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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jimmy Wales

Jimmy Wales in December 2008
Born Jimmy Donal Wales
August 7, 1966 (1966-08-07) (age 43)[note]
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
Residence St. Petersburg, Florida
Nationality United States
Other names Jimbo (online nickname)[1]
Alma mater Auburn University
University of Alabama
Indiana University Bloomington
Occupation Internet entrepreneur
Known for Co-founding Wikipedia
Title President of Wikia, Inc. (2004–present)
Chairman of the Wikimedia Foundation
Term June 2003 – October 2006
Successor Florence Devouard
Board member of Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, Socialtext, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (advisory board)
Awards EFF Pioneer Award (2006), The Economist's Business Process Award (2008), The Global Brand Icon of the Year Award (2008)
Personal weblog
English Wikipedia userpage

Jimmy Donal Wales (pronounced /ˈdoʊnəl weɪlz/; born August 7, 1966[note]), also known as "Jimbo", is an American Internet entrepreneur and a co-founder and promoter of Wikipedia.[2][3]

Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama. He attended a small private school and a university preparatory school, and then earned bachelor's and master's degrees in finance. While in graduate school, he taught at two universities. Wales later took a job in finance, and worked as the research director of a Chicago futures and options firm for several years. In 1996, he and two partners founded Bomis, a web portal that targeted males, and which hosted, and provided the initial funding for, the peer-reviewed encyclopedia Nupedia (2000–2003) and its successor, Wikipedia.

In 2001, together with Larry Sanger and others, Wales helped launch Wikipedia, a free, open-content encyclopedia which enjoyed rapid growth and popularity. As Wikipedia's public profile grew, Wales became the project's promoter and spokesman. Wales is historically cited as a co-founder of Wikipedia, though he has disputed the "co-" designation in declaring himself the sole founder.[4][5] Wales serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit charitable organization which operates Wikipedia. He holds its board-appointed "community founder" seat. In 2004, he co-founded Wikia, a privately-owned, free Web-hosting service, with fellow Wikimedia trustee Angela Beesley.

Wales has been married twice and has a daughter with Christine, his second wife, from whom he is separated. He describes himself as an Objectivist and, with reservations, a libertarian. His role in creating Wikipedia, which has become the world's largest encyclopedia, prompted Time magazine to name him in its 2006 list of the world's most influential people. Wales is the de facto leader of Wikipedia.[3][6]


Early life and education

Wales was born in Huntsville, Alabama in the United States on August 7, 1966.[7][note] His father, Jimmy,[8] worked as a grocery store manager while his mother, Doris, and his grandmother, Erma, ran the House of Learning,[9] a small private school in the tradition of the one-room schoolhouse, where Wales and his three siblings received their early education.[7][9] As a child, Wales was a keen reader with an acute intellectual curiosity,[3] and, in what he credits to the influence of the Montessori method on the school's philosophy of education, "spent lots of hours pouring [sic] over the Britannicas and World Book Encyclopedias".[1] There were only four other children in Wales' grade, so the school grouped together the first through fourth grade students and the fifth through eighth grade students.[1] Wales is sharply critical of the government's treatment of the school, citing the "constant interference and bureaucracy and very sort of snobby inspectors from the state" as a formative influence on his political philosophy.[1]

After eighth grade, Wales attended Randolph School,[10] a university-preparatory school in Huntsville, graduating at sixteen.[11] Wales has said that the school was expensive for his family, but that "education was always a passion in my household ... you know, the very traditional approach to knowledge and learning and establishing that as a base for a good life."[1] He received his bachelor's degree in finance from Auburn University (notable for its free market economists) and entered the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama before leaving with a master's degree to enter the Ph.D. finance program at Indiana University.[1][7][11] He taught at both universities during his postgraduate studies, but did not write the doctoral dissertation required for a Ph.D., something which he has ascribed to boredom.[1][7]


Chicago Options Associates and Bomis

In 1994, rather than writing his doctoral dissertation, Wales took a job with Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago, Illinois.[1][12][13] By "speculating on interest rate and foreign-currency fluctuations," he had soon earned enough to "support himself and his wife for the rest of their lives," according to Daniel Pink of Wired magazine.[9] Wales has described himself as having been addicted to the Internet from an early stage and used to write computer code as a pastime.[14] During his studies in Alabama, he became an obsessive player of Multi-User Dungeons (MUDs)—a type of virtual role-playing game—and thereby experienced the potential of computer networks to foster large-scale collaborative projects.[11][15]

