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Can $650 in dinner drinks buy a Neutral Point of View?
March 11, 2008 1:51 AM   Subscribe

[Former Novell chief scientist] Jeff Merkey,... claims [Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy] Wales told him in 2006 that in exchange for a substantial donation from Merkey, he would edit his uncomplimentary Wikipedia entry to make it more favourable. Merkey made a $US5000 ([AU]$5455) donation in 2006... around the same time, Wales personally made changes to [Merkey's Wikipedia] entry after wiping it out completely and ordering editors to start over.
But it's all in a good cause, to keep Wikipedia ad-free, right? Well, no, according to Danny Wool, Wales's former "right-hand man" at Wikipedia: Wool says Wales used the contributions to pay for, among other things, Russian massages and as much as $650 on wine for a dinner for four, while Wales traveled at Wikipedia's expense. And though Wikipedia paid his expenses, Wool claims that Wales kept the proceeds: "At one point [Wales] owed the Foundation some $30,000 in receipts, and this while we were preparing for the audit. Not a bad sum, considering that many of those trips had fat honoraria, which Jimbeau kept for himself."
posted by orthogonality (93 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
They discussed this on the latest TWiT. Listened today. Depressed.
posted by ifthe21stcentury at 1:56 AM on March 11, 2008


Interestingly, no sign of this controversy on Merkey's Wikipedia entry. Or, more importantly, Jimmy Wales'.

If it's true, he's a hypocrite and doing pretty severe damage to Wikipedia' reputation, and should be forced to leave ASAP.
posted by WalterMitty at 2:05 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Is this really a surprise to anybody? If you put your faith in a Randian Libertarian, you really shouldn't be surprised when you learn that he has delusions about being above the rules that other mere mortals have to abide by.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:07 AM on March 11, 2008 [22 favorites]


If true, I would hope that the rest of Wikipedia's board divest itself of Wales' involvement as soon as possible, whether through his voluntary resignation or by kicking him out forcefully.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:10 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Huh, apparently another editor suspected something at the time Wales blanked the Merskey article. Wales's response to that editor is priceless. Click here to see it.
posted by orthogonality at 2:11 AM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


PeterMcDermott writes "Is this really a surprise to anybody? If you put your faith in a Randian Libertarian, you really shouldn't be surprised when you learn that he has delusions about being above the rules that other mere mortals have to abide by."

Wait, since when is Hillary a Randite Libertarian? Oh, sorry, wrong thread.
posted by orthogonality at 2:12 AM on March 11, 2008


Huh, apparently another editor suspected something at the time Wales blanked the Merskey article. Wales's response to that editor is priceless. Click here to see it.

One solution might be for Wales to revert edits of Merskey's bio page back to the point before he wiped it, and then promise not to edit the page, either directly or indirectly, going forward.

Again, this comes back to my suggestion that Wiki management not be allowed to edit.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:18 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


this post is blatantly NPOV... oh, wait
posted by ism at 2:45 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


$650 for wine, four people, at dinner, is not outrageous. Offering that up as an example of questionable actions makes this sound more like character assassination than reasoned criticism.

Unless they were drinking cheap wine, in which case they were getting far too wasted.
posted by Goofyy at 3:15 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


WILL COMPLIMENT FOR FAVORITE
posted by Poolio at 3:17 AM on March 11, 2008 [8 favorites]


Ummm.... how is $650 for wine for four people not outrageous?
posted by farishta at 3:26 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


It is a great pleasure to sit back and watch wikipedia's implosion. Or at least Wales' implosion.

Open source, my ass.
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:30 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


$650 for wine, four people, at dinner, is not outrageous.

It is when the money is coming from charitable donations. What kind of person do you suppose the Wikimedia Foundation would have a legitimate need to wine and dine at $150 a seat? Presumably, anyone who understood and shared their mission would understand that this dinner is being paid for from public donations, and consequently a measure of restraint should be applied here? Nobody is expecting them to eat at McDonalds, but I'd really want to be knowing where and what they did eat, if I was a Wikipedia donator, and I'd be extremely dubious about donating ever again, knowing my hard earned cash is going to fund Russian Hand Jobs for El Jefe.

And if Jimbo thought it wasn't *that* outrageous, then presumably he'd have no problem putting his hand into his own pocket and footing the bill personally?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:57 AM on March 11, 2008 [5 favorites]


Well, back to Everything2, I guess, who doesn't even get enough in donations to cover costs.
posted by mkb at 3:58 AM on March 11, 2008


How is Wales a hypocrite? What is he supposed to be a monk? He's skimming money off his business just like every other working stiff. Man's got to earn a living.

How is $650 for wine for four people not outrageous?

This isn't even remarkable. The Russian massage thing is sort of creepy though.

Wikipedia - you get what you pay for. It's as simple as that.
posted by three blind mice at 4:02 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


You don't get Russian massage... Russian massage get you!
posted by not_on_display at 4:06 AM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


I've donated to wikipedia because it is a useful resource, AND it is run by non-profits. It doesn't fit if they are looking to operate as a business. I don't donate to businesses, and I don't want wikipedia to operate for profit.
I should also mention the lofi page on meta still shills for a donation.
I'm OK with dealing with a business that presents that way, but if you take the moral high ground you need to be consistent, admittedly very hard to do.
I wouldn't donate to wikipedia now if it is money spent on massages (WTF!) or otherwise for the profit of its founders. And if they went commercial, I wouldn't value their work either, the philosophy of NPOV is valuable, but can't be maintained in a for profit group.
posted by bystander at 4:15 AM on March 11, 2008


One solution might be for Wales to revert edits of Merskey's bio page

Another, somewhat more obvious, solution would be for the board to sack him. At which point we learn that the staff, the servers, the intellectual property, etc. are all wholly-owned subsiduaries of jimbo-the-philosopher-king.com.

If his stuff he's written and said in the past are anything to go by, the board could expect a long. drawn out, nasty street-fight of a lawsuit from Mr Wales. He's another of those guys who seems to have the ability to cast their personal distortions of history as the sole and unimpeachable truth. It's surely gonna take more than a tame, bought-and-paid-for arbcom to resolve this one.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:30 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


and I don't want wikipedia to operate for profit.

