March 03, 2008

Rachel Marsden, Jimmy Wales - Wikipedia Sex And Scandal

Rachel Marsen vs. Jimmy Wales is, from one viewpoint a geek tabloid story. Apparently Jimmy Wales had a relationship with a media quasi-celebrity not known for graceful break-ups, and found his email and IM chat transcripts being posted, yielding something between a parody of transparency, and Too Much Information.

I'm not going to pretend I don't have a little schadenfreude here, but the uninteresting (to me) sex scandal seems to be providing an interesting spotlight for illuminating conflict-of-interests which would otherwise go unheard. That is, I don't care who he sleeps with. Anyone who knows of his previous work such as the "Bomis Babe Report" will not be aghast to hear of a bit of horndoggery.

But various other accusations aren't about sex:

At one point he 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. (Florence will surely remember his explanation for one of these: "I dont make any money, and my wife needs a washing machine." Her response was wonderful: "A gold-plated washing machine?")

So Jimbeau cancelled an upcoming trip to Italy, Serbia, and Croatia, and got to work finding receipts. I helped process them. Subway ticket in Moscow: $0.50. Massage parlor in Moscow: priceless. Some were accepted; others were not, like the $650 spent on two bottles of wine during a dinner for four at Bern'sI remember that one because he submitted it twice, once with the tip scratched out.

To me, that's a much more problematic allegation than his sex life or even article favoritism to his current girlfriend.

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on March 03, 2008 08:30 AM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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Wiki-sneaks, wiki-peeks, wiki-leaks.


Posted by: Garf at March 3, 2008 09:03 AM

I can't believe Wales thought it was a good idea to announce a breakup on Wikipedia.

Posted by: Rogers Cadenhead at March 3, 2008 09:40 AM

I'm skeptical that's how it happened, at least in his mind. I don't have any inside information, but I suspect he at least believed that the chat leaks meant she had dumped him.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 3, 2008 09:47 AM

Seth, I don't know if you've seen Dave Winer's take on this but I think it's the best around:

(55th comment to Arrington's TechCrunch entry):


P.S. I do agree with what you are saying (that sounds pretty bad also) D.

Posted by: Delia at March 3, 2008 12:58 PM

Seth, another important matter that Danny Wool has commented about (but not formally blogged) is that Wales expected Wool to work on the Foundation's dollar -- to coordinate $25,000 speaking engagements for the Sole Flounder, which Jimbo pocketed 100% of the money!

Excuse me, but isn't that misuse of a non-profit foundation's resources? Suitable for the IRS to have a look-see? Your thoughts, please!

Posted by: Gregory Kohs at March 3, 2008 01:18 PM

I agree with you in that the money issue is far more important. I was also taken back by his statement in his weblog post about this information being printed though he said not to. Incredibly arrogant.

However, Ms. Marsen just started up a celebrity/talent(?) agency and desperately needs publicity. I would say in this instance, Ms. Marsen played Wales (not to mention Valleywag and Arrrington) like a premier violinist.

Why is it, though, when there's any mention of women and Silicon Valley, it's always crap like this?

Posted by: Shelley at March 3, 2008 01:47 PM

Delia: Ah, A-listers recognizing the harm that can be done by irresponsible attacks from high-attention sources ...

Gregory: As a general rule, there needs to be a million dollars of malfeasance before the Feds will care. Tawdry, small-time, stuff, isn't worth their bothering with.

Shelley: Look at who is the intended audience for the mentions.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at March 3, 2008 03:25 PM

Seth: well, it's a whole lot of stuff in that comment so I guess it wasn't easy to see what I meant. Here's something a lot more to the point (although it doesn't have the detail his other comment had):

Dave Winer: "They got a good story because Wikipedia, the publication that Wales runs, has rules that prevent people from editing stories they have an interest in. Wales was trading edits to Rachel Marsden's profile for sex. They got him, and had they left out the parts you don't like, it wouldn't have been clear that they did.

Posted by: Delia at March 3, 2008 05:15 PM

P.S. he is assuming those transcripts are real (as far as I can see nobody is debating that) D.

Posted by: Delia at March 3, 2008 05:28 PM

Really, I just followed the links to see if there was a 'd' in "Marsden" or not.

And, also funny, just last night I argued that the ethical norms of Wikipedia are far more developed than those of Wikileaks. (wiki-sneaks, wiki-cheeks... wiki-reeks!)

(Yes, I know-- I should have link-baited that in the *first* comment to the "sex and scandal" post!)

Posted by: Jon Garfunkel at March 4, 2008 01:52 AM