Decennial ABC: S as in sister projects

Does an encyclopedia publisher publish only encyclopedias?

When a publisher of an encyclopedia is successful he might want to use its brand success also for other  publications. Take Brockhaus, for example. In 1935 it came up with a pictorial dictionary Der Sprachbrockhaus.

‘Wikipedia’ has other ‘publications’ too. Or, to be correct, there is the Wikimedia Foundation that runs other wikis than Wikipedia such as Wikisource, Wikinews and Wikispecies. When Jimmy Wales in 2003 founded the Foundation he choose a different name than Wikipedia, and there we are.

To Wikipedia/Wikimedia evangelists this creates quite a problem because everyone knows Wikipedia and nobody Wikimedia. Try to phone to a cultural institution and present yourself as someone from Wikimedia Deutschland – it won’t help much. They think that you are from a publishing house and that you want to sell something. Say that you are ‘from Wikipedia’, and the doors will open.

When a WMDE employee at a seminar explained that he presents himself as someone ‘from Wikipedia’, he harvested immediately negative response: it is not correct, they said, and unfair to the other Wikimedia projects.

But is this really so? To the present day all projects but Wikipedia are very small. Most viewers have Wikimedia Commons and Wikisource, two projects relatively closely connected to Wikipedia. All projects benefit from the links with/from the world’s largest encyclopedia.

When I present myself as a volunteer from ‘Wikimedia’ (Foundation/Netherlands/Germany), I first have to explain what that is and that it is linked to Wikipedia. Only after that it makes sence, where appropriate, to present for example Wikisource. The listener’s brain has to memorize one name already known, and two new names.

It would make things much easier to drop the name ‘Wikimedia’ at all and appear everywhere simply as someone from ‘Wikipedia’. Then I can talk, for example, about Wikisource. The listener’s brain has to memorize one name already known, and one new name.

I cannot see that with saying ‘Wikipedia’ any harm is done to the other projects. On the contrary, every marketing expert would advise to do so instead of investing money in popularizing the ‘Wikimedia’ brand. He would also recommend to find more suitable names for the Wikimedia organisations, such as ‘The Wikipedia Club’ or ‘Wikipedia-Verein Deutschland’.


Previously: A as in Advertisement, …, R as in Readers



4 thoughts on “Decennial ABC: S as in sister projects

  1. I recall a few years back actually tossing the notion of just going with the ‘Wikipedia’ branding for the foundation and other projects too, to reduce confusion and consolidate.

    This sort of thing can be hard to push through a community that enjoys having their own names and identity of course, and it certainly didn’t happen at the time!

    But it’s something to consider; ‘Wikipedia News’ or ‘Wikipedia University’ might well actually garner more attention and resources than ‘Wikinews’ and ‘Wikiversity’.

    1. Yes, that’s what I actually meant with the reference to the Sprachbrockhaus but forgot to write explicitly. It’s astonishing: Everyone tries to freeride on our main brand: ‘Posemuckel Stadtlexikon, the Wikipedia of our city Posemuckel’. Only we don’t.

  2. I usually explain this as Wikimedia being the “umbrella”, covering a number of projects, -pedia, -species and others. Excluding -leaks, of course.;) That most people have only heard of Wikipedia is unavoidable: that’s what happens when one of your “subsidiairies” is the biggest encyclopedia by far.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s