No. What you are saying is that you don't want Wales to operate for profit. Personal or otherwise. Non-profits, successful ones, are not staffed by monks, but rather by individuals who do it for personal profit. Wiki-boy likes a good meal and his dessert in another room. What's it to me?
posted by three blind mice at 4:37 AM on March 11, 2008


The problem with [gods] is that once you invite them in, they're very hard to get rid of.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:37 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, sorry, wrong thread.
But it's more fun when you can slime more than one for the single admission price.
posted by peacay at 4:47 AM on March 11, 2008


Actually, who cares about all this scandal/libel bullshit, but the directly involved parties ? I didn't know nor really care about Merkey and Wales and will happily continue to not care as far as the rest of the wikipedia content is not significantly affected.

As for the misuse of money of the foundation, there are probably tons of lawyers who could argue better then me on the topic, so I will look at it as a cold blooded economist and bean counter would do : you will not receive more then X per day , I don't care if you are mother theresa or the cofounder of Wikipedia and publish that amount on highly visible link , for the joy of all the beancounters out there. After all ,that's done daily to millions of people that are not exactly in the position to choose otherwise, so what justifies the exception ?

fourcheesemac writes "Open source, my ass."

Why do some or many people often expect nothing less then perfect achievement of an ideal and are not glad of close approximations ? There will always be at least one person able to delete some data somehow and unless there's a track record and a backup, that data is lost forever. Some will gladly do that for money or benefits and will abuse hierarchy, that's proven repeated human behavior.

But lo and behold, it seems that tracking, memory and attention were used to discover an abuse of extraordinary authority! Indeed monitoring does work, at least to a level. In a more "closed-source" website , to use an improper analogy, nobody would have discovered anything at all , much to the rejoycing of some brothel owner.

No wonder that some people out there are championing the cause of strict privacy and non suirvellance laws, allegedly ONLY or primarily for the "the good of the people" , yet sometimes deliberatedly, sometime naively forget that authorities are people too and many of them are not as nearly monitored as Wales was, with respect to the extent of their power.
posted by elpapacito at 4:48 AM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


jon4009 and unSane have very good taste in comments.
posted by Poolio at 5:06 AM on March 11, 2008


Based on my personal experience regarding such "open source" businesses, this is entirely believable, and even likely.

This ties into something that I have long felt... the biggest failing for open source isn't at the code level, but at the societal level. There is no clear, egalitarian management / business model(s) for operating a community-based open source entity, and that leads inevitably to a kind of tyranny and corruption.

The founders inevitably become gatekeepers, and they use that power to keep things in or out of the code, on or off the site, with certain people having or not having the power to do certain things.

This leads to entrenched, crony-filled management that, all too often, acts in a very secret, duplicitous manner regarding what is most personally beneficial to them and to the defense of their power over what is ideally supposed to be a kind of meritocratic democracy.

I have seen open source web applications repeatedly refuse features that would empower their users, because to do so might dilute the core value of the primary domain the web software is hosted on, for instance.

This is one of the reasons why web-based syndication is *STILL* rather primitive at times, in fact. All these web entities -- including many that are based on open source software -- are afraid of having their users migrate elsewhere, importing the data and accessing the functionality that previously made them visit X website.

As a result, we're stuck with gated communities and fiefdoms... even amongst open source sites that should know better. And those sites are, in fact, commoditized.

Hey Jimmy... nice suit.
posted by markkraft at 5:07 AM on March 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


"How is $650 for wine for four people not outrageous?

This isn't even remarkable. The Russian massage thing is sort of creepy though. "


I'm in banking and in my circles it is indeed remarkable, as well as not reimbursable.

But trying to claim a massage as a reimbursable business expense would either result in a loss of travel privledges or termination, depending upon context. Not trustworthy with the firms resouces, banned from travel until someone gets a clue.

And I'm with bystander (can't link as I'm behind a proxy I use while at work and it will munge the URL); I supported a non profit and these guys are acting like pretend Investment Bankers, folks on the revenue generating side.

Since when did Wikipedia start to generate revenue?
posted by Mutant at 5:12 AM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


Why do I have a feeling that this will Givewell?
posted by Balisong at 5:13 AM on March 11, 2008


And yes, I know that the response to such criticisms are:

"Well, someone could always fork the code..."

Forking the code of a major online project is a huge undertaking that you oftentimes need a large, dedicated group of people just to wrap your head around... but when you're talking about huge "open source" communities/projects, whose value is dependent upon all of the data that many, many people contribute to that site, forking is not a competitive option unless you have permission to import and interact with the data on the primary site.

As a result, you tend to get ambitious, energetic coders with great ideas who get stonewalled by the existing power structure if their ideas empower the users at the perceived expense of the gatekeepers. Nevermind that empowering users actually tends to mean that the gatekeepers get to control a slightly smaller piece of a significantly larger pie.
posted by markkraft at 5:16 AM on March 11, 2008


BTW, the Wikipedia Foundation spent approximately $3M in 2007... this does not include the revenue of Wikia, the for-profit company associated with Wikipedia.

The whole thing is a real business, whether the money is "donated" or not. Indeed, there are quite a few open source sites out there that are now corporate dotcoms which started off as donation-funded sites... and each one of them arguably betrayed their userbase for access to big salaries funded by "somebody else's money" -- the VC gravy train.
posted by markkraft at 5:27 AM on March 11, 2008


If a website is "open source", shouldn't its expenditures be entirely open source as well?

(Where are the wikipedia pages with line-by-line listings of all of their expenditures for the year, btw? And what committee of the users, for the users, approved each individual expenditure?)
posted by markkraft at 5:31 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


The really interesting thing about all of this to me is that it's like a microcosm of our corrupt government.

Peter McDermott's comment here could easily be used to describe the issues many of us have with the crazy spending and influence peddling of our civil servants and elected officials.
posted by batmonkey at 5:58 AM on March 11, 2008


The founders inevitably become gatekeepers, and they use that power to keep things in or out of the code, on or off the site, with certain people having or not having the power to do certain things.

Interesting you should say that, because most of the fuss re. Merkey and Wikipedia was generated by a bunch of people who posted from Yahoo initially, then Investor Village. They were there because they'd been driven away from Groklaw due to the perception that PJ had gone way too far down the route of losing perspective as a consequence of her role as a gatekeeper, combined with her new found celebrity and the potential for income gtom the site.

