Wikipedia talk:Tools/1-Click Answers

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Welcome visitors from Slashdot[edit]

Welcome visitors from Slashdot. Please know that the story at Slashdot is completely false. There is no proposal to have advertising in Wikipedia. There is no contractual agreement to alter any page of Wikipedia. What is happening here is that Answers.com is creating a co-branded version of their website which will show ads, and they will share the revenue with us. This means, and let me be very very firm about this, that there is NO PROPOSAL TO HAVE ADVERTISING IN WIKIPEDIA. --Jimbo Wales 19:19, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry Jimbo. Most people would consider a proposal which involves putting a link to their site and software on our Tool's page and getting paid as a result (and not getting paid if we reject the link) advertising in Wikipedia. It's not right to correct one oversimplification with another. --Gmaxwell 20:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
We get paid either way. This is not an advertising deal. Period.--Jimbo Wales 12:04, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I wouldn't have made the comment if not for what the old FAQ stating it outright. The change had been standing long enough that I didn't realize that you were not the person who wrote it. --Gmaxwell 13:06, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I'll have to agree with Gmaxwell's post. There was some truth to the slashdot posting. dont say its completely false --anon 21:15, 24 October 2005 (UTC)


Open source alternative[edit]

I have started a SourceForge project for OpenAnswers, an open source (GPL licensed) alternative to Answers.com's 1-Click Answers. Anyone who is interested in helping in any way is invited to go to the project page and register your interest in the forums (or email me: b_g at users dot sourceforge dot net). This project is currently in the planning stage, but I hope that it will eventually be of high enough quality to be considered as a replacement for Answers.com's closed source product as a Wikipedia partner. --BG 22:30, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Questions from Tim Starling[edit]

This page was linked to from a mailing list post to wikien-l and foundation-l: [1]. It was requested that comments regarding the deal be placed here.

I would like to know: a) Was this change necessitated by a budget shortfall? b) What will the Board do if Wikipedia users remove the answers.com link from Wikipedia:Tools or from the sidebar? -- Tim Starling 20:14, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

No, it wasn't necessitated by the budget. I am expecting the revenue would be regarded as something additional to what is needed to keep the site running. For example, special projects like the distribution of content in Africa and so on. As with the Amazon experiment last year, we've little idea at the moment what the revenue from this will be, whether it will be worthwhile, and whether it will be regarded as overly controversial. This is why I insisted on a trial period. We're expecting the links won't be removed, in the same way normal fundraising drive notices are not removed. Angela (disclaimer: all of my comments on this page are just my opinion and not official Board responses) 20:34, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I'd observe that people would probably be more amenable to a sidebar link to the Tools page if said page was more attractive and useful. --Michael Snow 22:38, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree. The link doesn't need to be there until 2006, so there's quite a while left for improving that page. Angela. 23:10, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, put me down as opposing then. If there's no pressing financial need, then I don't see why you'd want to advertise a bunch of professional Google spammers in a prominent location on the site. The community agreed to the Amazon kickback on the grounds that it wouldn't affect the appearance of the site at all. That was free money, this is advertising. Those who argued that the Amazon kickback was the start of a slippery slope appear to have been proven right.
Fundraising notices are not removed because they constitute an ethical revenue stream which has the broad support of the community. They also generate the majority of funding, a fact which is not lost on local sysops. Wikipedia users should decide on their own behalf whether they consider this measure to be appropriate, as long as they have the technical power to do so.
I think the sensible course of action at this stage would be to reproduce the functionality of the 1-click product in an open source package, assuming there are no associated patents. Then we can advertise that one instead. -- Tim Starling 10:15, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Apparently, there are some patents in this area. I have no idea what they cover or whether they are any sort of practical obstacle, though.--Jimbo Wales 20:35, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
The three patents are listed at [2]. This was discussed, without any agreement being found on the issue, in today's Board meeting, and Jimmy is going to draft an official statement about working with companies with software patents. Angela. 20:45, 13 November 2005 (UTC)
Agree. How is this different from Wiki-Quick-Find or WikiPedia Lookup Extension (aside from the context search thing), and how hard would it be to add that functionality to one of these two existing extensions? - FrancisTyers 15:52, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
One difference is that it works in any application, not just in a browser. Angela. 04:04, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the sensible course of action at this stage would be to reproduce the functionality of the 1-click product in an open source package, assuming there are no associated patents. I see no reason we can't do both. In fact, if the open source product is finished by the end of the 6 month trial period, it'd be a strong incentive for Wikimedia to choose not to renew the contract. I'd be willing to use the answers.com software if 50% of the revenues went to Wikimedia. But I'd be even more willing to use an open source version, with ads, with 100% of the revenues going to Wikimedia. (And yes, it's open source, so anyone could easily take out the ads, and in fact we should distribute two versions, one with ads and one without ads.) anthony 15:59, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
It's a two month trial, not a six month trial. If someone wants to develop something similar in open source and donate some of the proceeds of that to Wikimedia, that would be a great alternative. Angela. 04:04, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I have to concur with Tim. ALOT. I cannot support wikipedia if it will support spyware. --Phroziac(talk)Flag of Phyzech Republic.svg 02:01, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The software has been certified as being not spyware. If you don't beleive this, feel free to not download the software. It's not compulsory. Angela. 04:04, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
As a veteran GuruNet user, I actually use the GuruNet client, and not the current 1-Click Answers offering. I see no ads in this version, and either version isn't spyware. Personally, I prefer the earlier product as it's self-contained with tabs whereas the modern version opens up a browser window when one alt-clicks on a word or phrase. The newer version is lighter and faster, but in my opinion, they could have stripped out the extras in the original version and still maintained Answers in its own client without the need to open a browser. I would also have been happy to pay a yearly subscription to keep the program going. -TonyW 10:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think it is perfectly fine to oppose it; 100% support of everything is of course impossible to achieve. I do hope that you will reserve final judgment until we see how it works out.
I do want to take issue, though, with the "professional google spammers" comment. I think that's a very unfortunate way to characterize the one company which has done the most to license our content in an ethical way, including donating money back to us to support our goals. Your trip to from Australia to Frankfurt was paid for in part due to their generous support of our conference this summer.
"Professional google spammers" are people who simply copy our entire site, slap some ads on it, and engage in keyword optimization strategies to get traffic as cheaply and spamly as possible. Answers.com/Gurunet, on the other hand, licenses information from a number of sources, writes software to make it accessible in a variety of ways, and in general offers what, as far as I know, is a completely and totally ethical service. They don't engage in abusive advertising practices or spyware. If they are "spammers" then so is every commercial website on the planet which ever uses free content. I don't think we have any ethical interest in opposing the for-profit world using our work.
In short, I think it is perfectly fine for people to have differing opinions on the value of this. But it is not fine, in my book, to use inflammmatory and insulting rhetoric towards people who have done everything correct and "by the book" regarding not only the letter of the license, but also the charitable and friendly spirit in which we do our work.--Jimbo Wales 12:57, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Answers.com/Gurunet, on the other hand, licenses information from a number of sources, writes software to make it accessible in a variety of ways, and in general offers what, as far as I know, is a completely and totally ethical service.
Given that the wikipedia is licensed under the GFDL, i fail to understand how anyone active in the wikipedia community (such as Jimbo :), can consider that non-free software is ethical.
Given that we know that free software and free content not only could be created, but have been created, and exist and are useful and functional, how can we call non-free software ethical? i really have difficulty understanding this inconsistency.
And given that we are discussing the charitable and friendly spirit with which we work, i think we need to be honest about the fact that the terms of their licence declaration - http://www.answers.com/main/legal_notices.jsp#terms - are rather different from a charitable and friendly spirit. It's not obvious to me that they are complying with the GFDL - on a quick read it sounds like wikipedia content is part of their Content and therefore you may not: (i) modify or create any derivative works of the Content. i assume that in a technical sense, the license as a whole is consistent with the terms of the GFDL and i've simply misunderstood something, but complying with the spirit of the GFDL would be to give an obvious declaration like Some of our content is published under the GFDL and you are not only permitted but also encouraged to modify and redistribute it (according to the terms of the GFDL) if you find errors or if you can improve it.
Please don't get me wrong - i don't claim that all compromises are wrong - all individuals and groups make some compromises between ideals and practical life, it depends on e.g. what ideals are sacrificed, whether it creates a long term dependency or not, whether it constitutes part of a systematic bias, how much time there is to make a decision, etc.. . (For example, accepting money from the George Soros foundation is something i would generally consider dangerously close to creating dependencies on authoritarian, irrational economic structures. However, the presence of several people from the Chinese-language wikipedia, and Hossein Derakshan of iranian blog fame, at the wikimania meeting, was for me a compromise with many more positive benefits than negative risks. Their reports on wikipedia and blog information network building in PRC and Iran were extremely interesting and encouraging, and having face-to-face contact was surely a very useful complement to virtual communication.) Anyway, on this particular decision (answers.com 1 click_answers), i haven't looked enough to make any informed opinion.
However, claiming that they have a completely and totally ethical service is IMHO incorrect: they use non-free software, which goes against the whole spirit of wikipedia and the free software, free content movement.
Would getting wikipedia going in Africa and by Africans (for example) be worth the risks of associating with people promoting non-free software? Hard to say. If Africans can distribute encyclopedic type information so that the IMF can no longer impose famines on north-east Africa, that could save tens of millions of lives. If Africans would distribute information among themselves and to the rich countries regarding present colonialism in Africa and find ways of sorting out their internal conflicts and rejecting colonialism thanks to better information distribution - in part thanks to the wikimedia foundation wikis, then it would be hard to criticise the decision.
Of course, these are big ifs. It would seem to me that if Africans got the idea that wikipedia content is non-modifiable (e.g. if they got it mostly through answers.com), then i'm not sure that this particular compromise would have the positive role that we would expect it to have. My two cents. Boud 23:49, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Answers.com have agreed to add an edit link underneath all Wikipedia content, so hopefully no one will get the impression it is not modifiable. Angela. 04:04, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
wikipedia does not exist to promote free softwear. It exists to produce a free encyopedia. The softwear aspect is secondary.Geni 01:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
My two cents: I would rather Wikimedia not take any funding from non-free software etc. such as this. However, the extra income would be nice. My biggeste concern has already been voiced: Will this start a sort of worsening of the Wikipedia and other projects such that the original morals that the Wikipedia was founded on be abandoned? As of now, I'll stick with saying that Wikimedia should go through with the trial and above all make sure that the Wikimedia projects retain their integrity, the thing which I find best about Wikimedia. Also, I can't help but feel a bit irritated at users who have decided to boycott. Rather than outright discontinuing use of something which you love, why not try to shape it by voicing your opinions to those in charge? I hope Wikimedia stays strong and never loses the ethics of the project. --Snaxe920 21:27, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

A real answer to Tim's second question - What will the Board do if Wikipedia users remove the answers.com link from Wikipedia:Tools or from the sidebar? - would be nice, as there will almost certainly be editors who will do this. Dan100 (Talk) 08:51, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

I have to say, We're expecting the links won't be removed, in the same way normal fundraising drive notices are not removed. is quite a presumption. There is a lot of difference between "normal fundraising" and advertising a commercial site. - FrancisTyers 11:25, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
Unless I see a major change in community feeling then I will remove them. Of course there are ways around this problem but none of them are exactly great.Geni 02:09, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Legal issues[edit]

Are non-profit organisations allowed to form partnerships with for-profit companies? Are there any potential privacy issues arising for Wikipedians who choose not to use whatever thing Answers.com is creating (for example code additions to MediaWiki)? Talrias (t | e | c) 20:19, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

We're not making a profit from this. It's simply an alternative way of raising funds, in addition to fundraising drives, sponsorship and grants. There are no privacy issues for users who do not download the software. This is not part of MediaWiki and I'm not aware of any plans to make it so. Angela. 20:34, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Non-profit organizations, even those that are charities, are allowed to form partnerships with for-profit companies. The only issue would arise if the income were considered "unrelated business income", which would be subject to unrelated business income tax and could ultimately jeopardize the 501(c)(3) status [3] if it represented a disproportionate amount of the non-profit's revenue. "Unrelated business income is income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the performance by the organization of its exempt purpose or function except that the organization needs the profits derived from this activity." [4] Presumably the board has contacted a CPA or a lawyer who has signed off on this deal, as there is certainly an argument that this income is substantially related to the exempt purpose of the organization. If not, they should. (This is not legal advice, IANACPAOAL, blah blah blah blah blah). anthony 02:29, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
It's also interesting to note that Answers.com's stock price spiked 11% with this announcement, increasing their market capitalization by around 8 million.[5] Considering Wikimedia's budget, isn't it curious to see what Wall Street, which I guess thinks Wikipedia is hot stuff, feels this is worth? (Being Jewish, I'm also wondering if anyone will complain that Answers.com is an Israeli company headquartered in Jerusalem -- this may not sit well with some people) Tfine80 04:46, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Answers.com released earnings Friday. The surge in stock price might have been coincidental (it took place toward the end of the day Thursday, on above average but really not that significant volume, maybe 100,000 shares, and the stock came back down to about the previous level by the end of the day Friday).
The surge took place right after 2:27 pm on Thursday, exactly when the press release came out. The volume increase was fairly substantial in comparison to how the stock was trading previously. The main reason seems to be that short sellers of this stock needed to make sure this wasn't a deal to "monetize" Wikipedia and its content which investors of course realize would be a major coup for any corporation. The title of the press release and the enthusiastic quotations were very confusing in connection to the fact that this is only supposed to be "a link on the tools page." The fact they released their still lackluster earnings and revenues the next day returned investors to the reality about this stock as the actual nature of this deal with Wikipedia sunk in (and perhaps even as they considered or noted the resistance by Wikipedia's users to a more commercial arrangement). The coincidence should also make anyone suspicious of the whole timing of this announcement. This is just another aspect that puzzles me about Wikimedia's apparent willingness to place so much trust in Answers' ethics and motives. How can you be so quick to trust a company that is losing millions and has a dubious business model that has failed hundreds of times previously? Their attempt to generate good press mostly through association with the red hot Wikipedia is obvious; this new software does nothing but change the order of results in a program they already have. They mostly want to improve its marketing, and the prominent link Wikipedia is promising is likely worth much more in publicity than the few thousand dollars Wikipedia will receive from Google Ads. Tfine80 18:41, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

