

I strongly object to this idea. Having ANY commercial tie-in will ultimately hurt the Wikipedia's ability to produce accurate and unbiased articles. Even the APPEARANCE of financial sponsorship would be bad, because we would be unable to convince others of our editorial independence.

Instead, let's adopt Dori's proposal for a Wikimedia-based mirror with ads, while "the main Wikipedia is left pristine." Many people use our content. Let those millionaires at Google create their own http://www.googlepedia.com with their logo and ads and special links, framing our content.

I really want Wikipedia to remain an independent and reliable source of information about what's significant in our world. I oppose anything that has a risk of thwarting this objective. --Ed Poor 13:20, 14 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Can you explain how having advertisements could lead to the perception of bias? Most news websites have advertisements and I've never heard of one case where a news website has been accused of modifying their content to encourage clickthroughs. Suppafly 05:48, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Yes, in the recent case when Financial Times and The Economist both underwent financial structure change, people did rise doubt about their future editorial independence. Apologize that I have no precise citation about the rumor-like discussion on Twitter, but that is the case. Apologize for replying such an old thread but I must agree on the concern of editorial independence/neutrality.Chenxiaoqino (talk) 09:06, 26 August 2015 (UTC)

If this happens, ensamblarme at the fork, and please give enough time for anyone involved in WM to extract themselves before it's implemented, e.g. editors and Yahoo donating hosting capacity. -- Jeandré, 2007-03-06t09:13z

Summarized responses[edit]

Why Not? (Opt-in sounds good.)[edit]

  • I think it would be great... would it be that serious a violation to have non-intrusive ads (opt in or not?)--inks 22:03, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • So long as they're opt-in, I don't see why this would be a problem... additional work for the developers, but seems worth it. --Wclark 22:05, 2004 Jul 12 (UTC)
    • I think the idea is wonderful... esp. if I could opt out again if it started to annoy me. The donation bar should only be on the main page, IMO, BTW. User:Sam Spade 22:14, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I'd love to be able to help wiki without parting with the money I'm supposed to be saving for grad school. Bring it on! [[en:User:Meelar|Meelar (talk)]] 23:22, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • I'd definately support opt-in ads, or even opt-out ads. I know the money generated from the ads is going to an excellent technological cause, and besides, AdSense ads are not an eyesore in the least. Lastly, while opt out would generate more funds, but be a larger shift in policy than opt in, so I'd prefer opt-in. siroχo 04:31, Jul 13, 2004 (UTC)
  • I say yes, heck yes, hell yes and damn good idea; however, I predict an objection--why Google Ads? Why not DoubleClick ads or whatever...I know that Google is the best and most obvious choice, but it's a business decision which means people are gonna bitch, which means we at least need a stock answer. Other than that, fine by me. 00:54, 17 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • I support the idea too, I just do not see any reason why this should change the neutrality of wikipedia. Only people who accept them see them, so normal users won't see anything. In case you say that it would lead to removal of criticism about Google or something like that (If Google Ads were used), I do not think so. If you would argument that way, you would have to refuse ALL donations. I would suggest to let users choose where to put the ads (top, bottom etc.) -- 19:51, 17 December 2006 (UTC)

Seems like a value-added service for users[edit]

  • I am definitely for it, provided ads are opt-in and clearly separated from the contents of the articles (which is usually the case with Google's AdSense sidebars and banners). I see this idea not only as a way to raise some money for the foundation, but also as a value-added service for Wikipedia. Google's AdSense program is pretty smart at returning contextual ads, provided the hosting webpage is detailed enough. --Alexandre 23:54, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Well, I think it's a great idea. When reading an article on PhotoShop, for example, a link to buy it would appear (if they have it enabled). If the user wanted to purchase it after reading the article, what could more convenient than having a button right there to do just that? That's a service! Frecklefoot | Talk 18:51, Jul 13, 2004 (UTC)
  • As far as I can tell, opt-in ads would have more of a positive effect than a negative one. -Gtrmp 04:47, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

How does AdSense work?

