Jimmy Wales accused of editing Wikipedia for donations
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Friday, March 14, 2008
Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has been accused of editing pages in the encyclopedia in return for a donation to the . In an article published Tuesday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that former computer scientist alleged Wales had made edits to his article on his behalf, in exchange for a donation to the Wikimedia Foundation. The news hit the website later Tuesday, where the incident was dubbed "DonorGate".
According to, Merkey claims that he was told by Wales in 2006 that the Wikipedia article about him could be made more favorable in exchange for a donation. Merkey made a donation of 5,000 to the Wikimedia Foundation, and Wales made edits to the Wikipedia article about Merkey around the same time. Merkey published his claims on a public Wikimedia mailing list and sent a statement to .
|Of course I would never offer, nor accept any offer, whereby a donation would buy someone special editorial treatment in the encyclopedia.|
In a response Wales called Merkey's statements "nonsense", saying "Of course I would never offer, nor accept any offer, whereby a donation would buy someone special editorial treatment in the encyclopedia. I do routinely assist people with WP:BLP issues, and I do courtesies for many people. Donations have no bearing on that at all."refers to Wikipedia's policy regarding biographies of living persons on the encyclopedia.
After deleting the Wikipedia article about Merkey in 2006, Wales wrote to Wikipedia editors he had done so "because of the unpleasantness of it" and requested that they "be extra careful here to be courteous and assume good faith". After erasing the article, Wales placed the article under protection with editing access limited to established users. Merkey ceased his $5,000.00 per year payments to the Wikimedia Foundation after reviewing what he called "evidence of diversion and mismanagement of the charities funds by Wales and the Wikimedia Board of Trustees".
|The Wikimedia Foundation, its staff and board members, and the users of Wikipedia itself hold the core principles of 'no conflict of interest' in the highest regard.|
—, Wikimedia Foundation
In a statement responding to a post about the incident on the site Techtree.com, Wikimedia Foundation's Head of Communicationsaddressed the Foundation's principles regarding : "The Wikimedia Foundation (the Foundation which operates and maintains Wikipedia and other free knowledge projects) has never solicited or accepted donations for the purposes of making edits or offering protection to Wikipedia articles. Nor has Jimmy Wales ever solicited or accepted donations for the Foundation in this capacity. These allegations are completely false. ... Jimmy has been unfailingly ethical and frugal in the use of all Foundation funds. The Wikimedia Foundation, its staff and board members, and the users of Wikipedia itself hold the core principles of 'no conflict of interest' in the highest regard."
After leaving Novell amidst allegations of misappropriation of trade secrets, Merkey was sued by his former employer. He filed a harassment lawsuit against organizations including the website Slashdot in 2005. Merkey filed a suit againstand in 2006, claiming his son had become sick from E. coli contaminated spinach.
Merkey is banned from editing Wikipedia due to a ruling by Wikipedia's Arbitration Committee., Wikipedia's community-written and community-edited newspaper, reported that a Wikipedia user account used by Merkey was blocked in October 2005 for "Personal attacks, legal threats, harassment, disruption". Merkey was later allowed to come back to edit Wikipedia in May 2007 under a different account. As the result of a ruling by Wikipedia's Arbitration Committe in a July 2007 arbitration case, Merkey and two users who had harassed him on Wikipedia were banned from editing the encyclopedia for one year.
Last week Jimmy Wales faced accusations by former Wikimedia Foundation executive Danny Wool that he misused the Sue Gardner described Wool as "a disgruntled former employee" and called his claims "a whole bunch of unsubstantiated rumors and gossip". Wales's former girlfriend, journalist , recently leaked purported instant message transcripts with Wales, which implied Wales had used his influence to change the article about Marsden on Wikipedia. Wales ended his relationship with Marsden and made a public statement to that effect on Wikipedia, and in response Marsden opened an auction for some of Wales's clothing on .'s funds, and attempted to expense a visit to a Moscow massage parlor and high-priced bottles of wine. In an interview with , Wikimedia Foundation Executive Director
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- "Congressional staff actions prompt Wikipedia investigation" — Wikinews, January 30, 2006
- Christopher Nickson. "Wiki Boss In Money For Edit Furor: Wikipedia boss Jimmy Wales is accused of editing a page in the online encyclopedia in exchange for a $5,000 donation" — , March 13, 2008
- Iain Thomson. "Jimmy Wales in cash for articles allegation: Wikipedia co-founder in trouble again" — , March 13, 2008
- Scandal fallout continues: Accusations of financial impropriety receive more coverage" — , March 13, 2008 . "
- "Wikipedia founder accused of agreeing to alter page: report" — , March 12, 2008
- "Wikipedia struggles with funding" — , March 12, 2008
- "Wiki boss 'edited for donation'" — , March 12, 2008
- "Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales in donations row" — , March 12. 2008
- Barry Collins. "Wales in "Wiki bribes" scandal" — , March 12, 2008
- Asher Moses. "Cash-for-kindness scandal rattles Wikipedia" — , March 12, 2008
- "'DonorGate' Is Latest Scandal To Hit Wikipedia" — , March 11, 2008
- "Can the Wikipedia Show Go on?" — , March 11, 2008
- Asher Moses. "More woes for Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales" — , March 11, 2008