Wikipedia Vows: No Ads

Dennis Faas's picture

These days, advertisements are almost everywhere. But there's at least one place they can't be found: on Wikipedia. The website's advertisement-free model surely has generated a great deal of talk, with some praising and others opposing the site's refusal to include ads. Recently, discussions have evolved around the sustainability of Wikipedia's ad-less site.

Currently, Wikimedia (the non-profit organization running Wikipedia) is funded almost entirely from donations, many of which are small individual donations. Wikimedia has managed to control its expenses in some areas such as labor -- the company has less than ten full-time employees -- however, expenses still exist. The cost of bandwidth in 2007 is expected to reach $100,000 per month, and the group currently runs more than 350 servers. (Source:

Despite rising costs, Wikimedia has been reluctant to pursue advertising, partly because it fears that ads would taint the non-commercial nature of Wikipedia, and partly because some users have already expressed their opposition to an advertisement-filled Wikipedia. (Source:

Wikipedia founder Jimbo Wales insists that Wikipedia is not in trouble. "We have every confidence in the current model," he said. "Raising enough money to keep Wikipedia going is a big job, but we feel confident that we will continue to be able to do it." A recent call for donations has already raked in more than $1.1 million. (Source:

Then again, not everyone shares Wales' optimism. Weblogs Inc. CEO Jason Calacanis has been giving his opinion on Wikipedia for months. He argues that the site could bring in up to $100 million a year with minimal advertising. (Source:

"Jimbo Wales has a fringe, anti-corporate bent to him, and it's holding Wikipedia back," Calacanis said. (Source:

Instead of Wikipedia's current model, Calacanis suggests an optional advertising model, where some users would view ads and others could choose an ad free version by donating to Wikipedia. As evidence, Calacanis pointed out Mozilla Firefox's use of Google Adsense, which rakes in $50 million a year. "Is there anything wrong with Firefox? Have they been corrupted? NPR and PBS have sponsors and have their services been corrupted?" (Source:

Wales counters Calacanis' remarks by reminding everyone that it isn't Calacanis' decision to make. Although Wales personally dislikes the idea of advertisements on Wikipedia, he says that he won't rule anything out. "I can't say if I would ever support something like that," he said, "but I can say that I currently maintain the same position I always have: I am opposed to it." (Source:

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