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Leading with Wikipedia: A brand proposal for 2030 (wikimediafoundation.org)
115 points by The_ed17 on Feb 26, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 113 comments

Contrarily to the negative sentiment expressed so far in the comments, I find branding an important question:

If a foundation does good work, you’d want the foundation to receive more money to do more good work.

For example, Wikipedia would benefit from many more tech investments, for example in the excellent wiki data and wikimedia research initiatives; or think of wiki vandalism and fake news.

It’s well known in the non-profit world (and intuitive) that spending money in marketing does indeed help achieve larger goals in terms of deployed funding.

Beyond funding, the fact that people (hacker news is not a representative sample) don’t recognize Wikimedia and the fact that it’s responsible for something that is used daily is a problem. It detracts from the project and removes visibility.

Edit: made it more readable

I would much prefer them to stay small, tight, and focused.

If only the Mozilla Foundation had a similar preference...

I spent over four years as an engineer at the Wikimedia Foundation, which trained me to expect the double-take most people do when they hear the name for the first time. They either think they misheard you, or worse: they think you represent a knock-off entity that is trading on a misleading brand similarity, and they squint at you with suspicion. It's as if you told them you work at "AmaZone". So you can immediately forget about any bragging rights. The conversation has barely started and you are already at a trust deficit.

It's almost worse when the other party has heard of Wikimedia, because then your (by-now rehearsed) introduction comes across as wooden and weirdly defensive.

And if you think all that is bad... the annual conference for the Wikimedia community is called Wikimania. Try explaining that to passport control.

I have a friend working at Canonical, and whenever he introduces himself he always includes a brief mention that Canonical makes Ubuntu. I felt it’s very strange (and certainly felt it a little offensive when I first knew him), but came to understand it after a while. It is not common for people to make connection between Canonical and Ubuntu (even IT people!). He needs to establish himself, otherwise many people won’t take him seriously when he talks about Linux stuff. It’s quite unfortunate.

‘Yes, I work for Collabora. No, I'm not a LibreOffice expert. Oh, we do pretty much everything with Linux but LibreOffice, they're a separate company actually.’

I wonder if someone working at Alphabet Inc. suffers the same anonymity.

Alphabet is only a holding. I wouldn't expect many people to work for Alphabet directly.

Arguably that disconnect is intentional (not for the employees, but for the companies under the Alphabet umbrella themselves)

Why did it feel offensive?

That’s a shitty situation. Sorry to hear that.

You were doing the lords work.

did you ever consider saying that you work at Wikipedia?

That might be pragmatic, but it would unfortunately just contribute to the misconception.

Personally, I see this "MediaWiki" logo on this wiki full of ads:


Then somehow, my brain connects this to Wikimedia and thinks it's for-profit?

> this wiki full of ad

Wow, you weren't kidding. This is genuinely the first non-pornographic website in years that has ads which are so aggressive that they make it past my uBlock Origin.

Back when I was playing this awesome game. I tried to create a tool that webscrape this wiki (on the client side), so you have faster (I had a not-so-good internet) access. The game is so complicated that you need wiki almost all the time.

But then most of community saying, the site needs to make money from ads so it can maintain it, etc etc. I should've replied back - but not this much ads. And they use FOSS software anyway.

What is the appeal of getting them to cut costs down to nothing? It seems weird to me that people resent a budget of $70 million/year for the most useful website in existence. What would you rather the money be spent on?

The problem, in all this, is not getting Wikipedia's expenses down to nothing. I use Wikipedia all the time, and I love it. It's an incredibly useful site and should be funded well enough to keep running indefinitely, and even have room for improvement.

On the other hand, if I choose to donate money to Wikmedia, 80% of it goes to other places, like their "content" sites, which consists of this bunch of mediocrity:

Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikivoyage, Wikisource, Wikimedia Commons, Wikispecies, Wikinews, Wikiversity, and Wikidata.

