Is Jimmy Wales actually not very open

Wikipedia: Too big to survive?

Jimmy Wales and the structural problems of his now monopolistic online dictionary. How business and politics bought their way from Wikipedia. Part 2

It was not a straightforward path by which James Donal Wales rose to become the admired inspirer of the interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia.

Business studies followed a career as a stock market speculator in Chicago before founding the more or less successful Internet search engine Bomis. We were looking for pornographic content from the Internet for a male clientele. Together with Larry Sanger, Wales then conceived the online encyclopedia Nupedia, from which the interactive encyclopedia Wikipedia soon emerged (see Part 1 Jimmy Wales: an icon with flaws).

After the Wikimedia Foundation was established as the sponsoring company of Wikipedia, Wales was able to liquidate the notorious porn search company Bomis. For its encyclopedia, which is open to all, Wales was inspired by the price theory of the economist Friedrich von Hayek from the Vienna School of Economics.

But Wales is also still an integral part of the radical market revolution as a so-called "social entrepreneur". Wales has been instructed as a "Fellow" with the Ashoka Foundation in the ordinations of social entrepreneurship.

The Ashoka Foundation works worldwide and is financed by the consulting firm McKinsey, among others. It is a matter of establishing social institutions that, in contrast to the traditional system of public welfare, are completely private-sector organized with the aim of making a profit.

The profits should then flow into the financing of social projects. The motto of the German Ashoka branch is: Germany, home of the changemakers. This also has something to do with change management, with which companies are turned inside out.

Is the online encyclopedia really that democratic, honest and open to everyone?

What comes along here in the guise of selfless charity aims to open the social and health sector to the profit principle. Public social institutions are already being converted into GmbHs. Once the profit-oriented business logic has been implanted, the path to the stock exchange is conceptually mapped out. The two most prominent Ashoka pupils are Mohammad Yunus, the inventor of microcredit and Nobel Prize winner from Bangladesh, and - Jimmy Wales.

The change that Wales has made in the knowledge landscape is impressive: Wikipedia is now a de facto monopoly among encyclopedias. It did it by motivating millions of people around the world to collectively collect knowledge through Wikipedia. But is the online encyclopedia really as democratic, honest and open to all as the philosophy of Wales suggests?

There are structural weaknesses that characterize both market radicalism and the Wikipedia philosophy: Hayek and his colleagues regularly ignore the fact that the completely unregulated economy in particular leads to the formation of corporations and cartels, which exactly that free competition kill whom the prophets of the free market claim to create. The same mechanism perverts the noble principles of optimal determination of the truth through knowledge negotiation processes at Wikipedia.

Directional struggle between liberation ideology and product ideology

Media scientist Christian Stegbauer has pointed out that behind the scenes at Wikipedia there is a war of direction between a "liberation ideology" and a "product ideology". A struggle for professionalization has long pushed the original idea of ​​a free negotiation of knowledge to the sidelines.

In his doctoral thesis 1, Marius Beyersdorff was able to demonstrate, based on the genesis of the German Wikipedia article on homeopathy, that the better argument does not prevail in the strict hierarchy of the online encyclopedia.

Rather, the decisive factor is the meritocratic 2 power that a "viewer" or "administrator" has fought for over the years, which decides on the correctness and truth of an article. In the wiki pecking order, alpha animals assert their opinion against outsiders in a sometimes rude and vulgar tone. Here, too, a trend towards concentration of power and monopoly can be seen.

Due to the wiki rules, every employee of the collective lexicon is actually obliged to be neutral. For a long time, however, people or entire complexes of topics such as naturopathy have been completely unabashedly denigrated. The first fall of this kind occurred in the early days of Wikipedia in the USA. Robert Kennedy's former personal assistant, John Seigenthaler, was suspected in a Wiki article of being involved in the murders of both Kennedy brothers.

The first fall into sin in the early days of Wikipedia

Back then, Wikipedia was still small, and Seigenthaler was able to get rid of this defamation by calling Wales. In the German Wikipedia, quite a number of public figures are denigrated as "right-wing populists", "anti-Semites" or "conspiracy theorists". Wikipedia authors are never known to the public by their real names. They all fight with pseudonyms with a closed visor and are not to be prosecuted legally.

In terms of press law, the Wikimedia Foundation is responsible for the articles on German Wikipedia, and this is not within the reach of the German judiciary, as various judgments by the Cologne and Hamburg regional courts have made terrifyingly clear. Their judgments cannot be enforced in the USA.

In addition, the truthfulness of the wiki articles is massively undermined, both externally and internally. Marvin Oppong has shown in a study for the Otto Brenner Foundation that many commercial enterprises in Germany employ full-time lobbyists who, under the protection of Wikipedia cover names, rewrite articles according to the taste of their clients.

This can lead to so-called "edit wars": opposing groups repeatedly rewrite a lexicon article in their own way, and the opponent's version is deleted and back again until the article is blocked for a certain period of time.