The Foundation will make a profit of this since we will share some of the revenues generated by the ads on the co-branded version. But this totally related to our current activity, so can not jeopardize our 501(c)(3) status. The important points to consider are that the co-branded version will be totally licence compliant (just as gurunet currently is), that its access will be totally opt-in (so you may choose not to use it at all), it keeps Wikipedia totally ads-free as many editors want it to stay, it generates revenues much needed to support our current amazing growth (and limit the number of times a fundraising drive notice will be visible on all pages), and finally, I hope we can use part of the revenues to create a special fund for development of our projects in some developing countries. As Angela says, it is an alternative way to raise funds toward our charitable goals. Anthere 08:59, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't know if you're aware, but Answers and Opera have an agreement for Opera to link to Answers' library of information. In fact, you can now use the context menu in the Opera browser to search the Dictionary/Encyclopedia on any word or phrase highlighted on a web page, which takes you to a co-branded page hosted by Answers (opera.answers.com). -TonyW 09:07, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
As far as the language being used goes, it would be better to say the Foundation is receiving revenues, not making a profit. Nonprofit organizations, by definition, do not make profits (more precisely, they are not based on capital investments that are expected to yield a return for the investors). They can have revenues, and in fact need some sort of income to operate, and they can partner with for-profits to produce such revenues. --Michael Snow 16:34, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
But this totally related to our current activity, so can not jeopardize our 501(c)(3) status. I find it hard to believe that you are qualfied to make such a statement. I'm an accountant who deals with this stuff on a regular basis (though about 90% of the clients I deal with are for-profit corporations), and personally I'd ask my boss (who is a CPA) before classifying such revenue (especially if it was material, which this revenue probably will be). "Unrelated business income" is a very specific legal term, and I'd strongly caution you against considering only your basic understanding of the phrase as used colloquially. It'd only cost probably a few hundred dollars to get the opinion of a licensed professional. I assume this cost is negligible compared to the revenues involved here, and if there are any problems the deal could probably be restructured to avoid them. The important points to consider are that the co-branded version will be totally licence compliant (just as gurunet currently is) Among other things, I don't see the names of five significant contributors on the title page, nor do I see the list of all contributors in the section entitled history, so if you're talking about the GFDL I wouldn't call it "totally" compliant. that its access will be totally opt-in (so you may choose not to use it at all) except for the link in the toolbar. it keeps Wikipedia totally ads-free as many editors want it to stay except for the prominent link at the top of the tools page. it generates revenues much needed to support our current amazing growth (and limit the number of times a fundraising drive notice will be visible on all pages) I believe Angela said the revenues were going to be used for things like sending print copies to Africa, not for supporting the site.
Don't get me wrong, I think this is a great idea, and if it weren't for the "prominent link" I think the deal would be perfectly fine. That said, I think a better idea would be for Wikimedia to develop its own open-source software which does this, and then it'd get 100% of the revenues, not 50%. I also think a legal opinion should be obtained to ensure that this income won't be taxed.
As far as the language being used goes, it would be better to say the Foundation is receiving revenues, not making a profit. Agreed. Nonprofit organizations, by definition, do not make profits (more precisely, they are not based on capital investments that are expected to yield a return for the investors). By definition, nonprofit organizations aren't formed for the purpose of making a profit. I wouldn't say they don't make profits, as profit is nothing more than revenues minus expenses. In that sense, I'd say Angela's statement that "we're not making profit from this" is incorrect, and Anthere's statement that "the Foundation will make a profit [off] of this" is correct. But I agree with you that saying that the Foundation is receiving revenues is accurate, better, and less confusing.
Here's a quote from the IRS website: "The sale of advertising in a periodical of an exempt organization that contains editorial material related to the accomplishment of the organization's exempt purpose is an unrelated business that exploits an exempt activity, the circulation and readership of the periodical." [6] Now this isn't exactly what's going on here, but it's close enough that you need to talk to a licensed professional about this.
anthony 15:16, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
Can you dump all excess money by donating it to schools, the red cross, the AIDS drive, etc? I'm not sure the law lets you get away with ultra-charity (I think it cuts at like 5% of your profits or 3 million dollars or something), so you might want to ask a real lawyer.
Michael Snow is a lawyer, and he's commented above. Another advantage of the two month trial is that we'll be able to see whether this does bring in any substantial revenue compared to our normal income. A decision about whether this would jeopardize our charitable status can be made much better once we know how much we're talking about. Angela. 04:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Please note that I never said that this deal would jeopardize Wikimedia's charitable status. In fact, I'm not even sure if it'd be considered unrelated business income in the first place. It is something that should be looked into at some point though, and not just swept under the rug. anthony 02:24, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

\*[edit]

Is this "Wikipedia Edition" just going to be a mirror of Wikipedia, but with ads? I could see people worrying about where this could lead, down some sort of sloping, low-friction surface... — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-20 20:57

Answers.com already have a mirror of Wikipedia with ads. The software just lets you get there by alt-clicking a word anywhere on your screen. It takes some context from surrounding words, so should point you at Jordan River if you click that word Jordan, but at the country Jordan if you click that one. You can try out the software already, but it's not the "Wikipedia edition", which will be largely the same, but will place the Wikipedia content first on the page. Angela. 23:10, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
Another issue to consider is how current the articles displayed by Answers will be. At present, if you go to Answers, or use the 1-Click Answers/GuruNet client, the information from Wikipedia is a few months out-of-date. For example, compare Southport with Southport. I understand Answers downloads the database dumps, and I was led to believe this was to be done fairly regularly, but doesn't appear to have been done since early summer. -TonyW 00:54, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't know why their copy is so out of date. I thought they were paying us for a feed that meant they had no need to download the database, but I will check. Angela. 01:05, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
I've discovered an exception to this in a number of articles - for example, Answer's copy of Hurricane Wilma is very close to the current Wikipedia article on Hurricane Wilma. Whether it's because it's a current news event, I don't know, but that article seems more up to date than the majority Answers links to. Just thought I'd mention it. -TonyW 08:03, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Bob Rosenschein, the CEO of the Answers Corporation, has replied to say there have been technical problems involved with receiving a usable dump, exacerbated by the recent upgrade of Wikipedia database formats. There have been serious problems with the OAI feed that they were beta testing for us, but they are "making steady headway with the API, which we hope will also benefit the greater Wikipedia community of users and developers." They have apparently been running scripts around the clock and by the time this is launched, they hope to go live with the API, and then the updates will be very up-to-date. Angela. 04:13, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Encouraging the editing of Wikipedia pages[edit]

One of the potential problems with encouraging software-based and third party uses of Wikipedia's content is that it could divert people from the site. I think Answers.com is a great resource, but we don't want it to overwhelm Wikipedia before the encyclopedia reaches some stage of maturity. Currently, Answers.com does not tell people that they can edit the various articles that they display.

It could also encourage people to come to Wikipedia more often since it is linked from there. Also, it will certainly encourage people to view Wikipedia information more often (since it will always be just one click away from any page in any application), even if they don't do it on our own site. A lack of link to the edit page, and also to the donations page, is a fair concern. I'll ask whether they'd consider implementing that, especially for the "Wikipedia version". Angela. 23:10, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I am sure they would be happy to do it. I'm not sure it is a good idea, though. Do we really want hundreds of thousands of inexperienced users clicking on a link on another site, making edits, and being bewildered about where they are and what they're doing? I think readers who don't edit are fine, and don't "overwhelm" us in the way that editors who don't read might. :-)--Jimbo Wales 13:00, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Also, Answers.com uses sources not under GFDL licenses. For example, are we now going to link to their dictionary definitions that come from commercial dictionaries instead of our own budding Wiktionary project? Tfine80 21:26, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

No, we're not going to be linking to their dictionary definitions instead of Wiktionary. Their software does currently include non-Wiktionary content though. I'm not convinced Wiktionary is yet large enough to be a useful resource. It's really still at the stage of being a project to build a useful resource. Perhaps once it's a bit more mature, we could convince Answers.com to include Wiktionary content in their site. However, this doesn't affect which dictionary Wikipedia is going to link to. Angela. 23:10, 20 October 2005 (UTC)
I find the question puzzling. Why and in what way would we do that?--Jimbo Wales 13:00, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Not directly through Wikipedia itself. But this venture will use the popular Wikipedia website to promote a research software program that uses non-free and commercial content. I don't think it's a big deal so long as it is simply a link to their software, but Answers.com's press release made it seem like a much more significant, albeit vague, "partnership" to generate some hype for their somewhat battered stock. And traders aren't sure exactly what to make of it... I personally have some concerns about Answers' long-term viability as a corporation--although I think it is a great resource--and I just think Wikimedia should be more clear about what this partnership represents. Unlike some of the other existing and potential sponsors with long-term goals about the nature of Internet content like Yahoo and Google etc., I imagine Answers is most interested in converting any relationship with Wikipedia into quick cash. Tfine80 17:05, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
I've been told they intend to add a link to "Edit This Page" on their copy of all Wikipedia content by the end of this month. Angela. 04:16, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

1-Click Answers; ???; Profit![edit]

Revenues from this will be split with the Wikimedia Foundation.

How exactly will revenue be generated? Banner ads, popups, sponsored results? What's to keep them from doing this without any cooperation from the Board (or revenue sharing) at all? -- Norvy (talk) 00:27, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

You've asked what is perhaps the most important question of all: what's to keep them from doing this without any cooperation from the Board or revenue sharing at all? Well, other than the use of our name, there is nothing to keep them from doing it. The fact that they ethically approached us and made a generous offer to help us out in a way that is beneficial for them and us is a credit to them, and something we should applaud.--Jimbo Wales 12:51, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
Trademark law would prevent them from calling it "Wikipedia edition", and of course without Wikimedia they wouldn't get the "prominent link" on the tools page. Also, the fact that Wikipedia is getting revenue from it will get more people to use it. Personally I'm going to use the software if and only if Wikimedia gets part of the revenue, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. But I think the more important question is what's to stop us from doing this without them? Then we'd get 100% of the revenues, not 50%.
That would mean that the software would have to link to a version of Wikipedia that shows ads (or put ads on Wikipedia itself). No ads, no extra revenue.
Any party using a trademark to prohibit other parties from redistributing the GFDL work its authors call by the short and long form titles "Wikipedia" and "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia" would seem to immediately breach the terms of its own GFDL license and lose the right to distribute the work itself. That doesn't seem like a very useful course of action. Remember that ALL GFDL licensees are required to make the work available to all others. I'm not even sure that registering a trademark is safe from causing an immediate license breach. Jamesday 19:10, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Assuming the GFDL works similar to the GNU GPL its perfectly legal. For instance, Firefox is a trademark of the Mozilla Foundation. You can redistribute your own custom version of Firefox, however it would be a violation of MoFo's trademark to call it Firefox. [7]
The revenue is from the Google ads on the answers.com site. If you go there via the 1-click tool, the URLs are configured in a particular way (for example, they have &gwp=11&ver=1.0.8.207&method=1 on them), allowing them to filter how much of the revenue is from people using this compared to getting there via search engines and other methods. They could do this without us co-operating, but they, like many other benefactors, want to support Wikipedia and the other Wikimedia projects, and this is one way they can do while also promoting their own software. Angela. 01:05, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
As a reminder, Answers.com was also one of our major sponsors at Wikimania. Just as other benefactors, they wish to at the same time generate a profit from the collaboration, while supporting the spirit and the charitable goals of the project. On of the important point to mention is that the leader of Answers.com knows well our project, its pecularities and understand what is important to us. Anthere

So, basically, they're buying their way into the site? Dan100 (Talk) 08:36, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm wondering about that too....Alr 15:21, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
No, not at all. As stated above, they could have done this without any partnership deal, just as many other people have made tools that use Wikipedia content. They could have linked this to the Wikipedia:Tools page by themselves and avoided all this discussion over whether or not it's an advert, just as any book publisher can add themselves to Wikipedia:Book sources without giving any of the proceeds to Wikimedia. Angela. 04:20, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Will they be linking images[edit]

I am worried that if Wikipedia's fair use images show up on this site (a for profit venture), most of the fair use defense about use of the images for non profit purposes only will go out the window and images will have to be removed or there could be greater threat of copyright infringement proceedings --Nv8200p (talk) 16:01, 21 October 2005 (UTC)

Images already show up so I don't think it'll be any different. -TonyW 18:09, 21 October 2005 (UTC)
And this is why Jimbo has been trying to get us admins to try and fix the image problems. I would be extremely happy if we could disable uploading of photos so we can sort the photos out, but I also have no problems if my photos/flag drawings/drawings are used elsewhere. I personally want to see this work so I know what it does, but I am not going to leave over it. Zach (Sound Off) 01:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think Jimbo's concerns were more for Wikipedia itself than for third party users of our content. The liability the Answers Corporation have from using fair use images is the same as it was before this partnership, and they remain the ones liable for checking they are able to use these images. Angela. 04:22, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but I don't see the point[edit]

We don't need the money. We don't need to be linking to commercial services (how is this different to advertising?). The argument "we should do it because they're being ethical" holds no water - should we put links to every company using WP content that offers some cash for it? Of course not. Dan100 (Talk) 08:49, 22 October 2005 (UTC)

No, we do need the money. My comment above was that we don't need the money for the basic needs of running the site. Our goals, however, are much larger than that: to give every single person on the planet free access to the sum of all human knowledge. This money will go directly to meeting our charitable aims, and not purely to buying servers. We're not reliant on answers.com or any other organisation for keeping wikipedia.org up, but making partnerships is the only way we're going to be able to move beyond that and really start meeting our goal of distributing this free content to everyone - not just to people with cheap, high speed, internet access. Angela. 04:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Moreover, the argument "we should do it because they're being ethical" is based on a false premise - they are not being ethical - they use non-free software and they make it sound like their Content is non-free. Boud 12:05, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree. I just do not like this idea at all. To be quite honest, I think wikipedia has been sold out. It is advertising for a product whose quality is dubious. It is one step down on the slippery commercialization slope. First it was Amazon, now this. Eventually, we'll be seeing pop-up ads for spyware and dating services on Wiki if we keep on this path. Alr 15:08, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it's fair to say that Wikipedia has sold out. What is most incredible about this deal when you examine Answers' current revenues for their website as a whole, not just their 1-click software, is that we are really talking about peanuts as a potential funding source at this stage. For example, Answers has often seemed reluctant to discuss their click-through rates for Google ads, and this has created a criticism that when using a research site people are mostly looking for "answers" not for products. And only a percentage of their traffic will be generated through this software.
What is more important is what this reveals about the workings of the Wikimedia board, which let Answers use the deal in their own publicity and has answered our concerns mostly with board members boldly professing their personal assessments of the motives of Answers' management. We all know that any commercial link is playing with fire as the whole international project could easily collapse if users began to feel they were producing content that would in large part benefit commercial enterprise, especially a single company with unique access. The irony is that the failure of the 1-click project is actually needed to ensure Wikipedia's long-term prospects. If Answers' site becomes a more attractive way to access Wikipedia content, the encyclopedia's development will suffer. And if the advertising revenues become large enough, it becomes increasingly important for Wikimedia to shift readers to the Answers site, which at least currently does not allow editing or identify the articles' contributors.
Wikimedia needs to market itself as an independent global resource, as Mr. Wales put it, comparable to the Red Cross. Only then can it receive major funding from large endowments and more established corporations. In fact, this deal might even deter those types of relationships as those types of sponsors may lose confidence in the wisdom of the Wikimedia board or have confusion about Wikimedia's actual relationship with Answers. This may be blunt, but it is what I see. Tfine80 19:50, 22 October 2005 (UTC)
They have agreed to add an edit link on all their copies of Wikipedia content, so there's no reason to think that people viewing the content there rather than here would have any effect on the development of the encyclopedia, since it will still be as easy to edit as it is now. Angela. 04:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
How is it unethical to use non-free software? Gerrit CUTEDH 09:23, 23 October 2005 (UTC)
See http://www.gnu.org/philosophy/ for the arguments.
I strongly oppose this, if it's uneeded we shouldn't be going down this slippery slope towards advertising, also it's unwiki for us to be endorsing a closed source software program on the wiki. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 00:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I really didn't expect something like this from the Wikimedia administration at all. I'm disappointed. Toothpaste 01:03, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
This didn't come from the administration. Instead, this proposal was handed down straight from the Wikimedia:Board of Trustees. Bratschetalk | Esperanza 03:10, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
There are many admins who oppose this proposal. --Celestianpower háblame 09:36, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
For me, the major issue is not the fact that its advertising, but it's worse than advertising. It's not a simple banner or google ad on the sidebar, it's a program that is basically adware on your computer. It seems like wikipedia skipped advertising altogether and went to a much more sinister money-maker instead. I strongly disagree with this, and though I haven't made that many contributions, will boycott if it occurs. Airline 03:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The software is completely optional. You don't have to download it, and it is in no way being forced on you. It will just be mentioned on one page of the site, which already contains a number of other third party tools. Angela. 04:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I'm afraid that in this case, it isn't about one link to one piece of software. It's about the principles wikipedia is built on. Alr 04:34, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Leaving[edit]

If this continues beyond the trial, I'm leaving, no questions asked, and I know I'm not the only one. ♥♥purplefeltangel 01:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Wikipedia will outlive Answers.com. That is why I will never leave. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 06:14
  • We'll miss your effervescent ebullience. -Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 15:48, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Thoughts[edit]

I've been arguing for ads on Wikipedia for a long time. I think they would provide a great source of additional revenue. However, I don't think this is the way to go about it. There are a few things you need to do, to make this work:

  1. Allow registered users to turn the ads off in preferences
  2. Have the ads be genuinely useful (e.g. Google AdSense)
  3. Clearly label them "ADVERTISEMENT"

There are probably other considerations, but these are the ones that come to mind. Andre (talk) 01:13, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I think the better solution is the reverse. By that I mean, make advertisements OPT-IN for wikipedia users, as a sidebar box or something. This one-click idea is peanuts for $ for wikipedia, the real gain is the boost Answers.com gets in reputation and clout, already proven by their stock bump. The actual rev. will be minimal at best, unless the deal changes over time, which is the slippery slope everyone is concerned about. Why not have an AdSense-style system that will only show with &ad=1 in the url? Ads could be bought and sold as normal, and even deleted by users if they are irrelevant (but not edited). The strength of Wikipedia is its goodwill; the only way to maintain that is to give users full control over advertising. I don't think the site needs to be ad-free, I think it needs to be ad-optional.

