back to article Wikipedia COO was convicted felon

For more than six months, beginning in January of this year, Wikipedia's million-dollar check book was balanced by a convicted felon. When Carolyn Bothwell Doran was hired as the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Florida-based Wikimedia Foundation, she had a criminal record in three other states - Virginia, Maryland, and …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From temp to COO?

    Where do I get a gig like that? I'll even supply my own pencils and executive toilet paper!

  2. ben edwards

    Oh, the irony

    The irony of Wikipedia not checking the background of someone's history is just...delicious.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. yeah, right.

    Well, what did you expect?

    Maybe they had a wikipedian edit her CV? Sounds like their hiring standards match their information standards.

  5. Rich
    Gates Horns

    So?

    The wikimedia foundation's not a quoted company - is it accountable to anyone as to what it does and who it hires?

    Apart from the cheque kiting, do any of her "crimes" make her unsuitable for the job? I wouldn't let her loose on company vehicles, and I wouldn't hang around her if she's packing, but otherwise?

    Anyways, the US "justice" system is so dysfunctional that somebody having multiple felony convictions doesn't really say anything negative about their character, just that they were unlucky with the law. Really.

  6. Daniel Winstone
    Thumb Down

    They don't know anything

    It all happened before the current management got there.

    My goodness, such accountability within their own organization and it's supposed to be an unbiased (yeah right - read previous Reg reports) font of knowledge.

    Can't wait to see the final audit, I wonder what Wiki needs to spend money on, and how their contributors feel about it.

  7. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  8. Moby

    Is there anything they won't excuse?

    Oh the kool-aid is mighty juicy.

    Already they're excusing this one as "why would you do a background check for an office job?" Responsible for auditting $400k? Chief Operating Officer? pffft.. why indeed? It's not as if she was going to be a religious literature academic or something....

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Oh, the hilarity

    "Naturally, the Wikimedia Foundation does thorough and exhaustive background checks on all of our Chief Operating Officer hires," said a foundation spokesperson who demanded not to be identified. "In this case, we looked at over 300 past diffs, and found no evidence of vandalism, incivility, or 3RR violations whatsoever."

  10. Chris C

    Point?

    Look, I hate Wikipedia as much as the next person, but what's the point of this article? To single out an individual for further harassment and abuse? To say that convicted felons should no longer be able to get jobs? To point out that Wikipedia's lawyer doesn't know how to run a background check? This is not newsworthy at all. Would you run the same story if you were notified of a similar scenario at IBM, Microsoft, or Mozilla? It sounds like the individual concerned is a scumbag, no doubt, but there really is no purpose for this article.

  11. Ani

    coo

    Judge not, and be not judged. The woman passed checks and drank...so, she's bad, and can't be trusted with anything. Right? And what about the organization that hired her? They're bad, and can't be trusted either, right? Hey, what is the point of this expose? That Wikipedia has a dark side, and can't be trusted? I think the point, really, is that Wikipedia pisses people off -- mostly, it pisses people off who don't like it that it's an open, free, and 99% reliable information source. Right?

  12. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
    Flame

    From book keeper to COO?

    First one has to ask what sort of job application paperwork was filled out?

    (hint: "ARE YOU OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A FELONY?")

    Second, she was first at Wikimedia as a "book keeper" and as an employee she's hired as COO?

    That's like the job postings for CTO that really want to hire you as a lead architect.

  13. Richard Hebert
    Happy

    Heck of a reference ..

    For such a position , wouldnt we all get a

    reasonable background check made ?

    This is quite embarassing im sure .. and i beleive they

    will be WAY more carefull who they hire next.

    i hope ..

    /sarcasm

    BTW : is the content of wikipedia checked for accuracy as much

    as they checked her background ?

    /end sarcasm

  14. Charles

    Excellent job of muckraking.

    Great scoop you dug up there. I particularly loved the quote from the Wikimedia attorney, in denial that they knew about her arrest records, "We have, in our records, no evidence of any such thing."

    Guess what? Now they do. I searched up a couple of arrest records online at the Pinellas County Sherrifs Office (1 DUI and 1 DUI+Hit & Run arrests) and added them to the Wikinews story:

    http://tinyurl.com/39flaj

    This will be a test of Wikimedia. The links lead to incontrovertible facts. Will they stand, or will the links be removed under some lame pretext like NPOV?