The incessant cries of 'if you don't like it, set up your own site' led a couple of people to do precisely that, with various Groklaw mirrors (that's a bannin') and www.ip-wars.net (post there and that's a bannin') established in response. I've got mad respect for PJ and the work she put in researching SCO, but the woman is crazier than a coot when it comes to paranoia, and she's got an enormous flock of kool-aid loving fanbois who immediately shoot down any dissent as trolling or astroturfing oh her behalf.

It was weird to watch as one by one, people would be feted by PJ for their valuable contributions to the site, and then all of a sudden, they'd say something that PJ didn't agree with, and they'd immediately be transformed into a non-person and be written out of history. The saddest was the disappearance of AllParadox, a retired lawyer who had been one of PJ's biggest defenders and active rebutter of those who criticized her actions. He was regarded by all as one of the sites most valuable contributors, because he was a real lawyer, with many years of experience in practice, a great grasp of IP law and a fine ability to communicate arcane legal concepts to a lay audience.

One day, AllParadox floated the idea that he might want to combine his contributions to the site into a small book on the subject of SCO vs. the World. This was followed by a brief, curt comment from PJ, upon which he disappeared. A couple of days later, he pops up on Yahoo, apologizing to those whose claims in this respect he had previously dismissed as ludicrous.

It was all very sad really, but as train wrecks go, it was definitely compulsive viewing.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:02 AM on March 11, 2008 [11 favorites]


the biggest failing for open source isn't at the code level, but at the societal level.

More than just societal: behold the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

Perhaps the great-editor-in-the-sky should have spent more time reading his own site, and less time receiving rubdowns of various sorts.
posted by aramaic at 6:09 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Mutant is getting towards the crux of my objection. I'd be willing to let some personal ... idiosyncrasies ... slide if they were committed by someone who was otherwise contributing, generating tons of revenue or content or whatever, but Wales certainly isn't doing anything at this point except feathering his own nest and shitting in Wikipedia's. It's time for him to go, and I certainly won't donate again until he's gone. The guy is clearly a liability, not an asset, and liabilities don't get to expense their handjobs.

It's interesting to try and find the point when WP jumped the shark; I'm not sure that enough of the facts are in the open to say exactly when just yet. It's clearly happened, though.

Wikipedia was and is, in general, a good concept, and it's probably generated more GFDL content than any other source. (Sadly it has probably also irretrievably destroyed more GFDL content than any other entity, too, due to its own poorly-concieved policies.)

I don't even think that it needed or needs good leadership in order to succeed as much as it just needs a lack of bad leadership. And right now there seems to be a surplus of the latter. Not just Wales, but a whole lot of the mucky-mucks who've crawled into positions of authority under his tenure.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:20 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


$650 for wine, four people, at dinner, is not outrageous.

You have too much fucking money.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:34 AM on March 11, 2008 [15 favorites]


He needs the cash to replace the clothes his crazy ex-girlfrend sold on eBay.
posted by PenDevil at 6:51 AM on March 11, 2008


I'll argue that $650 would pay for a very, very nice dinner, with wine, for four people at a very, very nice restaurant. If the $650 is paying for wine alone, then somebody's going overboard.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:53 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Am I the only one to think that the nature of what Wales was doing matters? If it's Jimbo partying with his friends, that's one thing. If Wales is closing a $100k contribution, that's very different.
posted by tyllwin at 6:54 AM on March 11, 2008


You have too much fucking money.

Jealous much?
posted by chlorus at 7:00 AM on March 11, 2008


It's not how much he spent at dinner, y'all.

It's that he changed an entry in exchange for $5,000.

Why he bought the dinner, how much he spent, whatever - he's exchanging positive spin for cash.

After reading a bunch of commentaries, criticisms, WikiTruth, and now this, I've gotten to where I don't even want to check Wikipedia, because I know in the end I'll do more research checking out their facts than if I just dug around on my own.

To me, that says the concept has failed, since the goal of an encyclopedia should be to confirm you're on the right track.
posted by batmonkey at 7:04 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If it's Jimbo partying with his friends, that's one thing. If Wales is closing a $100k contribution, that's very different.

If he's closing a contribution in exchange for admin-enforced, favorable edits to Wikipedia, that seems like influence peddling.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:08 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


You have too much fucking money.

They're talking expense accounts. So that should be "You have too much fucking shareholder/stakeholder money".
posted by srboisvert at 7:10 AM on March 11, 2008


Hypothetical scenario: Jimbo's handjob fund Wikipedia gets a large contribution from the pharmaceutical industry. Over the next few days, articles detailing the dangerous side effects of certain drugs are scrubbed from existence.

Would this be a conflict of interest? Yes/No?
posted by Avenger at 7:13 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


$650 for wine, four people, at dinner, is not outrageous.

Right, because anyone who doesn't drink Petrus when they go out is a total loser. Give me a break.

This is certainly a fascinating story and I'll be interested to see how it plays out; the moral, like the moral of so many stories these days, is Power Corrupts.
posted by languagehat at 7:18 AM on March 11, 2008


Jealous much?

Envious, fuckwit.
posted by cillit bang at 7:27 AM on March 11, 2008 [6 favorites]


I'm not sure why we're seemingly associating the "spends foundation money on personal stuff" concern with the "sells edits for cash" concern. Blazecock, do you see a connection there that I don't? I though they were basically separate types and instances of accused wrong-doing?

And yes, batmonkey, I agree that taking $5k for edits is much more troubling than 6 bottles of $100 wine. It's just that the edits are are a question of Merkey's word vs Wales'. Neither side of that question inspires my passionate belief. With all due respect I wouldn't care to be publicly tarred and feathered on the say-so of, welll, let me say "quarrelsome" people like Merkey, much less Rachel Marsden.

So, it's possibly easier to look at objective questions of how Wales spends the foundation's money and what he gets for it. How he handles money donated to a non-profit goes a fair way towards informing me how much he's to be trusted.

