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 Silver 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. Anonymous Coward
    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 !!

  51. John

    Kid, have you rehabilitated yourself?

    Alice's Restaurant - Arlo Guthrie

  52. Bob Bobson

    Temp to COO

    So I guess they let you edit your job description too. Wonder how those wiki-accounts are going by now...

    Looking something up on wikipedia is like asking your insane uncle Tom what the answer is. Except you know who to batter when Tom gives you total crap.

  53. Eddie Johnson
    Jobs Halo

    @Marco

    I assume they did quite a comprehensive background check on her searching Wikipedia for all of:

    * Carolyn Doran

    * Doran, Carolyn

    * Carolyn Sue Bothwell

    * Bothwell, Carolyn Sue

    When they found she hadn't written any articles about herself, or that she'd deleted any articles others had written about her, they made the logical assumption - she's squeaky clean. Because THEY know Wikipedia is NEVER wrong.

  54. Marco

    Durova speaks:

    "Regardless of the merits of the Carolyn Doran story, I'm quite concerned.

    An interview gives the Register the appearance of respectability.

    The Register recently ran two pieces that said very damaging things about me

    and made no effort to check its facts with me either time. Much of what it

    alleged was inaccurate, and one of those stories got picked up in the

    legitimate tech press. The result of that attention probably harms my

    career prospects.

    I've put in two years, 20,000 edits, and thousands of hours of volunteer

    time. Editors who know the facts of this situation have been e-mailing me

    saying they don't want to become administrators anymore. I don't think it

    helps volunteer morale for the Foundation counsel to give interviews to the

    Register, especially at this time, and particularly when it surprises us

    like this."

    http://lists.wikimedia.org/pipermail/foundation-l/2007-December/036020.html

    Honestly, isn't this all, well, fun? Like a constant internet soap opera. Kudos to Cade Metz for once again wading through the dreck to bring us this wikitainment.

  55. amanfromMars Silver badge
    Pirate

    @Durova speaks

    "Additionally, a heads up about imminent disclosure would also have

    been in order given the fact that you consented to an interview with

    the Register (of all publications) and presumably were aware that the

    story would be published.

    ******

    Regardless of the merits of the Carolyn Doran story, I'm quite concerned...... "

    Marco, The little piece above which was missing from your quote [and one does have to have a wry smile at "(of all publications)" ] would suggest that rather than ..Regardless of the merits, a more accurate descriptive would be ....Because of the merits..

    Let's hope that Google don't get too fond of themselves and hit the sub-prime excess route/root with knol. ..... http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/technology/article3054287.ece

    Although I can't help but think that whoever thought to forward that name, sober ... knol ... would have been better sozzled and thus more into the Groove and ITs Groves.

    It's handbags at dawn on the street but as you say, it's registering wikitainment and IT's Credibility...... which on dDeeper Analysis in the Bigger Pictures Plays must be much more Incredulous Incredibility ....... Mission Impossibility stuff dDelivered.

  56. Helen Joyner

    To Marco

    To Marco ... just a small correction. Her name is Carolyn Annette Bothwell Doran.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: "The result of that attention probably harms my career prospects."

    Damn straight, it did, and not just because the "legitimate tech press" picked it up.

    Nope, it was because your dirty knickers were hung out RIGHT HERE.

    I'm a senior IT manager, and I hire and fire people like you all the time. I also recommend purchasing, contracts, licensing deals and partnership agreements that affect a great many more people and companies.

    And I read The Register all the time. I'm exactly the kind of person they want eyeballing their ads (as a sop to them, I have made purchasing and licensing decisions based on El Reg reviews and/or ads).

    Your compatriots are quite justified in bailing out on the sinking ship HMS WikiTrainWreck. In fact, I'd STRONGLY suggest that the whole lot of you start immediately scrubbing your CVs of anything to do with the WikiDisaster Foundation. If your résumé hits my desk with that on it, I don't care if you change in a phone booth. You ain't joining my team. It's like tattooing "NUTTER" on your forehead.

    This should be a lesson to the whole lot of you, not just the WikiMedia people. The Internet is Forever, and your behavior as a young and socially awkward person can come back to bite you later.

    I get particularly disgusted at the behavior of people who run OSS "fiefdoms." It is almost amusing when some twenty-something geek lays an insult on me because I didn't feel like spending ten hours poring through their badly-structured, overly-complex "documentation," and had the temerity to ask a question. In most cases, I could out-geek them in a second, and they should actually be happy to have someone of my caliber using their project. Instead, they use me as a foil to salve their own rather delicate ego for a momentary gain in status.

    No matter how hot you think you are, you can sink your own career. Banging mortar shells with a ballpeen hammer is always a bad idea.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Happy

    Amusing, and All Too Predictable

    I am not sure which is more amusing, the ex-COO being unmasked as a felon, or the defenses of her and of Wikimedia for hiring her. It would be one thing if this was a single wrinkle in an otherwise successful operation, but that's not the case with Wikipedia. The organization has been involved in a variety of dodginess, including:

    - The founder's (Jimmy Wales's) collusion in a scheme to misrepresent the credentials of a senior official at the organization, and then to falsely represent the handling of the ensuing scandal.

