Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit | markmccraw's comments login

Some online ads are just general brand awareness ads, in the way that the big Pepsi sign at a baseball stadium isn't talking about a new product or trying to get you to buy a Pepsi right now.


Given that it costs less than $20 million to run Wikipedia (cite: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/foundation/a/ac/FINAL_...), that seems completely attainable without needing to change the nature of Wikipedia by introducing advertising.

A lone rich donor could cover the budget for an entire year, and many people who could afford that wouldn't even be mentioned in Wikipedia, so there would be little opportunity for any conflict of interest. Even if someone high profile donated a large sum that would only be one profile to monitor for any potential bias.

Here's why I think ads would be a terrible idea:




More Money


Integrity possibly compromised

Contributors might leave

Readers might trust Wikipedia less




Maintains editorial independence

Maintains trust of readers and contributors


Harder to raise money


Ads are a lazy solution. I can't think of a single benefit to Wikipedia or its users other than "it would be so easy to meet the budget."


> A lone rich donor could cover the budget for an entire year, and many people who could afford that wouldn't even be mentioned in Wikipedia, so there would be little opportunity for any conflict of interest.

Isn't the risk of influence higher if a "lone rich donor" funds Wikipedia rather than hundreds of advertisers?


Back when I was a young lad, there used to be these things that had sort of the same issues. They were a stack of 'paper' (pressed wood pulp) sheets that content was 'printed' on (a black substance called 'ink' was sprayed on them). People used to write for them during the day, they were produced ('printed') at night and teenagers would deliver them in the morning so that people back then could still read news reasonably fast after it had happened.

Anyway, they had the same issues about ads and editorial independence, yet somehow they seemed to be able to continue to be trusted despite having ads. And get this, even though they had ads, you still had to pay for them, too! Those were some strange days...


Today's news is almost entirely ad-funded, with a lot of the story work done ahead of time by PR agencies. It's not a shining example of editorial independence.


Has anyone actually read what they spend their money on? Just about 10% on 'travel expenses' and 'awards and grants' together.... Also (overlapping the previous - but only by $63,000) almost 10% goes to fund-raising activities.... Seems to me (from a distance) that there is plenty of bloat here and these are not things that the average wikipedia user cares about....

And thats not mentioning the over 7 million (40%) on salaries and wages..... I'm not sure you can describe this as a 'small non-profit'....

Sorry if that all sounds cynical - but this is a not-for-profit institution here... I think that they have a duty to provide an efficient (value for money) service, which I am concerned is not being done....


Those numbers really aren't bad at all. Obviously wages are going to a main expense of a nonprofit that's a giant website.


The moment ads are permitted on Wikipedia, advertiser conflict begins. We see this all the time on news sites: unintentionally offensive correlated-ads on content that should be free-standing. I believe the Wikipedia Foundation would agree with this and advertising will not become an option.


Yeah, I don't really get the big deal either. If the quality is so bad, people will stop crowdsourcing and if the pay is so low for designers, they will stop doing spec work. It seems like there's a lot of designers who want to make a cartel to keep prices higher and prevent direct competition between designers.

I suspect (but have no proof) that crowdsourcing appeals to designers who might have more trouble working on regular projects with obligations such as younger people, busy parents with day jobs and third-worlders who lack the English skills to effectively market and communicate otherwise. Which makes things better for the customer, but introduces new competition into the design world.


Disclaimer: I'm a poker player and small time affiliate.

The poker related ones seem to venture well into the unethical or illegal category. That doesn't take away from the difficulty or cleverness of the hacks, but unlike the candy theft story, there is no acknowledgment that some of those things might have been unethical or illegal.

Edit: I now see the conclusion that notes the potential for illegality, but I feel like the body comes off as way too proud about aiding a scam of a business (the affiliate "arbitrage")


I'm interested to understand why you think so.

Most people in college at the time were signing up for poker sites without any affiliate reference, so they would get nothing. At least with Aces Up they got something back.

My poker bot was against the T&C of the site, so I could see the ethical issue there. The bot barely won any money at the $5 SNGs (maybe $100), and factoring in the massive amounts I lost playing my expert strategy at $2/$4 limit, it was net negative.