Avenger: Of course it is. And I'd think it would, at the least, put the foundation's "non-profit" status at risk.
posted by tyllwin at 7:32 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


In reading through comments on this Wikipedia mailing list there appears to be "more to this story." Seems that Merkey has had a history vis-a-vis his Wikipedia entry, etc.
"I can't comment on any other aspect of the matter, but I was the Clerk on Mr. Merkey's arbitration case, and can confirm that he engaged in plenty of on-wiki conduct warranting a siteban, having nothing to do with any type of financial contributions he might or might not have been making."*

--------------

"Mr. Merkey--

But back in 2006 you were saying something entirely different:
'I can share with the community that Mr. Wales deletion and rewrite of the article was in no way was [sic] based on any legal solution or legal resolution -- he did it solely of his own initiative and as a courtesy after performing a through [sic] review of the entire history of the article.' *
I'm wondering what the AP will think of your past statement, which totally contradicts your statement to them shared here. There is no middle ground between the two. Either you being untruthful then or you are being untruthful now. Which is it?" *
posted by ericb at 7:36 AM on March 11, 2008


markkraft: "BTW, the Wikipedia Foundation spent approximately $3M in 2007... this does not include the revenue of Wikia, the for-profit company associated with Wikipedia.

The whole thing is a real business, whether the money is "donated" or not. Indeed, there are quite a few open source sites out there that are now corporate dotcoms which started off as donation-funded sites... and each one of them arguably betrayed their userbase for access to big salaries funded by "somebody else's money" -- the VC gravy train.
"

A rather flagrant example of this was Gracenote nee CDDB. Built mainly by user submissions but ultimately stolen by insiders.
posted by aerotive at 7:38 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wikimedia executive comes to Wales defense
“In roughly the last nine months, Wikipedia's co-founder Jimmy Wales has expensed a total of $1,100 in travel-related costs to the nonprofit that runs the free online encyclopedia.

That's according to Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, who came to the defense of Wales in interviews Thursday with CNET TV and CNET News.com. She said that recent allegations against Wales that he misused foundation funds were started by a ‘disgruntled former employee’ who's spread unsubstantiated rumors on his blog.

‘I find it distressing,’ Gartner said. ‘(Wales) has done nothing but be modest, frugal, and do what's best for the organization.’

Gardner's comments contribute to an ongoing tit-for-tat between Wales, Wikimedia executives, and former Wikipedia employee Danny Wool, who kicked off concerns about Wales on his blog All's Wool That Ends Wool. He suggested that his former co-worker had used the foundation as a personal ‘piggy bank,’ having expensed pricey wines, massages, and dinners. The expenses, he said, contributed to the foundation eventually taking away his credit card in 2006.

Wales and executives from the foundation have said that there has been no wrongdoing regarding his expenses. And Gardner, who joined Wikimedia in June, added to that sentiment.

She said that Wales expensed $1,100 for December travel to New York City, a trip Gardner asked him to take for a Wikipedia promotional event. But as a rule, she said, Wales errs on the side of paying his own bills related to promotions for Wikipedia rather than the reverse. She said that he typically does work for the foundation pro bono, and draws an income from his own for-profit company, Wikia.

‘Jimmy has never used Wikimedia to subsidize his personal expenses,’ said Gardner, former senior director of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.”
posted by ericb at 7:44 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


I find this tidbit from one of Merkey's lawsuits to be a bit amusing:
“On 2 October 2006, Merkey filed suit against Natural Selection Foods and Delta Airlines, saying his son became ill from E. coli after eating spinach contaminated with E. coli bacteria.

According to an article in Inside Counsel….this lawsuit also accuses Natural Selection Foods of deliberately causing emotional distress:
‘In addition, the suit accuses Natural Selection of ‘vile and outrageous conduct’ intended to inflict emotional distress on the plaintiffs. According to the complaint, the company's use of the term “natural selection” in press releases related to the E. coli outbreak contained Darwinian undertones, suggesting their son's illness was part of the natural selection theory.’”*
posted by ericb at 7:52 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


If only natural selection could work fast enough to affect Merkey.
posted by aramaic at 7:58 AM on March 11, 2008


Unfortunately I can't comment specifically, but this surprises me not at all. People ought to look more closely at Wales, including his past ways of doing business, and what he's up to with his for-profit company.
posted by cell divide at 8:05 AM on March 11, 2008


Look, it's an encyclopedia written and edited by amateurs. Apparently the corporation is run by amateurs, too. What's surprising to me is that there's no way professionals could have built something so successful.
posted by Nelson at 8:09 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


anyone who doesn't drink Petrus when they go out is a total loser

While you might not need a 1961 at $30,000, you'd still be hard pressed to get any Petrus at a restaurant for less than $1000.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:18 AM on March 11, 2008


Jealous much?

More along the lines of "angry that someone has enough money to say something like that in a world where 30,000 people starve to death every day".
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:20 AM on March 11, 2008 [4 favorites]


More along the lines of "angry that someone has enough money to say something like that in a world where 30,000 people starve to death every day".

Egads. Eating seaweed and soy paste and generally self-flagellating aren't going to solve world hunger.

And I'd wager that Wikipedia's done a hell of a lot more for the well-being of the third world than most of us can claim.
posted by kid ichorous at 8:34 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is, have you ever spent $162.5 (650/4, natch) on anything done expressly for your own enjoyment? If so, why aren't you exactly this as angry at yourself?
posted by kid ichorous at 8:40 AM on March 11, 2008


you'd still be hard pressed to get any Petrus at a restaurant for less than $1000.

Bah, I knew someone was going to call me on that. Look, Petrus is an Internationally Recognized Obscenely Expensive Wine, and I didn't feel like doing the research necessary to turn up a nice deuxième cru a few bottles of which would plausibly sell for $650, so I went with the quick-and-dirty reference. So sue me. Fuckin' wine snobs...
posted by languagehat at 8:45 AM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


That is, have you ever spent $162.5 (650/4, natch) on anything done expressly for your own enjoyment?

Not the point. Jimbo can spend his own dough however the fuck he wants. When he's spending money that came in from charitable donations though, he really needs to be more circumspect.

Or he doesn't, and he/wikipedia will live with the consequences. But I suspect that if even Jimbo thought this was defensible, he wouldn't be having his staff issue public denials.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:08 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, forget about the last nine months. That'll tell you nothing, as proper accounts won't have been filed yet so it can still be easily fudged. I wanna see an accountants statement, certifying how much Jimbo spent on expenses over the last three years.

Why did they pull his Wiki credit card, for example?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:11 AM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a grand conspiracy, I tells ya.
posted by smackfu at 10:23 AM on March 11, 2008


Not the point. Jimbo can spend his own dough however the fuck he wants. When he's spending money that came in from charitable donations though, he really needs to be more circumspect.

