​​Jimmy Wales in 2001, the year that his company started Wikipedia. CreditRobert Burroughs for The New York Times

​Jimmy Wales and Kate Garvey on their wedding day at Wesley’s Chapel in London last October.CreditPhotograph by Fiona Hanson

Jimmy Wales Is Not an Internet Billionaire

According to Wikipedia, the Tampa International Airport is a public airport six miles west of downtown Tampa, in Hillsborough County, Florida. It’s also where Jimmy Wales flies in and out of a couple times a month, in coach, to visit his 12-year-old daughter, Kira, who is named after the protagonist in Ayn Rand’s anti-communist novel, “We the Living.” Kira lives with Wales’s ex-wife in a ranch-style home not far from the offices where Wales, along with a handful of colleagues he generally no longer speaks to, ran Wikipedia a decade ago. The original Florida mailing address for one of the Internet’s most life-changing innovations is a UPS store with a faded red awning. Next door is a Kahwa Café.
That was Wales’s old life. In his new one, he lives in London with Kate Garvey, his third wife, whom he often describes as “the most connected woman in London.” Garvey doesn’t have a Wikipedia page, but if she did, it would probably note that she was Tony Blair’s diary secretary at 10 Downing Street and then a director at Freud Communications, the public relations firm run by Matthew Freud, a great-grandson of Sigmund Freud, who is also Rupert Murdoch’s son-in-law. And that Blair, in his 2010 memoir, wrote that Garvey ran his schedule “with a grip of iron and was quite prepared to squeeze the balls very hard indeed of anyone who interfered.”
Garvey and Wales were married last October before about 200 guests, including the Blairs, the political operative Alistair Campbell, David Cameron’s former aide Steve Hilton and Mick Hucknall, the lead singer of Simply Red. Garvey’s maid of honor gave a toast teasing her friend for marrying the one world-famous Internet entrepreneur who didn’t become a billionaire. But the wedding was still covered in The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times, much to Wales’s excitement. “Front page, above the fold,” he told me of the latter. Wales pulled up The Mail’s Web site on his MacBook to show me some photographs from the reception. “That was surreal,” he said.
Wales has a complicated time balancing his new life with his old one. That was evident one morning this winter as he bounded into the lobby of the West End building where he rented office space and hurriedly signed himself in at the front desk. Wales, his brown Tumi bag slung over his shoulder, was 45 minutes late, disheveled and a little frantic. He had left the keys to his and Garvey’s Marylebone apartment at his place outside Tampa; the nanny, here in London, was stranded with the couple’s 2-year-old daughter. “I forgot to drop off the key,” he said. Just when Wales thought he might have to run home, his assistant, who is based in Florida, texted that a building manager had let the nanny in. Global child-care crisis averted.
Wales wore a too-tight black turtleneck under a black overcoat with a well-shorn beard, a look that could either read Steve Jobs superhero or Tekserve flasher. Almost any time you see Wales, 46, he looks like a well-groomed version of a person who has been slumped over a computer drinking Yoo-hoo for hours. After he composed himself, he explained that his office was too embarrassingly unkempt for public consumption. (“It’s a room with a couch, it’s a huge mess.”) So he joined me on a cracked sofa in a common lounge area downstairs. With its ratty Oriental carpets and mismatched folding chairs, the space exuded a bohemian chic look that Wales, a savvy purveyor of his own image, seemed to delight in showing off. The building, a condemned former BBC space, had been slated for demolition. Wales would soon be moving. “I’m not the Google guys,” he said.

London is often described as Britain’s New York, L.A. and Washington all in one — the center for finance, entertainment and politics. But there are conspicuously few traces of Silicon Valley. Wales gladly fills the void. Before he showed me his wedding photos, he talked about his new friend, the British model Lily Cole, who rented office space across the hall. Then he took a call from the Boston Consulting Group, the business-advisory firm, to discuss a speech he would be giving at the World Economic Forum. Wales uses a cheap smartphone made by the Chinese company Huawei that a friend bought him for $85 in Nairobi. The phone, which he often shows to reporters, is the perfect prop to segue to his current obsession of expanding Wikipedia onto mobile devices in the developing world. It is not, however, the perfect phone for participating in an international conference call with the Boston Consulting Group. Several calls were dropped. Wales suggested conducting the meeting over instant messenger, an idea that was rejected.

Once the call finally got under way, though, Wales seemed distracted. On his MacBook, he was following his Wikipedia “talk” page, where the site’s volunteers log their discussions and disagreements over entries. The page had lit up with a raging debate about the banning of some editors on the Turkish version of Wikipedia. Wales watched as the online version of a cafeteria food fight ensued.

Wikipedia is built as a wiki — a Web site that allows users to collectively create, add and edit content — and more than a million people have edited at least one entry. But the veracity and updating of its more than 24 million encyclopedia entries relies largely on an army of more than 80,000 dedicated volunteers known as “the community.” This global collection of grass-roots volunteers makes for a collectively brilliant creation, but it can also lead to online hysteria and “edit wars” over minutia like how to categorize hummus. “They love it in Israel, so shouldn’t it be in Category: Israeli cuisine? ” one editor wrote on a Wikipedia page called “Lamest Edit Wars.” “Or is it a purely Arab food that Zionists have illegally occupied?”

Though Wales no longer runs the day-to-day operations of Wikipedia — traveling the world giving talks on free speech and Internet freedom — he still spends an inordinate amount of time interacting with, and thinking about, the community. Wales, or “Jimbo” as he is called, is the person the community turns to when disputes are not settled in their online arbitration committees. Wales may not speak Turkish or know much about Turkey, but he is the B.D.F.L., or the Benevolent Dictator for Life.