  • Whenever this idea (opt-in ads) is suggested, I don't really get it. People promise to have the ads on their screen but they also say "great I won't have to pay money to help wikipedia." Presumably you actually have to click on the ads and buy something (i.e. spend money)? Pcb21| Pete 23:57, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Nope. This is a pay-per-click program. No need to buy something to make the click worth a few cents. --Alexandre 00:22, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • Interesting. I am tempted to say there's no such thing as a free lunch. Given that Google is heading for a multi-billion dollar IPO based on this business model, I am pretty sure their system is not easy to game... they can block users repeatedly clicking ads on their own website by analysing IP addresses. With Wikipedia however, the IP addresses are distributed. If the proportion of ads displayed that get clicked on, is usually high, they will certainly be able to measure that to look for cheaters. However the really important statistic, proportion of ads converted to sales, might be unavailable to them... or do ad buyers report back somehow? Note this digression is only important to the "opt-in, but don't buy" model. If ads were shown to everyone, this would all become line noise. Pcb21| Pete 00:34, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
        • There isn't extensive feedback from smaller ads customers; but probably enough to identify coordinated cheating. I think most of their filtering of fake clickthroughs is statistical, based on origin, timing, and other patterns. In any case, if they suspect our ads account is being inflated artificially, they can just cancel the account and keep/return the last month's ads-revenues that were in it. +sj+ 20:40, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
          • The AdSense FAQ page says that revenues are based on clicks, not purchases. Also, keep in mind how many sites use AdSense -- I doubt that Google pays people to sit in a room somewhere and look for artificial inflation of the click counts. Either way, though, as I understand it, we wouldn't be placing opt-in ads for the purpose of letting users cheat Google's system. I'm not sure why this issue is relevant. Etaoin 06:17, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Well the opt-in model is not unanimous because my concern that it was basically an attempt to game Google. (Click on ads for the sake of it, not to buy things). It is premature to talk about the opt-out model as a done deal, as most people didn't comment on that... Pcb21| Pete 19:44, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I don't think you get money just for people clicking on links, but actually making a purchase, otherwise it'd be way too easy to make money off of Google...Frecklefoot | Talk 19:54, Jul 13, 2004 (UTC)
      • Apparently this indeed is the model - see above. Pcb21| Pete 20:08, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

What about opt-out?[edit]

  • Most of the audience is readers, not contributors. If ads don't start as opt out, most of the potential viewers will never see them. It could be arranged to have a check box which turns off the ads, which would work for anyone, logged in or not. Jamesday 00:28, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I could live with OptOut ads, if they pay for more servers. OptIn would be more effort than profit, i think, as most people would not opt in. --Chris 73 | Talk 06:01, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • Would OptOut ads wind up being beneficial in the long run? People would register to turn them off, and then maybe try their hand at creating a few pages. It's not as if Google ads are high bandwidth, intrusive, or tasteless...--inks 10:28, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • I would not like opt-out ads at all. Let's try opt-in ads, seen by a small minority of potential viewers. Later perhaps we can have a campaign to get anon and casual users to opt in, like any other donation campaign. +sj+ 20:40, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • It's not about how much money ads would bring. It's about whether we want to provide services for money or not. The current business model (i.e. no business model) works and there is no reason to turn wikipedia into a commercial business. Zocky 12:17, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
  • Make them opt-out but put a clear link that says 'opt-out' for user accounts only. That way there's an incentive to get an account, an opt-out ad system, etc. Also, I suggest putting the ads at the bottom. Especially since, as a kid, I have no money to donate. Ilyanep 00:03, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

There are good ways for geting users to switch on the ads but putting them on by default is not a good practice. Suggestion;

  1. new anon comes to wikipedia ; no ads
  2. afther reading some pages, 4 or so, he gets a special page whit a message to that reader like; "You can read this information for free but whe still need to pay for the servers. You can help us by switching on the Google-ads (you can put them back off any time) [continue whit ads] -- [continue whitout ads and do not bother my again]"

This way Wikipedia still looks like a website whitout ads to the new visitor and most users will not be offended by a one-time question about switching on the ads. Walter 23:30, 16 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I like this idea very much, but it will require cookies for non-registered users as well. Or an IP database, which might slow the site down even more. -- 12:14, 30 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I haven't seen much discussion of the content of the ads. If I knew that none of the ads would display any of the most annoying features of internet ads (flashing, moving, making noise and covering the articles), then I could support opt-out ads for everyone, and I probably wouldn't opt out myself. If they did any of these things, then I'm against them entirely. Gorcq 19:31, 9 April 2011 (UTC)

I don't know about this.[edit]