Absolutely. I'm in agreement that misappropriating funds from Wikipedia is bad.

But that wasn't what I quoted. I was responding to the color of a certain assertion: that people who spend $650 on wine have too much money, as if there were such a thing, as if eating more frugally would somehow, through some sort of mystical conservation of suffering and joy, undo starvation. As if starvation were the mystical consequence of the sin of gluttony, rather than a complex economic disease that manages to thrive in surplus as well as scarcity. I see this as completely magical thinking. And I'll reiterate that organizations like Wikipedia, by lowering the barriers and costs of education, are doing more good for people around the world than any self-loathing asceticism.
posted by kid ichorous at 10:34 AM on March 11, 2008 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately I can't comment specifically, but this surprises me not at all. People ought to look more closely at Wales, including his past ways of doing business, and what he's up to with his for-profit company.
posted by cell divide at 9:05 AM on March 11 [+] [!


Paging Hal Holbrook.
posted by mecran01 at 10:35 AM on March 11, 2008


Couple points here:

1 - It is true you can spend your cash on whatever but Jimbo spent donations and not his money.

2 - Someone paid him to edit and lock an article. So much for user generated. Next time someone posted a negative article about you pay him 5Gs and everything will be square.

3 - I don't think anyone should ever donate to wiki after reading this. Nothing like my hard earned money going to this douche bag to give him a fine night out of wine and women.

4 - Stuff like this should shake people's views on wikipedia. Is it really trust worth when someone can pay 5gs to have his article changed???

4 - 650$ for a dinner for 4 is not that bad if you add in tips and the whole dinner. If this was just wine then wow... what a drunk. Also not to sound cheap but $650 can buy a ton of PB and J.

that is all

Mastercheddaar
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:31 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


And I'll reiterate that organizations like Wikipedia, by lowering the barriers and costs of education, are doing more good for people around the world than any self-loathing asceticism.

While I'll grant that self-loathing asceticism doesn't butter any parsnips, I'm not sure how Wikipedia is lowering the barriers and costs of education. Firstly, you need access to a computer, and to the internet before you can use it. You'd need that for every student -- something that few schools in the West have, let alone in the developing world.

Next, an encyclopedia alone does not an education make. We don't sit our children down in front of an encyclopedia and say, 'Right, now go ahead and learn.' But if we did, I'm not sure that Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that we'd use for that purpose. The content is too unreliable. It may be patchy in it's treatment of an issue, or it may be downright wrong. It's more important that children are taught the skills of how to analyse and evaluate information than it is to just plonk them in front of a mountain of data, unsifted and uncontextualized.

Finally, if there's only a finite amount of charitable resources out there, then money donated to Wikipedia is money that may otherwise be put to better use, whether that be buying textbooks, developing curricula, or whatever.

So Wikipedia might be doing more than some whining aescetic, but that doesn't get it a free pass or make it immune from criticism.

$650 can buy a ton of PB and J

I initially read this as $650 can buy a ton of BJs and P, which I immediately interpreted as Blow Jobs and Pussy. To which my retort would have been, 'Not at the Emperor's Club, it doesn't.'
posted by PeterMcDermott at 11:38 AM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


Merkey sounds like your standard Internet Jackass to me. Mr. I Sue Everyone All The Time. I wouldn't believe a word he says withut some seriously cast iron proof.

Put me in Wales's camp here. For some reason being well-known online always equates to being guilty until proven innocent of any random allegation by any halfwit asshole who cares to make one.

Also, donations are not sacred manna that were supposed to be used to feed starving ethiopian parakeets here. What do you think you're donating for? A) Servers and bandwidth (probably much of that is comped by hosts anyway) and B) For the people who work on Wikipedia to eat and travel around and be wikipedians. I'm sorry you misled yourselves, but please understand that when you donate to most charities, unless they're specifically telling you "We give your money to poor people," they're probably spending most of it on staff salaries. This goes triple for media charities. What do you think NPR and PBS do with your money? They pay people with it. When Jimmy is forced out by hysterical ninnies, they'll still use your donations to pay people's salaries and travel expenses.

The rest of you who are all ready to nail Jimmy to the cross, please blackhole wikipedia in your /etc/hosts for a month or so. That's what you owe him.
posted by rusty at 12:11 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


anyone who doesn't drink Petrus when they go out is a total loser

I'd never heard of the stuff until I read this thread*. YOU'RE ONE OF THEM!!!

*In the comfort of my barrel. On my salvaged IBM PC. It has a little hamster wheel where the RAM used to be. I'm grooming myself for nits. So's I can have lunch.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:12 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


We don't sit our children down in front of an encyclopedia and say, 'Right, now go ahead and learn.' But if we did, I'm not sure that Wikipedia is the encyclopedia that we'd use for that purpose. The content is too unreliable. It may be patchy in it's treatment of an issue, or it may be downright wrong. It's more important that children are taught the skills of how to analyse and evaluate information than it is to just plonk them in front of a mountain of data, unsifted and uncontextualized.

Good point. I agree that teachers and mentors will always be necessary, but I think the analogy to the classical encyclopedia is rapidly disappearing. I think that Wikipedia, and most other open information projects, are better compared to libraries than encyclopedias. I don't know of any encyclopedia on earth in which I can research Abelian Groups, or carry look-ahead adders, and get a more thorough, straightforward definition than, frankly, some of our more expensive graduate textbooks. Serge Lang, I'm looking at you.

Finally, if there's only a finite amount of charitable resources out there, then money donated to Wikipedia is money that may otherwise be put to better use, whether that be buying textbooks, developing curricula, or whatever.

This is exactly what I meant by lowering barriers, though. Wikipedia isn't perfect, but compare the price of binding and shipping a single textbook to, say, a library in India, to the information throughput of an internet connection and a growing number of open texts. It may not be Harvard-caliber (though it's getting pretty damn close), but then it doesn't have gatekeepers charging 30k per year either.
posted by kid ichorous at 12:16 PM on March 11, 2008


Also I'm dumbfounded that the line "Because the last thing I want to do is take a break from f---ing your brains out all night to work on your wikipedia entry," is being repeated by people as though it were a bad thing. Good Lord. What kind of people are these, who cannot completely and wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment?
posted by rusty at 12:26 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


...AND it is run by non-profits. It doesn't fit if they are looking to operate as a business.