I don't give a shit about any of these projects, the only one I really don't want to go away is Wikipedia, and the rest could die and I wouldn't even blink, except as those projects also support Wikipedia. Increase Wikipedia's expenses if you must! Double it! Triple it! Just don't pretend that the foundation is struggling to support the thing that most people donating actually care about.

Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons are both heavily used within Wikipedia, and Wiktionary is a very useful resource. It's kinda like saying "I don't want the money I donate to Mozilla to end up funding shitty projects like Gecko and Servo! I want it to end up in Firefox!"

There are offshoots in those, yes, but that doesn't make it a huge waste. Remember wikipedia was a very, very long shot for a very long time. To fund successes, you have to fund a lot of potential failures.

In other words, if you trust what the wikimedia foundation is doing, then you should donate to them and trust what they do with it (but feel free to challenge it and voice your opinion as a donor). And if you don't trust what they're doing, then you shouldn't be donating to them in the first place IMO, regardless of their ownership of Wikipedia.

Re: Wikidata and Wikimedia Commons, I feel like you glossed over "except as those projects also support Wikipedia", and as for Wiktionary, any of the ninety other online dictionary services will do me just as well.

With regards to the comparison to Gecko & Servo: If 80% of the development effort was going towards those projects being used only for integration with FirefoxOS, I would have the same complaint. Mozilla isn't doing that, though, and even when they were funding FirefoxOS, they didn't spit a half page banner in my face every time I opened Firefox saying "Firefox will be dead if you don't send us money!" when they were really talking about FirefoxOS.

In case it wasn't abundantly clear, I'm pointing fingers at Wikimedia's scummy donation-soliciting practices on Wikpedia.

> if you don't trust what they're doing, then you shouldn't be donating to them in the first place IMO, regardless of their ownership of Wikipedia.

I don't. So I don't. And, in fact, will be happy to argue in a bar that they shouldn't be donated to. If I could donate purely to support Wikipedia only, however, I would, and I would also argue that others should too. But I can't. So I don't.

> as for Wiktionary, any of the ninety other online dictionary services will do me just as well.

Wiktionary already covers a large number of languages where other online dictionaries have noticeably poorer content, or there may be no other real online dictionary at all. Wiktionary’s entry template puts a lot of emphasis on etymologies, for instance, and these etymologies are often not easy to find on the web (as opposed to dusty print dictionaries one might not have ready access to).

Granted, the etymology section on Wiktionary is useful (although I personally have a tendency to hit etymonline.com for etymology).

I really didn't intend for this to come across as a broadside against all of the Wikimedia properties. A projects by themselves, I would say they're all okay, I guess, but they're none of them projects I would siphon money from Wikipedia to fund.

What a thoroughly unpleasant attitude.

> which consists of this bunch of mediocrity: Wiktionary

I use Wiktionary very regularly, and find it incredibly useful.

Presumably you don't use all of Wikipedia either, what makes you 'give a shit' about the other 99.9+% of content?

You may find my attitude unpleasant: What I find unpleasant is a large organisation deliberately deceiving users into thinking that the resource they consider valuable is underfunded, when really they are spending those donations on side shows that these people don't even know exist, let alone want to use. WMF are like the Internet charity version of Susan G Komen.

With regards to the usefulness of Wikipedia versus Wiktionary, I like to think about their impact on the world.

Wikipedia: Eclipsed every online encyclopedia, massively, and most print encyclopedias in most degrees, and is a huge source of knowledge to a great many people who otherwise would not be able to have access to that knowledge.

Wiktionary: Is another dictionary.

It's hyperbole, sure, but it ain't by much.

That said, if you like Wiktionary enough that you want to donate to it? More power to you. I don't, particularly. And y'know, maybe this is an elitist attitude that stems from the fact that I speak English and English dictionaries abound. So grant me that I may be mistaken, and let me say "hey, also, throw in all of the hosting for Wiktionary into what I want to donate for as well, and I will be fine with it." If that's the case, then there's still a good 75% of any donation I make funding things I, yes, "don't give a shit" about. Lemme tell you, Wiktionary isn't exactly a large expense on the WMF books.

