Jimmy Wales ‘disgusted’ as trustee accused of editing for profit

September 19, 2012
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(foxnews.com) Wikipedia users are up in arms over accusations that a trustee was providing front-page exposure and favorable edits to paying clients.

Roger Bamkin is a trustee for the the Wikimedia Foundation UK, the group behind the open-source encyclopedia. He is also a paid consultant, according to a CNET report, and has reportedly been using his position within Wikipedia to forward the cause of his clients.
The country of Gibraltar, which Bamkin has been representing, was featured in Wikipedia’s coveted “Did You Know” main page section seventeen times in August. Most other entries appear just once (with the exception of the Olympics), giving Gibraltar access to an enviable hundred million page views per month — and really annoying some of the site’s editors.
‘If [the stories are] accurate, then of course I’m extremely unhappy about it. It’s disgusting.’
– Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales
“It is wildly inappropriate for a board member of a chapter, or anyone else in an official role of any kind in a charity associated with Wikipedia, to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favorable placement on the front page of Wikimedia or anywhere else,” Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales wrote, when members broached the subject.
Wales admitted he didn’t know all the details of the case, but concluded that if the facts were true, Bamkin should resign from his post or sever ties with his client.
“The honorable thing for anyone with a conflict of interest driving them to act on behalf of a client … is resign from the board of Wikimedia UK, or resign from the job with the client,” he wrote.
Bamkin has been working on “Gibraltarpedia” for some months, a project in which Gibraltar would use QR codes and Wikipedia to digitize the city in the hopes of boosting tourism, which makes up a significant portion of the economy.
Several Wikipedia editors stepped in to defend the trustee, who they say has been upfront about his dual rules.
“As the minutes and disclosure statements show, Roger has been pretty clear about this with the board,” wrote Craig Franklin on an internal discussion board. “If there is a grand conspiracy here … then it’s a pretty inept one.”
Bamkin himself weighed in, saying he has tried to be upfront about the potential conflict.
“I have referred ethical dilemmas to the board. I have offered my resignation twice and it has not been accepted,” he wrote on the same board, denying that his actions represent any conflict.
But Wikipedia administrator “Beeblebrox” agreed with Wales. “Roger is acting as a paid consultant at the same time as he is on the Board of WMUK,” he posted in response to the co-founder’s comments. “That’s their problem but I share Jimbo’s feelings on the matter, he needs to resign one post or the other.”
There is no official policy against “paid editing,” noted Chris Keating, the chair of Wikimedia UK.
It’s the second time in a week that Wikipedia has come under scrutiny for conflicts of interest, after community members exposed another “Wikipedian in Residence” for running a PR and SEO-optimization business that leveraged his access to the Internet’s most popular encyclopedia.
Max Klein, the editor in question, quickly responded on his site, untrikiwiki, noting that despite advertising such services, he had yet to do any such business. “Although we have advertised such a service, we’ve not aggressively pursued it — and we have not accepted any clients interested in on-Wikipedia work.”
Wales was understandably peeved when users brought the incident to his attention in the same thread.
“If what you say is accurate, then of course I’m extremely unhappy about it. It’s disgusting,” he wrote.


Swedish Court Orders Arrest Warrant for WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange on Allegations of Rape and Sexual Molestation

November 18, 2010

(VOA) A Swedish court has ordered the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on allegations of rape and sexual molestation.
The court order, issued Thursday, followed a request from Swedish prosecutor Marianne Ny who is trying to bring Assange in for questioning in the case.
Swedish prosecutors also will seek an international arrest warrant for Assange, who often travels from country to country, staying with supporters.
Assange has denied the rape and molestation charges, which are based on his encounters with two women in August. He has said the allegations are part of a smear campaign.
A statement Thursday from Assange’s counsel, Mark Stephens, says both women have declared they had consensual sexual relations with Assange. Stephens also says the “rape” allegation has caused Assange and his organization “irreparable harm.”
The secretive and nomadic Assange has no permanent address. In October he was denied a residency permit in Sweden.
In a letter released by WikiLeaks Thursday, Assange’s Swedish counsel, Bjorn Hurtig, says Assange received permission from the Swedish prosecutor in September to leave Sweden in order to do business. He notes that Assange did not leave to avoid the Swedish justice system.
Since 2006, WikiLeaks has published almost a half-million secret U.S. documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Assange angered the Pentagon by revealing the classified documents, which were leaked to the organization.


At Wikibias, Nominations Being Accepted For The Most Biased Article on Wikipedia

October 6, 2010

Wikibias is looking for nominations for “The Most Biased Article on Wikipedia.” You can use their contact form to make your nomination.
One nomination is the Wikipedia article on Israeli Settlement, which on August 31 began:

Israeli settlements are Jewish only settlements” built by the Israel on occupied and confiscated land that is occupied through wars (such as the Six-Day War) and forceful evacuation of the indigenous people from their homes in Palestinian West Bank. Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The latter two areas are governed under Israeli civil law but all three territories are considered to be under military occupation by the international community.

A number of points are raised by Wikibias in the fisking of just this one paragraph alone, among them:

Indigeneity is both hotly contested and difficult to define. The Jewish people is indigenous or autochthonous in Judea and Samaria since this is where the Jewish people arose over 3,300 years ago. The Palestinian Arabs are also autochthonous in this sense, having come to define themselves as Palestinian in the 1920′s by some accounts, and with the founding of the PLO in 1964 by others. The Arab people are autochthonous or indigenous to the Hijaz where they arose in the seventh century. They arrived in the Land of Israel as conquerors.
On an individual level, many Jews were born in these villages and towns, some before 1948 and many after 1967. As individuals, they are indigenous. But just as the ancestors of many of the area’s Jews immigrated from other lands, so did the ancestors of many of the area’s Arabs, who came in a series of historical waves, including a great wave of immigration to economic opportunity in the early twentieth century. If they are not less indigenous than the Jews who came then, neither are they more indigenous.

Read the whole thing.
And don’t forget to give Wikibias your nomination for The Most Biased Article on Wikipedia