Wikipedia talk:Fundraising

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If you enjoy Wikipedia, please consider making a donation to keep the servers running. Thank you![edit]

Hey now, I know that it takes money to run things, but annoying people isn't going to cut it. If there are no funds, let's just close up shop. I thought Wikipedia was supposed to be free. Having one link on the main page is enough. Those who have enough money and want to do so, will do so. So, save the last chunk of change for the bandwidth costs of downloading the data dumps, and don't resort to these sort of things. Every time I see this sort of badgering on other sites, it is a sign of things going downhill. Pretty soon, you have small adds, popups, big adds, subscriptions, etc. I don't like to feel like a useless bum, but I don't have any money. All I have is the time to donate, and I am not asking any donations for that, so why are you guys asking money from me on every page? It is very annoying, and it seems like a last ditch effort before the ship sinks.--Dori 03:27, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Word, I agree. Kind of scared myself.


(In response to Dori) Wow. Actually, annoying people _is_ going to cut it. Are you being honest, you would rather close wikipedia than have a simple message asking for donations? One link on the main page is _not_ enough. What about people who search for a topic on say google and go to a specific page. How are they to know? You obviously haven't followed the donations link, because it states quite unequivocally that there will _never_ be ads. Frankly, I find your post to be a bit of an insult to the founder of wikipedia who has been financing it out of his own pocket. --snoyes 03:45, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
We oldies notice it because we've been used to that part of the webpage being empty for a while. For newbie? They'll just think it's what comes with the package. :-) I'm fine with that message being there. Just don't make it bold or any larger. ;o) --Menchi 03:51, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
No it is not going to cut. There are plenty of other sites that went through this, and they either went down, or they became subscription only in the end. I could deal with one link (I will just mutter under my breath, cuss a bit, and that's all), but that is only the beginning. Yes, it says that there will never be ads, but what if this one line is not enough. Then it's either ads or close up shop. So I say if there isn't enough money now, there won't be enough money later as Wikipedia's followship will only grow (unless people grow to hate it because it basically calls everyone an opportunistic, selfish thief at every page right at the top). Either keep it free, or lacking that give up. That's what I say. Of course many will disagree. Some will continue to live out their addiction despite all the upcoming nuisances until the end, and some will go into a clinic and check out. Regarding your comment about people coming here from google, it is a fair one, so how about a single, permanent "Donate" link on the left? What's with the long message at the top of each article??? --Dori 03:55, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I fail to see how the tiny bit of text at the top is going to annoy users more than "NOT BEING ABLE TO SEE ARTICLES". Wikipedia is becoming almost unusable and that is extremely annoying. More annoying than the tiny fonted link to the donation page by an order of magnitude (or more). Most users have no idea that there is a foundation or that donations are accepted. Lets tell them. Put it back.Ark30inf 04:12, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
One possible solution would be to only display the banner if someone is not logged in. I honestly doubt there is much benefit in nagging people who are well aware of the lack of resources and who are already volunteering time and effort, editing articles and whatnot. As far as the banner itself goes, I'd prefer if it was just one of the links on the left (say "Donate" under "Bug reports"). Vertical real-estate is at a premium. Daniel Quinlan 04:29, Oct 6, 2003 (UTC)
Remember folks this is all very experimental! For the moment I've switched the note at the top for a simple 'Donate' link in the sidebar. Comments? (All this won't appear on most pages viewed by users who aren't logged in until the page cache is cleared.) --Brion 04:57, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I personally like it at the top in the small font. It gets lost on the sidebar. But I have a feeling it'll end up over there and its better than nothing.Ark30inf 04:59, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
If there aren't funds, let's close up shop? Are you kidding me? Servers cost money. Servers eat electricity. Servers need repairs. Bandwidth costs money. We're talking $1,000s a year. Where do you think that money comes from? Are you expecting a handful of people to cover the growing costs? If you can't pay, then continue giving your time. Your time here is invaluable. You are not expected to pay money. There are many ways to give to this community that are not financial. With that said, however, I just donated a modest sum, $30. If 100 users can donate that much a year, that'd really be something.