As B.D.F.L., Wales’s responsibilities are seemingly limitless. Before the Turkish debate, Wales had weighed in on arguments over whether the Wikipedia entry for the military historian Lynette Nusbacher should mention her gender change (he said it should, but the entry was later removed) and whether the entry on homeopathy should describe the practice as “quackery” (Wales agreed that it could, as long as the word “quackery” was attributed to the American Medical Association). “Argumentum ad Jimbonem” means dutifully following what Wales says, but there are even arguments about that. One Wikipedia editor said, for instance, that Wales was no longer comfortable with the B.D.F.L. description. (There is, among some, a debate over what to call him.) Some users have also disputed the Latinized version of “Jimbo.” (Should it be “Jimboni” or “Jimbini”?) Either way, the Google guys probably wouldn’t put up with this.
As B.D.F.L., Wales’s responsibilities are seemingly limitless. Before the Turkish debate, Wales had weighed in on arguments over whether the Wikipedia entry for the military historian Lynette Nusbacher should mention her gender change (he said it should, but the entry was later removed) and whether the entry on homeopathy should describe the practice as “quackery” (Wales agreed that it could, as long as the word “quackery” was attributed to the American Medical Association). “Argumentum ad Jimbonem” means dutifully following what Wales says, but there are even arguments about that. One Wikipedia editor said, for instance, that Wales was no longer comfortable with the B.D.F.L. description. (There is, among some, a debate over what to call him.) Some users have also disputed the Latinized version of “Jimbo.” (Should it be “Jimboni” or “Jimbini”?) Either way, the Google guys probably wouldn’t put up with this.  
Wales doesn’t have much choice. He realized early on that the community would revolt if he were to monetize Wikipedia by selling ads. He may now travel the world giving speeches and even include Bono as a friend, but Wales’s celebrity relies largely on being the guy who made the sum of the world’s information free without making a penny himself. As such, his reputation remains inextricably linked to the noisy, online volunteers who got him there. It’s a tricky balancing act, and it all seemed to work fine until Wales moved to London and began to, or at least tried to, enjoy some of the trappings of his success.

Wikipedia, which is now available in 285 languages, gets more than 20 billion page views and roughly 516 million unique visitors a month. It is the fifth-most-visited Web site in the world behind Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and Facebook; and ahead of Amazon, Apple and eBay. Were Wikipedia to accept banner and video ads, it could, by most estimates, be worth as much as $5 billion. But that kind of commercial sellout would probably cause the members of the community, who are not paid for their contributions, to revolt. “The paradox,” says Michael J. Wolf, managing director at Activate, a technology-consulting firm in New York and a member of the Yahoo! board, “is that what makes Wikipedia so valuable for users is what gets in its way of becoming a valuable, for-profit enterprise.”
Wales suffers from the same paradox. Being the most famous traveling spokesman for Internet freedom brings in a decent living, but it’s not Silicon Valley money. It’s barely London money. Wales’s total net worth, by most estimates, is just above $1 million, including stock from his for-profit company Wikia, a wiki-hosting service. His income is a topic of constant fascination. Type “Jimmy Wales” into Google and “net worth” is the first pre-emptive search to pop up. “Everyone makes fun of Jimmy for leaving the money on the table,” says Sue Gardner, the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia.
Wales is well rehearsed in brushing off questions about his income. In 2005, Florida Trend magazine reported that he made enough money in his brief stint as an options-and-futures trader in Chicago, before starting Wikipedia, that he would never have to work again. But that was before he had to pay child support and rent for homes in Florida and London. When I brought up the topic recently, Wales seemed irritated. “It rarely crosses my mind,” he said. “Reporters ask me all the time and expect me to say: ‘I’m heartbroken. Where’s my billion dollars?’ ” On two occasions, he compared himself to an Ohio car salesman. “There are car dealers in Ohio who have far more money than I’ll ever have, and their jobs are much, much less interesting than mine,” he said during one conversation. When his net worth came up again, he brought up Ayn Rand. “Can you imagine Howard Roark saying, ‘I just want to make as much money as possible?’ ” Wales asked rhetorically.
Wales likes to invoke the higher purpose of Wikipedia. He applies his libertarian worldview to the Internet and has taken on institutions like the United States government and Apple for threatening to curb the free exchange of information on the Web. He also packs his schedule with sponsored events that have supported his new life. These days, corporations, universities and foundations typically pay Wales more than $70,000 to deliver a standard but eloquent speech about Internet rights. Last fall, I watched Wales speak on a panel titled “Champions of Action” at the Clinton Global Initiative, the annual gathering that matches wealthy donors with worthy causes, run by the former president. Onstage in a darkened ballroom of a Sheraton Hotel in New York, he sat alongside Madeleine K. Albright, the former secretary of state; Paul Farmer, the Harvard professor and co-founder of Partners in Health; and Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni human rights activist and a 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient. Wales was there, in part, to promote the site. (Wikipedia uses its donations to keep its servers running and for about 160 paid employees.) But in between discussing health access in Haiti and the uprisings in the Middle East, the misspelling of Karman’s first name on Wikipedia came up. “They write it, all the world, in the wrong way,” she told the crowd. “Maybe I have to show a passport or something.” Wales assured her that he had fixed the entry.

Powerful people like to be around Wales. A common criticism is that Wales likes to be around them, too — and perhaps a little too much. During a visit to Los Angeles in February, Wales tweeted: “Lunch with Felicia. Dinner with Charlize. L.A. is . . . wow,” referring to the actresses Felicia Day and Charlize Theron. He also recently tweeted: “Just got measured for my clothes for Sean Parker’s wedding. This oughta be innerstin’. :-)” But, as I learned at the Clinton Global Initiative, some famous people treat Wales a little bit like their own personal editor. After the Karman incident, the hip-hop stopped Wales to complain about an error on his Wikipedia page. “Everyone thinks he’s William James Adams Jr., but it’s not James and it’s not junior,” Wales told me as he opened his MacBook and corrected the entry.

That kind of proximity to famous people doesn’t sit well with some members of the Wikipedia community who assert that Wales’s new life is, in some ways, contradictory to the egalitarian online world he created. Several contributors protested that Wales had used a firsthand, unsourced experience to change’s entry. A user called Fram said Wales had violated Wikipedia protocol, which requires factual information be attributed to published materials. “People are not necessarily trustworthy when it comes to personal information,” Fram wrote after changing’s full name back, referencing two published sources. The same rule applied when Wales tried to get his own birthday changed, from Aug. 8, 1966 (as his passport and driver’s license used to read) to his actual birthday, Aug. 7. “This is unverifiable information, I’m sorry to say,” he wrote on his entry’s talk page. “Maybe I’ll have to upload a signed note from my mom as documentary evidence.”