I regularly donate to a fair number of charities. If I have to donate $100 to WMF to get $20 of value of Wikipedia, I won't. If I could donate $20 to WMF to get $20 of value to Wikipedia, I would. Even if 5% of my donation went elsewhere, that would be fine. It doesn't, so it's not, and I will continue putting my charitable contributions somewhere I think they will be used to more effect.

I don't think they where ever Wikimedia Foundation staff paid to work on Wiktionary, Wikibooks, Wikiquote, Wikivoyage, Wikisource Wikispecies, Wikinews and Wikiversity. So, these projects cost to the Wikimedia Foundation the hosting (probably around ~100k/year at most) and some other small cost (trademark, some community support). Wikidata is developped by Wikimedia Deutchland that is an other organization than the Wikimedia Foundation and has its own fundraising. So, I believe that if you donate to the Wikimedia Foundation nearly all your donation is going to Wikipedia.

Yes, totally agreed. Wikimedia is over funded, yet they beg for donations all the time, and then go spending our money on tens of side projects that have no clear direction, purpose, or goal.

Edit: That branding research is another avenue for wasting our donation money.

When you spend money on a Google product, half of the money goes to buy hovercars for the founder. Does that make it bad spend?

Komen does nothing of value except give people expensive happy feelings. It's not in the same league.

My secret superpower is that I don’t pay for any Google services.

Anecdote warning - I have been studying Old English this year and have found Wiktionary invaluable.

I think it's great that Wiktionary is a good resource for you!

Hearing things like this only makes me with more that people could donate to individual projects and not the WMF at large.

Similarly, I find it invaluable when studying Hungarian and German.

I must disagree with you about Wiktionary. It's great.

where is the 80% figure coming from in the parent comment?

The two issues I have are:

By having a high expense situation and constantly begging for donations, it puts wikipedia, the main venture, at risk if other wikimedia ventures don't pan out.

If it was a struggle to keep wikipedia's lights on, I'd consider donating myself, but if it's for wikimedia to expand other projects with questionable benefits, I'm not inclined, and portraying the latter as the former rubs people seriously the wrong way.

> If it was a struggle to keep wikipedia's lights on, I'd consider donating myself

Isn't that kind of problematic too though? The idea that donations may only go to organizations that would struggle otherwise? (I know I'm inferring something you didn't explicitly say, but I do think that is a fairly common sentiment as well)

The situation becomes a bit clearer after drawing a distinction between a broad mission ("feed the starving") and a specific mission ("maintain wikipedia").

I'm ok with donations to a specific mission or a group with a very clear this-is-what-we-need-to-fund style goal and budget, and obviously if they are achieving their mission then they don't need more donations.

I'm not normally comfortable with the broad-mission style organisations. A large pool of money to be spent on an amorphous goal, by a group of essentially unknown people of unknown ability and beliefs? That is a scandal waiting to happen, and probably going to be mired in admin fees and corruption over the medium-long term if it isn't already.

Any charity that isn't struggling to keep the lights on is fundamentally suspect.

Well, alright. But can replace the word "organisations" and "charity" with "corporations" and "company" and explain why this logic of scandals and corruption waiting to happen no longer holds? Because I sure can't.

I also wouldn't advise donating money to corporations and companies. Corporations _are_ routinely plagued by financial scandals and corruption, but that is a problem for the owners, not the public. The harmed party is the shareholders, and to a substantial degree it is up to them to protect themselves.

A big difference that you might be looking for is that nobody is keen to give money to a company. People have (surprisingly effective) methods to find the cheapest producer. If the government is behaving appropriately this effect generally squeezes profit margins until they are uniform and thin. In theory. Practice is often close enough to theory to keep the system humming along.

