December 24, 2008

On "A Personal Appeal From Wikipedia [*CO*]Founder Jimmy Wales"

There's a Wikipedia fundraising message which is drawing a bit of critical comment for the implicit self-promotion it contains. The efforts to remove Larry Sanger from history as a Wikipedia co-Founder are an ongoing matter. Worse, it plays into Wikipedia's weakness in that what's widely reported in the press tends to be taken as true, even if it's obviously the result of a PR campaign.

One could argue the text is not technically inaccurate. But I would also say it's fair to observe how this feeds into the history-rewriting process, and how there's a system of benefit to a small number of the insiders in this supposedly volunteer democratic process. As Wikimedia's UK PR-flack has stated: "Jimbo applying his rock star factor is one of his most useful jobs for WMF :-)"

Also notable is the appeal's statement that:
"Like a national park or a school, we don't believe advertising should have a place in Wikipedia."

Again, while not inaccurate, it's useful to know that Wales's own attitude towards advertising on Wikipedia in the early days was being quite open to it. And he certainly doesn't have the anti-advertising attitudes that many people think he has (to be fair, it's not all his fault, but he definitely gives certain impressions from which one might easily take a mistaken view).

One good quote, from 2003:

"I know that not many people share my curious political views, but to me, it's much worse to seek money from governments, i.e. to ask them to take money by force from others, than it is to accept advertising money."

But the number of people who will read this commentary is a joke compared to the hype-machine. [sad face]

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in wikipedia | on December 24, 2008 09:20 PM (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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The money factor that often tempts those heading the widely publicized not-for-profit "businesses" is a pretty incredible Idiom. Whenever you increase financial incentive you heavily reduce personal drive to succeed at your best (that was a thought from another writer I just can't find them at the moment) Great blog though - I have read your original articles and you really hit excellent points that unfortunately will go unacknowledged by a vast majority of those lacking this information.

we have to consider...that by upping financial incentives, we diminish a person's internal incentives to give of his best".

Posted by: Amber at December 26, 2008 09:45 AM