The affiliate arbitrage thing was definitely unethical, though as I noted, I did not participate directly. It was also against their T&C and my friend eventually drifted into some even more shady areas of affiliate dealings (100% rakeback via a similar system, etc) that lead to him being banned on most sites.

I don't know that any of those three are illegal at all. Regardless, I suppose I may have a predisposition for finding an angle and considering ethics as an after thought.

Edit: In response to your edit, I suppose you could look at it as a scam of a business. In truth, most people had a love/hate relationship with PartyPoker since they took high rakes, didn't permit rakeback programs, and were ruthless about shutting down accounts and seizing the money with the claim that "we're not a bank". Being in the bot community and watching lots of people lose thousands of dollars because PP deemed their account suspicious was enough to make me lose any empathy for PartyPoker.


IANAL, but depending on state law, running the poker games on your campus might be illegal (not a law I'd agree with, but possibly illegal).

In a regulated online poker scene in the US, botting would likely be illegal, just like using a computer to aid your play in a live casino is.

While I understand the value of rakeback and low rakes and poker sites not treating their customers poorly, I don't think it is relevant to whether creating a bunch of fake accounts to receive affiliate commission is okay.

Anyhow, seems like it's all in the past, so all of this shouldn't matter much.


> Regardless, I suppose I may have a predisposition for finding an angle and considering ethics as an after thought.

Many of us have a predisposition for finding an angle. Finding an angle is, I agree, part of the joy of hacking. But you can never let ethics become a mere afterthought. You certainly can't justify unethical behavior by simply asserting you're predisposed to unethical behavior.


I totally agree. I am simply predisposed. These days I like to think I'm a little wiser, thoughtful, and empathetic than I was as a kid, so I walk things through a little more in my mind. :)


Probably against the T&C's of the affiliate program as well, where the company, reading this, might get back to you for a claw back. At least, that's what I would consider/investigate if I was the affiliate manager.

Al in all, clever


I bet some of them find alternative ways to get visitors and that a decent number of people use the bookmark feature. Now, how valuable a visitor is to a page like that is another matter.


Well, a lot of those webapps fall in the "feature, not a product category" and were pretty clearly living life on the edge.

I await the day I can anagram via the search bar.


Note that the biggest accusation of them all is not addressed: that grouper is a lie, and is just old fashioned human matchmaking.

See http://gizmodo.com/5845467/how-i-was-nearly-seduced-by-group...


Given the permissiveness of fair use laws and the low probability that random bloggers will engage in costly and lengthy lawsuits, I imagine that CC license or not, Marco's stuff would get scraped.


Bzzzzz. Wrong.

7 words, problem solved.

Copyright (c) 2011 Marco Arment. All Rights Reserved.

If that doesn't do it, a simple lawyer letter and public shaming certainly will. At least for sites with significant reach and assets/reputation worth losing.


If you go through the posts in the google link from marco's post, many of the scraped summaries are <2 paragraphs, (such as http://articles.businessinsider.com/2011-02-02/strategy/3001...) and that would continue to happen regardless of licensure.

The HuffPo which has both significant reach and assets, takes/quotes liberally from other writers and has had mixed responses to public shamings. See http://gawker.com/5820099 . I'm sure other aggregators do similar stuff, Newser comes to mind, although they tend to rewrite and condense, which may be better or worse, depending on the original writer's objectives.


If they write a story that says 'RockyMcNuts says' and a couple of paragraphs of fair use, I'm cool with it.

If they put a whole blog post up on their site with my byline and a linkbait headline, they're getting a lawyer letter, and a lawsuit after about 72 hours.

If you have a license that says "you may reproduce, reblog, and modify my content, but you must provide proper attribution," then that's what people are going to do.

And if you have a license that says they can't, then you can take the steps to stop them. Maybe it's a pain to have to ask people to respect your rights, but with some people that's what you have to do.


FWIW, the language comes from the DOJ attorney, so I don't think you can blame the headline writers.


Affiliates (no longer?) don't get paid based on a straight up deposit, but instead need to have their signups play through to earn a certain amount of FTP points, which are correlated to rake paid. The CPA rates start at ~$75 and go up for those who drive volume. Rakeback affiliates make only 3% of gross rake.

See http://www.pokeraffiliatesolutions.com/full-tilt-affiliate-p... for more



Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact