Wikipedia kicks off fundraiser … again without wall-to-wall Wales

Organization learned last year that ‘facts’ banners work better

Even Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has admitted that he found it "annoying" that a picture of Jimmy Wales would appear on every page of the online encyclopedia  during its weeks-long annual fundraising campaign.

So I would imagine that no one was happier than Wales to learn that last year's campaign, which ditched the Wales banners in favor of simple text-based ads, outperformed the Walespalooza to such an extent that the organization's fundraising  goal was met in only 9 days, as opposed to the 46 Wales-filled days needed in 2011.

Which brings us to today's launch of the 2013 campaign and another "just the facts" banner:


Since that's tough to read, here's the text:

DEAR WIKIPEDIA READERS: To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. We take no government funds. We survive on donations averaging about $15. Now is the time we ask. If everyone reading this gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. We are the small non-profit that runs the #5 website in the world. We have only 175 staff but serve 500 million users, and have costs like any other top site: servers, power, programs, and staff. Wikipedia is something special. It is like a library or a public park. It is like a temple for the mind, a place we can all go to think and learn. If Wikipedia is useful to you, take one minute to keep it online and ad-free another year. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia. Thank you.

You donate right from the page, as well as here.

And if anyone longs to see the prints of Wales, here's what that looked like in 2011:


Wikipedia spokesman Matthew explains the banner evolution in reply to my email:

In general, each year the fundraising team at the Wikimedia Foundation works to find more effective messaging. We do a significant amount of A/B testing of fundraising banners and messages each year, both before the fundraising campaigns launch and during the campaigns. You can read an interesting blog post about the A/B testing here:

In extensive A/B testing leading up to the year-end fundraising campaign launch last December, the fundraising team discovered that the simple yellow banners with the fundraising message embedded in them outperformed the appeals with portraits, including Jimmy's appeal (which previously had been the most successful). See more here:

In testing this year, the team has refined the efficacy of the messaging through A/B testing and the banners you see on Wikipedia are the result. You can learn more about the 2013 testing and track our progress through the fundraising portal on MetaWiki here:

They're trying to get this done in a shorter period of time than last year's nine days. You can help.

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