All Our Ideas in the Wikimedia fundraiser

The Wikimedia fundraiser is facilitated by two things: Banners and appeals. The banners appear at the top of the site, featuring a picture of someone from the Wikimedia movement (Jimmy, our founder, an editor, reader, or donor), and the words, “Please read: A personal appeal from Wikimedia (Founder|Editor|Reader) So and So.”

Clicking the banner lands you on a donation form featuring a letter from the person in the banner. A lot of fundraising experts have told us this is a dumb way to fundraise. They say people don’t read the appeals, and that surely there’s something better we could run in the banners other than “Please read a personal appeal.”

We’ve tested the appeal pages against simple donation forms with no appeals, with basic facts, and slogans, and nothing has performed better than the appeals. We’re happy about that, because we love that the fundraiser serves a double purpose of educating our 470 million readers about how Wikipedia and the Wikimedia movement work.

But we’re unhappy that we haven’t been able to find anything better than “Please read a personal appeal” for our banners. It’s not for lack of trying. We’ve tested more than 100 different banner phrases. And we’ve tested a few non-human images (e.g. hands holding the Wikipedia globe logo).

Only one banner has occasionally beaten “Please read a personal appeal,” and that is: “If everyone reading this donated $5, we could end the fundraiser today.” But that banner seems to set the expectation that the fundraiser is about to end soon, so we only like to use that at the end of the campaign.

Last year, we asked the Wikimedia community to suggest banners and tested many of them. None came close to beating “personal appeal.” This year, though, thanks to a tool created by friends at Princeton University, we have a new way to revisit those ideas, and bring in some new ones, for testing.

Professor Salganik and his research group are the developers of All Our Ideas, an open source platform for public participation. It enables groups to collect and prioritize information in a way that is democratic, transparent, and efficient, and it has already been used by governments and non-profit organizations around the world.

He approached us about using this tool for choosing new banners to test and we said we would like to try it. You can go there now and start voting on banners at:

http://www.allourideas.org/wikipedia-banner-challenge

We’ll be watching the results and will test the ones that come out on top in the voting. We’ve helped to seed the tool with banners proposed by the community last year. We were not able to test all of the ideas suggested then. We will test at least a handful of the ones that come out on top in this voting process that haven’t been tested before — as long as they are in line with the spirit and values of the Wikimedia movement.

There is also a way to propose new ideas — and new images — for banners using the All Our Ideas tool.

Finally, one thing I should explain is why we’re looking for a better banner. Each year, we only raise what we need and then end the fundraiser. If a better banner brings double the number of donors from our best current banner, then we can cut the duration of the fundraiser in half — and that would be a very good thing.

Categories: Community, Fundraising
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11 Comments on All Our Ideas in the Wikimedia fundraiser

Corinne Winson 3 years

I’ve added a banner suggestion, but not sure where / whether it will be displayed. My Java is so out of date that I can’t update; is it essential to submitting banner wording?

Manuel 3 years

Yo no tengo cuenta bancaria, ¿hago mi depósito a Wikimedia Foundation, pero a qué número de cuenta y ciudad?

hashar 3 years

Well done! You guys are awesome. The idea of having the community choosing the banners is awesome =)

Vote for Brandon!!
http://www.allourideas.org/wikipedia-banner-challenge

NaBUru38 3 years

“Appeal” isn’t included in http://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/BE_1500. I’ve passed the Certificate of Proficiency in English six years ago, but without checking a dictionary, I don’t know what “a personal appeal” means exactly. So try to find a banner that only includes words in the Basic English combined list.

Elitre 3 years

Flawless, except that all the community that usually helps with the fundraiser (for free) is on Meta and will probably never hear of this. But nevermind. Good luck.

Matthew Salganik 3 years

Hi TMg,

Thanks for the question about javascript. We tried to designed the site to encourage as many people as possible to vote as many times as possible. The more votes we collect, the faster we can find the most promising banners. To that end, we combine A/B tests and our judgement about what will increase participation.

Although we have not A/B tested it, we expected that javascript would lead to a faster, smoother site, and thus, more votes. However, as you point out, it is also the case that by using javascript we do prevent some people who have disabled javascript from voting. This is clearly not idea.

I think you are right that the best solution is to do both. We are currently working to improve other aspects of the site, and this is something that we add to our development queue.

Matthew Salganik 3 years

Hi Elitre,

Thanks for your feedback. Although the front-end of the site looks pretty simple (basic pairwise comparison), there is a lot of infrastructure in the back-end to 1) choose the pairs carefully, 2) calculate scores and present other data visualizations in real-time, 3) export data in csv files for analysis, etc. Our code is open-source so you can see some of what I am talking about here: https://github.com/allourideas.

I’m sure that Wikimedia’s awesome developers could have integrated all of this into their systems (or rebuilt it from scratch), but it would have taken a lot of time and I know that they are all already busy working on other projects. That is why we offered to help.

Erik Moeller 3 years

Elitre, not everything has to be done on Meta. It’s good to experiment with new tools and processes instead of locking ourselves into MediaWiki’s feature set and Wikimedia’s processes. This is an ephemeral experiment, so it’s _exactly_ the kind of thing we should try with third party partners.

Zack 3 years

Dear Elitre, The All Our Ideas people volunteered the site and it was not something we would devote resources to building ourselves.

TMg 3 years

The voting is broken if JavaScript is disabled. Two banners are displayed but can not be clicked. I think this is confusing for ordinary visitors. If it’s really necessary to use JavaScript (I can’t imagine why, but anyway) show an alternative version please but not a broken page.

Elitre 3 years

Will you please remind us why the heck you are using an external site for matters that belong to Meta?

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