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Latest comment: 18 years ago by in topic Sponsorship - A Positive Thing

Corporate sponsorship of Wikimedia is a touchy subject. Many of our users are sensitive to obtrusive advertising, or to the conflicts of interest it would create. Please comment below.

Sponsorship - A Positive Thing[edit]

The last comment to this discussion was added 6 months ago (June 2005), so I suspect no one is following it closely. In any case, I would like to propose corporate sponsorship in the form of a small, simple graphic placed unobtrusively in the top left corner of every Wikipedia (Wikimedia?) page. The graphic would contain the words "Support provide by" followed by a corporate logo. That's it. The sponsorship position could be sold (perhaps by auction) on a quarterly basis. With the traffic volume at Wikipedia, it would command a very high price indeed. This could fully fund Wikipedia without degrading the quality of the site. -- 21:53, 1 January 2006 (UTC) Wikipedia User: kaiwen1[1]Reply

Pros and Cons[edit]


  • Money - The added money would allow us to keep up with the server demand.
  • Corporate imprimatur - Having a company sponsor us may increase our credibility, and show that we are not some 'two bit' project.
Note: many Wikipedians will look at this the other way around. Wikipedia credibility is good, partly because we are not affiliated to any commercial enterprise. (see also comments below)


  • Conflicts of interest - writing about a company that we take money from makes us susceptible to claims of bias. Even if there is no actual bias, there would be the appearance thereof.
  • Unwanted advertising - Corporate sponsorship may require some kind of on-site acknowledgement. Advertising is obtrusive (albeit to different degrees) and diminishes the overall user experience. Jimbo has said that he is personally opposed to advertisements at this stage in time.

Filling a niche[edit]

Many open source projects make money from corporations that use their software and are obliged (morally, not legally) to give something in return. It has been suggested that Wikimedia could do the same. It has been suggested that we seek sponsorship from a publishing company to fill such a niche.

Alternatives to onsite advertising[edit]

Would sponsor mentions on something external to this site be more acceptable than onsite advertising? A mention on the WikiReader for example, or adverts on the back of flyers promoting the Wikipedia Topic Evenings, or being listed on the http//www.wikimediafoundation.org web site in the list of sponsoring companies.


  • Not having a corporate sponsor does not make Wikipedia a "two-bit project". - Hephaestos 03:33, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Very, very problematic. Corporate sponsorship has many negatives:

  • Cf. Consumers Union—they have consistently refused corporate sponsorship—they perceive any connection to business would reduce, not increase their credibility.
  • Who ever said it was expected to increase credibility? The idea is to get money. --Ados 11:00, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)
  • How long before corporate sponsors will want some kind of quid pro quo besides a simple mention. Observe how brief sponsorship mentions have expanded to virtual mainstream commercials on public radio and TV in the US, the same is true for the UK.
  • Are you ready for Exxon Wikipedia?
  • None of the contributors are paid. This makes editors feel that they are, emotionally, part owners. In other words, "this is my community; this is my baby. I give for the greater good." How many good editors leave when corporations set conditions for support.
  • Do we beieve we can manage an arm's length (long spoon?) relationship with corps? Yeah, "a little bit pregnant."
  • The most obvious place to raise money would be sale of Wikipedia materials and charging a license fee to the commercial sites that are built on Wikipedia content. Can't do that because of the GNU FDL? Then we're stuck between a rock and a hard place.
    • I doubt that the GFDL prevents you from selling Wikipedia content, though the market may not be that large if the content is also available for free. (Still, some people may pay to have stuff in hard copy, or to have a selection along certain lines.) Licence fees may be more problematical, though. -- pne 12:39, 22 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • How about a foundation grant? With all the academics in this project, we should have some good grant writers. -- Cecropia 03:09, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

If we need to, we can limit growth and cut back on services. There more important things than popularity ratings. However I doubt it will come to that. Many people have offered support to Wikipedia in terms of spare clock cycles on their own mostly idle servers. There's a huge potential hardware pool if some of our computing tasks can be geographically distributed. -- Tim Starling 05:01, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Sponsorship does not have to be negative:

  • Perhaps we can find a sponsor that wants a product rather than advertising. Surely somewhere out there exists a potential sponsor in the field of education that could have synergy with this site.
  • Editorial direction from a sponsor could be positive if limited. For example, it would be very bad for a sponsor to tell us what to delete or what to say, but would it be so bad if a sponsor gave us a list of articles they'd like to see written? This could be particularly synergistic if the nature of the organization was educational or had a background in library sciences.
  • Sponsorship could be in terms of hardware...perhaps remotely located cache servers or something. This might be particularly appropriate for commercial sites using our content already. We should solicit some of them for donations anyway.
  • Selling content: does the GNU FDL prohibit selling of this content? Perhaps a cdrom, dvd, or hardcopy excerpt from wikipedia could be marketed (with GNU copyleft, of course).