12:18, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree, having clear ads for non logged in users (google adsense for example) is fine. Having this weird pseudo-ad, where it's not clear what wikipedia's obligations are to this company, draws into question our objectivity in a way normal text ads do not. I would be very disappointed to see us get into any partnerships with for-profit companies that aren't very well defined. While this plan may seem well-defined to the board, it is really only the end user that is important. When someone comes to wikipedia from an external site and sees a link to this company, they will not be aware of the deal's specifics and will assume vaguely that wikipedia and answers are in some partnership. This is unacceptable from an objectivity point of view. - cohesion | talk 01:28, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I agree. There's nothing wrong with discreet, helpful ads in my opinion. However, this is adware, not advertising. It's even worse than having banners throughout the text, or whatever other ad nightmare you could think of invading wikipedia. Wikipedia is supposed to be a free encyclopedia, free from for-profit companies and their adware. Airline 03:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
So, i have changed my mind on learning more about this proposal, it's really more of a donation by this company of part of the profits of a product they will make regardless. I don't see anything wrong with that. Also, I didn't realize the link would be to Wikipedia:Tools I was thinking it would be specifically to the answer.com product on every page, which would be unacceptable. As long as wikipedia has enough money I don't think there should be ads. If a company wants to donate some of their money why not let them. - cohesion | talk 21:33, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Absolutely not. This is an encyclopedia, not a search engine, and ads fundamentally compromise our integrity as a reliable source of encyclopedic information. Also, having that difference between logged-in and anonymous users is un-wiki. When people come here, they want information. They don't want some bugger asking them to buy something, relevant or otherwise. When I search the net using Google, I don't mind the ads so much because they might take me somewhere that will give me more information on the topic. The big differences: 1) I don't rely on Google to keep any standards of reliability, accuracy, NPOV, etc. 2) Google is not an encyclopedia, and it couldn't matter less to them who pays them or who's on their site, as long as it's someone. With WP, if I see a link here, it has to add to the article, be relevant, be encyclopedic, and be informative, amongst other concerns. Ads fail criterions 1 and 3, and usually 4. This is a bad idea. You'll notice that the Encyclopedia Britannica doesn't have "relevant text ads" in the margins, nor will any other important, reliable source of information (such as the Oxford English Dictionary, the Exploratorium, or the Smithsonian Institution. Scientific dissertations, books, and tomes have no ads. The Constitution has no ads asking you to buy "Adult Sex Proposals" (which is what Google's highly intelligent AdSense came up with when I searched for said document. Look for yourself: [8]. The second time I searched, I got an ad for "Free Pics of Local Girls Adult Sex Personals: Get Laid 20+ Million Members. Free Join AdultFriendFinder.com." Brilliant. Just what I always wanted when I'm looking for America's most important text). If we want to live up to these standards, then we'd better face the music and get our funding elsewhere. --Blackcap | talk 03:34, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Blackcap's arguments do have merit, but I'm not particularly swayed by them. Remember that a large proportion of our readers already view our content with ads, often without so much as lip-service paid to the GFDL. Our license is so poorly enforced that it's functionally identical to public domain, and this is part of the reason I only perform maintenance instead of writing new content. Given the choice, I'd rather we were in control of this ourselves. —Cryptic (talk) 03:55, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I would rather be hung by the hangman then put the noose around my own neck. Wikipedia itself had no ads; its mirrors are irrelevant. I'll dance the Hempen jig another day. See you all in in a wee bit (hopefully), --Blackcap | talk 04:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
As a regular "user" (having only ever edited a couple of pages and just signed up for a new login to post here), I appreciate the efforts of wikipedians. If I don't have the time to show this appreciation directly by contributing, then dealing with a couple of adds is the least I can do. Sure Britanica don't have them (at the moment), but then they have an established revenue model - which may or may not work into the future. The space under the toolbox seems like an easy place to put an advert without affecting layout. Doing it yourselves is probably better. Do it uniquely by making add selection community driven. An entry might have an editable list refering to several add-categories. Add-categories might have an editable list advertisers or ad-supplier-categories. It should be okay to have a link to some.adulttoystore.com for an entry on condoms. Make the third-party-publishers of wikimedia display your adds. Don't allow the adds to be stripped out. Wikimedia pays of portion of collected revenue to third-party-publishers, rather than the other way around. btw, what stops an advertiser editing entries directly to point to themselves anyway? Give advertisers the option of adding themselves to an approved location. Don't have adds for account holders, which might encourage people to on the edge of signing up to do so. --203.59.122.244 00:59, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I also think there is nothing wrong with ads. I would do it this way;

  1. Hide *.wikipedia.org from the search engine
  2. keep *.wikipedia.org like it is now. Free of adds. Do not encourage linking externaly to the articles of wikipedia.org
  3. Use *.wikipedia.com to display a read-only version of Wikipedia with adds. Search engines are welcome. On the articles of the .com there is a edit link that goes to the .org version.

Basicly; keep the editing on the .org with no ads. Do not encourage traffic to the .org version. Use the .com version (with ads) for the big public for reading. Walter 12:39, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Let me get this straight...[edit]

We are talking about somebody paying money to gain a measure of control over a page on Wikipedia, right? For a long list of reasons having to do with independence, self-respect and hygiene, the answer has to be an empathic no.

If they wish to donate money to Wikipedia, they're welcome to do so, and we can do nothing but express gratitude for their past donations. If we find their tool to deserve inclusion on the page, we'll sure include it. But the quid-pro-quo is unacceptable. We don't do advertising. Zocky 01:14, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree about just letting them donate if they like and leave it at that. The board makes it seem like we OWE them something for helping with the Wikimania. Heck, this Wikipedia community has freely offered them (and the entire world) a content source, almost certainly valued at millions of dollars, that they have used in part to create a public company worth 80 million dollars. And you could easily argue that Wikipedia content is only thing that really makes Answers unique--the Columbia encyclopedia and dictionary definitions are all available elsewhere. They clearly want to be bought out eventually by a larger company through their retro-90's business model and desire the hype and traffic of Wikipedia to do this.
Why create new potential liabilities? Why create an apparent conflict-of-interest? Why initiate advertising and alienate your users? Why deter charitable-type donations from other Internet firms? The only argument we have seen is that the board likes and trusts Answers CEO Bob Rosenschein. The board has provided no estimate of the potential revenues this will enable, so for all we know this deal is worth maybe $3,000 or so. Answers' current revenues for their entire website and a company with 23 employees are not much more than the budget of the Wikimedia Foundation itself. There is even no way for Wikimedia to measure the traffic and ad clicks this software provides; we can only trust Answers. And Answers.com seems to have intentionally spun this as some kind of contractual relationship that has already limited Wikimedia's possible responses to users' objections. So the whole thing is inscrutable.Tfine80 02:33, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

This is outrageous!!![edit]

I feel utterly betrayed by the foundation. Advertising on wikipedia would be a serious violation of the spirit of the project. If the ads stay after the trial, I will leave PERMANENTLY. In addition, if even just the trial goes through, I encourage all editors to BOYCOTT WIKIPEDIA for the duration of the trial. Personally, I know I will do no more dabbing or vandal patrol durign such a trial.
Finally, I would just like to point out that if the ads go through, it will guarantee a fork; if nobody else does it I'll found the fork myself. CAPS LOCK 01:23, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Hear, hear. I will leave as well. I'll help you with the fork, by the way. --WikiFanaticTalk Contribs 21:43, 23 October 2005 (CDT)
Ditto. --Maru (talk) No ads on Wikipedia. 03:10, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Hear, hear. --Blackcap | talk 04:22, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I gotta 10megabit colo to start the fork with. Jimbo, say it ain't so! Is there nothing left in the world to believe in? The world is watching. --Eric 23:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
There's a template to help express resistance against this advertising.

We'll miss your ebullient enthusiasm. -Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 15:51, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

open letter to the board[edit]

Posted also to wikien-l and foundation -l


To the board,


I just wanted to let you know how stunnded and disappointed I was to hear that the board with very little input made this deal to advertise on wikipedia. I feel that this is a sellout and a betrayal of the trust that us the users place in the board and I urge you all to terminate this deal as soon as possible. I understand that it would be nice to have an extra income source for misc.projects however that too is unecessary since there is most likely a better way. I'd also like to point out that the community has expressed overall disapproval for the idea and is as well disappointed in the board for this at Wikipedia TAlk:Tools/1-Click_Answers <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia_talk:Tools/1-Click_Answers#I.27m_sorry.2C_but_I_don.27t_see_the_point>. I urge you all to reconsider this before you alienate and isolate many of the good editors and contributors that Wikipedia has.

Respectfully,

User:Jtkiefer <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Jtkiefer>


*Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 01:47, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Although I am still somewhat dissapointed at how this was handled, implying that the board did something wrong is out of line. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 06:55, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Redwolf24 (talk) 01:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC) I will boycott the wiki if these ads appear.
  • FrancisTyers 01:56, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Bratschetalk | Esperanza Please don't do this. WP:NOT for ads, or other companies. 02:27, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    Assume good faith. – Bratschetalk | Esperanza 03:13, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
  • ♥♥purplefeltangel 02:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC) Wikipedia: Wikiproject no ads
  • Cool Cat Talk 03:02, 24 October 2005 (UTC) I will not contribute in anyway (not even RC patroling) until ads go away
  • Karmafist 03:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Airline 03:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • --Sean Black Talk 03:26, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • [[User:Mysekurity|Mysekurity]] [[additions | e-mail]] 03:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC) I too have acted hastily. I am still opposed to ads on Wikipedia, but I will still love this project, if not only for the reasons this page has shown. Thank you to the board. 05:51, 29 October 2005 (UTC)
    Robert 03:40, 24 October 2005 (UTC) I apologize for jumping the gun. I think I'm going to stay neutral on this issue. Robert 23:35, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Alr 03:42, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    --Blackcap | talk 03:46, 24 October 2005 (UTC) I'm sorry, I reacted hastily and without getting the right information. I agree with Jtkiefer; we should have more faith in the board. As said by Jimbo below, the board is getting the input of the community: right here and on this page, consensus is being aimed at. --Blackcap | talk 17:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

*--Cyberjunkie | Talk 03:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

An advertisement of my own[edit]

I will be among the users boycotting wikipedia here. I encourage others to join. Redwolf24 (talk) 02:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

User:Cool Cats view, feel free to endorse/oppose after my first sig[edit]

  1. The profit to the community in a non-profit organization from my or anybodies contribution should not go any further than the contribution itself.
    I do not write on wikipedia to earn money from it. I am here for a noble cause: a better free encyclopedia.
    This isn't like McDonalds donating a portion of their profit to Red Cross.
    This is like McDonalds selling their burgers slightly more expensive and donatting the increase hence making regular profit by abusing peoples goodwill.
    Before anyone asks I chose McDonalds at random.
  2. Next thing you know we will start supporting POV of companies based on how much they donate.
    Advertisements of any kind on wikipedia hence should not be welcome in the light of this. If they want to mirror us they should perhaps donate us.
    Why do we need advertisements? Didn't we raise $200,000 in a matter of 2 weeks recently? And that was leftovers from Katrina disaster. Do you know any other non-profit organisation that makes $200,000 in 2 weeks without even advertising it. All we did was attach a notice on top of the screen on wikipedia only.
    We make the internet not suck after all. Jimmy Wales declared us as a non-profit organisation on national TV and he is right as far as I recall. This partnership in my view conflicts that statement.
    Google and Yahoo seeks that Internet or "International Network of Information" degraded from its original intention, thats why wikipedia exists to correct the inbalance of nonsense/information on the net.
  3. Additionaly why do I have to take the word of Softpedia if this is malicious or not (adware, spyware, virus). It is a closed source code, it could be anything.
--Cool Cat Talk 02:03, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I still dont like this... much. --Cool Cat Talk 23:30, 28 October 2005 (UTC)

This raises big questions[edit]

I've heard that Jimbo said previously that we're missing out on potentially $1million/month by not having advertisements on the site. This is a pretty attractive number, and gives us many reasons to think about why we might want to consider advertisements. But on the other hand, this would potentially give us $10million/yr in excess of what we need to operate this site. How would the money be used?

Obviously the Foundation would decide how to spend it, issue grants, etc. There are many potential good uses for such money. However, this is the same foundation that has trouble planning for our growth, the same foundation that can't manage to produce a budget that our donations don't meet yet says we need ads, and most importantly the same foundation who set up this deal without discussing it with the community when it knows the community is strongly opposed to advertising. 2/3rd 1/3rd of the people at wikimania said they would leave the project if it got ads.

I think there are still many reasons to be concerned that the foundation will not act according to the will of the wikipedia community. This becomes important when we consider advertising income. The foundation does not own the copyright to the content of Wikipedia, the editors do, the foundation did not create this encyclopedia the editors did, this project could continue without the foundation but not without the editors. So how can we accept the foundation turning a potentially 10million dollar a year profit off our labors when we can't be completely confident that they will act in our interest and according to our will? --Gmaxwell 02:07, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I think my words there were poorly chosen and that I'm being misunderstood. The Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to a number of important goals that we all support. The concern is that as the money needed to achieve our goals is infused into our project we must have a high degree of trust to know that the community will not be exploited. In particular I'd like to see budgetary plans come before any further fundraising events of any sort. Communication and trust will always be challenges, but we must work through them. My concern is that many people, myself included do not feel comfortable during events like this. Some of that trust will come in time, but some will require better communications. I've proposed that we have more transparency in our needs and uses of such income, and I hope that message isn't lost because my intense words sounded more like a conspiracy theory.
Part of the reason for the intensity of my concerns was the mistaken belief that this proposal would be taking effect right away because of the date on the notice (four days ago). If the decision is make with community input then my only tangible reason for distrust cite above is removed. --Gmaxwell 04:47, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think you were at Wikimania, so I'd be interested to hear where you got this 2/3 figure from. I seem to remember it being a much smaller minority. No one within Wikimedia is making a profit off the work of any editor here. The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation with a clearly charitable goal, as explained at Wikipedia:Tools/1-Click Answers. Angela. 04:36, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I amended it to 1/3 while you were editing. Austin Hair said 2/3rds in #wikimedia-tech many hours ago. While talking with Mindspillage a few minutes ago she said she was told 1/3rd said they'd leave and a substantial majority said they opposed it, which is why I ammended my number to the more conservative right before your post.
Please don't assume that I don't understand the Foundation just because I have concerns. As a user it's somewhat insulting to have my trust issues about the foundation waved away by "we're a charitable non-profit" as there are many non-profits who have exploited their supporters and broken their promises. Frankly, you'd do better to say "Jimbo says it's okay", I have much more confidence in Jimbo's word than in the infallibility of non-profits and I am not alone in this. There are many things that can be done to improve trust, and many things that will simply take time. Saying "We are a non-profit, trust us" doesn't improve my confidence and it didn't help the last time (last two? I know I've at least heard it once) you said it to me. --Gmaxwell 05:02, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Ditto for "no one within Wikimedia is making a profit off the work of any editor here", I never intended to imply there was a personal profit motive. However if the foundation were to drift from supporting the goals of the project why would I care if the money was going directly into your pocket or into some other place not related to the mission of this project and not in accordance with the wishes of the people who generate the value here to begin with? I feel confident this isn't happening now, but it takes a degree of trust and assurance to know it won't happen later. --Gmaxwell 05:07, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Not adware?[edit]

The page assures us that the closed source one click wikipedia edition software is not adware, but the current edition sure looks like it would fit what most people call adware.. It runs on your computer and pops up 'helpful information' along with ads.