Then it wouldn't be a charity donation. Giving money to successful projects is better done as an investment (or maybe purchase.)

I see no logical reason why being successful as a project implies that investing with a profit motive is the best option for guaranteeing continued success.

It isn't best option to guarantee success. It just means you're lower on the list of need-based funding allocations.

That makes sense, thanks. I have actually run into a use for one of the side projects (Wikidata) so I may be more optimistic about the foundation’s chances of doing something else useful with a big budget.

The thing that depresses me the most about Wiki[mp]edia is that the US$ 100 that I donated to them a few years ago (presumably,) predominantly went into creating material like this.

Given how incredibly well-funded Wikimedia is, their yearly extort^Wdonation-drive with 50%+ viewport-sized banners plastered all over Wikipedia, claiming that the encyclopedia you're viewing is in dire need of your money to barely sustain itself for the rest of the year, actually makes me rather angry every time I see it.

Recommended reading for those unaware of how (and what) Wikimedia is actually doing: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Wikipedia_Signpost/2...

Just because Wikipedia is a non-profit doesn't mean that brand outreach and other administrative/meta work isn't important. These are as important in non-profit as in for-profit organizations and are a normal part of business. As a past donor I'm happy that they're spending resources in this area.

Exactly. This is an area I think many technologists tend to glance over: "They paid how much to a 'brand consultancy' to replace an M with a P??"

And while these types of things can get "fluffy", if this branding change results in just a small percentage of additional people becoming more aware of the broader goals and projects of Wiki(m/p)edia, it was money well spent.

But they don’t advertise in the banners that they spend the money in such a way.

I may have a partial match in goals with Wikipedia. If 20% of the money goes to goals I support and 80% goes to goals I do not support or that are even contrary to my goals, how much should I give?

I decided for me to donate to projects that better serve my goals.

You raise a valid concern. How will you know If wikimedia's branding interests ultimately help them to deliver more of the goals you relate to? The means they take to improve their messaging may ultimately help them to coordinate resources more effectively and deliver more of what you support. Would the ends justify the means in that case?

I would be okay if they used 20% of my donation to venture for goals that I don’t know yet I will possibly support in the future. That also applies to messaging. But as said the rate is more 80%.

They're only well-funded for now. That funding can go away if enough people, such as yourself, complain about this. They need to sustain themselves, just like any other organization. If they are a net negative in the world, I would withhold donations. For producing material like this? It's still a net positive and therefore still worthy of donating to.

The foundation has so much money that they could fully sustain themselves just from their endowment if they wanted to. They really do not need donations from the public and their petitions for money are misleading for the majority of people, who think they are helping to pay for editors (free) and server costs (minor costs).

They have enough cash to safely operate for one year roughly with current expenses, without new contributions. I'm not sure where you're getting that they can free-stand just on their foundation's financial position.

Expenses were $81.4 million in 2018 (up from $69m in 2017). Cash is $73.9m (up from $49.5m). Wages were $38.5m.

Here is their audited 2017-2018 financial report [PDF]:


I understand the need to do things that aren't the specific thing you want them to do (i.e. run Wikipedia). But I don't see the need for this. What is actually bad about people not recognizing your brand correctly? They sure as shit recognize the product. If someone can provide an actual reason why this should help the foundation carry out its work, I can be convinced to be in favor of it.

If they are a net negative in the world, I would withhold donations.

It's not about good or bad, it's about opportunity cost. Most people have a limited budget for donations.

What is actually bad about people not recognizing your brand correctly

Yeah I'm sure Cuke and Papsi would have no problem with that as their coca-cola soft drink products are instantly recognizable as soon as you drink them.

You are comparing a force for good in the world to pushing sugar water. Sugar water OBVIOUSLY depends heavily on branding and advertising. Things that are more substantive can and should stand on their own merits.

Wikisomething gave me so much information.

The price i'm paying with my few donations i made over the years, are donations i don't bother to check what they are doing with it.

