back to article Why would someone toss $1.35m at Wikipedia?

There's little doubt that anyone with the time and the inclination can overhaul at least a few Wikipedia entries to suit their personal ambitions. All they need is the right friends. Or a little pillow talk. The question is, could someone overhaul the entire encyclopedia? Over the past two years, one man has donated or "lined up …

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Scraping the bottom of the wiki-barrel

"Whether or not McNamee is interested in making money from Wikipedia - for himself or for someone else - the facts remain: He's donated a hefty wad to the Foundation, and he has the ear of Jimmy Wales."

Yeah, that about sums this non-story up. Someone's donated a large sum of money to an extremely prominent non-profit. There's no evidence that there were any untoward favours given in return, let alone plans put in place to convert Wikipedia to a professional encyclopaedia as some mediocre rock star suggested. Although that might be beneficial (Reg readers would presumably be in favour), it would be a huge change in strategy, result in a massive backlash, and would generally take more than a mere $1m to achieve before Wales even considered it. But Jimmy's had some (well, one) strange bedfellows and likes to test the limits of his expense account, so, er, wooooooo (spooky hand waving).

Incidentally, nothing like naming yourself after a rock song to inspire investor confidence. Any venture capitalist fans of Cannibal Corpse out there?

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Watching the watchers

@Scraping the bottom of the wiki-barrel

Jimmy Wales has got himself a pretty powerful position on the web and anything that keeps him on his toes/guard so much the better. Jimmy has shown signs of a bit of meglomania so the best thing is to step on him at every chance.

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Paris Hilton

The benefits

I'm a cynic at the best of times, but most wealthy people make charitable donations. At the very least they are a tax write off, so they do get a monetary benefit, as well as a warm glow inside.

Paris, because she's had more than a warm glow inside...

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Stop

Tax write off

It's not a net benefit.

You give away 1.35 million, you might get .35 million in tax relief, so you're still down a net 1 million dollars. And VC's aren't known for giving money away (well they are, but only when they think there's a chance of a big pay-off).

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Wiki boss 'edited for donation'

I'm surprised you folks missed the story in the BBC last week about Wales accepting a donation in exchange for editing a bio: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7291382.stm. The story starts out:

"Wiki boss 'edited for donation'

Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales has been accused of agreeing to edit a page on the online encyclopaedia in exchange for a donation.

Former Novell chief scientist Jeffrey Merkey says he donated $5,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation in exchange for changes to his Wikipedia entry."

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Representative governing body factor

Go ahead, search Google on the phrase "Representative governing body factor" and IRS Publication 557 won't be far behind. Then, you can learn that for an organization to claim "public support", it should be mindful of the following:

PUBLIC SUPPORT includes:

Direct or indirect contributions from the general public, including contributions from an individual, trust or corporation, but only to the extent that the total contributions from such individual, trust or corporation, during the 4-year period immediately before the current tax year (or substituted computation period) are not more than 2% of the organization's TOTAL SUPPORT for the same period.

I'm not sure how $1.3 million is going to be 2% of the Wikimedia Foundation's four-year total support, unless 2008 sees a $59 million grass-roots fund-drive MIRACLE. Not likely!

Not to worry, though. I'm sure Jimbo and his accountant Michael E. Davis (yeah, the guy who was found by an Illinois court to owe over $800,000 to a jilted investment partner) have figured out a way to make this all appear to be "gentle, loving" support from a disinterested philanthropist. Move along, now. Get back to writing Jimbo's encyclopedia, everyone. Don't you worry about the financial authenticity of the Foundation.

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Joke

Well enough written

that this time I actually got a page and a half in before brain kicked in and I realised that I actually couldn't give a flying monkeys chuff.

Well done also for keeping the page count down, but I still can't help feeling that one page for a story about Wikipedia would be more than enough, thanks.

In fact, a single headline once a month along the lines of "Wikipedia : It's not like a proper encyclopaedia, and it's spelled different." would probably do the trick.

Sorry Cede, it's evident that you really do put a lot of time and effort into these reports, I just can't help myself.

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Alien

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

not him again

Amanfromarse is more exciting, interesting, and relevant {:(

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Boffin

I'm WAY too cool to read stories about Wikipedia!

Just look at me, I'm so much cooler than the rest of you that I clicked all the way through the article and then posted a comment telling you all how I'm too cool to waste my time clicking all the way through articles and then posting comments.

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@Robert Feldman

The problem with that story is that story is that it is hard to trust Merkey about anything, given his previous conduct (google his name for details, especially the outcome of Novell's lawsuit against his company).

If someone else corroborated his claims then there might be a story. If it is just Merkey's word against Wales's, then it is difficult to say one way or the other: neither party seems to be that reliable or trustworthy.

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Paris Hilton

The problem with comments

The problem with comments is there's not much incentive to be nice. I think this is at the root of web2.0pedia problems - too easy to be anonymously unpleasant. Too easy to be a whinging melodramatic little twat. Much harder to take an equivocal balanced view. No "reward" for positive reinforcement, most people never see the comment they left ever again. There's no history, everyone's anonymous which seemed mysterious and empowering a decade and more ago - since then we've discovered that beating beneath the skin of a well-adjusted member of society lies a megalomaniacal sociopath simply itching to be unleashed, all it takes is freedom from consequence.

PH because she looks like a nice girl. I bet she wouldn't fiddle a wiki if you paid her - or jailed her perhaps - but I bet she's got a SpaceBook and could to sit on MyFace all afternoon making friends.

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Bronze badge

Curiouser and curiouser

I think the article is a fair comment, but then I'm not a Wiki-wally. It's fair to show an interest in where the money comes from for an information source which claims to be independent.

I think it's also right to keep running articles showing the problems with Wikipedia while there are still sufficient idiots around who think it supplies authoritative information.

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Bronze badge

> Scraping the bottom of the wiki-barrel

The Wiki is a powerful tool for propaganda. It has been used for various US politicians. One of it's editors has been highlighted in Michael Moore's own propaganda as a fellow given to misrepresenting him.

It regularly appears at or near the top of the first page a "search" turns up. I don't doubt that Google could reverse such tendencies but given the owners of Google too are rich and no doubt want to remain so...

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