One of the amazing things about Wikipedia is how it has emboldened anonymous volunteers with the same power as established experts. In many ways, Wales has been similarly emboldened. He grew up in Huntsville, Ala., the son of a teacher and a retail manager, before he left to study finance at Auburn University. (“It’s pretty weird,” Wales said in 2005. “I used to be just a guy. Now I’m Jimmy Wales.”) At 20, he married Pamela Green, whom he met when he worked at an Alabama grocery store. Later, he worked briefly as a trader in Chicago where he met his second wife, Christine Rohan, a steel trader.

In 1996, when Wales still wore a shaggy beard, listened to Insane Clown Posse and quoted “This is Spinal Tap” in meetings, he co-founded Bomis, a search engine that came with a “Bomis Babe Report,” a blog with photos of scantily clad celebrities and porn stars. He and Rohan moved to San Diego to get in on the Internet boom. (In 2005, Wales objected on his Wikipedia page to an entry that said Bomis peddled porn. “The mature audience [NOT pornography] portion of the business is significantly less than 10 percent of total revenues,” he told the community.) Porn or not, Bomis’s profits financed Wales’s side project, Nupedia, an online encyclopedia with peer-reviewed entries written by experts and academics that served as the predecessor to Wikipedia.

Wales was obsessed with the idea of an online encyclopedia that anyone could edit. He had grown up reading his parents’ collection of World Book encyclopedias with stickers that marked updated entries, and in graduate school he developed an interest in the burgeoning open-source software movement that allowed programmers to collaborate. As Nupedia floundered and his business partners tried to expand Bomis, Wales saw a potentially larger cultural experiment in a free open-sourced encyclopedia and devoted almost all of his attention to it. In January 2001, he registered the domain names and The project went live on Jan. 15, 2001, henceforth known as Wikipedia Day.

Like many Internet entrepreneurs of the early aughts, Wales aimed to create something cool first and worry about a business model later. And at first, Wikipedia was a hand-to-mouth operation. Wales, who relocated with Rohan to St. Petersburg, Fla., for cheap real estate, would hand deliver a check from Bomis to keep Wikipedia’s Tampa servers running. In those early days, Wales still thought he could turn his free encyclopedia into a billion-dollar idea. “I think Jimmy thought he could get very rich off this,” his friend and partner at Bomis, Terry Foote, told me. Foote, who went to high school with Wales, was the best man in his second wedding. He didn’t attend the third. “Fame tends to change people,” Foote said of their falling out. Wales mostly declined to discuss the status of his friendships from Wikipedia’s early days. “Moving to London has had a big impact on my social circle,” he said. “My wife, you know, knows everyone.”

The Internet bubble had burst before Wales could implement a revenue-generating business model for Wikipedia. After the crash, he was stuck with an oddity — a popular but penniless online encyclopedia run by strong-willed volunteers likely to reject the idea of advertising. But as Wikipedia grew, Wales undertook a shrewd branding transformation. In June 2003, he set up a nonprofit foundation to run the operation. In a 2004 interview with the Web site Slashdot, he publicized the mission statement that would definitively distance his Wikipedia future from his seedier Bomis Babe Report roots. “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing,” he said. Andrew Keen, a technology writer who has clashed with Wales, told me that Wales “was a soft-porn guy who stumbled on to this thing.” But Wales’s lofty goal got him a TED Talk in 2005. Then Bono personally invited him to the World Economic Forum in Davos.  

During that trip, people who were close to Wales say he morphed from a schlubby computer guy to an activist with dramatically improved access to information and power. His mantra of an Internet unconstrained by corporate or government interests resonated; Time magazine named him one of its 100 Most Influential People of 2006. The following year at Davos, Wales and Garvey were both named “Young Global Leaders.” (Wales, who separated from Rohan in 2008, says he first recalls meeting Garvey in Monaco in 2009. Their romantic relationship began in 2010.) “Jimmy has had an ongoing valedictory lap for having catalyzed one of the greatest creations in the history of human knowledge,” Jonathan L. Zittrain, a Harvard law professor and co-founder of the school’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, said. “It’s hard to begrudge him for that. I think he’s been feeling his way around. It’s not like there’s a lot of precedent for this.”

But some have wondered if Wales, who couldn’t figure out a way to become rich off his innovation, was cynically making a play to cash in on being a great humanitarian. “Did Jimmy have the vision or did he settle into his spontaneous role?” asked Scott Glosserman, a filmmaker who helped make “Truth in Numbers?” a 2010 documentary about Wikipedia. Wales had granted Glosserman and the other filmmakers unfettered access for the documentary, which turned out to be critical of Wikipedia, pointing out inaccuracies inherent in trusting a teenager as much as a tenured professor. Wales disliked the film and refused to help promote it. “It was like throwing the magic beans away and the next day seeing a beanstalk,” Glosserman said of Wikipedia’s evolution.

High-minded or not, empowering the masses has made Wales beholden to them. That was an easy enough dynamic when he lived in St. Petersburg, Fla., and drove a 4-year-old dented Hyundai, but being benevolent dictator becomes a bit more complicated when you’re going to parties with the Blairs. Despite the community’s occasional discomfort with his friends in high places, it’s clear that Wales has tried to use those connections to promote issues the community tends to care most about. Last January, the volunteers voted to make Wikipedia go dark to protest two pieces of antipiracy legislation in Washington, a move that contributed to the bills being blocked. Not long after the Stop Online Piracy Act (S.O.P.A.) blackout, Wales worked with The Guardian newspaper to prevent the extradition to the United States of Richard O’Dwyer, the 25-year-old whose search engine,, was suspected of promoting piracy. He also opposed the British government’s proposed Communications Data Bill (also known as the “snoopers’ charter”). Wales called the legislation that would have required the tracking of British citizens’ Internet, text and e-mails “technologically incompetent” and threatened to encrypt Wikipedia pages so they could not easily be monitored. Lawmakers have since shelved the bill.