I supported a non profit and these guys are acting like pretend Investment Bankers, folks on the revenue generating side.

I just wanted to reply to these concerns - I understand where they are coming from, but as someone who's been in the admin side of a non-profit for a while, I want to make sure people understand:

-Non-profits are businesses. We operate under different rules and assumptions, but we are businesses in that we have expenses to meet and have products or services that we may sell or distribute to the community for free. Our revenue generation is where the largest difference is - the grail in non-profit fundraising is in what we call "unrestricted" funds - monies not directly tied to a specific project or budget. More about this in a minute.

-The chief source of funds for my non-profit, and I suspect many others, is contracts and grants from governments and foundations. These lay out a specific project or program we will deliver for the funds, and a budget to meet that. However, there are always costs and considerations that for various reasons that the contract/grant will not cover. For example, certain government contracts will only cover costs related to the direct provision of the service, and will not consider any capital costs related to it (things like office space, hardware, etc). Some foundations have rules about needing matching funds for their grant amount, or rules about only funding very specific expenses (i.e., no provision for the administration costs in the distribution of direct aid to people needing financial assistance). We cannot go outside of those guidelines. This is where unrestricted funds come in - we can apply those wherever we need them - to make sure we make our rent, or pay the utilities, or replace that computer that crashed unexpectedly. Funds from donors are often unrestricted (unless we craft a donation appeal towards a specific need, in which case we can only use those funds for that specific need). This is why we love our donors, and truly appreciate everything they give us - we need that flexibility to survive.

-One of the other ways to look at gaining some un-restricted funds is to explore what we do with our cash reserves. For example, we regularly get contracts that pay out in one lump sum. So let's say I have $200,000 contract for a particular service this year. My budget for the year calls for me to pay out $16,666.67/month for salary, benefits, expenses, etc. (this is really over-simplifying, but the math is easy - usually the fixed costs would be lower, with some one-time expenses over the year). As of Jan 1, I have $200,000 in the bank, but I only need 16,666.67 for the month. Should I leave the balance in the bank for the year, or am I smarter to look at some short-term methods of generating some funds off that - a 30 day term deposit, for example? Provided it is a no-risk investment, and I can access the funds again to make my contractual obligations (to both funder and staff), I would argue that this is appropriate stewardship of the funds we have received. And my funders tend to agree. So, we do look at methods of leveraging our funds in investments (very safe investments) as a means of helping to meet our needs.

-We have to have a yearly audit - every non-profit I know does. I do not know where Wikipedia is incorporated, but I would be quite shocked to learn that they don't have to provide this. This audit examines what funds we received, how we used them, and ensures that we used the funds to deliver what we said we would in our agreements. This is not a trivial process for us - the rules for non-profits are quite tight, and they examine everything: our contracts, our process for handling donations, our expenses are checked to make sure they are allowed, our controls are examined. The auditors camp out with us for several weeks, sometimes longer, and then meet with our board in camera (no staff) to discuss what they found and any recommendations they have. The audit is then sent to all our funders and made available to the community. Our goal is to zero out at year's end - all of our revenue spent, or deferred (with permission) to later years. We are also slowly building a sustainability fund, and do some specific fundraising for this - a fund that is set aside for the future to ensure we can continue to operate in spite of an unexpected loss of revenue.

I'm not here to say that what is going on at Wikipedia is right or wrong, or anything else - I don't know enough. I just want people to understand that non-profits do look at revenue generation, and why we do, and why it is important. I admit my blood pressure rises when I continually read in the media the "wisdom" that non-profits need to operate more like "business", and then see non-profits get attacked for doing things that "business" does in terms of finding additional ways to generate revenue, but that isn't directed at anyone in this thread. Just a pet peeve. Most non-profits I know operate on a very thin edge of having enough to cover the expenses they incur.

This is longer than I wanted it to be, and is lacking a NPOV. I am passionate about what I do, which is why I do it. I now return you to your regularly scheduled Wikipedia discussion.
posted by never used baby shoes at 12:38 PM on March 11, 2008 [7 favorites]


We have to have a yearly audit - every non-profit I know does. I do not know where Wikipedia is incorporated, but I would be quite shocked to learn that they don't have to provide this.

"The Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit charitable organization headquartered at Stillman Street, San Francisco, California, USA, and organized under the laws of the state of Florida....The Wikimedia Foundation falls under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code as a public charity. Its National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) code is B60 (Adult, Continuing Education)." *

Annual Reports (2003 - 2007) available at Florida Department of State website here; Financial Statements (2004 - 2006) from Wikimedia here.

If there are any financial shenanigans perpetrated by Wales their outside auditor should be able to find them.

What has been reported is allegations of one former employee (claiming questionable expenses) and those of Merkey (claiming "pay-for-edit" privileges).
posted by ericb at 1:09 PM on March 11, 2008


*are the allegations*
posted by ericb at 1:12 PM on March 11, 2008


It seems that the main reason this is of such interest is because of Wikipedia's stellar position as a bedrock of Google search results. Perhaps one way out of this predicament would be for Google to reduce WP's prominence significantly until it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that the Foundation had things under control?

There have been murmurings of strange decisions, arrogant editors, sloppiness, strange dealings with contributors etc for a long while now, this is just the latest episode. It would suggest that there is something quite wrong with the system. The last time I checked an entry on there I discovered that it was quite wrong in a number of important places, which suggests there could be even more problems in terms of editing and fact checking.

I no longer rely on Wikipedia as a information resource.
posted by Duug at 1:13 PM on March 11, 2008


I've been front and center in some earlier dealings with Wikipedia, and I can tell you first hand that there are a bunch of crazy libertarians - Wales among them - who run around drunk with accidental power - power that resulted from their almost accidental entry into fame.

This is not to cast aspersions at all Wikipedians; there are lots of dedicated persons there who make stellar contributions.

I my estimation, Wales is full of himself, being carried on a wave of hype that exists precisely because everything that has so far "made it" within the domain we call the Internet has been imbued with the blessings of a mostly ignorant Internet-based and general media.

The latter is an inside irony, because the "media" is generally clueless, even though it thinks of itself as hip. So, we have the clueless blessing the clueless.