  15. Somey

    @Ani

    >Judge not, and be not judged. The woman passed checks and drank...so, she's bad, and can't be trusted with anything. Right?

    I wouldn't say "anything." Maybe we could just keep it to "hundreds of thousands of anonymously-donated dollars."

    >And what about the organization that hired her? They're bad, and can't be trusted either, right?

    Right! By Jove, I think you've got it!

    >Hey, what is the point of this expose? That Wikipedia has a dark side, and can't be trusted?

    Sure seems that way, doesn't it?

    >I think the point, really, is that Wikipedia pisses people off -- mostly, it pisses people off who don't like it that it's an open, free, and 99% reliable information source. Right?

    Wrong - if Wikipedia were any of those things, it wouldn't piss people off so much. It comes reasonably close to being "free," at least, but hey, you get what you pay for.

  16. Peter
    Unhappy

    Is there any suggestion of impropriety?

    I'm really disappointed that the TheRegister posted such a publically damaging article about someone without any suggestion of recent impropriety on Carolyn's part with respect to Wikipedia.

    Perhaps Wikipedia was helping her get her life back together again, but that seems unlikely for now.

    As it is, with the new DUI, they were right to let her go, but were also right to let her go quietly.

    If she had embezzled funds from Wikipedia, then that /would/ be a story ...

  17. Patrick Byrne

    "open, free, and 99% reliable" if you own one

    Ani,

    If you think it is open, try posting this article there and see how long the record of your thought-crime persists:

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/12/06/wikipedia_and_overstock/

    Best,

    Patrick M. Byrne

  18. KDogg
    Stop

    I think some of you are missing the point...

    So she is an alcoholic, so what? So she shot her boyfriend, who cares? She has a felony conviction, felons deserve to be able to live and contribute to society. But to allow some one who has been convicted of writing bad checks to be in charge of auditing finances is one the stupidest things I have ever heard of. Allowing someone who has been caught stealing (because that is what you do when you write bad checks) control over such an important part of a companies finances is ludicrous. Plus who in the their right mind hires someone to such important position with such an out of control personal life? Organizations that operate as charities need and deserve this type of scrutiny.

    -Ani

    Nice that you only mentioned the drinking and the stealing... not the shooting people and complete disregard for others safety by repeatedly drinking and driving, which in turn led to her killing someone. Wikipedia not weeding this person out in the hiring process for such a important position is a direct reflection on the lackadaisical way that wikipedia is operated.

    -Rich

    I might agree with you... if she hadn't been convicted of drunk driving multiple times. Maybe being busted once I could understand. People make mistakes and a DUI can be easy to get and are monetarily and time consuming to resolve. BUT SHE KILLED SOMEONE BECAUSE SHE WAS DRUNK DRIVING AFTER BEING REPEATEDLY CONVICTED OF DUI'S. GIVE ME A BREAK. It doesn't sound like she is being unfairly targeted by the US justice system.

  19. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton

    Ah "Kid have you rehabilitated yourself?"

    Ah , most interesting CV , but no where as good as a number of has been boring ex female teeny pop singers with addiction issues , Hollywood's faded female child actresses posing as actresses suffering from the usual drug and alcohol and other types of addiction problems but having no real talent or even the redoubtable Paris Hilton either !

    This brings to mind a line from a popular song back in the seventies "Kid , have you rehabilitated yourself ?" !

    Move along nothing to see here , just another chapter in some poor unfortunate persons life where the US Justice System prohibits the word "rehabilitation" in order to fill the over crowded prisons and gulags with even more victims !

  20. Pantelis
    Alert

    Unlawful?

    I had no idea that wounding someone in the chest could be unlawful and therefore presumably lawful as well! I wonder what contsitutes lawful wounding of someone on the chest...

  21. Dave Cozens

    how would they know?

    >If she had embezzled funds from Wikipedia, then that /would/ be a story ...

    If she went from book-keeper to COO, who would know? They've obviously nobody else looking at the books...

    Watch this space for the audit results...

  22. James Condron

    Check Book

    Whats a check book?