Wales, however, ensures he is not taken for a radical. He treads carefully when weighing in on more extreme members of the free-culture movement, like Julian Assange — who he has criticized for using the “wiki” name — and online hacking collectives like Anonymous. Wales and I met for lunch the day after the 26-year-old computer programmer and Internet activist Aaron Swartz killed himself. The community had erupted with calls for Wales to weigh in, but he was hesitant. “People have been pushing me to comment, but I didn’t know him,” Wales told me. He has also stayed mostly mum on Edward Snowden, the contractor for the National Security Agency who leaked confidential information about widespread snooping by the United States government.

“Wikipedia expresses the very essence of the Internet,” Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist, told me. “Used to be the victors wrote history. Now everyone gets a chance.” Not even Wales is spared. After the site caught on, Wales tried to edit his own entry to call himself the sole founder. The trouble was that in 2000 he hired Larry Sanger, an academic and proselyte of an open-source Internet, to help him start his online encyclopedia. The idea of letting anyone (and not just experts) oversee the encyclopedia entries was Wales’s idea, but Sanger has said he talked a skeptical Wales into using wiki technology and came up with the name Wikipedia. Wales’s attempt to change his entry was a violation of Wikipedia protocol that sent the community into a tizzy. His page currently calls him the co-founder. An entire “controversy” section explains the Sanger dispute and references a 2001 New York Times article and a 2002 Wikipedia news release that both name Wales and Sanger as co-founders. “That’s funny, isn’t it?” Wales says in a way that makes clear he doesn’t find it funny at all. “It’s the dumbest controversy in the history of the world.” Sanger declined to comment for this article, but on the talk page of Wales’s entry, he wrote that “it was only when Wikipedia emerged into the broader public eye and Jimmy started jetting around the world” that he tried to rewrite history.

After separating from Christine, Wales briefly lived in New York and would travel to London frequently to visit Garvey at her Covent Garden apartment. In 2011, Wales, who didn’t travel outside the United States until he was 37, moved to London, and he and Garvey, who declined to comment for this article, found a rental in Marylebone. Wales seems to have adapted to this new life with ease. He uses Britishisms that make him sound a little like the famous faux-Brits Gwyneth Paltrow or Madonna. He told me he had “a good ol’ time” at the Olympics, where he attended beach volleyball and an equestrian event as Boris Johnson’s guest. Living in Marylebone is nice, he says, because “we have loads of friends and people pop by.” Unlike in the United States, where politicians are remote Wikipedia subjects, in Britain he “literally” (pronounced LIT-ruh-lee) knows them. “My wife,” he said again, “is the most connected woman in London.”

The community, however, would not be left behind. Since expanding his circle in London, Wales has recused himself from weighing in on certain Wikipedia entries, including Tony Blair’s page and several members of the House of Lords whom he now knows personally. Even so, the community questioned whether Wales had any part in an allegedly whitewashed entry on the Kazakh government, which Blair has advised. (Wales called the accusation “totally stupid.”) Even before he married Garvey, some members argued that he had grown increasingly out of touch. “Jimbo does not own Wikipedia,” wrote one volunteer. “He may have co-founded it, but so what? It has always belonged to the community.” Wales concedes that this is more or less true. “In theory, I have the authority to do anything and to make policy by fiat,” he said. “In practice, if I tried to do that, people would go crazy and revolt.”

That collective ownership model won’t make anyone rich, but Wales argues that in the long run it makes Wikipedia far more enduring and valuable to society than Facebook or Twitter. It openly bothers Wales that Wikipedia doesn’t get more credit for events like the uprisings that led to the Arab Spring. “People like to talk about the Facebook and Twitter revolutions, but I think that’s the most superficial endpoint of the whole process,” he told me. “It’s incredibly important that people are able to self-organize and go demonstrate, but what led them to believe that was even possible?” He pointed to activists reading about the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, revolts in Europe and the early days of democracy in the United States. “It’s one thing to go out on the street and demand change,” he said. “It’s another to say, ‘O.K., we won, the bad guy’s gone, now what?’ ”

Wikipedia, he says, can inform those decisions. And that’s why Wales’s current project is to expand Wikipedia to the developing world. Last year, as part of a “Wikipedia Zero” campaign, the foundation established partnerships with telecommunications companies to provide mobile phones preloaded with Wikipedia in developing countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Serbia and, potentially, South Africa. In speeches, Wales largely focuses on this mission to spread the online encyclopedia to every person in the developing world at no data charge.

One night in New York, Wales took a break from his evangelism to have dinner with friends. He had just finished taping an appearance on “The Colbert Report” and wore a white dress shirt with an asymmetrical collar and purple trim piping by the British designer Ozwald Boateng. Six years ago, a less media-savvy Wales felt like he struggled on “Colbert.” This time he shut himself in the greenroom with a publicist. “Since you were last on, Wikipedia has been ubiquitous,” Colbert said. “You must be rolling in the cash, right?” Wales laughed it off, and reminded the audience that Wikipedia still needed their donations. At dinner afterward, he seemed adrenaline-fueled, coyly soaking up compliments on his successful performance. The next day he would be off to London, then Florida, then Germany, then California to deliver a keynote speech at a cybersecurity firm. The community, of course, would be with him all the way.

A few months later, as I was reading something he had written on the question-and-answer Web site Quora, I thought about Wales sipping wine out of milk glasses and eating oysters after “Colbert.” In response to a question about how to get his help with a start-up idea, Wales advised against using the type of buzzwords that impressed Bono before that first trip to Davos. “‘A world-changing next-generation platform for Gen Z blah blah blah’ — yuck,” he wrote. He advised aspiring Internet entrepreneurs to “treat me like a business person,” including, he noted, offering compensation with stock options — “yay.” Internet ubiquity is great and all, but it would be nice to get paid for it, too.
Correction: July 21, 2013
An article on June 30 about Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia referred imprecisely to the original location of Wikipedia in St. Petersburg, Fla. Although the original mailing address was a location in a strip mall, the organization’s offices were in a nearby office building. The article also referred incorrectly to the time a filmmaker, Scott Glosserman, spent with Mr. Wales for a documentary about Wikipedia called “Truth in Numbers?” While over all Mr. Glosserman spent more than a year working on the documentary, he did not personally spend a year with Mr. Wales for the film.
Correction: July 7, 2013
An article last Sunday about Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, misstated the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Matthew Freud, who runs a public relations firm that has employed Kate Garvey, Wales’s wife. Matthew is Sigmund’s great-grandson, not his grandson.

