Wikipedia's founder told a UK paper this week that the user-edited online encyclopedia may carry advertisements at some point. Given current traffic levels, such a move could generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Snip from article:
Jimmy Wales told Times Online that despite widespread "resistance to the idea" of advertising on Wikipedia, "at some point questions are going to be raised over the amount of money we are turning down."
Wikipedia would be in a prime position to exploit the current boom in online advertising. It expects to record around 2.5 billion page impressions this month and traffic volumes are doubling every four months. According to figures released this month by Nielsen/Netratings, it was the ninth-fastest growing site on the web in 2005.
Link to UK Times interview. (thanks, Kevin)
UPDATE: On Jimmy Wales's Wikipedia User Talk page, he says the quote has been taken out of context for the sake of hype and headlines.
Please read the story, not the headline. :-) I said to this reporter the same thing I have been saying to everyone for years.
Nothing has changed. What I have been saying forever is that I think we will eventually, as a community, face the question of whether the amount of money we are turning down, and the amount of good we could do with that money towards our charitable mission, is worth more than our pride in being ad free. The way I like to put this is as follows:
it is easy for us to sit in our safe Western wealthy nations with broadband internet connections and pat ourselves on the back for not having any ads, but if, for example, having some google-style ads on the search results page only could bring in hundreds of thousands of dollars per month, and that money could be used to bring Wikipedia to millions of people who currently have no access, I think that we, as a community, have to be serious and thoughtful about that decision.
Having said that, I personally remain opposed to having ads in Wikipedia. It's just that a serious NPOV discussion of the matter necessarily would involve us being really serious about what we are turning down and why.
This is exactly what I've been saying for years. If you know why the press likes to run inflammatory headlines every few days, well, please let me know. I find it all a bit baffling to be honest.
A statement from me "I am personally opposed to having ads in Wikipedia" somehow becomes "Wikipedia chief considers taking ads".
— Jimbo Wales 16:46, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
(Thanks, Calton Bolick)