    - Rampant disorganiziation and lack of accountability at Wikipedia.

    - An organization whose administrators are one-third children under 18, and another one-third semi-children between the ages of 18 and 25, both of which groups are prone to engage in petty fights and arbitrary actions having little or nothing to do with the subjects of articles they oversee.

    - Hiding the underlying commercial nature of the "non-profit" venture. Specifically, the activities and financing of Wikia, a for-profit, venture-backed corporation that seeks to profit from the popularity of software generated by the contributions of Wikipedia's unpaid volunteers.

    The underlying truth is that Wikipedia and its various affiliates are unmanaged, fact-free environments whose product is increasingly regarded worldwide as the unreliable work of amateurs. It is only to be expected that a thrice-convicted felon would be chosen as its COO. By the way, to whomever asked whether this would be news if done by Microsoft, the answer is that Microsoft wouldn't hire a felon for one of its top positions. Period.

  59. Tony Starks

    OK guys, get a reality check

    To the few of you feeling sorry for poor Carolyn

    I'd guess none of you are responsible for hiring executive staff or accountants. Hopefully you aren't responsible for hiring tellers at banks or grocery stores.

    She didn't just have a few DUI's - and I know a few good employees that have had that issue. See grown man with a good job on a moped - you have a guy with a drinking problem.

    She STOLE $300. She shot her boyfriend with a gun. She spent time in jail. This is not someone you want in your organization that has access to the money.

    Goodness but the gullible are present and accounted for....

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Re: Shit-stirring...

    Maybe she would have needed a Nobel Prize for Wackypedia to note

    the driving on suspended license and the manslaughter...

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Robert_Schrieffer

    and: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:John_Robert_Schrieffer

  61. kain preacher Silver badge

    @chris c.

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

    THis would not happen at IBM or MS because convicted felons can not serve as officers in a public company.

    Sheesh I'm surprised so many people missed that one

  62. Tim Butterworth
    Alert

    A tale of two Wikis

    Back when Wiki was just seen as the Internet geeks' DIY encyclopaedia, it didn't really matter how reliable or responsible the folk in charge of Wiki were. Most sensible people didn't really expect Wiki content to be that accurate, and so all info was taken with a pinch of salt. A couple of years ago Wiki was heaven for fans of any subject you can think of, but was only seen as a starting point for those seeking genuine knowledge.

    But now Wiki has gotten big ideas. Rather than being just a user-based info store, it now wants to be seen as a proper encyclopaedia. Bearing statistics about comparative accuracy of Wiki and proper encyclopaedia’s, bods at the top of Wiki are travelling the world touting their site as being reliable enough to quote as a source for school essays.

    Only Wiki isn't a real encyclopaedia, and recent events have bourn this fact out. An encyclopaedia is utterly dependent upon its public persona - it has to be seen as unbiased and reliable as well as accurate. Encyclopaedias don't just sell information, they also sell trustworthiness, and even if Wiki is more accurate than its well-established competitors it is currently a lot less trustworthy. Having a COO who is apparently a convicted fraudster and manslaughterer is extremely damaging to Wiki as it shatters any illusions people may have had regarding the professionalism of those running the organisation.

    Wiki is dotcom all over again. In the normal world it takes companies many years to go from fledgling idea into global brand, and this is time for all the bad bits to be weeded out. With an internet company, huge short term success is achieved before it is possible to work out whether the concept is big enough to survive, or, perhaps just as importantly, for the undesirable staff to be found out and removed before a high media profile is gained. On the face of it Wiki looks like an efficient, well run big company - but behind the scenes it is clearly quite amateurish and poorly managed. It has expanded beyond its ability to mature and develope its staff base.

    I'm not saying that Wiki won't survive this turmoil... just like IMDB, Wiki does provide a very useful service. However, I do think that the aspirations for Wiki to replace the likes of Encyclopaedia Britannica are pretty much over for the time being. Unless they start shipping Wiki on eBook with the words 'Don't Panic' written on the cover in friendly letters!

  63. amanfromMars Silver badge

    @Amusing, and All Too Predictable

    Crikey, AC, with that Modus Operandi they'll be reinventing themselves as NeWikipedia/Files.

  64. Martin Usher

    Come on -- this is an English site

    This "convicted felon" business is America-speak. She's probably done some dumb stuff when younger but only in Amerika does it follow you around for life.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Will the nittwits please stand down

    At Mr. Tony Starks an other like minded folks:

    The subject of this newspiece should never EVER have been hired to the post at Wikipedia, that much is true.

    As for the personal appraisal, do you know for sure that even if DUI she was the one to blame in the fatal incident? Are you ready to stone her because she stole 300 bucks? How do you feel about Enron management? Do you think someone should be locked away because of a newsbite account of her/his misdeeds? (if yes is your answer to the last question, I think you don't deserve to live in a western democracy, and should be shipped right away to one of those Sharia abbiding countries)...

