UnNews:Wikimedia takes servers 'down' as part of new fundraising scheme

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27 November 2011

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WIKIMEDIA FOUNDATION, The Interweb -- In a bold move by the Wikimedia Fundraising team, Wikimedia's servers were taken offline for half an hour as part of a test of new tactics to try to raise funds in this year's campaign.

Alex Wilby, a member of the Fundraising team, told UnNews: "It's simple. When a server goes down, visitors see an error message informing them of the situation, in this case including a well-placed appeal to donate: 'The Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organisation which hosts some of the most popular sites on the Internet, including Wikipedia. It has a constant need to purchase new hardware. If you would like to help, please donate.' It's effective because what brought people to the page, the servers 'going down', emphasises the need. So people donate."

The test results are so far promising - the click rates on the server-down message link were much higher than on banners, and appeals specifically focussing on the technical aspects proved especially effective in bringing in donations. "We plan to do this about once a week," Wilby tells us. "Maybe this way we won't have to keep going through January to meet our quota this year, unlike last."

Fundraising-based downtime can be differentiated from true error-caused downtime by the error number [No Error]. "We wanted to leave some indication for knowledgeable visitors so they know when to actually be concerned," Wilby explained. "Most people don't even notice."

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