Amy Chozick is a staff reporter at The Times. This is her first article for the magazine.

Editor: Jon Kelly

Jimmy Wales (wikipedia founder) married Kate Garvey (Tony Blair's former diary secretary) in 2012 

Exposed – Maltese Abuse on Wikipedia : Exposed – Maltese abuse on Wikipedia Malta Independent Sunday, 
9 September 2007 

 Unknown users on the government network were caught red-handed changing Wikipedia entries, ridiculing everyone from Fabrizio Faniello to party leaders Lawrence Gonzi and Alfred Sant, reported last night.

Wikipedia is an on-line encyclopaedia that allows users to add and edit information on the entry’s page. Anyone can change the entry on anything in the encyclopaedia and, thanks to a software programme called WikiScanner, the IP address of the user who changed the entry is revealed.

WikiScanner revealed that the government’s network, MITTS Network, is among the most networks used in Malta to change the entries on Wikipedia and alter abusively the pages of a number of personalities.

While part of these changes were irrelevant and actually made Wikipedia a more accurate encyclopaedia, other users of the government network used it to poke fun and ridicule local personalities using abusive language.

The following are number of entries edited by the government network MITTS:

Agatha Barbara
Before: Agatha Barbara was the first female President...
After: Agatha Barbara was the most masculine President...
Claudette Pace
Before: … after winning the Malta Song for Europe, with the song Desire
After: ... after winning the Malta Song for Europe, with the song Desire ghaz-z***...

Additional input in entry: She appeared naked on a Maltese magazine.

Dom Mintoff

Additional input in entry: In 2005 he was voted Malta’s daintiest and most delicate person ever.

Fabrizio Faniello

Additional input in entry: Mr Faniello is also busy making porno video’s etc. had to refrain from copying all the edits on Fabrizio Faniello’s Wikipedia entry due to the very abusive language used.

Michael Mifsud

Additional input in entry: Michael Mifsud’s hobbies consist of smoking carob leaves at half time as well as drinking truckloads of absinthe before and after games.

The above-mentioned edits are just a small part of a long list of people whose pages were edited by users. Politicians such as Lawrence Gonzi, Alfred Sant, Maltese MEPs and former politicians had their pages changed numerous times by abusive users.

Maltese IPs were also used to change other topics, from insulting popular cartoon brand Bratz to obscene bullying of teachers on the San Andrea School and St Aloysius College page.

Exposed – Maltese Abuse on Wikipedia : Exposed – Maltese abuse on Wikipedia

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. 

Truth In Numbers - The Wikipedia Movie | trailer US (2010) 

Published on Oct 28, 2010

following " The Social Network - The Facebook movie ", here is the Wikipedia movie !!! in selected screenings now as well as on DVD Trailer Genre: documentary Regie / directed by: Scott Glosserman & Nic Hill Darsteller / cast: Jimmy Wales , Noam Chomsky , Richard Branson , Lawrence Lessig , Howard Zinn , Bob Schieffer , Jaron Lanier , Stephen Colbert Synopsis: After viewing this film, you will never look at Wikipedia the same way. The filmmakers engagingly explore the history and cultural implications of one of the most referenced sites on the Web. A whole range of opinion is expressed about the impact of Wikipedia on the archiving of learning, from interviews with founder Jimmy Wales to commentators suspicious of the site's supposed neutrality. Evenhandedly weaving multiple perspectives about the impact of Wikipedia, the film provokes a deeper conversation on how knowledge is formed and what future generations will learn about history and the world. Kinostart Deutschland: 2011 Kinostart USA: 2010 offizielle Filmsite: used with authorization

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales explains its mission to be mainstream 
Wikipedians plan more outreach for teachers,

better tools for developers and simpler editing tools to increase their audience


Jimbo Wales Co Founder of Wikipedia

Wikipedia is expanding its major new 'open data' initiative, expanding tools that allow developers to use its content on other websites and simplifying its editing tools to appeal to more mainstream web users.

The 12-year-old website is also planning more outreach work to educate teachers and students, as well as those in museums and libraries, how to use the site.
Speaking in London on Monday, co-founder Jimmy Wales said Wikipedia was part "of the edutech gold rush" and that students would learn not by reading but by editing the site. New editing tools being introduced later this year will make editing simpler, he said, and encourage more people to get involved in editing articles.
Wales, who has been advising the UK government on open access, said there had been huge progress in the understanding of sourcing material online. "This is a community that will digest and then repurpose information to people in interesting ways – we have a lot to teach on that front … Communities are working to encode more of this information in machine readable ways."

Most public institutions now interact positively with the site, he claimed. "Eight years ago I got a nasty letter from a British museum over an image in an Wikipedia article … the new way to react, as a public institution devoted to sharing knowledge, is that you need to engage. Wikipedia is the information platform of choice for the entire world – from a business perspective they are much better off making sure they have well written information on Wikipedia."

Wales said he wanted developers to have a better understanding of the site's tools, including an extensive API (the system through which external developers can use the site's content) and through community of approved bots, which perform automated tasks including signing an editor's name at the end of a post and correcting common errors made by autocorrect.

 Wikipedia's editing tools will be simplified to attract a broader, less techie audience. Photograph: Boris Roessler/EPA

Other projects underway include improved editing in the mobile version of the site, which is being worked on by a team in San Francisco, and a notifications system called "Flow" for editors. Wales said the new user interface for editing tools would encourage more diverse editors, broadening its community beyond the largely young, computer-centric and 80% to 90% male editors that dominate its volunteer base.

Wikipedia was the eight most visited website in the US in July, according to web measurement firm comScore. Wikipedia's own data shows the site records 21.3bn monthly page views globally, has 30.7m pages in English and publishes in 286 languages.
Wales described Wikipedia's mission to be "the sum of all human knowledge available to all in their own language" and said it had worked with regional partners in the developing world to provide Wikipedia Zero, a low-bandwidth mobile version of the site that would be free to users.