  • ...If ads of any sort were added, they would have to be optional, because otherwise readers would flock to a mirror site without ads. Also, these sort of ads function by very wide exposure, so I think they'd only really be effective if, say, unregistered users viewed them by default - this wouldn't be so bad with unobstrusive Google ads. Don't forget that adding Google ads requires paying Google money, so enough people would have to see them to justify that cost. More troubling, if Wikipedia starts reaping a profit, they have to change their status from a non-profit organization to a business, and while this might mean a better website for us all, it would also be a lot of legal work. Derrick Coetzee 19:01, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • Derrick, what do you mean by saying "adding Google ads requires paying Google money"? To display ads on your site, you don't pay anything. You pay to have your product advertised in the AdSense program, not to show the ads. There would be no cost for Wikipedia to display the ads. --Alexandre 19:21, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
    • There are no mirror sites without ads. They are all for-profit. Pcb21| Pete 19:44, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
      • wow, it seems like were unanimous? ... p.s. making it "opt-out" w the ad's default for anon's sounds like the best way to make it payoff. Also we wouldn't stop being non-profit if we spent all the $ ;) User:Sam Spade 19:26, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
        Not unanimous, but there is some definite support for opt-in ads. +sj+
    • There's no payment to Google for displaying their ads. They make money from them as well. They also make money from our visitors when we send people to Google for search. That's also one option which could be discussed with Google - whether they get enough traffic from us for them to pay us to do that. On the technical side we appear to need at least one dedicated search database server to handle search load locally. Jamesday 14:16, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Other donation comments[edit]

P.S. For odd reasons related to eBay I have my "primary currency" at Paypal in USD but what money I have in that account tends to be in GBP. What is the most cost effective way for me to donate? Transfer money to USD at my side and donate, or send GBP and have wikimedia exchange it at its side? Pcb21| Pete 23:57, 12 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Why do you guys assume nobody would buy anything? I buy stuff... I most recently bought this (and am very happy w it BTW ;) User:Sam Spade 19:55, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I was responding to comments like "I'd love to be able to help wiki without parting with [..] money..." above and similar comments every time this idea is suggested. Pcb21| Pete 20:08, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
It's like watching ads on TV. You don't *think* you're spending money when you follow those links, but you're really just monetizing tiny increments of your own eye- and mind-share... (ugh, I feel dirty just using those words.  :) +sj+

Advertisers know full well that most people don't buy an item from any one particular advertisement. They still want as many people as possible to see them tho, since a certain % will buy. I've done my share of sales & marketing, and know well enough that google will have few worries about attempts to "game" the system. They want you to see the ads, and are willing to pay for that alone, I'd assume. User:Sam Spade 20:11, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I refer you to this from the mailing list. User:Sam Spade 20:13, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

I don't support this idea. I believe it would "cheapen" Wikipedia by making it seems like another vehicle for advertising -- even if it were opt-in. Thanks, BCorr|Брайен 20:37, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

People, people. You need to drop the enterpreneurial stance. Why does wikipedia need to make money? What would it be for? The trickle of donations is more than adequate so far and grants are just starting to come. Wikipedia will never need to advertise to cover its costs. OTOH, if anybody wants to do encyclopaedia with ads, hey, all your en:base are en:license under en:GFDL. Copy the content, start a site and see how much money you make on ads. I'm sure nobody has tried that before. Zocky 20:48, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)

Yes, it (a google-ad supported mirror of Wikipedia) has been done, see SmartPedia Peak Freak 11:15, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I think Zocky was being sarcastic. Last time I counted there were about 70 mirrors. See w:Wikipedia:Mirrors and forks. -- Tim Starling 12:46, 26 Jul 2004 (UTC)
One of the current banner links gives a different story: Our growth is pretty simple: when we're fast we grow to use all the capacity until we're slow again.
If that's true, then the trickle of donations is exactly what is limiting our current growth, and diverting people who might otherwise stay and become contributors to Wikipedia mirror sites, some of which are quite legally advertiser-supported. Food for thought? Andrewa 21:40, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
Do you really think that opt-in ads would diver people to mirror sites? Which mirror do you like best? +sj+ 22:47, 13 Jul 2004 (UTC)
The trickle of donations isn't more than adequate so far. Consider that we got new servers in Feb 2004 and within 6 weeks people who had become used to their speed were complaining about the site being slow. Some wikis have expressed reservations about donation notices, so one thing which might be done is to have the option of Google ads, for those wikis which like that option. Jamesday 14:16, 15 Jul 2004 (UTC)
I think people should have the right to choose. The way I see it, they'll be happier to choose between an ad version and a non-ad version (which is done by clicking an icon somewhere on the menu bar), rather than having it forced onto them. Most will probably morally choose the ad version anyway, unless they've made a donation because when they think about it, it's all for the benefit of us, the users of WikiPedia. 07:48, 6 Aug 2006 (AEST)


I know this discussion ended years ago, but I just wanted to suggest the possibility of there being a semi-unaffiliated WM mirror with ads, with the profits going to the WMF. I am strongly against ads on Wikimedia, or even a "Turn on advertisements" button on Wikimedia, mainly because it both ruins the non-profit nature of the project (currently the website itself produces no money whatsoever) and because it could harm neutrality. An external, officially unconnected ad-based mirror producing funds for WMF seems like it could work without damaging anything. --Yair rand 08:16, 21 February 2010 (UTC)