Why? I'm not part of it. I'm just here, reading stuff on wikipedia.

I don't know what they wanna try out. I don't know who or why so many people are part of it. I haven't written a single article. I fixed stuff but thats it. Perhaps they need it to build the community around.

They got my trust.

But you aren't paying for the editors and only a fraction of the donation goes to covering server costs. The Wikipedia project does not need your money and the foundation has enough money to survive indefinitely if they'd cut costs.

They already have costs vastly below other projects of their size

Yes, but a lot of it is bloat that does not contribute to Wikipedia itself.

I know and my argument is that your argument, doesn't matter to me. I also wrote why it doesn't.

I also donate each year and don't care what they are doing with my donation, because the value I got from wikipedia overshadowed my donation greatly and that's a great deal already.

Your trust is misplaced. Wikipedia editors (unpaid) generate their income from other things than money, be it a sense of accomplishment, altruism or agenda setting. Most articles on everything except science is tainted by bias. Wikipedia is no replacement for the classic lexicon in terms of redactional quality.

I'm really confused by this comment. Of course Wikipedia isn't a replacement for a dictionary. It's not supposed to be. And I don't see why you view "Wikipedia editors are motivated by things other than money, such as altruism" as an inherent negative either.

Soooo first of: I have not said that Wikipedia editors get money. But i'm assuming that my donation goes into something which motivates people to take part.

Easier editing for example. Or education about how to edit.

I don't have any lexika in my house. Everyone i know which has some form of it, its old.

I also don't think that a redactional lexicon is much better than the wikipedia. Why should it be? Bias perhaps but gathering facts is hardly a bias thing.

Wikipedia is free, i can freely distribute it, i can clone it, i can edit it. This is the most comprehensive datacollection with public access i know.

I was going to say that I don't mind and I'm happy to donate whatever I donate every year. But then went and looked up information on their budget - it's quite surprising that they spend as much as they do and it's not very clear on how they spend it and also plans on how they are going to contain the spend. I don't mind Wikimedia having a fat balance sheet and at least a few years worth of reserve but the growth of expenditure to match the donations is concerning. I'm worried they have fallen into the usual trap every startup that's well-funded fall into - assuming that the money they have will somehow magically last forever or that they can get more funding with their aggressive tactics.

Exactly. Their annual spendings grow exponentially, roughly matching the donations amounts. It cannot be operations costs. More like irresponsible foolish management.

You know how much money Google is wasting? Their main source is still ads from their websites. They could lay off all of their staff that's not working on the search or ad parts and put that money into dividends instead. But instead they are using lot of money that belongs to the stakeholders on this giant project of finding a new thing that's similarly profitable as search.

I definitely agree that WMF has definitely enough money, and maybe the money is not used in the best way. But others do it at much larger scales while WMF is getting most of the heat.

When I visit Google search there isn’t a banner begging me for money that will be piped into Google Wave, Buzz, or some other unrelated venture.

No, instead your personal data is sold to fund Google Wave, Buzz, or some unrelated venture.

Would you prefer wikimedia shift into selling user data and putting advertisements? If not, then donate.

> "Would you prefer wikimedia shift into selling user data and putting advertisements? If not, then donate."

I'm sure you didn't intend it this way, but this phrasing sounds like a threat of some sort, blackmail.

That’s a false dichotomy. Another option is to allow donations that are ring fenced for the project or projects I care about.

I would strongly argue that ring fencing is a very bad idea. We want to give opportunity for successful orgs to try new things and fail. This is why companies use some of their profits to try new things (such as Google Wave, but also such as Gmail). Wikimedia foundation, since it does not generate much revenue outside of donations, must necessarily use donations to try new things, even if they turn out to be failures/not needed.

Yeah, no kidding. I donated (a few times actually) to cover hosting costs, not to make wikipedia into some kind of lifestyle brand. This is wasteful.

It looks like textbook empire-building to me.

Something non-profits successful at fundraising strike me as especially fertile land for.