The terms of use of the software are pretty typical adware crud, and bring up questions about Answer.com's GFDL compliance. Here are some of my favorite quotes: "Answers provides its Content to you, subject to the following TOU, which may be updated by us from time to time without notice to you." "You also understand and agree that in addition to the Content, Answers may include advertisements and that these advertisements are necessary for Answers to provide the Content." "You are only permitted view and/or browse the Content, and/or make limited copies of portions of the Content as fall within the "fair use" provisions of the United States Copyright Act" ... "you may not: (i) modify or create any derivative works of the Content or documentation, including without limitation, translation, customization or localization;" "The Content, the Web Site and the Software remain solely the property of Answers or of Answers Content providers at all times, and their use is subject to copyright as defined in our copyright statement that may be found at here." "The Content may provide, or third parties may provide, links to other World Wide Web sites or resources. Because Answers has no control over such sites and resources, you acknowledge and agree that Answers is not responsible for the availability of such external sites or resources, and does not endorse and is not responsible or liable for any Content," (I.e. it's not spyware, it only loads spyware-gm)

Looks pretty suspect to me, ... I would have expected the Wikimedia Foundation to clear up some issues completely before getting anywhere near a trial. --Gmaxwell 02:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

:Also pretty cruddy that we weren't consulted before the foundation made a deal to advertise a closed source product that is suspect at best. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 02:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Although I am still somewhat dissapointed at how this was handled implying that the board did something wrong is out of line. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 06:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Doesn't seem to be spyware; still not a good idea[edit]

As a major contributor to our article on spyware and as a security technician, I haven't been able to find any evidence that Answers.com's software is spyware in the usual sense. It is clearly adware in the sense of advertising-supported software -- like the Opera Web browser or the Eudora email client. However, I haven't seen any evidence that it:

  • gets installed without user consent,
  • hides from the user what it is doing,
  • reports user behavior back to its master,
  • displays ads when the user isn't using it (pop-ups), or
  • disrupts other computer functions.

If anyone does have any evidence that it does these things, or does anything else hostile, please speak up!

That it is non-free software -- and closed-source, so we can't verify its behavior -- is certainly worrisome. I haven't been able to ascertain whether it contains a self-upgrading feature or the ability to download and run additional programs on a computer. (A self-upgrading feature could be used to replace an "innocent" version with an "evil" one later.)

All in all, this move seems to be unnecessary -- we don't need the funds; our fund-raisers seem to consistently exceed expectations. Moreover, it is obviously a disruptive move, given the amount of uproar and bad feeling that has just been created. Anything that gets dozens of contributors actively planning to boycott or fork the project is thereby a bad idea.

Moreover, it is currently a substantial struggle to deal with spam of various sorts on Wikipedia -- people promoting themselves, their companies, or whatnot through extraneous links or vanity articles. Endorsing any kind of systematic advertisement here is likely to act as a justification to others to post their own ads here. The "public restroom principle" applies. (People are more likely to litter or make a dirty mess in a public restroom that is already somewhat dirty, than in one which is notably clean.) Any addition of advertisement to Wikipedia will have a marginal effect encouraging others to post advertisements here. --FOo 04:26, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

There are ads on the Answers site, but the program itself doesn't contain ads or spyware. Upon alt-clicking a word or phrase in any application, the 1-Click Answers client opens up a browser linking to a page containing information on the alt-clicked word/phrase. There maybe ads there, there maybe not. Sometimes there are just in-house links to other parts of their site. Veteran users of the GuruNet client see none of this, however. -TonyW 11:10, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  • A small point of order - the Opera web browser in nolonger adware, it's now free (as in beer). Dan100 (Talk) 18:56, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

This statement on the project page confused me a bit: "please see the product information page (currently the generic 1-click software, not the Wikipedia edition of it), the terms of use and privacy policy of Answers Corporation. Softpedia have certified the software as being free from adware, spyware and viruses." How can the Wikipedia edition be certified as being free from adware, spyware, and viruses if that edition is not yet available? --Tabor 00:58, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Questions[edit]

I'm kind of confused right now. Angela, would you mind clarifying the agreement to me? Am I correct that this is what the deal covers: 1) A "Tools" link in the sidebar to Wikipedia:Tools 2) A link to Answers.com in WP:TOOLS 3) A version of 1-click software, where the user can click anywhere and it will link to a Wikipedia article content under Answers.com. Is this correct? Also, people are mentioned this as advertising. I'm under the impression that the agreement states that the only thing different actually on Wikipedia would be the new link on the sidebar and the prominent link to answers.com on Wikipedia:Tools. Is my impression correct? If so, does that mean that a normal article page would be unaffected, except by the new link in the sidebar? Thanks a lot for the clarifications. Flcelloguy | A note? | Desk | WS 02:23, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

That's correct. The only link to this would be on the Wikipedia:Tools page, not on any article or any other page. Point 3 isn't entirely correct; people with this software enabled can alt-click anywhere and get to a version of answers.com that has the Wikipedia article first (their current site tends to list Wikipedia at the bottom). Angela. 04:40, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
There are people saying that this Tools page link is contractually mandated and people saying that it is not (most notably Jimbo, unless I misread him.) Just to clarify, the link does NOT have to be there? 20:10, 5 December 2005 (UTC)
That's what Jimbo told me. --Maru (talk) Contribs 04:54, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

For ALL who oppose:[edit]

Wikipedia:Wikiproject_no_ads. ♥♥purplefeltangel 02:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

An impassioned plea[edit]

Please don't do this. I don't really care about the actual link one way or the other, but it looks like a large number of important contributors will leave if you do this. If you want more money to enable a new project, just have more/longer fundraising drives. ~~ N (t/c) 02:39, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Satan[edit]

I will withdraw all and any support for the Wikipedia if this satanic project continues. It is unnecessary and evil and I will not give it the time of day. --Fred 03:33, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Ethical issues[edit]

I wonder if this will also tardy the reputation of the Wikipedia project as a whole, this will be at the least implying that the project supports this search software, which violates the strict NPOV basis that this wonderful encycopledia was built upon. --TagarSpinebreak 20:28, 23 October 2005 (Pacific time)

Has the WikiVatican started selling indulgences? I don't like where this is going... Youngamerican 03:31, 24 October 2005 (UTC) Note: I doubt I would leave wikipedia if this goes through, but my enthusiasm would be greatly diminished. Youngamerican 03:33, 24 October 2005 (UTC)


A comment[edit]

It seems to me that Wikipedia:Assume good faith ought apply to the Foundation and to this project as well. I am disheartened to see good contributors leaving the project so swiftly over this. Snowspinner 03:35, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Excellent point. I wish people woudn't leave:(--Sean Black Talk 03:55, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
thanks for this comment SnowSpinner. I also wish editors read the arguments given very carefully and understand that we are trying to find the best compromise to sustain the project and its goals. Ant

Good idea, but missed opportunity[edit]

Making a profit using Wikipedia content is exactly the freedom you grant others by releasing contributions under the GFDL — read this essay. Answers.com is already doing this.

What I regret is that this application is not free/open source software. If it only generates revenues using Google ads, why not? This wouldn't put Wikipedia in the dubious position of endorsing proprietary software.

Another benefit of having this tool as free/open source software would be that WikiMedia could continue a 1-Click Something if Answers.com would decide to pull out of this. squell 03:36, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

A good point there, ... If it's an actually useful tool it should be something free. I am willing and able to fund the creation of a similar tool, GPLed and cross platform, if there really is interest. The biggest problem would be the information feed: Wikipedia itself isn't fast enough currently for this sort of application, it would have to use mirrors. --Gmaxwell 03:48, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I'd rather see Answers.com opening it up. Advantage for them: people could help improve or port it. Disadvantage: a competitor can use their tool and point it to their own website. But a) I think competitors can create this tool from scratch as well; b) Any competitor would still have to show '© Answers.com' and c) Answers.com can simply stay ahead of their competitors by offering better content and access. squell 00:34, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Does it improve the encyclopedia?[edit]

I personally don't really care about Wikipedia's ideological purity. I'm here first and foremost to work on an encyclopedia, not participate in some idealistic experiment. In my view if something improves the encyclopedia it should be done, even if it runs counter to anti-commercialism, open source, or the "wiki way". If the board feels extra avenues of funding are needed, I'm quite prepared to believe them. To me it is pretty obvious that Wikipedia needs a fair amount of money to operate, and that Wikimedia can't forever be such a makeshift operation. That said losing half the community, wouldn't help the encyclopedia, so I hope the board carefully considers this decision. - SimonP 03:50, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • If they can cut the page load time in half, I'm all for it. :) — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 06:27

This is an abomination![edit]

I cannot at all support this, no matter how much money is brought to the Wikimedia Foundation. This is proprietary software we're talking about; it would be no different if a deal was signed with Microsoft! This is far from free and far from the wiki concept. Furthermore, I can't believe the Board just decided this! I voted for these people, and here they are, bringing business deals to us, without our consent! I am ready to leave the project right now. --Merovingian (t) (c) (e) 04:13, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

The stated top-level goal of Wikipedia is to do what it takes to make the best free-content encyclopedia possible, and since that's so vague it's going to lead to dilemmas like this. Even the question of whether this goal obviates the need for open-source software is something that is up for grabs, theoretically. I think the idealists arguing here should not be so surprised—they should have paid closer attention to the letter of the mission statement. It is not what I would write if I were in such an influential position to change the way the world looked at software, freedom, and community. But hey, that's me and my priorities.
Still, even given the mission as it stands today, Wikipedia's board must remember that the real resource here are tireless contributors—not the money. Great open-source developers who are passionate and willing to work on the project in their spare time or donate an old machine is what drives this. To attract and keep that real talent on this project, I think the mission statement needs to be brought into line with what is actually important to those contributors. This means standing up and saying things like Wikipedia does not allow advertisements on its pages which feed revenue into the foundation because we refuse to believe that doing so is required in order to make the best free-content internet encyclopedia, period.
This project has a lot of people hopeful, and it should go more good and more extreme—not scare away the best and most principled contributors. I like encyclopedias as much as the next guy, but in the grand scheme of things there's other stuff that's more important—this is a place that can do it. For the moment I'm going to assume that open debate is going to nip this in the bud, but I've hedged my blanket endorsement of Wikipedia on my user page. Metaeducation 04:27, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Nothing like this has happened in over four years of growth. Wikipedia doesn't need this at this point; we're already the world's biggest encyclopedia. Why do we need ads?
I read the "mission" statement well enough. It's going to put an advertisement for unfree software into every page. This is going to last for 60 days as a trial period! Does that mean it could become a permanent feature, especially if there's a Wikipedia edition? This just stinks. --Merovingian (t) (c) (e) 04:34, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
We are not going to "put an advertisement for unfree software into every page". There will be a link from the Wikipedia:Tools page to the tool Answers.com are making, along with links to many other Wikipedia-related tools. That is not the same as putting ads on the site, and I'm not sure where people are getting the idea that this is what we're planning. Angela. 04:45, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
But the fact that such a partnership is so obvious is akin to putting an ad on the pages, especially if the tools page highlights the 1-Click thing. --Merovingian (t) (c) (e) 04:52, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
As I understand, free software is not the Wikipedia ethos. Free content - the encyclopedia - is. They could, hypothetically, run on an all-Microsoft platform and still be Wikipedia. ~~ N (t/c) 04:42, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think what people mean is open software, not necessarily free software. They want to know what it does before they support/oppose it. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 06:30

It is worth noting[edit]

The tools page already links to non-free software, and discusses how to make non-free software work better with Wikipedia. We would of course naturally have a link to the 1-Click Answers tool there, revenue or no revenue. And we should of course prominently feature any and all free alternatives.

The difference in this case is that Answers made the generous offer to split the revenue from their website when people come to it using this version of the tool. They didn't have to do so. They could have simply edited the page to add their tool.

--Jimbo Wales 04:38, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

But it didn't need to be decided that a link to the tools page was necessary on the sidebar, visible on every page. The fact that the tools page already has links to unfree software keeps it to a volunteer status. Putting a link on the sidebar automatically makes it almost an obligation. I refuse to have such things put in front of me for two whole months. --Merovingian (t) (c) (e) 04:46, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
An "obligation" to what? You can remove the link with monobook.css if it offends you so much. ~~ N (t/c) 13:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
There was a much better way to go about this. If they want to help us, all they need to do is pledge the donation, no strings attached. If they wanted to have their tool linked, all they needed to do was make a tool useful for both users and wikipedia. Without this whole ado, it would've been there anyway.
If we want to keep a project of this scale afloat and growing, we can't do it on the basis of what's more oportune on any given day. We have to have some vision and some set of values and principles. Of course the money would be nice, but getting it this way would risk some of our values and principles - above all, GoodWill(tm) - without any hope of providing a lasting solution to the financial problems (in fact the value of the deal is unknown). It's simply not worth it.
Thanks for listening. Zocky 04:51, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
So why not just accept whatever donation they choose to give us and not ask for a percentage of the revenue? And let the users choose if the tool is worthwhile to link to on the Tools page? I'm sure they have other ways to promote their software. Such a simple change is all that is needed to not make this an advertisement and commercial obligation. Tfine80 05:17, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Opposition and proposal for renegotiation[edit]

I oppose the deal in the current form, mainly because we would have to give up an (admittedly tiny) amount of editorial control in return for money: we'd agree to add a Tools link on every page, and add a prominent listing of the answers.com tool ("charter placement") to that Tools page. This is a dangerous precedent.

In addition, I have two concerns:

  • A significant number of Wikipedians, here and elsewhere, have registered vehement opposition. My own opposition is not nearly as vehement, however the resulting animosity towards the board, and possible towards the project as a whole, cannot be desirable, especially in the absense of a pressing need for the deal. (If we need money for a broad third-world initiative, which I support, then we should run a specially themed fund drive.)
  • Some Wikipedians, here and elsewhere, have already mentioned the possibility of creating our own 1-click open source tool, so that we could get 100% of the ad revenue. These voices will get stronger, and it is then only a short step to demand Google ads on all Wikipedia pages. This would break the back of the community; many people, including me, would leave.

Here is my proposal for a renegotiation of the deal: let answers.com produce their Wikipedia branded 1-click tool, and promote it in any way they like. We get a (small) portion of the ad revenue produced by that tool, or alternatively a fixed-sum donation. We don't agree to do anything in return. (Surely, reasonable people would list the answers.com tool on the Tools page where it belongs if it proves to be a useful tool; possibly reasonable people could even find consensus to link to the Tools page in the sidebar if that page turns out to be useful.) AxelBoldt 04:43, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

We do have total control over our content, and the deal is exactly as AxelBoldt proposes. I'll post more about this tomorrow, but I have to go to bed now. --Jimbo Wales 05:27, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, then I must have misunderstood the press release and the board's announcement. In any case, I'm happy now. AxelBoldt 00:31, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I think AxelBoldt is quite right on the potentially disastrous effects of this deal. I do, however, disagree with his proposal. Any partnership of this kind sets a extremely dangerous precedent that could result in more invasive "partnerships" in the future. Wikipedia must have total control over its content, period. Alr 04:48, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

My proposal ensures that we retain total control over our content. AxelBoldt 05:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
What ad revenue? The only way to collect ad revenue from a free one-click tool would be to put ads on Wikipedia. Unless you're proposing the Wikimedia Foundation produce a ad-version of Wikipedia just for the tool. Even still, Wikipedia itself will be showing ads, which obviously is the work of Lucifer. Look at all the comments on this page.