About 410 million people now have access to Wikipedia Zero, he claimed. "It is our mission to provide free access to everyone in the world. This is one of the most exciting things we are doing and we're only just getting started."
Wikipedia is run almost entirely by volunteers along with other free-to-access websites including Wikimedia and Wikidata. The small, not-for-profit Wikimedia Foundation employs 150 staff to manage the site's servers, administration and legal issues.

Wikipedia's annual conference Wikimania will be held in London for the first time next year, where about 10,000 fans, editors and volunteers are expected to attend the free event at the Barbican in August 2014.

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Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales: 'It's true, I'm not a billionaire. So?' – interview
 The Observer Jimmy Wales by Carole Cadwalladr
The co-founder of Wikipedia on why he believes enriching the mind is more important than profits
[Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales


Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales. 
On Wikipedia, you're "Jimbo", are you called that in the real world too?
No. Just Jimmy in the real world.

Many many years ago, when I first got on the internet,

I was on this mailing list where there was already a James, a Jim, a Jimmy, so I said: "I'll be Jimbo."
And are you still the self-styled benevolent dictator of Wikipedia?
No, I've always rejected that term. The community has always rejected the term. But I do say that I'm the constitutional monarch.

Like the Queen. It doesn't mean I have any actual power. I do a lot of waving.
Do you feel like you're an adopted Brit these days?
I've been here for quite a while, and my wife is English. We live in central London and I'm quite stuck in here.
We are meeting near "Silicon roundabout". Have you had much involvement with the UK tech start-up scene?
I've been here for a while, and I know loads of people who've done different startups. I love those guys and what they're doing.

I think London is such a great place. In the US, Washington is politics, LA is Hollywood, San Francisco is tech,

New York is advertising and finance, but London is all of those things. So, you get a real mix of people and you don't get that in the US.
You must get pitched by an awful lot of companies, but you've just announced you're joining a virtual mobile phone network,

the People's Operator as its co-chair. What was the draw?
Usually I get pitched things that have some great noble purpose and a great vision, but no practical plan.

Or I see quite perfectly nice business ideas and I've been on the board of some startups and I do enjoy that.

But, this was both – the idea that we could raise a huge amount of money for good causes,

while at the same time having a business model that worked. I thought that was actually an interesting combination.
So 10% of a customer's bill will go to the cause of their choice, and 25% of profits to a foundation.

And the plan is to raise a billion dollars for good causes?
Yeah that would be amazing. It may take a while.
In a New York Times profile of you last year, there was a suggestion that it might be nice for you

to do something that you actually get paid for.
Well, that was the weirdest piece I've ever read. It was false on multiple points.
They made quite a big deal about the fact that you were the only world famous internet entrepreneur who didn't actually have all that much money.
That fact is true, I'm not a billionaire. So? You aren't either, so are not most people. It's kind of a stupid thing to bang on about.
But most of us haven't set up this phenomenal thing, the fifth most popular website in the world.
Yeah, but I love it. It's so fun.
Do you get fed up with that question? Do you ever regret donating Wikipedia to the Wikipedia Foundation

and not turning it into a commercial enterprise?
No. I mean, I get asked it less now than I used to. But it's one of the least interesting questions I think there is, so ...
The New York Times claimed that your net worth is $1m, which it said "isn't Silicon Valley money.

It's not even London money." There is a point to that, because actually a million dollars wouldn't buy you much more

than a small terraced house in inner London these days.
But then every conversation in London very quickly converges on property prices. People in London are obsessed with property prices. That and schools.
You've spoken out publicly about the NSA revelations, but how surprised were you when that first headline hit?

Or did you suspect something like that was going on?
I was surprised by the scale, by some of the revelations. I was surprised - as Google was -that they were tapping into lines inside,

between the data centres of Google. That's pretty amazing. And hacking Angela Merkel's phone – that was a surprise.

But I think we haven't yet had the revelation that will really set people off.
You've said that you're going to start encrypting communications on Wikipedia as a result…
We have done. It's not completely finished yet but the only thing that GCHQ, hopefully, can see is that you're looking at Wikipedia.

They can't see which article you're reading. It's not the government's business to know what everybody is reading.
You raise money for Wikipedia by campaigning and asking the public for money. Are there things you'd like to do that you can't because of lack of funds?
We have certain goals which we want to achieve. Growing Wikipedia in the languages of the developing world is really important.
If Wikipedia were capitalised in the same way as these Silicon Valley companies, wouldn't you have more money to do more things?
No, no, because if we were in that situation, we wouldn't care about the languages, for example.

If we were supported by advertising, we would care about entries that get another million users in the US but

not what might be of interest to another million readers in India.

A big part of my aesthetic vision for Wikipedia is that it is like a temple for the mind. I'm not anti-commerce,

but I don't think it belongs in every aspect of life.
But there are problems, aren't there, with commerce entering Wikipedia? One example of this was mentioned in

the comments beneath an article about the People's Operator which claimed the Wikipedia entry for the People's Operator

was written by its marketing consultant.
No, it wasn't. I'd rather not talk about him.
But, when I looked at the Wikipedia entry for the People's Operator and looked at the history of the article,

and then Googled the name of the person who had written the initial entry and looked him up on LinkedIn,

it stated he was a marketing consultant for the People's Operator.
I'll have to look that up. That's very interesting. A lot of companies struggle with what they're supposed to do.

This was long before they got me in because we're very strict about this sort of thing.

To me, it's quite important that companies understand the right way to deal and interact with Wikipedia.

It's quite common, not only for companies, but for individuals to say: "Oh, there is an error about me. I think I'll fix it."

We advise against it. It's just not the wisest thing to do.
There was a funny story about you not being able to correct your own birth date on Wikipedia.
Yeah, it's more complicated than that because all my legal documents say one thing, and my mum says another.
And you couldn't verify it?
With what? A note from my mum? The last I looked the discussions died down. I think it's right now.
How much do you get involved in the day-to-day ongoing spats on Wikipedia?
I edit Wikipedia almost everyday.
Do you have pet entries that you like to look at?
I used to edit a lot about the House of Lords. It was kind of a hobby. I don't any more because I know too many of them.
I've read that of the people who write Wikipedia and edit it, something like 85% are male.

