Wikipedia Ads on AdSense? “Not Ours,” they say.

Uber-blogger and Edelman PR honcho Steve Rubel spotted some peculiar ads when he did a search for “crowdsourcing” on Google. As he said earlier this week on his Micropersuasion blog, some paid search ads in the results pointed to Wikipedia, the “free and open” encyclopedia run by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.

So is Wikimedia taking people’s donations and running AdWords campaigns to drive traffic? Not according to several Wikimedia volunteers that replied to Rubel’s post and a spokesperson contacted by ClickZ.

“As far as I am aware, the Wikimedia Foundation is not purchasing Google ads, or any other advertisements for that matter,” Wayne Saewyc, a Wikimedia spokesperson, told ClickZ.

In the comments on Rubel’s post, David Gerard, a PR volunteer for Wikimedia, put it bluntly: “We’ve never needed or wanted to pay for advertising and don’t have money for anything other than servers and bandwidth anyway. We’re probably *too* popular and our servers are melting as it is!”

Alison Wheeler, CEO of Wikimedia UK, added: “Money we raise goes on hardware and direct operating costs, not on advertising (which, frankly, with our ratings would probably be superfluous),” she said. “We’ve found that a number of people have this incorrect idea that Wikipedia can drive traffic to their (commercial operation) Web site. It can’t, or rather it won’t as when we find such SEO / spam linkages we take action to remove them. Wikipedia is a free and open Encyclopedia, not a tool to support commerce.”

It’s being speculated that the ads were bought by someone who had links in the crowdsourcing entry, but since Gerard said he has removed all the links in that entry, it’s hard to imagine why the ads are still running, or who might be behind them. Is there a Wikipedia secret admirer out there with some spare ad budget?

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