I think there are unexplored possiblities here. --Ssd 12:11, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

"Would it be so bad if a sponsor gave us a list of articles they'd like to see written?" I think it would. For one thing, who would we require to write these articles? Moreover, why wouldn't the sponsors just contribute them themselves (via employees or some other means). I would love, however, to see Cecropia's idea about foundations bear fruit--even corporate foundations are better than taking money in exchange for advertising. Meelar 16:36, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)

I agree it would be bad if they required the articles to be written. I was thinking more along the lines of them suggesting subjects they found lacking that would make the encyclopedia useful to them as a training tool. --Ssd 14:54, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • We should always negotiate with sponsors so that we put the conditions. For example, ssd had some good ideas. When given a list of articles we should write, it should be on our conditons (NPOV, GFDL, etc). ✏ Sverdrup 16:36, 19 Jun 2004 (UTC)
  • Many people frame this as an issue of principle. Just for the sake of diversity of perspectives, here I try to frame it as an issue of choice.
    • Can we accept that we might experience slowdowns and server outages? Can we accept slowing down of the growth of projects?
    • If not, can't we rely only on supports from Universities and other not-for-profit organizations as form of mirrors, etc.?
    • If not, can't the Foundation raise money some ways?
    • If not, can't we pick the most acceptable (some would say least unacceptable) sponsor?

A set of information - growth estimates, server expansion plan, donation estimates, etc. would be good. That would make this discussion more concrete than philosophical. (But let me clarify that I am not personally claiming that concrete discussion is better than philosophical. We need both.) Tomos 20:54, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Some ideas on more acceptable forms of sponsorship. *There is a page which lists all major monetary contributors to the project.

  • For a fund drive, there will be a corporate donor and a target to be reached. When the target is met, there will be a matching donation from the corporate donor.
  • Create an "official" brochure of wikimedia projects that is to be placed on Wikimedia Foundation's web site. The major sponsors and their forms of contributions can be mentioned there.
  • A computer manufacturer supplying servers for a discounted price if we agree to mention that in a reasonable places, including the meta's page on server setups, the official brochure, etc.
  • Issue "Wikimedia Newsletters" as Jimbo mentioned before.
  • Make article validation process rigorous enough so that we can change the terms of disclaimer.
  • Contact major wikipedia contributors about licensing some of their contributions to the Foundation on a non-exclusive CC-by bases (or whatever it is convenient for the general users). Compile the content licensed in that way, and sell.
  • Create a promotional mailinglist which wikipedians are invited to subscribe. Sell the spots on that maillinglist. This could be, for example, a list which sends the selected article.
  • Promote wikibooks, because it is much more likely that it will create a marketable product. (Umm... I have to admit that this attitude may seem too close to commercialism to some critics.)

Tomos 20:54, 20 Jun 2004 (UTC)

Not really sure how I stumbled on this page, but I think Wikipedia could offer a link to a donors section which has a link back to an archives of donors. This keeps the information clearly separated from the funding and prevents Wikipedia from being tainted by evil corporate powers.

With the high quality of the Wikipedia, I would be willing to bet that it has a Google PageRank of 9 by the end of the year and a 10 by sometime next year (which would make it easily one of the 50 most powerful sites on the web in terms of link popularity).

Linking off to a donors page can parse a portion of that link popularity to the people who provide the funding to keep the project free and good. It is a win win situation.

Thinking of it in a perspective of nodes I know that I would gladly pay $50 - $100 to have a link to my site 2 nodes removed from the home page of the worlds largest and most organically breathing encyclopedia (and many many other people would too). Knowing that a donation to help build the worlds greatest (non commercial crap) encyclopedia would help my link popularity would make it almost impossible for me to not donate. :)

Aaron Wall (search engine optimization & internet junkie)

Just wanted to state my opinion, that is an urgent matter. Wikipedia is slow as hell. I don't do some things I'd like to do otherwise, because of how slow the website is. --Ados 18:26, 12 Aug 2004 (UTC)

If done properly Wikipedia could gain funding for more equipment and secure funding long term from sponsorships.

I like the idea of sponsorships, PBS does it quite well (the american public broadcaster) with little blurbs such as 'this program was helped created though funding from MCI, ABC Foundation and viewers like you, thank you'. We can apply a similiar message to Wikipedia, perhaps have their logo at the front of the webpage in exchange for a donation of a sufficient size. Other sponsors would be listed on a corporate sponsor page, having it out in the open would allow people to see who is sponsoring Wikipedia and if its out in the open it is harder to criticise a so called hidden bias as it is out there for all to see.

Additional measures could be take, that may or maynot be necessary, such as having it so a sponsor could only be a 'primary sponsor' with their name on the front page for only a set period of time. Thus it is less likely that ingrained bias would occur. As well, it maybe a good idea to get sponsors from companies that already have articles on Wikipedia, thus we can monitor the articles for bias or POV in case bias somehow were to creep in.

As well, a blurb about 'the views of our corporate sponsors are not necessarily those of the WikiMedia foundation' like infomercials often have. --ShaunMacPherson 08:20, 22 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Always be Objective[edit]

Any person or group who donates articles, time, services, or money is delivering Capital to this organization. It is wise to require disclosure of any potential profit or benefit. But do not lose obectivity by favoring helpers over financial contributors.


Wikimedia's growth or Wikipedia's growth?[edit]

It says that Wikimedia has experienced "exponential growth", but "exponential growth" links to a page on Wikipedia titled "Wikipedia:Modelling Wikipedia's growth". Brianjd | Why restrict HTML? | 04:50, 2005 Apr 7 (UTC)

Technically, it is not relevant: if a subset grows exponentially, so does the whole set. 14:12, 18 Apr 2005 (UTC)