And this is supposed to be the sum of all human knowledge.

But it's the sum of all human knowledge as written by men about subjects that interest men from a male point of view.
It's a huge problem. It's something that we're really keen to resolve. It's technically quite geeky which excludes a lot of people.

Computer geeks are overwhelmingly male. That is a part of the gender imbalance.

Another is that Wikipedia is written in this very authoritative style and, as you know, men have no problem speaking

in an authoritative manner about something they know nothing about. And woman are much more sensible.

And the third problem is: are we a welcoming environment for a variety of people?

There's a lot of internal research going on about that sort of thing.[Wiki Wedding]

Tony Blair was at your wedding. Did you see him doing dad dancing?

I have seen Tony Blair dance. That's all I'm allowed to say. My wife worked for him for 10 years so they are very good friends.

The description he gave of her in his memoirs sounded a bit scary.

"She ruled my diary with a rod of iron and if anyone interfered, she'd squeeze their balls so hard …" Or something.

But always with a winning smile.

Common Knowledge?: An Ethnography of Wikipedia 
By Dariusz Jemielniak

 The contrasting philosophies ( libertarian vs. the new left; increasing human freedoms vs. the system of new oppressions; peer production as altruistic collective endeavour vs. being brainwashed into free labour) do not have to be mutually exclusive. Wikipedia may partly rely on normative and ideological control, yet the dark side of that control, observable in commercial in commercial organisations ( Barley & Kunda, 2004; Fleming & Spicer, 2004), does not occur in Wikipedia because of the entirely voluntary character  of its organisation. Wikipedia may also be an example of "peer progressivism" (S. Johnson, 2012, P.45), characteristic of the digital natives, and combine the concepts traditionally associated 
In the previous chapters, I describe the advancing bureaucratization of Wikipedia, increased formalities, and further departure from the original principles ( such as "ignore all rules"). All these phenomena are exacerbated by the transformation in personal leadership. The initial Wikipedia culture was typical for a start-up: entrepreneurial and oriented toward innovation (Bernard, 2009). These traits are not natural in the long run and require additional fostering, and bureaucracy is known to smother them (Sorenson, 2007; Girard, 2009). Transitions in leadership are particularly dangerous to these traits ( Foley, 2008), The problem with the benevolent dictatorship model is that it does not allow for a such a transition; one cannot be elected dictator.  The only possible change is that Wikipedia experienced, to the democratic system, with no way back.
However, one unfortunate side effect of the anti-leadership rhetoric in Wikipedia culture i snot that it may eliminate leaders ( who emerge in all communities) but that it results in the community denying to have them and consequently prohibiting recruitment and solid legitimization of new leaders (Epstein, 2001; O'Neil, 2009). Jimmy Wales's leadership however, has not decline, but evolved. As already noted, the decision to stop managing enabled Jimmy wales to start leading. The events described in this chapter and Jimmy Wales's seemingly liberate strategy of withdrawing from active involvement worked synergistically to limit his micromanagement, which was becoming incongruous with the democratic goverance model, and allow Jimmy Wales to exercise leadership on a larger scale and on a higher level.
The postindustrial revolution is organisation designs has led ti flatter structures, less hierarchy, and more organizing (Bauman, 1998). The Emerging postmodern culture of authority relies on shorter power distance and open expression of feelings (Hirschborn, 1998). Both the incidents I describe indicate that Jimmy Wales's actions were rejected only when he was perceived as  exerting traditional authoritarian leadership. The rejection, executed openly and without pardon, signified that the community adopted the new model. it did not signify the rejection of Wales in his leadership role.
Paradoxically, only less involvement in direct management help Jimmy Wales reach his higher leadership potential in the Wikipedia organisation. This is because open-collaboration communities are particularly sensitive to the congruence of a leadership model (benevolent dictatorship involves close participation in the community, the democratic approach requires passing the micromanagement and smaller-scale actions to the community in full, which encourages higher-level engagement. Thus, it is the community of the accepted leadership model with the leadership practices that seems to determine the model's effectiveness.
Wikipedia has evolved its egalitarian organizational design and was able to sustain it under the unique leadership of its creators, Jimmy Wales. As leadership began to change, the design became unstable and sought a new equilibrium.
The Knowledge Revolution at the Gates
Page 182- 183
In this books, I describe the results of a six-year ethographic, participative research project on Wikipedia. I introduce the principles by which this community lives and show that the discourse of equality on Wikipedia also perpetuated the fears of authority. I explain how the theoretically ahierarchical system may increase the perception of inequality in practice and how the hierarchy is enacted through community elections ( the only frequent occasion for the community at large to exercise its power ). I show that although Wikipedia is often portrayed as collaborative and peaceful, it relies just as much on conflicts and disputed. I describe how the gradual and incremental increase in participation in editing determines both the attractiveness of this endeavor and its addictiveness and, consequently, displays of irascibility. I explain  how the seemingly chaotic, anarchistic, and laissez-faire organization of cooperation on Wikipedia is, in fact, susceptable to extremely tight control through observation and registration of all behaviour, which structures the discourse of participants, and through procedures. I analyse the accumulation of bureaucracy in terms of the iron law of oligarchy, the need to establish and reinstate hierarchies, and the support of disproportionate technological power between veterans and newcomers. I also show how organisational control, so strict in other aspects, is more lenient in terms of credential checks as a result of a transformation of interpersonal trust and of trust in procedures. I describe how disregard for real-world credentials and formal authority helps sustain the Wikipedia community, both by allowing an alternative authority- building pattern and by negating the ossified .....
Page 183