Why no attempt at consensus?[edit]

Wikipedia:How to create policy states, "Choose policies that have sprung up organically, not imposed from the top down." Category:Wikipedia official policy states, "Policy at Wikipedia is a matter of consensus, tradition, and practice." There are situations in which consensus is not needed for policy—an obvious example being Jimbo's recent declaration on handling copyvios and unsourced images—but those situations are marked by the clear necessity of immediate action. There is no such necessity here. Why would the board not seek the consensus of the community before agreeing to such a marked change in policy? Even if the trial fails and the change proves temporary, it is still a fundamental difference that will affect the community as a whole greatly. Chick Bowen 04:51, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

This is the most distressing part of all this. Surely the board realized that there would be some vehement opposition?--Sean Black Talk 04:56, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think it even occured to them. Alr 04:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Please don't spread false rumors! There is no overriding of consensus going on here at all. We are at this moment and on this page discussing this and working on consensus.
A big part of Wikipedia tradition is that we Assume Good Faith. So, Assume Good Faith here, ok?--Jimbo Wales 05:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
That makes feel much better, Jimbo.--Sean Black Talk 05:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I have to agree Jimbo, the fact that the wikipedia community wasn't even consulted before this deal was struck makes me wonder whether or not the board might have gone astray somewhere. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 06:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
We are consulting with you now. Nothing is "struck". Nothing is required.--Jimbo Wales 06:15, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

To the board: I'm dissaponted in how this was discussed and decided in secrecy rather than being made as a proposal to the community to be accepted or rejected, unless the board decidedes to back out of this, make it a proper proposal to be accepted or rejected and then decide based up on that discussion whether or not to go through with this like should have been done in the first place I know who I won't be voting for in the next board election, and judging by the reaction of others here I'm not the only one. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 06:15, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

The entire deal was precisely designed and worded very carefully so that it is a proposal to the community to be accepted or rejected, and so if that's important to you, you should be very glad of the existing board.--Jimbo Wales 06:16, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
As I understood it (or may have misunderstood it) the deal with answers.com (which hasn't been released, but which you've stated you're working on getting released) had already been made and the board had commited itself to doing its part already, specifically commited itself to: 1. add a link to Wikipedia:Tools to the sidebar; 2. add a "prominent link" to the answers.com product to that page. If this is not the case I've been under the wrong impression. However there has already been a press release that "Wikipedia will create a Tools page on its English-language site to promote useful tools that access Wikipedia, and 1-Click Answers, Wikipedia Edition, will receive charter placement on that page.". So from reading that press release the deal has already been made, this is pretty confusing, was the deal made and the foundation was then going to go ahead with that deal or back out on it depending on community response? —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 06:27, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The press release mentions "The agreement is expected to be launched by the beginning of 2006 and includes a provision specifying a 60-day mutual trial period. ". The 2 months trial period is explicitely intended to test this tool and its impacts and gather the community feedback. The press release explains what the proposed deal is and ends up on a test time provision. Till then, there is exactly what you are asking for, time to discussion. We will do what is our part of the deal, Answers.com will do his part of the deal, and when all this is in working state, we can all together see the benefits and the drawbacks of the deal. No solution is ever black or white, there is always good and bad in it, and the decision by the board to agree for the deal and to include a trial period in it (rather than making it a set in stone deal) was exactly meant to allow a time for discussion, adjustement and compromise. I will add that Bob, the guy running Answers.com is a very agreeable person, who believe in our project and understand the way our community works. I do think that just as you request from us that we take into account your opinion (which we do, believe me), you could also assume good faith from us and remember that we are also here to take some difficult decisions sometimes. In any cases, we are not anonymous persons : you can talk to us here, we can discuss on the ml and we are available on a daily basis on irc.

Anthere 10:38, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I think where the parties are talking past each other a bit here is that the trial period was agreed to without consulting the community. Is that the correct understanding? I think the board is saying "we are consulting the community by doing as a 60-day trial" and the community is saying "how come you didn't even ask us about doing the trial?" --Tabor 01:11, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Vote[edit]

I propose we have a vote on whether this should go ahead. Alr 04:54, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Please, stop spamming this page with every thought that pops into your head. We get it, you're opposed. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 06:35
That's a terrible idea. From the tone of the early reaction to this proposal it seems Wikipedians have lost their ability to hold a rational discussion. silsor 05:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I propose we don't. silsor
I agree. It could make no difference if the Board wants to have its way. --Merovingian (t) (c) (e) 05:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I second this proposal. The board ignoring a vote would make things clearer than any amount of verbiage would. --Maru (talk) No ads on Wikipedia. 05:05, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

It's way too soon for anything like a vote -- or rather a poll, since there's no suggestion that it would be binding. --FOo 05:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Aye. m:Polls are evil. -Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 05:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think it will be perfectly fine to have a vote at the appropriate time, which is not now. We've only begun to discuss this, and people are acting like the world has ended. Nothing is ever done at Wikipedia without massive community input and discussion, and that includes this case.
I've been doing this for 4.5 years. I think I've earned the right to ask people to please cut me a little bit of slack, ok? Nothing is being forced on anyone. We are having a community discussion right now on this page. We can hold a vote about it (if that seems sensible) but let's for heaven's sake wait until people have had time to process that there's absolutely nothing alarming or interesting going on here.--Jimbo Wales 05:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Jimbo, I'd like some clarification, I know that after this trial the deal can be scrapped but if the community overwhelmingly objects to the thought of even a trial period before it begins can the deal be cut short before then, only theoretically speaking of course. I'd also be interested to hear A) the justifications behind this; and B) how the foundation and the board intends to make sure that this does not become the opening of a metaphorical pandora's box? Also, of course if anyone deserves slack it's you and it's the board since you all dedicate your time and energy to the project, I can also respect the fact that some deals have to be kept private until their struck, so I am willing to assume that you did it in the interests of the project as a whole, however I think that one of the major issues that I hope you'll clarify is why it was done this way, what this entails, what's meant to be achived by this, as well as what I said before about is this a slippery slope? Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 06:15, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Ok, some questions. The justifications behind what, exactly? Behind seeking sources of revenue? I think Mav has done a fine job of discussing that, and the only thing I can add is that we have huge charitable ambitions beyond even the sorts of things that Mav is normally able to budget for. Behind structuring the deal in such a way as to ensure absolute community involvement in the process? I justify this by pointing out that this is the way we do things.--Jimbo Wales 06:20, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • I think you need to read over this page and post an FAQ at the top to clear up some of the most common misconceptions (that the deal is already finalized, that we'll be forced to use it, etc) — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 06:37
    • I think that it would be nice if you'd be willing to do it just to make it easier for people to get the facts straight from you rather than having to wade through the entire page of comments, misconceptions, questions, answers, questions based on answers, etc... I don't think you need to do anything if you don't want to though I'm sure it would help clarify things a lot. Jtkiefer T | @ | C ----- 07:01, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • I want to put in a third request for clarifing this, such as the ones mentioned by Brian0918; as for the still-unclear - proposal - the critical problem I see is that Answers.com spun this as if some agreement had already been made. Jimbo said above that no agreement can be made without "absolute community involvement in the process" - i.e. this page; Answers.com should have been strongly warned that nothing had been agreed until after community notification. It's perfectly appropriate for the Board to hash out proposals for deals in private (if the other parties require or prefer this), but, as Jimbo has said, the deals cannot and should not be agreed to before the community is notified. What should have been done was, after the proposal was worked out, this page should have been created (and Answers.com should have only put out a release saying they were "in talks with the Wikipedia Foundation") and community input should have been requested prior to "The Board have[ing] signed up to a 60-day trial". JesseW, the juggling janitor 07:16, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I have requested(on IRC) from Anthere, that the text of whatever contract was signed by the Board and Answers.com be published; she said she'll contact Jimbo and the CEO of Answers.com and find out if this is doable. JesseW, the juggling janitor 08:41, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

If it's way to soon to have a vote, isn't it way way too soon to have issued press releases? --Tabor 01:13, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

My thoughts[edit]

If Answers.com wants to develop a piece of propriety software designed to search Wikipedia that its customers can download, fine; if it's truly a useful piece of software, presumably the community editors will at some point list it on Wikipedia:Tools, along with all the other items there. What I don't like is the "charter placement" being accorded here; if I (or any other editor) happen to reorganize the page in a way that diminishes that pride of placement, will we be reverted on the basis of this agreement? If so that sounds like a bad precedent for cessation of editorial control. The efforts of viral marketers to circumvent the fact that Wikipedia is not a repository of external links are surely enough of an issue as it is; I'm not clear why we would want to send mixed messages by implying that a partnership with the foundation might be one way to circumvent the normal community vetting process in order to secure link placement.

Finally, if the Board is going to defer to the secrecy concerns of a third party in negotiating an proposal as contentious as this before springing it on the community, I would hope that they would impress upon that party the proposed nature of the plan, pending the Wikipedia community's agreement. As other people have indicated, Answers.com's press release pretty strongly implies that this is a done deal.

MC MasterChef :: Leave a tip 08:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Reply to F.A.Q.[edit]

  1. The deal is not finalized. Nothing is "struck" or required.
  2. Nobody is forced to use the software.
  3. There are no ads/adware/spyware in the software.
    • Yet.Geni 11:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • It may not technically be adware, but as Gmaxwell points out above, it certainly fits into most users' colloquial definition of adware (i.e. software that won't work unless it shows you ads). Demi T/C 14:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • There are no technicalities about it. The software has no ads, nothing, zip, zilch, nada. If you want to call it adware, fine, but then your Google bar is also adware, because it links you to pages that have Google ads in them. This is why I say the protests are built on thin air. Someone (Gmaxwell) has said something, and you've chosen to believe it and use it in your favor. The problem is that it's not true. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:20
      • The software does not contain ads, and should not need to as the program is a means to direct users to a web page through their browser containing the info requested via the alt-click process. -TonyW 20:04, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Er, surely there must be adverts in the software, or where does the money come from?? Dan100 (Talk) 18:59, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  4. The link will only be in the side bar at WP:TOOLS, nowhere else.
    • A Link to WP:TOOLS will be added to the side bar.Geni 11:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Which is justifiable anyway - it's a useful page. You can remove it with your monobook.css if it offends you so much. ~~ N (t/c) 13:14, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
        • Except my knowlage of javascript is between minimal an non existant. I would be less effort to remove it from the relivant media page.Geni 13:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
          • So have somebody write the script for you. I might do it myself - there are already several links on the sidebar I've realized I don't need. ~~ N (t/c) 14:03, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • It makes sense to have a sidebar link to Tools. Demi T/C 14:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
  5. The tools page already links to non-free software.
    • which is there on it's own merrits.Geni 11:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Answers.com's software is, I understand, pretty good. ~~ N (t/c) 13:14, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
        • But is it good enough?Geni 13:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
          • It is good, but as I said in an earlier posting, I prefer an earlier version of the product, which I still own, that has everything self-contained within it without opening up a browser and taking one to results on a web page. I see no ads in this older version, and when I trialled the new 1-Click Answers client, I saw no ads there either. The only thing you see is 'Today's Highlights' - the program is a means to connect to an Answers.com webpage relevant to the query you make when alt-clicking on a word/phrase. Agree, there are possible ads on that page, but not in the client itself. -TonyW 20:12, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • This is a question to be answered as we answer other questions--the consensus that emerges as we collaboratively edit the page. I note that this software exists now and is not linked now, so the community consensus is that it is not useful enough to list on this page. Demi T/C 14:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Only the generic answers.com version exists now. The Wikipedia edition, which will display Wikipedia content first on the page rather than showing a standard answers.com page is not yet available for download. Angela. 08:29, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
  6. Answers.com could have posted their link on the tools page without offering the Foundation a cent.
    • However that could have been reverted in under a second.Geni 11:57, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Actually, no. What would have been your reason for removing it "in under a second"? Because you felt like it? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 13:34
        • That reason has been know to work. Given time I could probably have come up with a case under the rules (I normaly can).Geni 13:58, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • We zap spam links (and add them to the meta spam blocker) all the time. Further, the only "rule" I need to invoke to edit a page is that I am improving the page. If I don't think the link is useful, of course I could remove it. Demi T/C 14:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Adding a link to the Answers.com tool on the Tools page next to all the other non-free tools is not spamming. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 14:43
        • A semantic distinction. In general we remove advertising links placed in Wikipedia by the advertisers as "spam". Demi T/C 17:53, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
    • They certainly could have posted their link there, and if deemed appropriate it would have stayed, but they could never have gotten away with "charter placement" for their tool, nor would they have been able to create a link to the Tools page in the sidebar of every Wikipedia page. AxelBoldt 15:36, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • You are only speculating at what is meant by "charter placement". If it simply means at the top, that's fine, as long as the software is fully explained on the TOOLS page, so nobody is misinformed. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:18
      • Also, the only reason the Tools page wasn't added to the toolbox sidebar before is because nobody thought of it. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:33
        • I disagree. A link to WP:TOOLS in the sidebar isn't particularly useful - it's not a tool itself (like the other links), but a list of other tools. There's no particular reason for it to be quickly accessable from every page. --Bob Mellish 21:34, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
          • And a link to "Random article" is useful from every page? If you think WP:TOOLS is not useful, that's because the content on the editable page WP:TOOLS is not useful. Anyone can choose to make it useful by adding useful content (Note: Lupin's Navigation Popups are VERY useful on EVERY page). — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 22:40
            • Since the word "Toolbox" already appears in the sidebar (at least in the stanard skin), perhaps that could just be linked instead of adding a new link. The link would not take up any more room that way, so I'm not sure what objection there could be to having it there. Angela. 08:29, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Questions on ensuring Wikipedia continuity[edit]

Wikipedia has always been about free-content; no ads, no paying, no nothing. As an editor, I have contributed with joy (and even pride) on this principle, as I am sure many others feel as well. As such, I have always felt the use of Wikipedia texts on other sites (such as Answers.com) to be a necessary evil; an undesired but also unavoidable side-effect of the GDFL which in all other respects is wonderful.

However, I am quite concerned that Wikipedia information used on other sources is becoming better and more easily available than on Wikipedia itself. I daresay that Wikipedia will have to fight for their position on the market, or see the fruits of all our labors being harvested by other (perhaps commercial) parties. In that respect, we should realise that, on the long run, Wikipedia will have to compete with Answers.com.

I have downloaded the non-wiki version of 1-Click, and to be honest, it seems harmless enough. There seem to be no catches anywhere, and it even seems quite useful. But if it is useful, shouldnt we be trying to compete with that utility with our own (open-source) version? I am concerned that the endorsement of such a tool by Wikipedia will further decrease the position Wikipedia is in. We should be wary not to end up in oblivion, only to serve as the free Database of other parties.

Reading through the reactions, I feel more people are concerned about this. Rather than only the money element, it concerns the viability of our principles if we are encouraging others to use our content as they see fit.

Resulting from this concern I have a few specific questions:

  1. What is the benefit of this deal for Answers.com? (important!)
    1. Will it make Answers.com a prominent supplier of Wiki-content?
    2. Does this not weaken Wiki position on the long run?
  2. If this deal is made permanent, will Answers.com be able to change certain aspects of it unilaterally?
    1. Will they be able to change the software in one upgrade (as FOo pointed out)?
    2. Will they be able to dictate their own TOU over Wiki-content?

To my mind, these questions are at the core of the trepidation towards this proposal. The Minister of War 13:37, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Per question:

  • Answers.com gets traffic to their site from their tool. There are ads on their site. Ads => $$$.
    • Answers.com is already a prominent supplier of wikipedia content.
    • If anything, their involvement with us will do more to strengthen our position than any non-aligned software which would nevertheless be legal anyway.
  • Probably not.
    • Dunno quite what you're talking about.
    • Only insofar as the GNU Free Documentation License allows (which isn't much).