Wales needs to step aside, and someone with real vision and status needs to take over.
posted by MetaMan at 2:51 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Mastercheddaar writes "650$ for a dinner for 4 is not that bad if you add in tips and the whole dinner. If this was just wine then wow... "

It was $1200 for the whole dinner, including the wine.

But as you note, the real issue isn't just Jimmy's extravagance with other people's money. It's (allegedly) taking money (or sex) in exchange for using his position to pervert the very Wikipedia objectivity that he publicly claims praise for. That some of that money also goes to fund his lavish lifestyle just helps to suggest his motivation for taking what are (if the allegations are true) essentially bribes.
posted by orthogonality at 4:06 PM on March 11, 2008


You have too much fucking money.

Jealous much?


Nope, just heartbroken for our society.
posted by wendell at 4:08 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


Put me in Wales's camp here. For some reason being well-known online always equates to being guilty until proven innocent of any random allegation by any halfwit asshole who cares to make one.

Bollocks.

By and large, people's online reputations are what they are. You don't have to look much further than the reputations of the mods on this website as evidence as that. Not big enough? Go bigger. Take Linus Torvalds, or Alan Cox. In the main, people making unsubstantiated criticism of them will find no shortage of people to point out that they're full of shit.

For a long time, this was true of Jimbo Wales as well. "Just because he's an ex-pornographer, that doesn't mean he's a shady fucker", they'd say.

But the problem with a good reputation is that if you do enough bad stuff, eventually it will go bad on you. That's what's happening to Jimbo.

When Jimmy is forced out by hysterical ninnies, they'll still use your donations to pay people's salaries and travel expenses.

I haven't seen a single complaint anywhere in this thread about salaries or travel expenses. The criticism is about being profligate with his expenses. I'm on the board of a charity, and the previous board had a chair who also used company funds as his personal entertainment fund -- in pretty well exactly the same way Jimbo is accused of doing here. This slid past the accountants and the Charities Commission for years, and it was only when the law changed to provide Whistleblower protection for employees who turned in their employers that they finally nailed him because his Chief Executive gave him up. Not only was he forced to resign and made to pay back the money's involved, he was very lucky to avoid criminal prosecution.

And this guy was a vicar, not an ex-pornographer.

Seems to me that Danny Wool is in the same position as our Chief Exec. was. At the very least, people should be taking his allegations seriously. If anybody is in a position to know where the bodies are buried, he is.

The organization also needs to figure out whether he's an employee or not, because if he is, then any speakers fees he gets should be going back to the firm, not into his arse pocket. The concerns here aren't just about Jimbo, but are about the way the organization as a whole is run. If it's as important as you seem to believe that it is, then that's all the more reason to make sure that it's run in a professional, ethical and transparent manner and not as the petty fiefdom of some arsehole who believes that its function is to provide him with a private jet for his own personal fuck wagon.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is, have you ever spent $162.5 (650/4, natch) on anything done expressly for your own enjoyment?

A few times. Never in my life have I ever thought to myself that that was anything less than a big chunk of money.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:56 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is, have you ever spent $162.5 (650/4, natch) on anything done expressly for your own enjoyment?

I haven't spent "$162.5 (650/4, natch)" of my employer's money purely for my own entertainment, no. The CEO of Tyco went to jail for shit like that.
posted by dirigibleman at 8:56 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to be one of the most vocal supporters of wikipedia on this website.

Then I saw the article for Rachel Corrie, Michelle Obama, and a variety of others, and I learned that wikipedia is really just a roosting place for angry, jobless Republicans who have received orders from their evil overlords and are carefully maintaining the big lie via this "open source" website until it is conveniently ushered into the "history" books. Wikipedia is full of nonsense.
And it breaks my heart, because I used to get into shouting matches defending it.
but the world is full of nonsense and assholes, and wikipedia seems to attract them both in equal measure.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 9:28 PM on March 11, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men"

At what point do we recognize the achievement of these men and realize that... Yes, they are human... Yes, they will fuck up... Yes they will do some bad things.

Great men have great ideas. It's the follow through that fucks them up.

Does one drop of poison corrupt the entire ocean?

Wikipedia is a great idea.
Is it open to abuse? Yes.
Is it open to abuse from the inside? Yes.
Is an important part of the net right now? Yes?
Can it be fixed? Yes.

Yes.
With hard work and dignity.
And change
It will continue
It will be better
Until the next power hungry fuck decides to feed at the trough
Then, kick him out
And keep polishing the stone.

Don't let the idea die because of the hunger of one man.
Knowledge is food that can change the world.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 10:27 PM on March 11, 2008


It's strangely fascinating to compare the comments in this thread with the ones in the Eliot Spitzer discussion.

I was reading today and came across this: "The farther individuals are removed from our most intimate personality, the more easily we can come to terms with their untruthfulness, both in a practical and an intimate psychological sense--while if the few persons closest to us lie, life becomes unbearable." (Lest you think that I sit around reading Georg Simmel, I should mention that the line is quoted in a wonderful novel by Laurie Colwin.

What strikes me in reading these threads is that actually, even the betrayals of those who are removed from our most intimate personality can be jarring, upsetting, disappointing, or flat out horrifying. I don't know how many people ever idolized Jimmy Wales, but certainly he had fans, and some of those must now be greatly disappointed. Eliot Spitzer had innumerable fans, many of whom are now feeling greatly betrayed.

Putting your trust in anyone is risky--even if the trust is in a person you've never met.
posted by newrambler at 10:28 PM on March 11, 2008


There should be more active Wikipedians around these parts, to keep threads such as this one from derailing. Merkey's article didn't get special treatment thanks to a donation -- that's just not possible under WP's open administration and transparent article editing structure. If anyone wants to claim otherwise, please don't link to lazily written, hastily researched and POV news blurbs, written under time pressure and never updated or corrected; link directly to diffs and permalinks in the articles in question.

And the latest comment by Baby B about how WP is run by a bunch of angry Republicans is a shame. Yes, controversial articles tend to draw trolls and pov-pushers from all sides, especially from groups who feel strongly about the subject / controversy in question. That's because this is a feature of public discourse, not a feature of Wikipedia. If anything, having a single site dedicated to NPOV, permanent archival transparency, and providing overviews of divergent viewpoints helps to mould the world's nonsensical humanity into something of lasting value and meaning.

