Jimmy Wales

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Jimmy Wales
Other names Jimbo
Website blog.jimmywales.com
Born 7th August 1966
Huntsville, Alabama, USA
Occupation President of Wikia Inc

Jimmy Donal Wales (born 7 August 1966 in Huntsville, Alabama; popularly known as 'Jimbo') is an entrepreneur best known for co-founding the free on-line encyclopedia Wikipedia with Larry Sanger. Wales is a former options trader who then founded Bomis, a web portal which provided the initial funding for Nupedia, which later spawned and was overtaken by Wikipedia. Today, Wales is the de facto head of Wikipedia and is regularly described in the media as a highly influential figure. He is the co-founder of Wikia, a wiki hosting service, and was CEO of Wikia until June 2006.

Wales has been honored with numerous awards: a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a listing in Time's 100 influential people in 2006. Wales subscribes to the Objectivist philosophy of Ayn Rand and is a 'small-l' libertarian.

Controversies

Wales has argued that some features that distinguish Citizendium from Wikipedia—for example, the ability to contribute to Wikipedia anonymously—will not lead to a better, more reliable encyclopedia. In August, 2007, he was reported as saying "I think there's basically zero problems that can be solved by eliminating anonymity."[1] This was after the 'Essjay scandal', in which an anonymous contributor was found to have faked credentials on Wikipedia.[2] Wales had initially defended 'Essjay' (Ryan Jordan) and supported Jordan's position as a salaried employee within Wikia, but withdrew support when he learned how Jordan had used false qualifications to further himself in disputes over article content.[3] Wales also argues against the idea of a central role for accredited experts within Wikipedia; when a hypothetical scenario of an adolescent changing the contribution of a professor of some 40 years' experience was put to him in 2008, Wales replied: "it often happens that the 17-year-old is right, and the professor is wrong." In 2003, Wales had declined to take up Sanger's recommendation that Wikipedia needed a role for experts. "He tends to be more of an old-fashioned academic about that sort of thing, and want people to have credentials and to have... sort of prove who they are and identify themselves and things like that", said Wales of Sanger.[4]

Other controversies involving Jimmy Wales include his claim to be the sole founder of Wikipedia[5], the manner in which he is reported to have ended his relationship with conservative journalist Rachel Marsden.[6], and his connections with the government of the Republic of Kazakhstan and Tony Blair through WikiBilim.[7]

Footnotes

  1. The Age: 'Founder defends evolving Wikipedia'. March 27, 2007.
  2. Slashdot: 'Academic Credentials and Wikiality'. March 1 2007.
  3. Cohen, Noam. A Contributor to Wikipedia Has His Fictional Side, The New York Times, 5 March 2007. Retrieved on 4 October 2013. “Just wanted to express my 100 percent support for everything you do around here. I think you were totally entitled to protect your identity. Don’t let all the fuss get you down!”
  4. VPRO.nl: 'The Truth According to Wikipedia'. YouTube video featuring Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger, April 7 2008. English version of a Dutch television documentary available at 'Wiki's Waarheid'.
  5. Bergstein, Brian (26 March 2007). Sanger says he co-started Wikipedia. NBC News. Retrieved on 4 October 2013. “When you write this up please do not uncritically repeat Sanger's absurd claim to be the co-founder of Wikipedia.”
  6. The Times: 'Fury of a woman scorned – on Wikipedia'. March 4 2008.
  7. Williams, Christopher. Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales restricts discussion of Tony Blair friendship, The Daily Telegraph, 24 December 2012. Retrieved on 4 October 2013.

See also