Why I Finally Donated to Wikipedia

I love Wikipedia. In the immortal words of Michael Scott, “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world, can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”

We’ve all seen their ads by founder Jimmy Wales making a “personal appeal” asking you for money. These never moved me. I don’t know why exactly. I use Wikipedia probably every single day. It has to be one of the top 5 resources I use on the Internet over the last 5+ years, I’ve never paid a dime and I’ve never had to put up with any annoying ads. It is the perfect example of the power of the Web and what can be done. So despite knowing all of this, knowing that it’s a non-profit and having a lot of respect for Jimmy Wales I’ve never donated a dime to the cause. I never even clicked through to read his appeal. Man I’m a jerk.

And then I saw an ad from Joan Goma. I instantly clicked through, didn’t even read the appeal, I just clicked straight on the donate $20 with PayPal option.

Why was Joan so much more successful in getting my money that Jimmy was? The ads deploy the exact same technique, nothing fancy just someone I have no idea who he is. Here’s what I think (although I’m still not totally sure):

  • I have been thinking in the back of my head that I *should* donate. But there’s a lot of things I *should* do.
  • The word “Author.” This is one of those guys we read about that gives his time to make the World a better place.
  • Joan is more accessible to me. Even though he’s good at math and lives in Spain he’s more of a regular guy that Jimmy. I can relate to him better. Besides Jimmy’s prob ably rich and doesn’t need my money.
  • Joan is a wizard with magical powers and kind of reminds me of The Most Interesting Man in the World.

Now if we could just talk Joan into growing a beard. I’d donate money for that. Like a reverse Movember/Wikipedia fund raiser.

But in all seriousness there’s something to the approach of focusing on the people behind the scenes. The people we relate to. The people that make up your community. And yes your employees and partners had better be a part of that “community” we always talk about. If they’re not involved in the community then you’re missing the full potential of community building.

Joan is just one of two Wikipedia authors they’re using in the ads. And if this is approach is more successful I imagine we’ll see a lot more of these kind of ads.

What do you think? Have you donated to Wikipedia? Why or why not?

If not what would it take?

If, like me, you’re ready to donate or if you’re still a little unsure I recommend to go read Joan’s story for yourself. You can donate from there if you’re so inclined.

Update: @WikiContribute (a Twitter account manned by Wikipedia contributors with the mission of keeping Wikipedia free #keepitfree) has confirmed that Joan Goma is in fact The Most Interesting Man in the World.

@newcommbiz Thanks for the blog! Goma *is* the most interesting man in the world. http://bit.ly/gOUDQh #keepitfree
@WikiContribute
Wikipedia Contribute

About Tac Anderson

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.
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  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    If the dude made it to his age with the name “Joan”, then he deserves your money.

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  • http://www.onesource.com Anthony Emerson

    Jimmy Wales’ deep stare was kind of disconcerting. Joan seems like a more friendly type of guy.

  • De_la_famile

    He’s Spanish – so think Joan, like Juan.

  • http://www.sharelomer.com SharelOmer

    Great post Tac,

    It was very interesting to ready it, it hink that by donating we make a statement, we say we want the data in the internet be free and owned by us :)
    Seth Godin wrote about it and it makes sense, if we edit wikipedia and user it we own it, and should take responsibility for it…

    Thanks man!

  • http://www.briox.com Itamar Rogel

    Thanks for posting this, Tac. In my eyes, this is really an important post :)

    Although Jimmy’s appeal has “worked” on me personally, your analysis on why it didn’t do so for you – while the Joan Goma appeal did motivate you to action – sounds right on the money and I hope Wikipedia are doing proper analysis of the conversion rates and will be/are adapting their campaign to be as effective as possible… I’ll try to avoid using big words here, but I do think Wikipedia is really, really important :)

  • http://www.briox.com Itamar Rogel

    Thanks for posting this, Tac. In my eyes, this is really an important post :)

    Although Jimmy’s appeal has “worked” on me personally, your analysis on why it didn’t do so for you – while the Joan Goma appeal did motivate you to action – sounds right on the money in a wider sense as well, and I hope & assume Wikipedia are doing proper analysis of the conversion rates and will be/are adapting their campaign to be as effective as possible… I’ll try to avoid using big words here, but I do think Wikipedia is really, really important :)

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com tacanderson

    Let’s hope they are measuring the success of the two approaches because they should have great data on both.

  • Vesna

    I would like to donate to Wikipedia but the only option that I can see is through PayPal. I have boycotted PayPal since they prevented Wikileaks from using their services.