• http://www.gregorykohs.com thekohser

    Lise, this is a helpful article. Not to be a wet blanket (because I do think there’s a good deal of value in what you’ve presented here), I am skeptical of how much traffic an image is going to generate for the image and license provider. We all know that external links provide lots of outbound traffic, because that’s what the general Wikipedia user gravitates toward when seeking more information about a subject. Clicking on a picture, then following where it came from? Not so likely. So, your appeal to the PR world to come fill up Wikipedia with pictures is, in my opinion, unfairly advantaged to Wikipedia — the encyclopedia’s net value will definitely increase much more from the added pictures than will the value of the licensor of the pictures. But, that seems to be the Wikipedia way. Jimbo benefits a lot. Contributors are barely thanked.

  • http://www.jehochman.com JEHochman

    On a high traffic article, a picture of your product is free product placement. Many thousands of visitors will see the product and the brand.

    Additionally, if the image has a CC-BY license, visitors can copy the images to their own sites, but they are required to provide an attribution link. That’s the viral part.

    Let me “think evil” for a moment. There are Wikipedia mirrors that don’t use nofollow, and there’s no guarantee that nofollow will be in place forever. As better anti-spam measures are put in place at Wikipedia, I expect that nofollow will eventually be removed. Among Wikipedia volunteers, I think a substantial number recognize that nofollow makes the web worse, and they would agree to remove it if other defenses were effective.

  • http://davidgerard.co.uk/notes/ David Gerard

    Note, by the way, that watermarked images are ill-favoured, i.e. likely to be deleted, on Commons, and verboten on English Wikipedia (which means that even if it’s uploaded to Commons it won’t be used there).

  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2007/mar/08/media.comment Seth Finkelstein

    JEHochman, I’m skeptical that the Wikipedia mirrors are all that helpful for link-love, apart from maybe answers.com. They’re pretty spammy sites, and Google probably has figured them out by now. While many Wikipedia volunteers may be against nofollow, the powers-that-be apparently favor it, so I’m also skeptical that there will be any change in the forseeable future.

    While I believe Durova is to be praised for trying to find mutually beneficially arrangements between people seeking site-promotion and Wikipedia, I think there is an underlying classical “asymmetric information” economic problem. That is, Wikipedia knows a lot more about how you will benefit it, than you know about how it will benefit you. AND they can drastically change the rules on you with no recourse, as happened with “nofollow” being implemented by a simple decision from on-high (I still wonder about that – Brion V. stated Wales said to do it, Wales seemed to imply it was actually Brion’s idea, so that confuses the issue).

  • David Gerard

    Seth fails to note, of course, that adding images to Wikimedia Commons may constitute a pro-cult activity.

  • http://www.gregorykohs.com thekohser

    Here’s another rub — how is it that a self-interested party adding pictures doesn’t also run into “conflict of interest” issues? Are we saying it’s okay with pictures, questionable with text, and absolutely verboten with hyperlinks? Sounds like we have a sliding ethical scale for WP:COI.

  • http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/sep/28/wikipedia.web20 Seth Finkelstein

    Now, now, David, you’re confusing my well-known point that Wikipedia is a cult, with a strawman that all Wikipedia exploitation is thus cult activity (please keep in mind you brought this up in the thread, not me). And thus as you snidely note that non-cult type exploitation is obviously not a cult activity, *BAM*, down goes the strawman.

    However, nowhere have I stated that all Wikipedia exploitation should be accounted cult activity, or that being a cult constitutes the sole and only mechanism of Wikipedia exploitation. That’s merely the most common and prominent method 1/2 :-).

    I’m taking this article on its own terms, as a marketing piece, which is often a proposal for mutual exploitation :-). Again, on a personal level, I’d say Durova is doing something very laudable in the article. But on a business level, I’m dubious the transaction is as good a deal for the contributors as is being argued.

    thekohser also has an excellent point about the different treatment of images, text, links. From an outsider’s perspective, this is indeed confusing. Why is promotion by images invited, text iffy, links flameworthy? I think the answer is in the relative value of categories, images are likely to benefit Wikipedia a whole lot more than benefit the contributor, so it’s encouraged, whereas links are the reverse, and text roughly in the middle.

    Which is a very strong argument to think a bit skeptically about the deal the contributor is getting.

  • Durova

    There’s one constant factor whether we’re talking about text or images: Wikipedia is an encyclopedia. Its social media aspects exist to support the encyclopedic mission. Industry professionals who adjust accordingly can do all right there.

    Most SEO professionals (and the PR industry in general) have focused on the text side of Wikipedia rather than on the image side, which is a choice that plays to their weaknesses: a very good press release makes a very bad encyclopedia article, just as an excellent encyclopedia article would be a rotten press release. It’s harder to learn a new writing genre than to relicense some images and plan a set of targeted uploads. The site’s volunteers have been deleting around 1700 images a day, mostly because of copyright issues, which is a good indicator of how welcome more copyleft licensed material would be.

    It’s up to businesses to weigh the advantages of this approach. In many cases there’s no real cost to relicensing existing proprietary material. When I checked a Google search for “American wine” today Wikipedia’s article was the number four return so the brand recognition value of getting an image of some particular winery there is probably nontrivial.