  23. Spleen

    Unlawful wounding

    I would've thought that any gunshot to the chest would count as attempted murder. "Honestly, your Honour, I made sure to miss his vital organs, I just wanted to teach him a lesson". Maybe it was a BB gun.

    This is the funniest Wikipedia story I've seen yet - albeit the rest were mainly trying to edit [[Molehill]] into #REDIRECT [[Mountain]]. I wonder how I'd feel about it if I was still editing there.

  24. Steve

    Re: Check Book

    "Whats a check book?"

    It's something accountants use to keep a record of all of the cheques that they've written. The name comes from using it to "check" the amount you've spent against the amount you've got left.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh for heaven's sake

    Why on earth should someone who has convictions for "passing bad checks, theft, petty larceny" be prevented from having a job where they're in charge of a big wad of finance?

    Oh, hang on...

  26. Yordan Georgiev
    Alert

    Trust for donations

    I will think next time more before donating to wikipedia ... They should know that once started asking for donations their responsibility grows even further ...

    I quess more openess means also easier flow of dirt in-house ...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    @Chris C

    "Would you run the same story if you were notified of a similar scenario at IBM, Microsoft, or Mozilla?"

    Do you *read* this site? Or are you just new? *Of course* El Reg would publish juicy scandal about those three.

    And we'd lap it up. Oh god. Are we all really Daily Mail readers with higher IQs?

  28. Matt

    Funny

    I don't want to comment on rehabilitation or anything so complex. However the picture of the Wiki-wallies trying to do accounts is wonderful. Can you see them all editing the books and trying to remove access to the IRS because they don't like their edits?

  29. david Bronze badge

    qualify as charitable deductions.

    Not all of us live in the USA.

    I know it's a foreign concept, but some of us don't use the IRA registered charity list.

    I know the writers get paid for words, so it's hard to blame Cade. That's what editors are for.

  30. Colin Jackson

    Jeez

    It's amateur-hour 24 fucking 7 at Wiki it seems. The place sounds like one of the circles of hell. Disfunctional? Bad management, bad concept, bad culture...

  31. Gil

    Re:Point

    @Chris C:

    I think the "Point" is that unlike "IBM, Microsoft and Mozilla", Wikipedia is financed from public donations, and regularly indulges in anything ranging from mild pan-handling to "we won't be here anymore if you don't pay" threats.

    To be honest, I'd say the story holds a lot of interest to any poor saps who have actually handed over their hard-earned cash - wouldn't *you* like to know if your contributions to knowledge actually ended up (legally or, possibly otherwise) in the pockets of a murderer?

  32. Rich
    Joke

    Treasure Island Police...

    How can anybody take that seriously?

    Aaaarrrr, you're nicked, Jim-lad! We're taking you to the Jolly Roger Courthouse!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm

    I think the point is more that a part of her role was

    "her fiscal duties included ensuring effective audit trails, approving expenditures, providing proper fiscal record-keeping and reporting, and submitting monthly financial statements to the board of directors."

    And

    "Her record also included convictions for passing bad checks, theft, petty larceny,"

    Now the drunkness and death by dangerous driving stuff doesn't matter much in terms of the job (well alcholism does effect your work but is a completly seperate matter.) But passing bad checks and theft when you're in charge of cash? That could be a problem.

    But anyway that's life sometimes.

  34. Evil Graham
    Stop

    Judged?

    Quote: "Judge not, and be not judged."

    Definitely. I mean, we've all shot someone from time to time, haven't we? And come on, what's the harm in getting bladdered and driving around? Everyone does it, and it's not as if anyone died.

    Well, OK, one did - but that's not bad considering how much drunk driving she did. She should get some credit for that, because driving's a lot harder when you're pissed.

    Passing off forged cheques? That's a victimless crime isn't it?

    Yes, I think we've all been hypocritical.

  35. Illsay

    Unlucky with the law...

    ...according to Rich means getting caught after killing someone because of drunk driving. Interesting thought just before the holiday season.

    Cheers (and remove those no good license plates).

  36. James Taylor

    Exact ETA

    '"It's very hard for us to give an exact ETA on it, but we expect it in a few weeks."'

    How do you give an 'Exact ETA' anyway?

    An estimate is, by definition, not precise.