Thank you for this comment. I will withhold any future donations until I do further research.

Wikimedia has sufficient assets to host Wikipedia in perpetuity ($91 million @ 4 percent withdrawal rate = $3.64 million, ~$1 million above their current hosting tech and people costs). As long as Wikipedia text and media dumps are archived in the Internet Archive, it's not going to disappear even if Wikimedia Foundation goes defunct.

No further fundraising is required, ever, if properly managed.

A 4% withdrawal rate has a non-zero failure rate over 30 years, let alone in perpetuity. I would say they are no where close to being completely self sustaining. Also, using math calculated for personal retirement (The Trinity Study) is not appropriate for a trust/endowment/etc. Different risk tolerance, different investment strategy, different goals.

On top of that, assuming they will have zero effective cost increases is wrong. There is so much growth left in content and users. How much has Wikipedia grown in the last five years? How well do they cover non English languages? What if they had the same size article base in English as every other language? What if every internet connected user could use Wikipedia?

Saying we could freeze Wikipedia costs in 2019 based on $90M in the bank is shortsighted.

The page on The Wikimedia Endowment is actually quite interesting if you're into finance and investing - https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Endowment.

My numbers may need adjustment, but the principal is sound. Wikimedia must stop wasting donor funds and pleading poverty.

I think "needs adjustment" is reductive. Wikipedia could easily 10x pageviews and article count over the next 20 years. If Wikipedia doesn't grow content, coverage, and quality they could become irrelevant. Thinking donations should just go towards keeping the lights on doesn't sit right with me. An endowment that keeps Wikipedia running forever may very well need to be over $1 billion.

It turns out, the folks who planned out the endowment were very thoughtful. Check out this great read on the motivations, challenges, and plans of the endowment. https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Endowment_Essay

The internet technologies will be also improving, which may be even reducing their operations and maintenance costs (per page click).

And when they will _actually_ need more money, they can always ask.

Yes, but for reducing ops and maintenance costs by using new techs you need people to mamke changes to the system. And it's probably not something volunteers would want to commit to do.

Provided continuing funding for the Internet Archive, of course.

I donated twice to cover hosting & maintenance of Wikipedia, then became aware of the many other activities into which the funds were/are flowing, so I stopped donating. I care about Wikipedia, not much about the rest.

Those fund-raising banners are a great place to use ublock origin's cosmetic filters.

Seeing the graph (not for the first time) it's look like the foundation is run with this government worker's mentality of "if the annual budget is not totally spend by the end of exercice we will got less dotation next year". It's like they're blowing money for the sake of blowing it.

That's not unique to governments or non-profits.

Wikipedia is well known as an encyclopedia.

Changing that name to encompass a project which is quite different will be detrimental.

They are talking about changing the company's name behind Wikipedia to have the same name as the product.

Indeed, no more different than the company Google having the search engine also called Google. (yes, I know it's technically called Google Search, but no, for all practical uses, it isn't)

> while shortening “Wikimedia Commons” to its nickname “Wikicommons”

Literally never seen anyone write "Wikicommons", in all the years I've heard people talk about Commons, but heh.

I don't really understand how they manage to (in my opinion) waste time on nonsense like this. The services run great, the contribution volume is immense, and the quality of the tools is improving constantly. I want the Wikimedia Foundation's treasury to keep more funds to deal with conditions which may arise, and seek donations when they expect the most success (rather than the most desperation).

I want the Wikimedia Foundation to make it as attractive and convenient as possible for all interested persons to contribute to, and access, this immense cultural resource, but basically nothing else; and I just don't see how messing about with the names is an efficient way to carry out that job.

If this were to go through, they should just make WC be called "Wikimedia." Wikipedia is a wiki encyclopedia, Wikimedia should be a wiki of media. What is a wiki of a commons?

So you're suggesting reusing a brand they've already used in the past except with a totally different meaning? And that will be less confusing?