In the run-up to Christmas, the Wikimedia Foundation also uses the seasonally increasing willingness to donate among citizens by making its own appeals for donations. Again and again, the inaccurate impression is given that the global project is being financed by its users alone. In fact, the lexicon foundation's money stores are bursting at the seams.

Only a small part of the generous sponsorship money has to be spent on day-to-day operations. The foundation currently has a whopping $ 48 million in assets.

Influence of the political establishment in the USA on the content

The large corporations and their foundations transfer millions of euros to the Wikimedia account. To date, the Lexicon Foundation has received approximately twenty million tax-exempt dollars from the economy.

Among the sponsors are: the Alfred Sloan Foundation of the former General Motors boss; the search engine giant Google, which generously places Wikipedia articles among the first ten answers for almost every search query; the Hewlett Foundation of the founder of the office machine factory of the same name.

The Ford Foundation should not be left unmentioned, which not only financed Sesame Street, but also financed US ideological outposts in Europe after the Second World War as a cover letterbox of sums of money from the US secret service CIA.

However, the influence of the political establishment in the USA on the content of Wikipedia is much more tangible and can only be explained by the close personal ties between American decision-makers. The following example is a love triangle: on the one hand there is the Stanton Foundation. This foundation was established by the former director general of the media multinational CBS, Frank Stanton, in 1991. Stanton was also director of RANDCorp, a think tank from the arms industry, for many years.

Since Frank Stanton had no descendants, he transferred his fortune to the married couple Graham and Elizabeth Allison. Ms. Allison became a board member of the Stanton Foundation. Her husband Graham, in turn, is a professor of politics at Harvard University, there at the Belfer Center, a research facility of the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

At the same time, Graham Allison is a leading member of the elite New York Council on Foreign Relations, the president of which he was once in conversation with; also member of the Trilateral Commission and the Brookings Institution. So Allison is an important link between the transatlantic centers of gravity.

Purchased editorial work at the online encyclopedia

Now in 2011 Ms. Allison had a donation of no less than 3.6 million dollars to the Wikimedia Foundation in San Francisco from the Stanton Foundation. Previously, Stanton had donated $ 1.15 million.

Of these donations, the Wikimedia Foundation took 53,000 dollars to finance the position of a Wikipedian in residence.

This, too, is a little known position in the Wikipedia cosmos. The resident Wikipedian works for an institution for a certain period of time, and edits Wiki articles for this institution, and receives a decent salary either from Wikimedia or from the host institution. That resident at the Belfer Center was named Timothy Sandole and had never edited a Wikipedia article before.

For one year he was supposed to use his salary to "improve" Wikipedia articles in the areas of security, foreign and geopolitics in the sense of the Belfer Center. It is striking that Sandole has woven texts by Graham Allison and his friends from the transatlantic elite into the wiki texts and imported their point of view.

Gregory Kohs has set up a blog page critical of Wikipedia, on which he has meticulously traced countless such cases of purchased editorial work at the online encyclopedia. Not all cases are as spectacular as the one just described. One can, however, wonder how clumsily some hidden PR writers have gone to work. The makers of the card game "Cards against Humanity" donated $ 70,000 to Wikimedia. The inventor of the game is called Josh Dillon.

Coincidentally, the wiki article about the macabre card game was edited by a certain "Jsdillon". Pretty much all corporations donate to the Wikimedia Foundation. Even the aircraft manufacturer Boeing with small amounts.

For years now, a user with the pseudonym "Finlayson" has been writing wiki articles about Boeing aircraft, but also about the competitor McDonnell-Douglas. The avid flight expert is Jeff Finlayson's real name and a structural analyst at Boeing, says Krohs, and Finlayson hasn't disagreed.

Krohs also states that Wikipedia mentions many companies that, due to the relevance criteria, actually have no place there. Due to the immense traffic on the Wikipedia pages, a placement on Wikipedia is a very inexpensive advertising space under these circumstances.

Will the phase of decadence now follow?

The phase of liberation ideology and the subsequent product ideology may now be followed by the phase of decadence at Wikipedia. In the UK, large-scale medium-sized entrepreneurs and celebrities have been pressured by Wikipedia authors to pay for benevolent Wiki entries.

Wikimedia Great Britain had to block 381 accounts of Wikipedia users in order to put a stop to the criminal machinations.

Due to the professionalization and commercialization of Wikipedia, the willingness to participate has drastically decreased. A study comes to the conclusion that the number of Wikipedia authors in the USA has decreased by more than 30% since 2007.

The cause is suspected to be the defensive tone of the established and networked Wikipedians in their offices as sifters and administrators. These are overtaxed in their quasi police tasks of article control and have simplified their control work through automated monitoring programs with the internal name "bots".

This has a very demotivating effect on newcomers who are editing a Wikipedia text for the first time and whose work is immediately deleted again by an invisible hand. Most of the debutants are turning their backs on Wikipedia. But the number of hits on Wikipedia articles has also fallen sharply recently.

Part 3: Jimmy Wales in the Olympus of the super rich

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