    /Pedant

  37. alex dekker

    Shit-stirring vs investigative journalism

    Why on earth does the personal life of a Wikipedia official deserve this kind of scrutiny?

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Whether she...

    ...should be called a 'scumbag' or not, she clearly isn't very well, and yes, they should have done a proper check before hiring her.

    More to the point, though, thank you for writing a snark-free article about Wikipedia.

  39. Matthew Joyce

    No-fly list - another rip-roaring success

    Nice to see that the airline checking system is bang on target - they managed to spot her in time to stop her leaving the airport the *second* time. A pity that it missed the first, which was the only offending one...

  40. unsung rob

    erm, she killed someone right?

    "In the summer of 2005, Doran went to prison for a DUI hit and run with a fatality, and when she was released in January of 2006, she was put on probation."

    For a start WTF? you get 6 months for a fatal hit and run!?!?!?

    Second anyone who does hit and run should not be trusted with a spoon let alone a cheque book.

  41. Smell My Finger
    Flame

    Wikipedia is a cult

    Given the cult of Wikipedia is closer to Scientology than anything else I suggest people avoid it at all costs. It's a conduit for arseholes, the worship of arseholes and terrible, unreliable information. We don't need another pseudo-religious/personality cult.

  42. Rob
    Coat

    @AC

    "Oh god. Are we all really Daily Mail readers with higher IQs?"

    WHAT!?! Nobody told me I had to have a high IQ :(

    And what's all this TI stuff (or is it IT?) that all you people keep talkin about.

    (That's my coat there thanks, the one with the Sun paper in the pocket)

  43. Graham Bartlett

    "Judge not, and be not judged"

    Alternatively, "Judge, and hold yourself up to the same rules".

    Killing someone because you're wasted is not a victimless crime. Deliberately causing losses to people or companies with rubber cheques and direct theft is not a victimless crime. Shooting your partner is not a victimless crime.

    If I'd done any of these, I would reasonably expect my future job prospects to be affected. I would certainly expect companies to ask about my criminal record, in case this demonstrated a pattern of criminal behaviour which made me unfit for the job. I would DEFINITELY expect it in a job where I was responsible for managing $400,000 of finances!

    And to misquote dearest Oscar, "To commit one crime might be an accident. To commit four DUIs, one shooting, multiple thefts and a parole violation looks like carelessness - or criminality."

  44. David S

    @Pantelis

    Heart surgery.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    Charity commission

    Over here in Blighty, any registered charity is expected to look after it's money rather better than any old limited company - I don't think that many of them would get away with saying that they were unaware of previous financial convictions, let alone so many other 'issues'. Then again, I would be shocked and dismayed if an org like WikiPedia managed to gain charitable status at all!

  46. Marco

    Re: Point?

    >>> Look, I hate Wikipedia as much as the next person, but what's the point of this article? To single out an individual for further harassment and abuse? To say that convicted felons should no longer be able to get jobs? To point out that Wikipedia's lawyer doesn't know how to run a background check? This is not newsworthy at all.

    It is exactly the last bit that IS newsworthy and, given the last two pieces El Reg ran, sheds further light on Wikipedia's inner proceedings.

    I can't help being quite sarcastic here: Maybe they did run a background check on her and came to the conclusion that with that CV she has the exact requirements for the job.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    the Foundation's lawyer, Mike Godwin, was adamant that Doran resigned her post.

    Presumably just after she compared someone to the Nazis?

  48. Marty

    @ Pantelis

    Lawful wounding in the chest is when the cops fire a warning shot.....

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ Ani

    "Judge not, and be not judged. The woman passed checks and drank...so, she's bad, and can't be trusted with anything. Right? And what about the organization that hired her? They're bad, and can't be trusted either, right? Hey, what is the point of this expose? That Wikipedia has a dark side, and can't be trusted? I think the point, really, is that Wikipedia pisses people off -- mostly, it pisses people off who don't like it that it's an open, free, and 99% reliable information source. Right?"

    OK, I thought you were being serious until the "99% reliable" part - then I knew you were trolling.

  50. Ishkandar
    Thumb Up

    @Marco

    Exactly !! There's that old saw about poachers and gamekeepers, you know !! I presume that her problem(s) at Wiki are not in the financial aspects but, rather, in the intoxication aspect !!

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