The tiny text requesting money is necessary to remind casual and regular users. Because of it, the issue of wikipedia costs became apparent to me, and I quickly made a small donation. I wouldn't have thought to make a donation without the prompt.
Could you please educate me on the "other sites" you've seen "this sort of badgering?" I'd like to know what sites you're referring to specifically. Sincerely, Kingturtle 04:52, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I am new to this, and had wondered how it was funded. I wanted to make a donation, but could not find anything on how to before I became distracted and did something else. It isn't too intrusive in my opinion. 05:03, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I'm in 100% agreement with Kingturtle here and think that the original donate message should be re-instated so that the cache will be updated by the time our month-long fundraising drive begins. Then when the drive is over the message and link should be removed. This is similar to how public radio works in the US, except the content is not put aside for the donate message - both coexist very nicely. The "Donate" link in the sidebar should be there permanently though. --mav 05:14, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Here's a couple:,,,, and many other discussion boards, webmail, news sites, etc. Some of these had a progressive ride to the bottom as advertising and donation pleas were not enough. I am not against asking for donations, I just didn't appreciate the heavy handed manner. It was among the first things you saw as soon as you loaded any article. I also don't believe that donations alone will be enough to maintain the project, and I would hate to leave with a bitter taste in my mouth. Sure someone has to pay the bills, and I would if I could because I think this project is more important than most other sites on the internet. But keep in mind that without the collective, donated effort, this project would be pretty useless. So regarding Snoyes' last comment, I find his comment insulting to all the users that have contributed to the project (not for myself, as I am still fairly new to this). --Dori 05:21, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I'm a user has contributed both monetarily and with time and I am not offended by Snoyes comments. So you don't speak for me. You make it sound like we will soon be offering porn if we slide down the proverbial slippery slope towards doom. I think you are severely overreacting.Ark30inf 05:27, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Things are supposed to be a bit annoying during donation drives. When the drive is over the prominant donation solicitation will be removed from article headers. --mav
Slashdot is not subscription-only, see their meager list of subscriber perks. (Some will argue that there's no value in /. anyway, but that's been the case since long before they offered paid subscriptions and were supported only by ad revenue.) I can't speak to the others, but will note that BYTE was a dead-tree magazine long before it had a web site. Was Salon ever non-commercial? --Brion 05:39, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Dori: I shall refer only to salon and slashdot, as those are the only sites in your list that I am familiar with. For both of them donations have made them survive. Which is a success. It might not be in your book, judging by your comments that you would rather see wikipedia die than have advertising. Funny enough, slashdot has actually become better since memberships began, because of the curbing of the 'first post' phenomenon because members could post before others. I can't follow your line of argument about how having this innocuous message soliciting donations would infringe upon the 'freedom' of the project. What do you base your belief that donations alone won't be enough to maintain the project on? Do you have any better suggestion for raising money? The "collective, donated effort" you are referring to has practically nothing to do with the financing of the hardware purchases, bandwidth, technical support, etc. Please keep the issues seperate. --snoyes 05:49, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Donating my time to Wikipedia is a bit like donating my time to watch a favourite football team play. I don't do it because I have to, I do it because I find it enjoyable. In this commercial world doing things we enjoy generally costs money. We should count ourselves lucky that one man has been willing and able to take the financial burden off our hands for so long. The 'Donate' link is not unbearably intrusive IMO. Pete 06:27, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
Note that Dori wasn't referring to the donate link in the sidebar, she was referring to a small-type message underneath "From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia", which read "If you enjoy Wikipedia, please consider making a donation to keep the servers running. Thank you!" Personally I thought that message was a good idea. There is a trade-off between begging for money (or advertising) and the level of service we can provide. For the most part, it is community consensus which determines where we sit on that spectrum, rather than being dictated from on high. Dori is afraid of a slippery slope, but in the end it is the editors who are in control -- remember the Spanish language fork Enciclopedia Libre. The right to fork prevents any slide towards subscription-only service and popups. -- Tim Starling 07:04, Oct 6, 2003 (UTC)

