I was just reading “An appeal from Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales”, where he is asking for donations for supporting the continuation of Wikipedia, ad-free. I do not need to tell you what an amazing website Wikipedia is. It’s a vast pool of information with a very large volume of visitors. It would be a perfect marriage for targeted ads from services such as Google Adsense. The money that would be generated from ads would be tremendous. So why not advertise?
My own blog does not have advertising, yet. The reason is that I do not have enough content or visitors and, more importantly, the content I do have is not niche enough. Being niche is important because you want relevant ads for your audience. Obviously each post would have its own relevant ads, but the flow of ads over the entire site would unlikely appeal to my audience, because I have not yet defined my audience.
I have no strong aversion to online advertising if done properly. Relevant ads are great addition to the content. Targeted ads link to content that is current. You will not find an old link on an ad, even if the page’s native content is ancient.
Wikipedia content is perfect for content-specific advertising, because the information on a Wikipedia page covers the same topic and, more often than not, will go into great detail with lengthy explanations of the subject material.
Advertisements need not be dramatic. They can be subtle, small and only appear enough times to cover the cost of hosting and maintaining Wikipedia. The costs of keeping Wikipedia up and running and the money coming in from advertising should be transparent to the users. This way Wikipedia could use this approach to raise funds and still retain the for-the-people-by-the-people model.