I think morpheuskafka is saying that if they are going to reuse a brand, as is already proposed, they might as well use the least confusing and silly short name for wikimedia commons he can think of.

The name is Wikimedia Commons rn, they want to drop part of it. I'm just saying drop commons instead of media.

@Wikicommons is their Twitter handle, so it tends to get talked about as Wikicommons there.


Ahh, that makes sense. The idea of interacting with WMF through Twitter seems oddly neo-quaint.

I don't like this as "wiki" has a meaning apart from the wikipedia, so this is colonizing that, much as "windows" colonized the idea of window systems.

(I feel compelled to point out that my example isn't anti-MS: "word" hardly colonizes the idea of "word processor")

I get the distinct feeling this is from some busy body with too much free time looking to make an impact...

Change for change's sake is bad. Think of the tech debt.

This is essentially about cleaning up debt (though brand debt, rather than technical). Read atdt's comment: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19259543

By the way, I feel like I should underline that I consider the technology behind Wikimedia a nice idea, but terrible execution. Apart from it being completely not standardized and having only one implementation, just compare it to Stack Overflow: both have the goal of gathering valuable knowledge and one manages to use gamification to build a healthy and transparent community, while the other has the least intuitive system possible, based on "voting" by editing Wikipedia pages only to end up being reminded that this is not a democracy. I feel that if the process was easier to grasp, people would edit more and we would have even more access to knowledge. Also, not integrating with Wikias sounds like a lost opportunity as well. I know that they vary by scope, but this would better solve the problem of deletionism vs inclusionism than what we have right now - criteria of "notability" in order to... reduce noise? Reduce maintenance cost? Neither is convincing to me.

This is a very nice brand research project, based on this they obviously had problems. “Wikimedia is a Social Media Video site” is a quote from the research. https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/37/Global_W...

How much researchers should they hire to understand writing everything in blue is ugly? You can create and maintain a brand image without going ridiculous like that.

This is a great idea! It's honestly long overdue

Okay. Makes sense to me.

Now what are you going to do about busybody deletionists with power driving away every single new contributor - and most of the old ones?

This seems like a narrowly thought out proposal. Contrary to what Wikimedia may think and see today, Wikipedia is not the future. The future is something closer to robotopedia or machinepedia or autowikipedia, if you get what I'm saying. The name Wikimedia is fine.

I have seen the future, and there is no place for human writers in it.

> The future is something closer to robotopedia or machinepedia, if you get what I'm saying

Can't disagree with that enough. Wikipedia owes its incredible quality to the human editors doing thankless work behind the scenes. A machine-driven alternative would be awful.

See Cpedia, Cuil's hilariously awful attempt at building just that.


As long as machine writing is below human level quality, yes.

But that won't be the case for too many more years.

I'm not convinced of that. It feels very much like self driving cars: people look back 5 years, see X amount of progress, and assume that at least X amount more will be done 5 years from now. Reality rarely tracks that way.

He's probably right about nlp robot garbage being the future. Same as how we don't build pyramids anymore. Brick buildings have given way to toothpicks and foam. Quality seems to decay when the tide of novelty recedes. Robo-wikipedia probably costs 1/10000th the price get content quality about 60% as good.

People will try to sell people on burning the modern library of Alexandria yet again. Good thing we can backup offline copies! I've been in the woods for the last few months and offline simple english wikipedia has been awesome. Some of the articles on more serious subjects are comedy gold mines in simple english.

I feel like every phone should include an offline copy of wikipedia. That way if you're off the grid for a long time (or the grid goes down) your device isn't totally useless.

Or for that case when you get transported back in time...

‘Wiki’ doesn’t mean person - it means quick. An automatic authoring system would be even more ‘wiki’ than before.

What is the future where there is no need for human writers, but that still has human readers? A world where we all happily accept The Truth from machines is hard to envision, and not going to happen while this generation still lives.

i think you meant to say facebookpedia or googlepedia

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