They don't get to do anything particularly novel. -Fennec (はさばくのきつね) 15:42, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Let me clarify and deepen my questions:

  1. So even the Wikified 1-click will also point towards Answers.com rather than to wiki directly??
    1. I actually meant to say more prominent, got lost in editing. But question already answered if above is true.
    2. How so? Considering the fact that a more prominent Answers will mean a less prominent wiki (with admittedly more money), I dont see how this strengthens our position.

Additional question: if the wikified version also points to Answers.com, then what exactly makes it wikified? And if it is Wiki-endorsed, doesnt this carry the risk of endorsing potential updates. Referring to the comment above (as i meant in point 2.2): "A self-upgrading feature could be used to replace an "innocent" version with an "evil" one later".

Judging from the replies of everybody in the know, this seems to be "not a big deal", which I am happy to believe. Yet it seems to me that Wiki will be endorsing their software, which points to their site. Or am I missing something? The Minister of War 16:14, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • The tools page already "endorses" other non-free software on other sites. Do you have a reason that we shouldn't be specifically endorsing Answers.com? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:36
  • Also, the goal of Wikipedia is to make the largest encyclopedia, and make it freely available to everyone. If a commercial company is helping with this by making Wikipedia's content available to a larger audience — by taking risks in investing in servers, buying a feed from Wikipedia, partnering with Google, etc. — don't they deserve to make a profit from this? squell 00:58, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Of course not and of course they do. I have absolutely no problem with the tool being on WP:TOOLS, and I have no problem that we get money for it. If this is the extent of the deal - and judging from the reactions from the board it is - I say "Well done board"! What I am asking (meaning answers will be appreciated more than retorts), whether the software will point to Wiki or to Answers. If it points to Wiki, then where's the money coming from? If it points to Answers, then how is the software considered Wikified? Will our "brand name" be on a tool which points to Answers.com? If so, is this not a weakening of our own brand name on the market (so to speak)? I really think we should watch out for Answers.com content being more easily accessable than our own, and we should definitely not be helping them imho. The Minister of War 09:24, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

The software will point to a special version of Answers.com. Currently, their site includes Wikipedia content, but this is often at the end of the page. The "Wikipedia edition" would be a co-branded version. We would work out a license agreement with them which allowed them to use the Wikipedia name and/or logo, and they would place the Wikipedia first on each page. We are still working on a logo policy, and we need to be careful that any use of the logo on another site doesn't give the impression that another site is Wikipedia, but is simply using Wikipedia content. Since every approved use of the logo would require a contract, or some form of license, it wouldn't be weakening our trademark, something we aim to uphold.
People who choose to download the software may find the mirror easier to access than the live Wikipedia, but Answers Corporation have agreed to add "edit this page" links and "donate to Wikimedia" links under all Wikipedia content on their site, which should lessen the worry that we will be losing editors or donors as a result of this. I expect we would actually see more traffic if people find it easier to access Wikipedia content even if they first viewed that on another site. Angela. 09:39, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Apparently the community will be involved[edit]

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=User_talk:Jimbo_Wales&diff=26337277&oldid=26337007 ~~ N (t/c) 13:37, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • I think what we have here is just a case of protesting for protesting's sake. People start false rumors, intentionally or not, that agree with their previous opinions about LUE, and get everyone else to jump on the same vaporwagon. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 13:45
    • No, no, no. This is about a great misunderstanding about this whole deal. I'm surprised that you would reduce many users' dismayal at the news we recieved to "protesting for protesting's sake." I certainly wasn't doing that. It's true that that news wasn't accurate, but from what it sounded like I think the shock was justified, somewhat, anyhow. We should have had more faith in the Board, yes, but don't chalk this up to protesting just for the hell of it. --Blackcap | talk 17:23, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I've clarified the policy page, extending Jimbo's own edit, in response to private communication with him. My original question was: what will happen if editors remove the link? That's been answered now: nothing will happen, except that Wikimedia will get less money. In fact, unless the users put a link there, it won't be there at all. Considering this, I withdraw my opposition to this measure. I'll leave the question of placement up to the normal wiki process. -- Tim Starling 15:45, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I don't think that's fair, Brian0918. There are a number of legitimate and articulately worded concerns that have yet to be answered directly. Quote: There is nothing about this deal which in any way necessitates changes to anything that we are doing. Full stop. I don't know how more clear I can be. --Jimbo Wales 05:44, 24 October 2005 (UTC) The way to be more clear is to answer the specific arguments given above rather that simply argue for the deal. Good argument for A, plus good argument for B, equals Dilemma, not Resolution. Also, note that there are two classes of concern here. One is related to the merits of the software, the benefits/dangers of the deal, and the implications of linking. The other is related to the idea of making a deal (read: contract) at all. Psora 16:23, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I think it's fairly clear now that most of these concerns are built on thin air. There are no ads/adware/spyware in the software, nobody has to use the software, we already link to other non-free software (but nobody complained about possible adware/spyware for these), the deal is nothing without the link on WP:TOOLS, which the community is free to remove. Nothing is forced on anyone anywhere along the line. You don't have to click the link at WP:TOOLS, you don't have to install the software, you don't have to click on the Google Ads. If you want to do any of these things, go for it, and if it brings extra funds to the Foundation, all the better. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 16:27
There's still going to be a link to the Tools page from the sidebar which there otherwise most likely would not have be since there has previously been no discussion at all no place that link there. And even if it is up to the community to remove the link (or is it links? Can we remove the sidebar link as well?) I don't like the position editors are being put when they're being told that they can remove a link to a certain websites but that will have the implications that the foundation will recive less money, this is not one of the things people should have to consider when editing. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 17:13, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
You can use CSS to make the sidebar link invisible to yourself, if you prefer that. In fact, you could do the same with the answers.com link by placing it in a div with a special class. ~~ N (t/c) 17:21, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Inidividual people don't decide such a thing. If it gets removed, it'll be on community consensus. Normal editors don't even know or care about the tool. It makes sense to me to put a link to Wikipedia:Tools in the toolbox. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 17:25

Brian0918, you say "I think it's fairly clear now that most of these concerns are built on thin air." I don't think that is clear at all. The answers.com press release says, "Wikipedia will create a Tools page on its English-language site to promote useful tools that access Wikipedia, and 1-Click Answers, Wikipedia Edition, will receive charter placement on that page." It was certainly not unreasonable of us to be disturbed to hear that an external site gets to determine what has placement on a wikipedia page. No one gets to determine that without consensus. If it is true that the feelings of the community will be taken into account, then great, but the press release itself is of real and justifiable concern. Tim's clarification to the policy page does much to offset those concerns, but I think the notion that those clarifications were not necessary is simply false. Chick Bowen 19:24, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Note my use of the word "now". Also, since when should anyone take any press releases seriously, ever? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:14

Side bar[edit]

The side bar is used for very important things like help and contact info. I have no issue whatsoever with the software being listed on the TOOLS page, that's what the page is there for. However I don't think the page should be added to the sidebar. Being the biggest and best encyclopedia there is, I can't imagine ads is the only thing we can find for income. Last month's donation drive brought in more than the expected amount. I'm sure good partnerships could be reached for books, DVDs, and whatnot. Elfguy 19:09, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I agree, I don't think the link belongs in the sidebar at all, regardless of whether this answers.com thing goes through. —Ævar Arnfjörð Bjarmason 19:46, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
So you're saying that WP:TOOLS doesn't belong in the toolbox? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:17
I don't agree. What I can't believe is how little Answers.com want for the money. I mean us putting a link to a 30-pages article where their software is one of hundreds others listed? — Sverdrup 19:50, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, that's why it's key to know what "charter placement" means. Of course, if we're not required to appear to endorse their software more than any others on that page, then, yes, there's nothing to worry about. Chick Bowen 20:29, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think anyone knows how big the effect might be. That's why they are starting with a two-month trial, to see what comes out of it. If we get another 25 cents like from Amazon's previous deal, then we'll dump it. If we get a substantial amount (which I think is highly unlikely), then we might consider allowing it to stay. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:38
Im just wondering how a link to the tools page on the sidebar is less useful than the, "Random article", or, "Community Portal", links. Especially for non-signed in users. I'm not saying these should be removed, but I don't see how adding a link to the "Tools" page hurts, either. SirKha 21:28, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
I wholeheartedly agree. Put the link in the artice where it can be edited at will. Putting it into the sidebar is just sneaky (not to mention obscure, since the sidebar would be different for one page only, where I certainly wouldn't think to look once I was experienced enough to stumble across Wikipedia:Tools). Lupin|talk|popups 00:18, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
No. The link in the sidebar is on every page, and goes to WP:TOOLS. The link to the Answers.com thing is in WP:TOOLS. ~~ N (t/c) 00:24, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
So the link to answers.com will only be in the body of WP:TOOLS and will be editable/deletable freely by all? This sounds like a fine plan to me. (I do think however that a better place for a link to a money-making scheme would be from a fundraising page rather than a tools page, as it doesn't seem to be much of a tool to me from what little I know of it. But if the page is editable and all then this can be sorted out later in the usual wiki way). Lupin|talk|popups 01:52, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Yes, it would only be in the body of WP:TOOLS. I suggested above that the link to WP:TOOLS could be on the word "Toolbox" which already appears in the sidebar of the the monobook skin rather than adding a new link. I think the tools page is more appropriate than the fundraising page since it is basically a tool - one for looking up content on Wikipedia, similar to the ones at WP:TOOLS#Searching Wikipedia but it searches from any application, not just within a browser, and looks up Answers.com mirror of Wikipedia rather than the live site. Angela. 08:34, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

How is the sidebar edited? Can it be edited the wiki way? Or can only developers add items to the sidebar? Removing can be done in monobook.css, but adding? Gerrit CUTEDH 11:43, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

The top part of the sidebar can be edited by any admin at MediaWiki:Sidebar. I'm not aware of any way for a non-developer to edit the toolbox yet. Angela. 12:00, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Affect fundraising?[edit]

One worry I have is how this might affect fundraising efforts. Will people be less inclined to donate if they hear some stories (true or not) about this Answers.com deal? — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 20:46

My thoughts[edit]

Thanks for the clarification, Angela (somewhere way above this post). I just wanted to let all the board members, such as Angela and Anthere, and Jimbo, know that I have full confidence in all of you and will support (and have supported) whatever decision you'll make (and have made). All of you have long since earned my trust and highest respect, and I'm sure that whatever decision the Board and Jimbo make will be for the betterment of Wikipedia. You all have been sounding frustrated over the past few days, and I just wanted to remind you that your efforts are greatly appreciated here. I'm sure that all of the community shares my view as well, especially since most of the board is comprised of unpaid volunteers. I'll stand by the board and support whatever choices they make. Regards, Flcelloguy | A note? | Desk | WS 21:32, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I completely agree.--Sean Black Talk 21:33, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
The infamous: me too --best, kevin ···Kzollman | Talk··· 02:30, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Thanks. I appreciate your comments. Angela. 08:37, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Loss of credibility[edit]

While I believe that everyone involved was and is acting in good faith, both the Wikimedia Foundation Board and Answers.com have lost so much credbility in the process of announcing this deal that it should be dropped for at least 6 months. This will give both the Board and Answers.com time to restore their credibility with the community.

The fundamental offense was the implication that the Board would dictate the content of an editable page. The original posting stated "to add a link in the sidebar of the English Wikipedia to the Wikipedia:Tools page. That page will highlight the "1-Click Answers, Wikipedia Edition" software." and "The Board have signed up to a 60-day trial of this". Answers.com's press release repeats these illegitimate and incorrect claims: "Wikipedia will create a Tools page on its English-language site to promote useful tools that access Wikipedia, and 1-Click Answers, Wikipedia Edition, will receive charter placement on that page."

While the Board now says they will not enforce the content of any pages, even implying that they would (as they clearly did above), is deeply damaging to the their credibility. The Board should not make any promises regarding the content or format of editable pages without first contacting the community. The community - i.e. anyone who wants to edit a page and does not behave badly - is the sole and only arbitrator of all editable pages. This control applies not only the factual content of article pages, but the content and formatting of any editable page, including Wikipedia:Tools. JesseW, the juggling janitor 21:39, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

  • Credibility among whom? The Slashdot crowd? The handful of people that keep posting on this page? How about anyone important? You should never take a press release seriously, no matter who releases it. — BRIAN0918 • 2005-10-24 22:36
    • Well, the handful of people posting on this page is a handful of wikipedia's editors, so, yes, somebody important. Zocky 23:00, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
      • Zocky - thank you, yes, the people I was thinking of were most of the people who have noticed this page and bothered to comment - the same standard as all consensus decisions on Wikipedia are made. JesseW, the juggling janitor 06:34, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
    • Brian - Regarding "never take a press release seriously" - yes, the community should not first hear about Board decisions from a press release - but that is a problem, not a good thing. Claiming that public statements linked (and presumably read) by Board members in an apparently official statement of the board should never be taken seriously is not a tenable position. If we are not to take seriously statements made on Wikipedia, in the Village Pump, in an announcement of a agreement made by the Board, by a Board member, what should we take seriously? I look forward to your substantive reply to the issue of the Board implying they would dictate the content of a editable wiki page. Thanks! JesseW, the juggling janitor 06:34, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
      • I agree entirely with Jesse. People should not be hearing about commercial transactions of this nature made by the Wikimedia Board without their permission. It's insulting that the board didn't think of the potential community reaction beforehand; not to mention that they've stubbornly insisted on proceeding with it despite near-universal criticism. I do hope this is the last time we have an uncontested election for the Board of Trustees. Ambi 06:38, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
        • We certainly did consider the potential community reaction beforehand. This is the reason for the 60 day trial. However, that was unfortunately misunderstood to mean the community has no say in it rather than taken to mean there are 60 days for the community to discuss this and trial the idea before any permanent deal is made. As Jimmy has said above, there is nothing "struck" about the deal. This is a time for community input, which is exactly why I linked to this talk page when I announced it. If there was to be no community input, it would simply have been an announcement, not a call for comments. Angela. 08:41, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
          • I agree, it is clear that community imput was wanted and planned for. It is just the implication that a already-signed contract dictated the content of pages that is so deeply unacceptable. BTW, I thank you for responding here, and do want to note that I am sure you are and were acting in good faith, and I appreciate very much all the work you have done for Wikipedia. JesseW, the juggling janitor 09:15, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Summary[edit]

I think a lot of this is caused by poor communication, so I'm going to try and summarize in an accessible way. I posted this at the no ads page but thought it should go here also.

Anwers.com is going to make a product that will use wikipedia information, and would like to brand it with the wikipedia name. Under the GFDL they could do this without asking us, but they want to use the wikipedia name, logo and other trademarks, so they asked. This will be a separate program and/or web service available from their site, and will very likely occur with or without our support.

Answers.com is a for profit company and this product does have a business plan based on ad revenue. The GFDL does not stop people from using our content like this without paying wikimedia at all. Answers.com has decided to partner with us so they can use our name and logo etc more visibly and as thanks are willing to share some of the revenue they would make in their product with us.

As a courtesy we are thinking about adding this new tool to a page that already exists (Wikipedia:Tools) to list outside tools related to wikipedia. It is very likely this software would have been listed here anyway, since it is relevant to the purpose of the page.

In addition the board is thinking about adding a link to this tools page in the toolbox sidebar. This is probably a good idea regardless, as the tools page is a useful link, and "tools" should probably be in the "toolbox".