One attribute of the postindustrial meritocracy is exactly such weighting of knowledge against titles. Wikipedia makes it possible to spread the weight of contributions until they are small enough that people are willing to offer what they do for free, without significant effort and with a major benefit for the whole community. Keen's contempt for this model indicated that he wants to believe the typically neoliberal economic paradigm that people are ruled mainly by self-interest, which excludes rational contributions to production of public good, even though open-collaboration communities are showing the opposite (Ostrom, 2000; Benkler, 2011). he also doe snot see the liberation in the new modes of knowledge production and the demise of the traditional ones (Scott et al., 1994). Wikipedia encompasses the capitalist mode of productions and is the avant-guard of the emerging informational-communal approach (Barbrook, 2000; Hardt & Negri, 2001, O'Neil, 2011a; Firer-Blaess & Fuchs, 2013). Also, keen apparently ignores the contexts in which "the wisdom of crowds" is particularly effective (Surowiecki, 2004) and seems to believe the the Taylorist divide - some think and give orders, and others physically work and are passive recipients of morsels of knowledge graciously given by the order givers- is still effective ( Blacker, 1995).
Moreover, J. Lanier's and Keen's critique of Wikipedia assumes that the multiple authorship of Wikipedia articles dilutes authors' intellect and individuality and reduces them to a sort of  a smart mob, composed of anonymous, chaotic, and contingent passerby, heavily relying on free-riding (R. Levine, 2001). While this argument sounds reasonable, it does not hold water in practice (Tumlin, Harris, Buchanan, Schmidt, & Johnson, 2007). It is obviously not true of Wikipedia, which relies equally on single-edit authors and on a stable, highly active community. As Yochai Benkler observes, "Wikipedia is not faceless, by and ;large. Its participants develop, mostly, persistent identities (even if not by real name) and communities around the definitions" (2006a).
Similarly, objections to the dispersed authorship model, expresses also by people sympathethic
design, which depict Wikipedia as a "publish then filter" endeavor, as opposed to a traditional enyclopedia that relies on the "filter then filter" endeavor, as opposed to a traditional encylopdia that relies on the "filter then publish" principle ( Shirky, 2008, P.98), may be considered at least partially in adequate, since "publishing" means fundamentally different things in the age of the internet. Granted, anyone can make edits to Wikipedia, and the changes are visible instantly (more recently changes introduced by new users on many Wikipedia do not appear until more authority as well as knowledge, naturally, should still help in making their arguments stronger, but the aura of expertise is gone. Wikipedia redefines the modes of knowledge enactment and development by reconceptualizing it into a many-to many relation and "participatory expertise" (Pfisher, 2011, O. 229). The innovative construction of interpersonal trust and identity on Wikipedia stems from the need to discard the traditional hierarchy of knowledge production, so that the social organization of collaberation could work the way it does. In this sense, some disregard for academic titles ( in terms of purely formal recognition of authority, without some actual expertise) is embedded in the philosophy of the movement.
While knowledge management may be just a fad in consulting in business literature (Jemielniak & Kociatkiewicz, 2009), management of knowledge through crowd sourcing has brought a successful redefinition of social knowledge boundaries, of which the Wikipedia movement is a part. The resulting inevitable redistribution of social power (Foucault, 1982) is probably even more significant in the long run than the parallel transformation of consumers of culture into its producers (Bruns, 2008). The new mode of knowledge  production surpasses the traditional, hierarchical, turf-driven, and caste-like system that universities depend on (Gibbons, 200; Godin 7 Gingras, 2000; Bartunek. 2011),  being possibly more effective than research institutions at engaging the practitioners and society.
This knowledge - and power-distribution revolution may surprise and perhaps frighten many, which may be why technology pundits and scholars are eager to predict the demise of Wikipedia. For instance, Eric Goldman a professor of law at Santa Clara University, claimed in 2005 that "Wikipedia will fail within 5 years" (Goldman, 2005), because of its overly open nature, the gradual decrease in the community's enthusiasm, and its inability to counter spam and vandalism. As years pass, he repeats his prophesy but changes the timeline (N. Anderson, 2009).
Others, even though they do not expect Wikipedia's demise any time soon, perceive it as a cult (Arthur, 2005; peters, 2007; Metz, 2008b). In the words of Sam Vaknin,
"All cults are the same: they spawn a hierarchy, sport arcane rules, suffer from paranoid insularity, do not tolerate dissent, criticism, and disagreement, and ascribe to themselves a cosmic grandiose mission. No Cult is benign. All cults are run by individuals with narcissistic traits and the Wikipedia is no exception ( 2010)
Still others, despite appreciating the merits of Wikipedia, see it as based on a system of injustice, power play, and domination (O'Neil, 2011a) and as a flawed knowledge community (Roberts & Peters, 2011).
These views notwithstanding, the perception of Wikipedia even in academic circles has improved over time, as has the perception of its quality (Shachaf,2009), and scholars not only rely on it, but also support it (Bateman & Logan, 2010; Heilman et al., 2011) and use it as a teaching tool (Konieczny, 2012), although man of them recognise that Wikipedia is a challenge to traditional acedemic authority (Eijkman, 2010). As Matthew battles observes:
".. Authority, after all, flows ultimately from results, not from such hierophantic trappings as degrees, editorial mastheads, and neoclassical columns. And if the underprivileged (or under-titled) among us are supposed to keep quite, who will enforce their silence - the government? Universities and foundations? Internet service providers and media conglomerated? Are these the authorities - or their avatars in the form of vetted, credentialed  content - to whom it should be our privilege to defer?

Experience, expertise, and authority do retain their power on the web. What's evolving now are tools to discover and amplify individual expertise wherever it may emerge. ( 2007).
This corresponds well with Clay Shirky's observation:
 "... In fact what Wikipedia presages is a change in the nature of authority. prior to Britannica, most encyclopedias derived their authority from the author. Britannica came along and made the relatively radical assertion that you could vest authority in an institution. You trust  Britannica , and  then we go in turn out and get the people to write the articles. What Wikipedia suggests is that you can vest authority is a visible process. As  long as you can see how Wikipedia's working, and can see that the results are acceptable, you can come over time to trust that.  And that it s really profound challenge to our notions of what it means to be an institution, what it  means to trust something, what it means to be an institution, what it means to trust something, what it means to have authority in this society. (Quoted in Gauntlett, 2009. P.42)
In a broader sense, Wikipedia, with all its flaws, is still an embodiment of a Habermasian rational discourse platform, emancipating communication of knowledge   and allowing egalitarian knowledge creation and sharing and contradicting the thesis of information technology as a tool of social control and domination (Cammaerts, 2008; Hansen, Berente, & Lyytinen, 2009) .....

Wikipedia Exposed Media - WEM