Now that the line is back I can understand the complaint a little more. Obviously the 'Donate' link is less intrusive but if needs must, and I think in this case everyone upto Jimbo should decide if needs must, then I for one can put up with the more noticeable line at the article heading.
Tweaking: This line might replace the first line of the article in the Google snippet of a page when displaying search results. Can we avoid this, as I am think we need to advertise our articles not lack of funds!
Tweaking: Could we put the plea on the same lines as the "From Wikipedia..." line. Then those with higher screen res only need have one line of space gobbled up by non-article stuff rather than two. Obviously lower-res screen users will have two lines in any case. 10:58, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Whether you like it or not, Wikipedia/Wikimedia will be funded by donations in the coming years -- that's the whole point of the non-profit foundation. The fundraising slogan will only remain below the subtitle until we have the money to buy our new server. I have asked Jimbo Wales to provide regular updates on our donation progress. If I'm not mistaken, Tim has recently made updates to the software which would allow the subtitle to be collaboratively edited.—Eloquence 10:48, Oct 6, 2003 (UTC)

Minor layout issue, on my screen, has a few pages of blank space, before the actual text. (I don't have a credit card, anyway, but those that actually will donate probably aren't supposed to see a few pages of nothing.) Κσυπ Cyp 11:49, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
It would be easier to track down the problem if we knew what version of what browser on what operating system you're looking at the page in. --Brion 00:59, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Well, I can see that I am the only one that feels this way so I will just shut up and hope that Wikipedia doesn't go down the drain. I never said I had a problem with donations, but only that it shouldn't be done so that it bothers users, the primary focus should be on the information. Above, I also mentioned that I could deal with just the one line, but that in my opinion it would not be enough, and I could see further intrusions coming in the same spirit of that one line. Anyway, I didn't mean for this to become a flamefest, and I apologize if I offended anyone. By the way Tim, I am a guy :) --Dori 12:39, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)

Oops, sorry. Never trust a google search to tell you a person's gender. :) -- Tim Starling 00:16, Oct 7, 2003 (UTC)
I don't mind the blurb, just don't like its position on article pages. Can it be place above the horizontal line? -- Viajero 16:07, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
For reference, when h2g2 was taken over by the BBC it ensured that we'd never have adverts... and also signified the death of h2g2 as a serious attempt to gather and impart knowledge (if it ever was). TANSTAAFL. Martin 16:56, 6 Oct 2003 (UTC)
What I don't like with this fuss is the decision process. Do the developers have a right to introduce such text? No wonder wikipedia has a reputation of aristocracy. -- Taku
This project will survive if those who can afford money will donate and those who can give time, do so. I see no point in getting uptight about a fairly discreet fund raising note. I would be upset if those who gave money were given more privileges than those who give their time and expertise to the project. For those who can afford to give a donation, I would recommend that you consider Brion Vibber's note book fund. Tiles 07:23, 7 Oct 2003 (UTC)
I'd like to make a suggestion to Dori who seems to be offended by the donation request statement. If he doesn't access the site he won't see the message. Fernkes 12:06, Oct 14, 2003 (UTC)

Ah, Wikipedia. Never change 😂[edit]

Please never archive the section above. – SJ + 10:07, 3 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A/B testing UX changes to drive editing[edit]

I am posting this here because Fundraising is the only group I know of that regularly tests hundreds of variations of messaging and layout on logged-out readers, and has run some limited tests of banners that invite editing! Ex: from 2022

In general, invitations to edit have gotten scarcer and harder to accept since, say, 2003. We could cut all of the cruft down by 2x-4x with a concerted effort.

  • We no longer say "anyone can edit" anywhere on the site
  • There is more interface cruft around the "edit" link, more warning templates and popups that load at the top of the page, more legal cruft at the bottom when you save.
  • Many invitations to edit start with "make an account".
    Account creation is now a definitive barrier to entry -- no surprise that the test above found that only 1 in 25 people who clicked a banner link to make an account and edit, failed to successfully complete making the account. The account flow has even stymied me when in a hurry (three extra fields, password checks, js popups moving elements around as you type...)
  • Most banner messages that invite editing have been long, and talk about other things (e.g. "thanks"). We should try just saying "contribute to Wikipedia!" the way we say "vote on Picture of the Year!"
  • The few banners that have been run don't seem to have been optimized the way we do fundraising banners. Let's try again with a few dozen iterations.
    From a 2022 test, raw stats were reported as:

"About 0.2% of people who saw the banners clicked on them, about 4% of those who clicked on them created an account, and about 17% of those actually made unreverted edits."

  • The first two falloffs we can do a lot to improve. If we start with people who completed a donation, there's other evidence (from the same link) that this would already by 20x better; and we could further build tools that improve the third falloff.

Question for the ages: How easily might we test

  1. a range simple, short invitations to edit,
  2. a range of simple, first editing workflows for anons (not making people log in; inviting account creation after the edit)
  3. a range of simple account creation flows (much more compact popups before getting started)
  4. a range of simple "thank you" messages after that edit?

Much of the hard work has been done, other than the ux design and tests: Suggested edits could be drawn from the same pool used on the current user homepage. Thank-you messages could be drawn from the current pool of userscripts used to welcome newcomers. Anon editing is built in. (and we have old scripts that can help someone 'claim' their recent edits from their IP after making an account, which could be cleaned up)

– SJ + 10:07, 3 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Hi @Sj, I am not responsible for that kind of testing or the banner choices within Advancement -- but was part of the advisors for the banner test Marshall mentioned. Though there seems to be some room for optimizing what Marshall reported, all of the other evidence I have seen (in the big language Wikis like English, Spanish, etc) suggests that we have exhausted the biggest pools of "easy to invite" editors and that the Growth tools really satisfy the retention of the "easy to invite" editors who slowly trickly in during their first 100-500 edits or so. There was recently an internal review of the flywheel theory of change that the Foundation was using in Annual Planning (that increasing readership leads to increased editorship, increasing editorship leads to increased content, and increasing content leads to increased readership), and the evidence suggests that each of those stages works except the increased readership leads to increased editorship.
Unlike in the early days of Wikimedia the concept of joining a work in progress encyclopedia was exciting, now (from the outside) contributing to a mostly complete Wikipedia, is not very inviting and the people who would join us "if they only knew" have already joined us. Instead where we have seen new influxes of contributors are on topics that are clearly missing, geographies that are clearly underserved (i.e. Africa) and the users are motivated by contributing to a very specific topic -- i.e. the Gender gap, Human Rights, sustainability, medical content, etc -- I lay out this thinking in this blog series . Banners and invitations work best when we tap an existing motivation of knowledge sharers -- which you probably wouldn't work as a banner with all of our readers on English Wikipedia -- these topics have lots of detractors.
The dynamic of inviting new editors from our existing readers and donors changes substantially on smaller language Wikipedias and Wikimedia projects where awareness of the wiki and that contribution in a local or native language has other motivating factors (like preserving the language). Additionally, where campaigns use banners to invite newcomers to activities and then retain them, the successes are with much more limited, targeted audiences (like Librarians, photographers, etc). As much as I wish we could run banners to solve editor decline, all the evidence we have is that that is wishful thinking -- based on motivated reasoning and an assumption that there are many more people like ourselves in the world ("I found the "anyone can edit" tagline motivating, therefore there must be a world of other people that has that same motivation"). If you want to support contributors who are intrinsically motivated to edit, I think the interventions would be better served on helping the Growth tools succeed and supporting the people who are already making their first several hundred edits -- and making sure that they find community and support that helps them stick around.
I hope this is helpful context Astinson (WMF) (talk) 15:17, 7 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Howdy Astinson it's always very good to hear from you :) I'm sorry to hear you have resigned yourself to this conclusion. It is a pessimistic rather than realistic view, I should say, as iNaturalist, YouTube, and other massive communities suggest there are tens of millions of people who enjoy sharing knowledge with others and do so every week -- I would counter that's a dark bit of motivated reasoning, perhaps resulting from the burnout you describe in your blog posts. But there's no question that the current challenges to contribution (and making contributions in a way that don't immediately lead to being challenged or reverted) is a major part of the problem. Perhaps that could be worked on, in the context of each campaign, to ensure that those joining the campaign find it delightful and come back.
Key elements: 1. Simplifying contribution steps (much further than we already have, back to clicking on a sentence and extending it or changing it without a page reload, or to one-click media upload that then iteratively invites detail rather than making that a multi-step barrier). 2. Building a staging framework where simple contributions live, so that they both persist long enough for people to iterate on them and clarify them, and so that they are not immediately challenged or removed as though they were non-staged, permanent contribs. 3. Continuously, warmly, unambiguously encouraging contribution. Which we no longer do, almost ever, even in the banner experiments linked.
Naturally we don't need staff to run such experiments; nor do I expect to change your mind about a topic that inspired you to write such a comprehensive series of essays. But I would love to have a mechanism for running my own A/B tests and monitoring the results to fine-tune and respond to such an experiment... which could indeed start with a narrowly focused group (e.g. people landing on pages in [CATEGORY] from [REGION]). That sort of tooling for self-guided experimentation was the underlying point of my question. Warmly, – SJ + 00:20, 12 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Sj I don't see this as pessimistic: I actually think of that series as rather optimistic. For me, its exciting that we know that for most people who would be wonderful contributors (and work on our most pressing knowledge gaps) its a matter of providing, directed supportive specific invitations and training to the communities that we most need, rather than chasing a theoretical "everyone" which often never reacts to our prompts. This is a common problem in open communities more generally (a colleague pointed me to this this blog post recently talking about the pattern beyond EnWiki and their are dozens of other pieces exploring these issues), and is consistent with everything we know about Diversity in workplaces, social movements (such as the climate movement) and other spaces: not increasing barriers for participation is important, but at some point structured, targeted and well designed invitation is required to encourage diversity beyond the first influx of participants . The more complex a system gets (i.e. big language Wikipedias) the more people need to get personalized, directed support -- that is beyond an open invitation. Astinson (WMF) (talk) 13:35, 12 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah, we may just be talking past one another :) I like all of the things you are pointing to at the end. My hope is that we can provide personalized, directed support with every invitation. Invitations should be targeted and well designed for their audience. And we should be directing people to spaces that have behavior guidelines, addressing many issues raised in the "open exclusion" article you mention. But we can (and should) make the mechanism of invitation more accessible [with A/B testing available to all], we can make sure that more people who will make wonderful contributors are away of those invitations, we can share a narrative of welcome and invitation that is well-received and uplifts the recipient even if they do not contribute, and we can greatly increase the ambient influx of "first participation" by helping the first contribution take seconds, not minutes. – SJ + 03:33, 13 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]