I think of it like this: Answers.com is making some software that uses wikipedia data, and would like to donate some of their revenue to us. That is how this should be framed. Wikimedia is a non-profit. When a for profit company gives us money when they don't have to, why not call this a donation? Answers.com could use our data without asking like a million other websites do, but they decided to ask us and donate some of the money they make from the product. Sounds fine to me. - cohesion | talk 21:48, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Thank you cohesion for a good summary. I was hesitant to commit myself before I understood what was going on, and both opponents and proponents have been rather unclear. However, it is now evident to me that I should join the opponents of the proposal. Having an additional tool on the WP:TOOLS page is not a problem. Accepting corporate contributions and acknowledging them appropriately is not an issue either. However, having what effectively amounts to an indirect link to a commercial web site on every Wikipedia page is severely disturbing to me and I will somewhat reluctantly add my name to the list. I believe the Board is making a serious error in judgment on this. This is not intended as a personal attack, as I have made many errors of judgment in my life and am maybe able to recognize them in others. I have also been on the board of a number of non-profit and charitable organizations and I know how gratitude for funding can spill over in inappropriate ways. I can just see the thinking: "Wow! They'll give us half the ad revenue generated by links from our site. That's really nice of them, we should acknowledge it. Why don't we make it easier for users to get at it. Plus it will make us even more money." That said, the board does not seem to be considering the long term implications of its decision to enter in some kind of "co-branding" business deal with a for-profit corporation and of adding a link that amounts to advertising on every page's tool box. What will the board do when other such proposals will come? And they will come. We have an extremely valuable brand in wikipedia, and the board needs to carefully consider what it will do with it. Before jumping into any deals, the board needs to establish a clear policy on the use of the Wikipedia brand by anyone else, especially commercial entities. The board also needs to establish a policy on what should be Wikipedia's relations with commercial entities who want to use us. I would like to respectfully suggest that the board can the deal pending the development of a set of policies and guidelines on this kind of deal. Of course, the policy should be discussed and hopefully a consensus can be arrived at. Luigizanasi 06:08, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
  • Thank you, I agree with the statment you made above. We should work on such a policy, and reject this deal until we have one. JesseW, the juggling janitor 06:37, 25 October 2005 (UTC)


"However, having what effectively amounts to an indirect link to a commercial web site on every Wikipedia page is severely disturbing to me and I will somewhat reluctantly add my name to the list. I believe the Board is making a serious error in judgment on this." - JesseW, this line is so far from reality that I'm afraid I have to ask you to go back and carefully read what is happening rather than jumping to conclusions. There will be no "link to a commercial web site on every Wikipedia page", direct or indirect. --Jimbo Wales 12:08, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
The comment was mine, not JesseW’s. It is evident to me that proposing that: "It is my intention that we will link to the tools page from the sidebar, and that the tools page itself will prominently and appropriately link to the Answers.com tool. What I propose is that we lead off with a section of tools that bring revenue to the foundation, and then have a list of tools which do not bring revenue to the foundation." (Jimbo Wales) is, in effect, putting an indirect link to a commercial web site on every Wikipedia page and covert (or overt?) advertising for Answers.com. In any case, we can agree to disagree on the interpretation and meaning; I don’t want to get into a “Yes it is!” — “No it isn’t” argument. You can have the last word on that, if you choose. ;-) More importantly, a response to my question as to whether the board is prepared to can or postpone the deal pending development of a policy would be appreciated. Not that I expect an immediate response, as that is something that the Board needs to discuss first and you may not want to respond before consulting your fellow board member and examine the implications of what you have already agreed to with Answers.com. -- Luigizanasi 23:10, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Reply to Gmaxwell[edit]

Copied from top of page.

Welcome visitors from Slashdot. Please know that the story at Slashdot is completely false. There is no proposal to have advertising in Wikipedia. There is no contractual agreement to alter any page of Wikipedia. What is happening here is that Answers.com is creating a co-branded version of their website which will show ads, and they will share the revenue with us. This means, and let me be very very firm about this, that there is NO PROPOSAL TO HAVE ADVERTISING IN WIKIPEDIA. --Jimbo Wales 19:19, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

I'm sorry Jimbo. Most people would consider a proposal which involves putting a link to their site and software on our Tool's page and getting paid as a result (and not getting paid if we reject the link) advertising in Wikipedia. It's not right to correct one oversimplification with another. --Gmaxwell 20:08, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
Gmaxwell: The ads will not be on Wikipedia. Therefore, there will be no advertising IN Wikipedia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.247.170.189 (talkcontribs)
As I understand it, Gmaxwell was claiming that putting the link on the Tools page in return for payment was advertising; the link is obviously IN Wikipedia. (BTW, I agree with him.) JesseW, the juggling janitor 21:52, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
See my blog entry from last week. I said, "This is basically an advertising deal," and I quoted the answers.com press release, "Wikipedia will create a Tools page on its English-language site to promote useful tools that access Wikipedia, and 1-Click Answers, Wikipedia Edition, will receive charter placement on that page." So yeah, it's an advertising deal. No they aren't Google ads, but we are advertising the Answers.com service. I don't have a problem with it; I think it's a great idea, but it is an advertising deal! --Alterego 21:59, 24 October 2005 (UTC)
In an advertising deal, we would be obligated to place a link in order to get revenue. We are not obligated to place a link. We will place a link, I'm quite sure, because it would be very strange to not place a link. But there is no obligation.--Jimbo Wales 12:11, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Late to the discussion and wanting clarification...[edit]

But I'll add my thoughts. After reading all of the above, my understanding is that Answers.com has a software tool that uses Wikipedia content and earns money from advertising. They would like to share some of this money with the Wikimedia Foundation in return for being listed on the Wikipedia tools page (with their press release stating their software will get "charter placement"). Should we remove this link, they will not share any of the money.

I believe both Answers.com and the Board are acting in good faith. However, the fact remains that this money is coming in with strings attached, (and here's the clarification bit: what does "charter placement" mean, anyway?). If someone is paying us for a link, this is advertising. If Answers.com wants to donate money to Wikipedia, great. And of course they can and should continue using Wikipedia content in accordance with the GFDL. And, as already mentioned, someone would likely link to their software from the tools page anyway. But paid-link placement is not cool, and sets a dangerous precedent. Personally, I am not so set against this that I would leave Wikipedia, but many valuable contributors would, and so I think the deal in its present form should be rejected. -- Stephen Gilbert 23:06, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Please tell me what strings you think are attached. For 3 straight days now I've spent all my time basically dispelling the myths about this partnership. No one is paying us for a link.--Jimbo Wales 14:04, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
When I wrote my bit yesterday, point #8 in the FAQ read: "The community is free to remove the link from WP:TOOLS, but know that this will stop Wikimedia from receiving additional funds."[9] Now that answer says the exact opposite. Despite my careful and lengthy attempt to read the Answers.com press release and the entire discussion here, it seems I'm still confused. So here's my question: if their software is not linked from our tools page for some reason (ignoring for the moment that it would be linked anyway), how does that affect the donation/revenue-sharing coming from Answers.com? If it's simply that Answers.com won't be making as much money because not as many people know about the 1-Click tool and therefore there won't be as much revenue to share, then that makes perfect sense, and is certainly not a paid advertisement. But that's not how I understood what was written as of yesterday.
PS - I am sorry that the past few days have been so frustrating for you, Jimmy. I want you to know that I am assuming good faith, and I think this whole thing is just a big, multi-party misunderstanding. -- Stephen Gilbert 22:44, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
"What does charter placement mean?" is a good question. Unfortunately, it's not an issue the Board clarified before the press release went out (which was unexpectedly early). Jimmy wrote that "it means it should be featured prominently". My impression was different, and based on one of the meanings in the charter article, which says "The term charter member refers to a person or group who was among those participating in the creation of any chartered organisation." When Answers first proposed this, they didn't realise Wikipedia:Tools existed. They thought it was going to be a new page. If it had been a new page, they would have been (amongst) the first to be listed on it, and therefore "charter members of the page" (or getting charter placement on the page) by this definition of charter. However, since the page isn't new, the phrase no longer makes sense to me, and I think it should have been removed. However, if it means something different (like "prominent"), then it's a different issue entirely, and one that I feel should be up to the community (the people editing the page), since particular placement is not something the Board can guarantee on an openly editable page, along with being a controversial thing for us to try to enforce. Angela. 08:53, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Well, "prominent" could simply mean that we highlight the revenue-sharing relationship between Wikipedia and Answers.com, both in the interests full disclosure and to inform people that Wikipedia gets some of the ad revenue if they use this particular tool. I assume Jimmy meant something along those lines, and not a promise that the 1-Click tool would always be at the top of the page in a blinking, 72 pt red font. :) The Board and Answers.com really need to clarify the "charter placement" issue as soon as possible, however, for the reasons you mentioned. -- Stephen Gilbert 22:44, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Clarification on payment for link[edit]

I'm terribly confused about point 8 in the FAQ ("... this will stop Wikimedia from receiving additional funds."). Does this mean (as some people seem to be suggesting) that the agreement is cancelled if the link is removed (in that case, what happens if it is removed and later added back)? Or, alternately, is this merely a statement of fact (no link → nobody using the software → no ad revenue → no money for Wikimedia)? The second option seems much less like an advertising deal and much more like an obvious consequence of the way the tool works. Kirill Lokshin 23:26, 24 October 2005 (UTC)

Regarding this point: Or, alternately, is this merely a statement of fact (no link → nobody using the software → no ad revenue → no money for Wikimedia)? - no-one has to use the software if they don't want. You can easily go to www.answers.com, enter your search query, and you'll still see Wikipedia content depending on the choice of enquiry. The software allows one to alt-click any word/phrase in any application without first visiting the site. The program being discussed here will be a modified version allowing Wikipedia content to be uppermost instead at the bottom of the page as is now. That seems to be the only difference, but as I said previously, one does not need to download the software if they don't want to. -TonyW 00:01, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Of course. I was actually referring to the fact that, unless Answers.com goes out of its way to advertise the modified version on its own, the only way anyone would know of its existence (and therefore be in a position to use it) would be through links from us. Kirill Lokshin 00:24, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Jimmy has said that the agreement is not "struck" yet, so it's too soon to know what the situation would be regarding payment if the link was removed. Personally, I would expect that if people are finding the Wikipedia edition of 1-click elsewhere, then we would still get revenue from that, but I don't know if that would be the case. It's not something that has been discussed with the Answers Corporation as far as I know. Angela. 08:57, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I have spoken with Bob to make sure that his understanding is the same as mine. If for some deranged reason (and yes, I would regard this as deranged and therefore unlikely in the extreme) the community decided that it's perfectly fine to have links to proprietary software on the tools page, so long as the companies which make it do not give anything back to the community, and to boycott the one ethical reuser of our work as a punishment for the offense of giving us money, then we would still get revenue, although the amount of the revenue would of course naturally be quite small since we would be refusing to tell anyone about the possibility. Frankly, in such a situation, I would be so ashamed of our behavior that I would likely terminate the agreement with an apology to them for our irrationality. :-) --Jimbo Wales 12:36, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I am still confused[edit]

At the top of this page, Jimbo wrote: "There is no contractual agreement to alter any page of Wikipedia."

  • Then what specifically is the nature of the agreement? Please be detailed. I am not asking about what will be required of us, or what the effects of this partnership will be. (Whether they are 'no big deal' or not is an entirely different issue.) I am asking about the precise nature of this "partnership."
  • Please define "partnership," in very specific terms.
  • Please explain the reasoning behind having a trial period for an arrangement that carries no obligation(s) and involves no change in the way Wikipedia operates. If nothing changes as a result of this arrangement, then what is it that we are supposed to accept or reject at the end of the 60 days?

By the way, I do assume good faith from Jimbo and the Board, but I do not assume good judgement, from them or anyone else, including myself. Every judgement is subject to scrutiny. Psora 02:21, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

Could we have some answers to Psora's questions, guys? Ambi 10:43, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I think Jimmy would be the best one to answer this. I don't feel "partnership" in a Wikimedia context has ever really been defined, so perhaps there is no answer to this. Angela. 11:10, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't know what it means to describe specifically the nature of an agreement without specifically talking about what each party is required to do. So I do not know what you are asking. The deal is that they are going to create a version of their 1-Click software which will lead to a version of their website. The software does not contain spyware, the software does not cause advertising to randomly appear on your computer. What the software does is make it possible to alt-click on any word(s) in any application and call up their website. On this website there do appear advertisements. When people click on those ads (on the other website) we will receive a portion of the revenue. In exchange for that, we are allowing them to use the Wikipedia name and logo, i.e. they are calling it "1-Click/Answers.com Wikipedia edition". It is worth noting that since the revenue is derived from the use of a software tool, it should ramp up slowly over time as more and more people use the tool.
I never know what people mean when they ask me to define what 'partnership' means. Wiktionary has an adequate, if short, definition. In any event, there is no special meaning. I have been using the word "partnership" to thoroughly and completely emphasize that this is not an advertising deal.
Finally, what is the point of a trial period? The trial period will enable us to get a preliminary reading on the potential revenue from the arrangement, and to take a look at how they are using our marks, and so forth. It will also allow them time to see whether the partnership is good for them or not. (For example, if I were them, I would be fearful after all this ruckus that Wikipedians are going to damage their good brand name by spreading false rumors about them. It's sad but true that a tiny minority of people have responded quite badly without stopping to ask questions first.) In any event, it's just good business sense to have a trial period.--Jimbo Wales 12:29, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
With reference to When people click on those ads (on the other website) we will receive a portion of the revenue, I just wonder how many people actually bother to click on those ads. I use the Answers website sometimes, and never click on the ads. I'm there to search for the meaning of a word or research an encyclopedic topic only, so neither Answers nor Wikipedia would gain any revenue from me in that instance. -TonyW 19:38, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
somehow I don't think it is going to be the answers.com brandname that it is at risk of takeing damage.Geni 13:13, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
You're right, of course. Our brand is also at risk of damage from the false way people have been spinning this.--Jimbo Wales 13:58, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

A question for the community[edit]

Suppose a software company declared outright that if Wikipedia had an article on their software they would donate some substantial amount of money to the foundation. Suppose that company was borderline notable but most people agree they would probably have kept an article on Wikipedia with or without the pledge. Should we accept the money? Should we take down their article? If community consensus decided to leave the page up, would you leave the project? I ask because I take this situation to be analogous. As I understand the circumstance, we are still in control of WP:TOOLS like we always were. If we decide to remove the 1-Click software from there, we can. We would be sacrificing donations to the foundation, but we are still in control. I take the 1-Click software to be borderline for inclusion on WP:TOOLS, but it likely would have been listed there without this deal and probably left up. I'm not trying to pass judgment on anyone who chooses any answer to the above questions. I'm just suggesting this as an alternative situation which might not be so charged and might help people think about the issue with a little less emotion. --best, kevin ···Kzollman | Talk··· 02:57, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

This seems a very different scenario to me. Linking a tool on a tools page isn't the same as keeping or deleting an article and allowing money to influence the actual encyclopedia content in a negative way. Personally, I would not want Wikimedia to accept money to keep or delete an article. Angela. 09:03, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Linking a tool on a tools page, as I understand it, is not the issue. If I'm not mistaken, this plan includes a) highlighting the relatively obscure tools page on the sidebar precisely because of the Answers link, and b) giving them a particularly visible space on that page. Am I mistaken? Ambi 10:42, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I think the link is useful regardless of Answers.com, but the proposal from them is obviously what made me realise that, so yes, it's likely the link would not have been proposed right now without this, though it may well have been proposed in future for unrelated reasons. If you see my answer above to the question about "charter placement" (#Late to the discussion and wanting clarification...), you'll see I never expected any special placement for this link, but that may have been because I misunderstood the word charter. Angela. 11:12, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
"... we are still in control of WP:TOOLS like we always were. If we decide to remove the 1-Click software from there, we can. We would be sacrificing donations to the foundation, but we are still in control." - False. This is not an advertising deal. I don't know how many times, nor in how many ways I can say that.--Jimbo Wales 12:13, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Jimbo - sorry I was misled by the old FAQ. I thought it was written by someone in the know about the deal. If we get the money either way, I can't imagine what the problem is. P.S. Let me say, I understand how frustrating this must be for you. I really appreciate your time going through the comments and keeping your head about you. I applaud your efforts! --best, kevin ···Kzollman | Talk··· 15:58, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

