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Wales Scuttles Wikipedia Ad Talk, Kind Of

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Advertising was the hot issue after a Times Online UK interview with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales seemed to indicate they would be part of the online encyclopedia’s future.

‘No no maybe,’ was the theme to Wales’ response to a follow-up call from a ClickZ reporter asking about his comments on advertising on Wikipedia.

The article said Wales claimed to have been “badly misquoted” in the Times Online story:

“There are no plans of any kind, no announcement, no change in stance,” he said. “What I said is something I’ve been saying for five years. We don’t believe we need advertising in order to survive.”


Here’s the passage in question from the original interview:

The combination of ultra-low overheads and massive readership would excite any media executive. And while the site does not carry any advertising, Wales admits it might. “There is a great deal of resistance to the idea, both from the community and from me. But at some point questions are going to be raised over the amount of money we are turning down,” he says.


The problem seems to come from the Times reporter’s phrasing “Wales admits it might.” Lots of writers seized on this passage in reporting on the interview.

Unfortunately, ClickZ doesn’t clear up the issue 100 percent either, in going back to its story’s closing about the Wales’ ad denial:

But Wales seemed to leave the doorway to ad-supported content open a crack. “The question is going to arise as to whether we could better pursue our charitable mission with the additional money [ads would bring],” he said. “We have never said there would absolutely never be ads on Wikipedia.”


Will tomorrow bring another “no ads, but” Wikipedia story? Stay tuned.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Wales Scuttles Wikipedia Ad Talk, Kind Of
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