Amy Chozick's profile of Jimmy Wales in The New York Times sparked significant controversy in international news outlets this week. Chozick's profile covered Wales's personal life, including his 12-year-old daughter, ex-wife, and current wife Kate Garvey, describing Wales himself as "a well-groomed version of a person who has been slumped over a computer drinking Yoo-hoo for hours." Chozick described his current role in Wikipedia as "Benevolent Dictator for Life", a statement which garnered conflict from all corners of the web, including from Wales, who responded to the piece as a whole with a lengthy talk page statement. The piece also reported his net worth at approximately US$1 million, attributed to his stock in Wikia and his frequent speaking engagements on the subject of Internet freedom.
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 spent a year with Wales filming "Truth in Numbers?" a 2010 documentary about Wikipedia.
It also touched on the controversies surrounding Wales's mainspace editing, including allegations that he edited the page of American rapper will.i.am to include information he acquired firsthand, without adhering to the Reliable Sources policy. Chozick tells the Wikipedia origin story sansLarry Sanger (though she later details the contention over Sanger's role) with an emphasis on what people close to Wales and various experts think about Wales's desire (or lack thereof) for wealth. Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard Law School professor, was quoted as saying, "Jimmy has had an ongoing valedictory lap for having catalyzed one of the greatest creations in the history of human knowledge ... 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." However, others, like filmmaker Scott Glosserman, were more critical. Chozick concluded the piece by describing Wales's busy life and newfound political connections, repeatedly questioning the economics of Wikipedia.
Wales responded to the inaccuracies he saw in a thread on his talk page, where the community at large discussed the article and its implications. Wales was critical of the piece and what he perceived as many factual errors included: "Then there is the cute bit about "B.D.F.L." [Benevolent Dictator for Life]—but as Wikipedians will know quite well, it's just not true. I'm not that, I'm not known as that, I've completely rejected that title, and it doesn't reflect the history or current reality of Wikipedia ... it's a weird piece with lots of errors of basic fact that could have been gotten right." Criticism was levelled at both Chozick and Wales over the article by members of the community in that thread. Chozick answered questions in a New York TimesBehind the Cover Story piece.
Wikipedia account and edits discovered from mass shooter
Adam Lanza, the perpetrator behind one of the United States' worst single-person mass shootings, was again the subject of a flurry of articles this week when the Hartford Courantreported that investigating authorities discovered that Lanza had used various Internet websites, including Wikipedia, under the same username.
The Courant withheld the username in question, but the quotes taken verbatim from Lanza's alleged posts made it a simple task for news sources to name User:Kaynbred, who edited between August 2009 and February 2010. In the same time frame, a user with the same name posted on various gun- and computer-related Internet forums, discussing topics varying from gun restrictions to .32 ACP to the capabilities of his laptop computer.
The Wikipedia user's twelve edits were possibly inaccurately described in sources as "a near-fixation" (Courant) and an "obsession" (Daily Dot) with Wikipedia's coverage of mass shootings, given the small number combined with large gaps in time between edits. Later reports contacted the Wikimedia Foundation for comments, with head of communications Jay Walsh responding in part that "[twelve] is a small number of edits, and we would not consider [them] to be an active user." Still, all of the edits were focused on human massacres—including the 2009 Collier Township shooting, Dawson College shooting, Richard Farley, and others—and many of the edits modified the guns used in the events. Farley, in particular, shows that Kaynbred added a complete list of the weapons used, an edit that remains mostly intact in the current article.
These revelations come just a few months after news reports detailing convicted mass shooter Anders Breivik's grand total of four Wikipedia edits, including a lengthy but copyright-infringing translation of Heimskringla (see previous Signpostcoverage).
Can rappers become the new Wikipedia?: The Washington Postreported on the website Rap Genius and its aspiration to be the Wikipedia of rap music.
Trial by Wikipedia: An American judge ruling on the acceptability of teaching yoga in that country's public schools called it a "trial by Wikipedia", saying that allegations that yoga is religious were unfounded. The story was picked up by Deseret News and the Los Angeles Times.
Wikipedia user trolls Wikipedia founder with bizarre painting because Wikipedia is insane: The User:Russavia/Pricasso controversy over the latter's painting of Jimmy Wales was reported on in Uproxx.
Israel and the Middle East on the battlefield of Wikipedia: Haaretzreported on various Middle-East-related edit wars.
Wikipedia is less sexist, thanks to a survey recount: Science 2.0 reviewed a PLoS One paper presenting a revised analysis of Wikipedia survey data, arguing that previous surveys had underestimated participation by female editors by a little over a quarter. Science 2.0 pointed out that one of the study's authors, B. M. Hill, is on the advisory board of the Wikimedia Foundation "and likely does not see the issue the way outsiders do". The paper itself drew attention to Hill's position under "competing interests", saying, "BMH serves on the advisory board of the Wikimedia Foundation as an unpaid advisor. The Wikimedia Foundation is one of the co-creators of the dataset which the authors analyze in this paper. The authors were not involved, in any way, in the creation or collection of the survey and do not believe BMH's role as advisor had any effect on the nature of this research."
Jimmy Wales interview: realbusiness.co.uk featured an interview with Jimmy Wales, covering Wikipedia and Wikia as well as Wales' family background.