A question for Jimbo and the Board[edit]

The press release for this states that a trial of this will proceed in early 2006. It has been asked in various forms on this page to little response, so I'll be blunt - is the press release correct on this issue? If so, why did the community hear through the press release, and do you intend to proceed with the trial regardless of community concern? Not all the issues can be written off as a misunderstanding. Ambi 06:45, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

I second this question. Maybe "1. The deal is not finalized. Nothing is "struck" or required."(from the FAQ at the top), relates to this, but a specific, clear answer would be much appreciated. JesseW, the juggling janitor 07:57, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
As far as I can tell, virtually all of the concerns have been completely and totally misplaced and due to confusion. What would it mean for us not to go forward? It would mean simply telling Answers.com not to send us money, not to launch their release of the co-branded version of their website, not to release the version of their software. Nothing more.--Jimbo Wales 12:16, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Further, what exactly is the trial period for? Or, more precisely, for whom is the trial period? Is it so Answers.com can assess whether the increased traffic/use that comes from linking their service from Wikipedia is enough to justify sharing profit?--Cyberjunkie | Talk 07:57, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Since the deal isn't stuck and nothing is going to be decided without community approval of this deal, this isn't really a question the board can answer, is it? As Jimmy has made clear above, it's up to the community to discuss it, which was my intention when I announced the existence of this talk page. Angela. 09:09, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
So you're saying the Answers press release was wrong/misleading then, and that there's no deal to start a trial in early 2006? Ambi 10:39, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
No, I'm not saying either of those things, and it feels like you're trying to trick me into saying something so you can disagree with it, so it's probably safer for me not to try and answer this. Jimmy has already said "there is no contractural agreement to alter any page of Wikipedia". Angela. 11:23, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
Surely you can understand why we're all confused then. You've said "the deal isn't stuck", but then denied that Answers was wrong when they claimed the deal would be happening as planned in January. Equally, it is comforting that Jimbo states that "there is no contractural agreement to alter any page of Wikipedia, but why have he and the board then been going around stating that WP:TOOLS is to be linked from the sidebar as part of this deal? I understand you all mean well, but it feels like it's awfully hard to get a straight answer here. Ambi 13:40, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
It is my intention that we will link to the tools page from the sidebar, and that the tools page itself will prominently and appropriately link to the Answers.com tool. What I propose is that we lead off with a section of tools that bring revenue to the foundation, and then have a list of tools which do not bring revenue to the foundation. This strikes me as the only sensible thing to do from a purely editorial point of view. I've no doubt, based on watching this drama play out, that a handful of people will try to remove the link, but, well, we'll see what happens. I have every reason to trust that the wiki process will yield a sensible result, once we have enough time for enough people to actually understand what is going on rather than jumping to wild conclusions.--Jimbo Wales 14:01, 25 October 2005 (UTC)
I've added some comments from this page to Wikipedia:Tools/1-Click Answers clarifying what the trial period is for and where the revenues come from. Angela.
Thanks Angela. That's one more thing cleared up - well, explained at least.--Cyberjunkie | Talk 13:48, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

In response to Jimno, "bringing revenue" as in the more people use it, the more money they give us. Not "bringing revenue" as in revenue gets brought from the link itself being there. Right? At first I read "bringing revenue" in the sense brought up in my first sentence of this paragraph, not the second, but that would have conflicted with "The community is free to remove the link from WP:TOOLS, and know that this will NOT stop Wikimedia from receiving additional funds. We get paid either way. This is not an advertising deal. Period." This should be clarified in the article itself so that our visitors do not construe it with the second, which in all likelihood, is a more likely meaning.

I also do not think that the link should merit its own section for now, and should be treated like any other link, with about two paragraphs or so explaining what it does and how the revenue is brought. I think it would be best if a sub-subsection on Wikipedia-themed browsers were added under the subsection of Searching Wikipedia, which would be under the section of Wikipedia Integration. The sub-subsection itself would be placed below the Bookmarklets sub-subsection and above the Extensions and plug-ins sub-subsection. The new sub-section would not be meant specifically for the 1-Click browser, but would until another Wikipedia-themed browser is made, have only that browser in it.

Perhaps User:Bg's SourceForge project for OpenAnswers, an open source (GPL licensed) alternative to Answers.com's 1-Click Answers, could be added above or below the actual 1-Click Answers browser after it is completed; it is the same thing except open-source, and it might lead directly to Wikipedia itself instead of Answers.com. Less people would download the Answers.com 1-Click Answers browser, because this browser would lead to Wikipedia itself and be ad-free, and therefore be more useful, so above would be the best option, but Wikipedia:Tools exists for usefulness and not revenue. As mentioned before, with 1-Click Answers it should be noted that a portion of the revenue gotten when Google ads are clicked by people who use the 1-Click Answers browser goes to Wikimedia in that sub-sub section. Toothpaste 14:31, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

It appears that while I was writing that very post, Wikipedians split Wikipedia:Tools into a disambiguation page linking to three articles. Therefore, rather than a sub-subsection at Wikipedia:Tools, I now have to change my suggestion to a subsection at Wikipedia:Tools/Browser Integration in the same place as in the previous suggestion. I suggested Wikipedia-themed browsers as a sub-subsection, now subsection, under Searching Wikipedia, rather than its own section in Wikipedia:Tools (which would have been, after this article split, its own article) as searching Wikipedia is what all foreseeable Wikipedia-themed browsers would be themed with. Toothpaste 16:49, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

One user said, "What I can't believe is how little Answers.com want for the money." Another in IRC told me that after this announcement, Answers.com stock went up about 13%. What they are aiming for seems to be a public relations movement rather than for the link itself; getting the Wikipedia trademark on the browser makes it look official and, of course, Wikipedia-approved, which may or may not be true, since most seem to dislike what was once an advertisement (Jimbo said they will now pay us regardless of whether we link), but really liked the actual browser, which included me before Jimbo's comment. In my opinion, that they even at first expected us to be given the money only if we linked the browser is an insult; the trademark itself should have been enough in exchange for the revenue. Toothpaste 17:08, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

See, this is what I am concerned about. Angela denied that any changes to the interface would be included in this agreement. Not only is this rather obscure page going to be promoted to pride of place to serve Answers' needs, but they're then going to have a prominent position on that page; more than a simple link that anyone could have added (and which Jimbo has previously claimed). This is paid advertising. Allowing them to promote themselves with the trademark that stems from all our work is dubious enough, but I really must draw the line at allowing commercial agreements to change the interface and use pages as a promotional tool. I know polls are evil, but it looks like the board is determined on proceeding otherwise - so what more do we have to do to kill this before it grows? Ambi 03:54, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Any response? Ambi 13:18, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
I don't think I understand the question. If we're not obligated to add a link, but the community chooses to do so since that would lead to extra revenue and its a useful tool which should be on the tools page anyway, is a vote still necessary? Angela. 14:31, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
I have little issue with a link, but that doesn't appear to be what's on the table. What I disagree with is changing the interface in response to an apparent demand from Answers (in promoting the relatively obscure WP:TOOLS page to the sidebar, and changing it from its current format so as to allow their site to be prominently advertised) in exchange for money. Moreover, Jimbo said just above and I quote "What I propose is that we lead off with a section of tools that bring revenue to the foundation, and then have a list of tools which do not bring revenue to the foundation. How in the krett is this not advertising? Ambi 14:41, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Availability of the tool[edit]

I use 1-Click_Answers quite a time by installing the software on my PC and I hav e only to make a mouse click on a word I like to know. So it is not nessecary at all to make a link in the Wikipedia and I will strongly suggest not to do so. Rasbak 19:15, 25 October 2005 (UTC)

... How does your second statement follow from your first? ~~ N (t/c) 00:25, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Is this an accurate characterization of what's going on?[edit]

Just to be sure I have it straight:

  • The agreement between Answers.com and Wikimedia permits Answers.com to use the "Wikipedia" trademark on their software in return for a portion of the profits. No additional obligations are included.
  • A link to Answers.com's software will be placed on WP:TOOLS by the Foundation. This is solely to promote the software, and we are not obligated to have the link, and the community will be allowed to remove or keep it like any other.
  • A link to WP:TOOLS will be placed in the "navigation" section of the sidebar. This is partly to promote the software and partly just because it's a useful page. We are not obligated to have this link either.
  • All profits from this deal will be diverted to charitable projects, as opposed to normal Foundation operations.

Right? If so, I think this is a great idea. ~~ N (t/c) 00:30, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

It is a really great idea. It's unobtrusive, voluntary, and helps the Project. --Jeffrey O. Gustafson - Shazaam! - <*> 01:50, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
Slight issue WP:TOOLs no longer has any tools on the page itself. they have all been moved to sub pages.Geni 02:39, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
It would make more sense in the toolbox section of the sidebar rather than in the navigation section, but only if Wikipedia:Tools becomes a useful page again. There's not a lot of point linking to a disambiguation page. I'm not sure whether your point on "charitable projects" versus "normal Foundation operations" is correct since the two are obviously overlapping, if not the same thing, but the hope is that we would be able to afford to do more charitable work than we can currently if this software was promoted. Angela. 04:42, 26 October 2005 (UTC)
The tools page had become unmageable and needed to be split. It has been. Since it was split along catogry lines there is no real difference other than the need to wait for an extra page to load.
Thanks. The "navigation" section would make more sense, though, as it is the section with links to actual WP pages; all the links in the toolbox are to Special: pages. ~~ N (t/c) 13:10, 26 October 2005 (UTC)

Extremely disappointing[edit]

There used to be that there were "no ads in Wikipedia" now there will be one. I have always contributed knowing full well that private companies can take advantage of my work and make money of it due to the GFDL. But they couldn't profit from Wikipedia and the wiki spirit, now they will. Answers.com will get to name their product "1-Click answers, Wikipedia edition" I don't know how much money the Wikimedia foundation gets, but I know that the Wikipedia trademark is likely valued at hundreds of millions of dollars and that thousands of companies would want to use it. That is damaging the wiki spirit and the Wikipedia concept. The new decree, that there now may be payed for content within Wikipedia, is destroying its integrity.

I'm also disappointed with answers.com being an Israeli company as Tfine80 stated above. This does not sit well with me. I personally believe doing business with Israel currently is unethical because you are indirectly funding a harsh military occuption. That's why I avoid buying oranges, tomatoes, hygiene products or other Israeli merchandise when shopping. With this deal, my contributions will support something I 100% oppose. It is unacceptable. All these reasons makes it so that for me, if Wikipedia goes through with the deal, it has lost all spiritual, ethical and moral values it previously had. I will leave and many others with me I suspect. Eric B. and Rakim 02:21, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

On the basis that taken to it's logical conclusion (the US is a major donor to israel) you would be unable to contribute the wikipedia I don't think objecting to the companies country of orogin makes much sense.Geni 04:45, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Vote[edit]

Now that it's been established that the community is free to not link or link the browser, and that the company will give Wikimedia the funds regardless of whether the link is anywhere on Wikipedia, should we have a separate vote, or, more sensibly, a showing of consensus, solely for allowing them to use the Wikipedia trademark in the browser, for the reason that some people disagree with that aspect of the deal, for reasons described above? I'd say no on the trademark issue. Toothpaste 12:30, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

A Parallel Evolution?[edit]

When I heard about this last night, I'd just finished a major revision of an article; I consulted more than 25 sources and put in about a day of work. Why? Wikipedian motivations vary, but I believe that most of us are energized by the Wikipedia's social mission: To create a free encyclopedia, and benefit humanity, by harnessing the self-healing potential of Wiki software. I think some of the reactions voiced here reflect a deep-seated fear that our long hours of work will be packaged up and sold -- that the dream will succumb to the dollar, and we contributors will turn out to be patsies. No wonder the reactions are so strong!

Remember, though, that the people who created Linux felt just as passionately about their work and their ideals -- but, despite initial misgivings, most Linux contributors eventually saw that for-profit Linux distributions were helping Linux. Today, more than half of the code that goes into Linux and other closely related open source projects is paid for by for-profit corporations. This isn't an issue in the Linux community anymore. It isn't evil to work out deals that benefit Linux, or even to charge money for Linux, as long as these commercial ventures do not interfere with the GPL or the collaborative networks that make Linux possible. So I think what we're seeing here is a parallel evolution. For-profit enterprises are trying to figure out how to make Wikipedia more accessible, just as for-profit Linux distributions made Linux more accessible. But it is essential that Wikipedia itself remain free of the slightest taint of commercialism. Let us create our encyclopedia in freedom here; if for-profit companies develop intelligent new ways to make Wikipedia more broadly accessible, without violating our ideals or our license, we should be rejoicing -- and all the more so if they support our efforts. Bryan 01:50, 3 November 2005 (UTC)

From what I have read and know about the agreement, I agree wholeheartedly with Bryan's sentiments. This will not change our interaction with the wiki in any way, and will likely bring more attention to the project as people dig below the Answers.com software.
An excellent point was made earlier regarding an official policy for use of the Wikipedia/media branding, which is apparently the only thing that answers.com is really paying for. This will (hopefully) not be the last time an organization is willing to pay to use the logo and branding. Learning from this experience, a general wikipedia branding use guideline should be drafted, and reviewed publicly. here 17:48, 7 November 2005 (UTC)
The analogy breaks down because Linux's "content" is running code that has to run correctly. Wikipedia's content is meant to be NPOV. Taking money for links is inherently POV, and I agree with others who have identified this project as a dangerous precedent. As initially publicized by the particpating organizations' own press releases, this deal was presented as a quid pro quo: money for link; no link, no money. I have read the strident denials by Mr. Wales and others, and to me they ring of backpedalling and spin. I will reserve judgment until after the trial period. As I've written before, that means I also reserve contribution of effort until after the trial period. My contributions are not huge, but are what I have the time for; I could have used that time towards other pursuits, and I shall until at least the end of the trial period. That I am here at all posting this reply is testament to my support of the Wikipedia's goals, as is that I care that the project never sell its point of view or accuracy for a bit of lucre, no matter how worthy the intended use of the lucre. Fred 03:58, 11 November 2005 (UTC)
Why withhold contributions when a fork is always an option? If you ever disagree strongly enough with the evolution of the wikipedia political landscape, just fork and start your own. Infrastructure aside, what remains the issue? The data isn't going away, the interface and organization behind our data will likely reinvent itself multiple times.
As I said: Learning from this explosive reaction, the community needs to draft a guideline for similar situations through the future. Requiring linking for money from the wiki is not currently an option, for many reasons. However, corporate money should not be outright denied. My depth of understanding in this situation is lacking. Please correct if I've misunderstand.
here 06:15, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Cleaning up WP:TOOLS[edit]

Whether or not this goes through, WP:TOOLS would still be useful in the sidebar. Help frame the theoretical answers.com link by cleaning up and building WP:TOOLS. (trust me, it needs it) here 06:19, 11 November 2005 (UTC)

Did it ever happen?[edit]

I've been very busy and not following this controversy. But here it is March 24. Has the "60-day trial beginning in January" taken place? What has been the result?--67.113.224.217 03:56, 25 March 2006 (UTC)

AFAIK, it didn't. At least, nothing further was ever mentioned in the Signpost, or in press releases from Wikimedia. I assme it was quietly dropped after the firestorm of controversy, which was the point, so I suppose that the upset was successful. JesseW, the juggling janitor 10:28, 25 March 2006 (UTC)
For arguments sake, if the trial started on January 31, the 60-days isn't quite up yet. However, it would be nice to have confirmation on what the latest on this is. -TonyW 00:31, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
From what I recall the wikipedia side of the idea was droped after WP:Tools was turned into a disambiguation page. Answers may have gone ahead with 1-Click Answers but I have no idea if it has any link to wikipedia.Geni 04:00, 26 March 2006 (UTC)
See http://wikipedia.answers.com/main/download_answers_wikipedia.jsp