As for complaints about expenses submitted (but not accepted for reimbursement) : these might have some mild relevance if people complaining / worrying about these expenses recognized in the same breath the money JW put into Wikipedia over the course of its first three years, before there was a foundation, donations, or any notion of reimbursement.
posted by metasj at 10:33 PM on March 11, 2008


"If there are any financial shenanigans perpetrated by Wales their outside auditor should be able to find them."

Arthur Anderson to the rescue!

Even outside auditors can be inside stooges.
posted by Sukiari at 11:07 PM on March 11, 2008


And, for the record I am an active Wikipedian, and the place disgusts me more and more every day. I have no loyalty to the Wikipedia per se, I just like the concept. But everybody at the top, and all the childish people who are involved in some committee or another, are the worst kinds of humans in the world. Powerless in their own lives for the most part, they all play Evil Dictator on the computer after a soul-crushing day at the office.

I would say it's doomed to failure, but the content can be migrated to a better system once that gets worked out, thanks to the liberal license.

"There should be more active Wikipedians loyal cheerleaders around these parts, to keep threads such as this one from derailing spread feel good half truths."

Fixed it for ya!
posted by Sukiari at 11:13 PM on March 11, 2008 [2 favorites]


kid ichorous -- "And I'd wager that Wikipedia's done a hell of a lot more for the well-being of the third world than most of us can claim."

Agreed. But in banking (at least the circles I move in, every firms different), even the appearance of impropriety is unacceptable.

In the end it all comes down to how squeaky clean the folks running Wiki want their organisation to be perceived as, and what level of reputational risk they deem acceptable.

Unlike many management / board level decisions this is a trade off that actually can be measured in Pounds and Pence; as the folks in charge appear less and less responsible with other people's money, they will find it increasingly difficult to raise funds. This has three possible outcomes - first, a natural balance may be achieved with Wikipedia still growing, perhaps slower than now, second, Wikipedia could find itself static in terms of contributions/revenue but still in business, or it may crash and burn at some point in the future due to lack of funds (i.e, bankruptcy).

Exogenous factors (e.g., an unfavourable IRS audit, for example, or well documented instances of profligate indulgence previously only alleged to) would hasten the third possible outcome. Unfortunately, the third case would present an opportunity for a CCDB / Gracenote style outcome. I suspect should Wikipedia's assets were to go on the block in a bankruptcy sale there would be many interested bidders.

As it is difficult to catch up with or otherwise counter a negative rumour and (as someone upthread noted, reputations are fragile), The Board ultimately has to take the tough decision: stick with their man in his current role, move him to the side or show him the door.

metasj -- "As for complaints about expenses submitted (but not accepted for reimbursement) : these might have some mild relevance if people complaining / worrying about these expenses recognized in the same breath the money JW put into Wikipedia over the course of its first three years, before there was a foundation, donations, or any notion of reimbursement."

Well, I'm a member of CIMA, (part qualified) and no auditor would accept prior (one can only assume undocumented) expenditure of funds as a justification for current / future profligacy. After all, where would it end? When would the debt be settled?

No, auditors are simple people who like their accounts clear and transparent.
posted by Mutant at 2:01 AM on March 12, 2008 [2 favorites]


that's just not possible under WP's open administration and transparent article editing structure

Bollocks. From what I gather Jimbo Wales barged in and demanded changes be made with little or no explanation (or rather, made them himself and demanded they stayed). There's nothing open about that.

The bottom line is that Jimbo considers himself above the procedures and has given himself the power to overrule all other editors, with apparently no accountably.
posted by cillit bang at 8:54 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Then I saw the article for Rachel Corrie, Michelle Obama, and a variety of others, and I learned that wikipedia is really just a roosting place for angry, jobless Republicans who have received orders from their evil overlords

Right, because angry, jobless Republicans who have received orders from their evil overlords would definitely include things like:

Jennifer Hunter of the Chicago Sun-Times wrote about one speech of hers in Iowa, "Michelle was a firebrand, expressing a determined passion for her husband's campaign, talking straight from the heart with eloquence and intelligence."

What the hell are you talking about? I read the whole article and the only conclusion I can come to is that your ideal Wikipedia article would simply reproduce a press release from the Obama campaign; anything that even mentions criticisms is ipso facto evil-overlord material. NPOV isn't a code word for "angry, jobless Republicans," you know; it's an actual, and valuable, ideal, even if it's not always realized in practice.
posted by languagehat at 9:03 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


However: metasj, you definitely come across as a Wikipedian PR guy. As cillit bang said, it's ridiculous to claim "that's just not possible under WP's open administration and transparent article editing structure."
posted by languagehat at 9:05 AM on March 12, 2008 [1 favorite]


Here's the discussion page for the Merkey article.
posted by Atreides at 9:16 AM on March 12, 2008


PeterMcDermott: Were you watching when Linus went to work for Transmeta? Yes, there were the inevitable "I will never use linux again what a sellout" hystericals. No one is immune.

And: "ex-pornographer." Nice. Way to flash your perspective there. As an ex-pedophile yourself, why don't you tell us more about that shady underworld?

See, anyone can do it, and it doesn't mean shit.
posted by rusty at 1:28 PM on March 12, 2008


See, anyone can do it, and it doesn't mean shit.

Spoken like a true ex-snuff-pornographer.
posted by aramaic at 1:50 PM on March 12, 2008


Metasj would be properly called a sunshine Wikipedian.

The Wikipedia has a dark, slimy underbelly that is sickening. Imagine the worst academic infighting you have ever seen, multiply by a thousand, and apply even more meaningless and ego driven bullshit as a frosting layer. Sprinkle with paranoia and the inability to back down, and you have your standard Wikipedian attitude.

And Jimbo ain't helping. He should have quit when he started his fucking wikia shit.
posted by Sukiari at 2:54 PM on March 12, 2008


Were you watching when Linus went to work for Transmeta? Yes, there were the inevitable "I will never use linux again what a sellout" hystericals. No one is immune.

Of course he got called out. It hurt him and damaged his reputation how, exactly?

See, anyone can do it, and it doesn't mean shit.

I thought that was my point? I thought your point was that it *did* mean shit?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 10:23 AM on March 17, 2008


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