Saturday, November 24, 2007

Keep them funds a-raisin' Rawhide!

The endless fundraiser won't go away. But somebody's got to pay Sue Gardner's half-mill, so Wikipedia keeps begging from high school students. I guess the kids could spend their money on worse things.

The bump in contributions from the new and unimproved and even bigger and uglier begging ad quickly vanished. By Thanksgiving Day, ironically, the daily take had dwindled to a new low of $13,463.10. Floflo blamed it all on the US economy, but nobody else in the world seemed much inclined to contribute, either. Things are tough all over, right, Floflo? Or maybe people are just tired of having to write the encyclopedia and pay for the servers - not to mention moving the bureaucrats to San Fran.

Then the WP poobahs hit on a bright idea: a begging blog! It seems to have worked, at least a little. The daily haul has jumped to 25K or so. Not spectacular but better than the previous week.

Some comments on the blog would make the Wicked Witch of the West giggle. OMG! Wikipedia is gone! I’ll flunk my exams! Pal, if you rely on WP to get through your exams, you must attend the Famous Idiots School. Or your college specializes in Pokemon and inventive sex techniques, both of which get oodles of Wikipedia articles. Come to think of it, a lot of colleges do specialize in the latter, at least. So maybe the kid's right.

Eric Möller, a WP brass-hat who looks and sounds like a '60s hippie-dippie wannabe, wrote a long screed that Wikipedia would be defiled by accepting ads. So that's why they run one of the Internet's most annoying ads at the top of every page!

Eric's funniest assertion among a whole bunch of them: "How would the rest of the non-commercial cultural and intellectual world see us: universities, schools, broadcasters, libraries, archives and museums — if the first thing they see on the Wikipedia article about 'coffee' is a link to Starbucks? Would we still be seen as a mission-driven charity that wants to bring free knowledge to developing nations? How would it affect our credibility?"

I assume Eric typed this with a straight face. But it had to be a chore not to laugh out loud at the idiotic notion that Wikipedia has any credibility to lose with universities, libraries, museums, blah-blah. Those snooty types think the encyclopedia sits somewhere between a bad joke and a real threat. I'm sure the muckety-mucks at Harvard would suddenly and drastically revise their opinion of Wikipedia downward if a couple ads showed up on the site. Why, the Harvard bigwigs think so highly of WP already!

If you're gonna beg, just go ahead and beg. Don't bother with these ridiculous excuses for why Wikipedia won't sell a few ads to keep the servers running.

But I have to admit, Eric's nonsense does seem to have goosed contributions a little. P.T. Barnum was right, after all.

UPDATE: The effect of the begging blog seems to be wearing off already. Hey guys, why not doll up Sue Gardner (no glasses, please) and put her in a video in the obnoxious begging ad? Sure, that would be non-p.c., but it might coax a few more pennies from the high-schoolers. And Sue should do something for the half-mill allocated to her office.

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