User talk:(WT-en) Hansm/Commercialisation FAQ

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Hi Hans. (I just noticed you just removed the content, I hope it's not a breach of wikiquette to go ahead and post a reply anyways). I thought your FAQ was very well presented and cogent. I think most of the has been said before (for example here[1] and here Wikivoyage_talk:Internet_Brands), but I just wanted to have a clear reply to the issues raised in the FAQ:

  1. Surprise. As I've stated before, we were not "shopping around". In fact, we've refused a number offers in the past for commercial ventures/partnerships. IB made it clear that they understood our requirements (license, community-based decision making, etc.) before we entered any negotiations. By the time we realized that it was a very good plan for Wikivoyage, we were too far into negotiations to realistically (or legally) solicit community input. As I said before "You can't have 15,000 people in a meeting room."
  2. Advertisement. The goals and non-goals still stand and there is not any advertisement on the site (yet). We think there's a big difference between advertisement in the guides and advertisement on the site. We think that ads and content need to be kept strictly separate, and that this non-goal should still stand. Wikivoyage will not be the first or the last site to follow this business model and other sites have managed to maintain their editorial integrity and user-experience despite the presence of ads.
  3. Dump criteria. The question is not whether making special formats and data stream available for someone will help Internet Brands; the question is whether it will help Wikivoyage. Internet Brands pays developers and sysadmins to serve the Wikivoyage community and help the project. They're not going to devote time, effort, software or hardware to projects that don't help Wikivoyage.
  4. Editorial independence. You say that it would be our job to change Wikivoyage guides to have positive reviews of sponsors. This is absolutely not the case, and was part of the original press release from Internet Brands. Keeping advertising and content separate is of utmost importance. The traveller will continue to come first. Personally, we continue to want to make great, useful, consensus travel guides, just as has been our goal from the beginning.
  5. Commercializing ourselves. You propose that we (Michele and Evan) should have added advertising to the site ourselves, without Internet Brands. That's a fine plan, but our choice was to consider the longterm viability of Wikivoyage. If we had tried to make an Internet startup out of Wikivoyage, there would have been a lot more hard work and risk involved. Instead, we have an Internet "middle-up", with a mature site hosted on a stable platform by a well-established company. We think that's much better for the project, and it lets us concentrate on what we like to do: make great travel guides.
  6. Goals. You state that Internet Brands has different goals than the Wikivoyage community -- to improve its business. This is absolutely true. However, we think that the goals of the Wikivoyage community and IB's goals can be harmonious. If the community continues to have success in creating great travel guides, Web traffic will go up and ad revenue will increase. The company benefits from helping Wikivoyagers reach their goals. However, if the company were to try to make short-term gains by abusive anti-community policies, they could possibly make some short-term profit, but drive away the community that makes long-term gain possible. The parable of Wikipedia:The_Goose_that_Laid_the_Golden_Eggs is probably appropriate here. We think Internet Brands has shown some dedication to the long-term existence of Wikivoyage and its goals; we think that's a good sign that they're not going to try to undermine the community for short term gain.

This might be a good time to clear the air about advertising and reduce the unfounded speculation. We'll collected previous statements about advertising into the Project:Advertising policy page. We have some thoughts about what's OK and not OK with advertising and what will be best to keep the site running without interfering with the project.

Finally, I want to thank you for continuing to keep an open dialog with the community. You seem to be very concerned about community decision-making. We hope that you'll continue to work with the community to effect the changes that you've proposed. (WT-en) Majnoona 15:00, 13 July 2006 (EDT)

Thanks for your comments. Most of your points have been discussed elsewhere, so I prefere to simply let them stand here as a counter statement. Let me empathize what you have told about IB's dump criteria. I think this is really the first time we can read that clear words about this topic. I wanted to ask you to read more carefully when summarising my points:
"You say that it would be our job to change Wikivoyage guides to have positive reviews of sponsors." -- No. I say it's your job to avoid negative reviews of sponsors.
"You propose that we (Michele and Evan) should have added advertising to the site ourselves..." -- No. I havn't proposed that, I just have said it would have been one of several options.
-- (WT-en) Hansm 06:31, 15 July 2006 (EDT)

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