    Justice is not about vindication, but trying to set right what is wrong!

    Excuse me for coming from another planet.

  66. Mike Landers
    Coat

    When it comes to working there

    I suppose it brings a whole new meaning to the Wikipedia tag "citation needed".

  67. kain preacher Silver badge

    @Martin Usher

    aYes being convicted in america means you lose the right to vote and the right to own guns UNLESS YOU GO TO COURT and get your civil liberties restored. Who would want to by stocks in a company that hires felons to run it ????

    Get convicted of a felony in most states y will also lose you medical license, reality's license.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Will the nittwits please stand down

    If you have a conviction for stealing money it isn't sensible that you be given a job where you handle money and be responsible for financial audit trails.

    That's pretty obvious.

  69. Colin Sharples
    Black Helicopters

    Duck and cover

    What's really hilarious is the ass-covering going on at Wikipedia. The Carolyn Doran article has been deleted, but the discussion page is still there, and it makes fairly grim reading. All those guidelines that get trotted out when Patrick Byrne tries to post something just got thrown out the window in an attempt to cover the whole thing up. At least there were a couple of editors who were prepared to own up to it, and restored the discussion page, otherwise there would have been a complete Orwellian removal-from-history of Ms Doran.

    One of the editors said: "The whole way this has been dealt with leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Every decision seems to have been made by some cabal, not by consensus."

    Exactly.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Re: Duck and Cover

    Hoo-Whee!

    What a pathetic mess:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Carolyn_Doran

    You can't pay for entertainment THIS good!

    Thanks, WikiPedia! You're right! Free IS better!

  71. amanfromMars Silver badge

    Enough is enough already...

    "Cheque fraud, shooting a boyfriend, and DUI are commonplace and hardly notable, and that is what the "references" are." ....http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Carolyn_Doran

    Sounds like quite a notable series of misfortunes/clumsinesses/bad decisions even without mentioning causing death and as for commonplace, well, in your world maybe but not necessarily in anyone else's, matey.

  72. Eric Wilner

    Is this the same Carolyn Bothwell...

    ...whose husband, Sean H. Doran, drowned on their honeymoon in 1999?

    http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/shdoran.htm

  73. WAvegetarian
    Dead Vulture

    checked sources recently, or do you just like sensationalism

    The shooting thing is what really gets me. She was a battered woman and the victim of sustained physical domestic abuse. She took a plea deal for a sentence of probation, i.e. NO JAIL TIME OR EVEN A FINE, because she didn't want to risk custody of her three-year-old son being given to a physically abusive man. As an American citizen I can tell you that ridiculously stupid things like that (the custody thing) happen in our "justice" system.

    Was she at fault in the hit and run? I don't know, and neither, apparently, does The Register. Given that she received a sentence of about 6 months I'm guessing she was not found to be at fault. In any event, it happened over 15 years before her being hired and wasn't picked up in a background check if one was done. Admittedly, it was silly at the least to not have done one, but she was hired through a temp agency initially which may have intimated that all their workers had already been screened.

    Her May 20th arrest was on a Sunday, and she was released the same day. Not likely to make it in to the local press. When was the last time you looked through all the police records to find people's names you recognize? Is this a common occurrence? If so, you should probably find something better to do with your time. There should be no reasonable expectation that this incident would have come to their attention. And yes, it was a felony of the lowest degree by nature of the fact that it had occurred multiple times in the last 10 years, however there is no such felony-corollary in the UK.

    Stopped by immigration when she came back from Amsterdam? Really? What's your point? I got stopped by immigration when I came back to the United States from China. She clearly wasn't trying to flee the country, didn't miss any court dates, and we actually have no idea what the interview was about. It could have been anything. Security is so tight in U.S. airports right now that I got pulled aside because my French press looked too much like a bomb in their x-ray machine.

    Lastly, an arrest warrant was issued a month after she left Wikipedia. Does The Register look at police records frequently to see whether former employees have been arrested as well as current ones? I'm assuming it does, otherwise there was no reason to bring this up other than to add to the sensationalism of the story and sell more copy to rake in the £££ & $$$. The Register is clearly too upstanding to have that be its motivation, so is it actually a creepy Big Brotheresque organization? If it were to find out that an ex-employee who left a month prior was arrested, what would it do? This article seems to imply that something should be done. I would like to know what.

    It is articles like this one, twisted to provide the largest sensationalism possible, that remind me that as much as The Register makes itself out to be an upstanding investigative source, it is really no better than the rest of the British tabloid press.

  74. Joe Beaudoin
    Alert

    @ WAvegetarian: Hate to break it to ya, but it gets worse.

    Say what you want about "The Register", but the Associated Press recently found out some more damning information on this convicted felon.

    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5hcWLu3fg-aDeJNfWTY6hlbz93oCwD8TM0HVG0

    Not only was there check fraud, but also credit-card fraud, which she was let go on because she squealed on a roommate!

    The truth is stranger than fiction ... but there it is.

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