Inspired by the remarkable initial public offering of Netscape in 1995, he decided to become an internet entrepreneur,[11] and in 1996 founded the web portal Bomis with two partners.[9][16] The website featured user-generated webrings and for a time sold erotic photographs.[17] Wales described it as a "guy-oriented search engine" with a market similar to that of Maxim magazine;[1][7][18] and according to The Atlantic Monthly it "found itself positioned as the Playboy of the Internet".[16] Bomis did not become successful, but in March 2000 hosted and provided the initial funding for the Nupedia project.[7][9][19]

Philosopher Larry Sanger, whom Wales hired as editor-in-chief of Nupedia

Nupedia and the origins of Wikipedia

Though Bomis had struggled to make money, it provided Wales with the funding to pursue his greater passion, an online encyclopedia.[7] While moderating an online discussion group devoted to the philosophy of Objectivism in the early 1990s, Wales had encountered Larry Sanger, a sceptic of the philosophy.[3] The two had engaged in detailed debate on the subject on Wales' list and then on Sanger's, eventually meeting offline to continue the debate and becoming friends.[3] Deciding to pursue his encyclopedia project years later, Wales invited Sanger—who at that time was a doctoral student in philosophy at Ohio State University—to be its editor-in-chief, and in March 2000, Nupedia ("the free encyclopedia"), a peer-reviewed, open-content encyclopedia, was launched.[1][7] The intent behind Nupedia was to have expert-written entries on a variety of topics, and to sell advertising alongside the entries in order to make profit.[3] The project was characterized by an extensive peer-review process designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias.[20]

The idea was to have thousands of volunteers writing articles for an online encyclopedia in all languages. Initially we found ourselves organising the work in a very top-down, structured, academic, old-fashioned way. It was no fun for the volunteer writers because we had a lot of academic peer review committees who would criticise articles and give feedback. It was like handing in an essay at grad school, and basically intimidating to participate in.

—Jimmy Wales on the Nupedia project, New Scientist, January 31, 2007[21]

In January 2001, Sanger was introduced to the concept of a wiki by extreme programming enthusiast Ben Kovitz after explaining to Kovitz the slow pace of growth Nupedia endured as a result of its onerous submission process.[22] Kovitz suggested that adopting the wiki model would allow editors to contribute simultaneously and incrementally throughout the project, thus breaking Nupedia's bottleneck.[22] Sanger was excited about the idea, and after he proposed it to Wales, they created the first Nupedia wiki on January 10, 2001.[22] The wiki was initially intended as a collaborative project for the public to write articles that would then be reviewed for publication by Nupedia's expert volunteers. The majority of Nupedia's experts, however, wanted nothing to do with this project, fearing that mixing amateur content with professionally researched and edited material would compromise the integrity of Nupedia's information and damage the credibility of the encyclopedia.[23] Thus the wiki project, dubbed "Wikipedia" by Sanger,[4] went live at a separate domain five days after its creation.[13][19]


Early development

Neither Sanger nor Wales expected very much from the Wikipedia initiative.[13][15] Wales, anticipating "complete rubbish", hoped that if they were lucky, Wikipedia might yield a couple of rough draft entries for Nupedia.[13] To the surprise of Sanger and Wales, within a few days of launching the number of articles on Wikipedia had outgrown that of Nupedia, and a small collective of editors had formed.[12][15] Many of the early contributors to the site were familiar with the model of the free culture movement, and, like Wales, many of them sympathized with the open-source movement.[23] Wales has said that he was initially so worried with the concept of open editing, anyone can edit the encyclopedia, that he would awake during the night and monitor what was being added.[24][25] Nonetheless, the cadre of early editors helped create a robust, self-regulating community that has proven conducive to the growth of the project.[7]

Sanger developed Wikipedia in its early phase and guided the project.[4][26] The broader idea he ascribes to Wales, remarking in a 2005 memoir for Slashdot that "the idea of an open source, collaborative encyclopedia, open to contribution by ordinary people, was entirely Jimmy's, not mine, and the funding was entirely by Bomis", adding, "the actual development of this encyclopedia was the task he gave me to work on."[27] Sanger worked on and promoted both the Nupedia and Wikipedia projects until Bomis discontinued funding for his position in February 2002;[28] Sanger resigned as editor-in-chief of Nupedia and as "chief organizer" of Wikipedia on March 1 of that year.[29][30] In the early years, Wales had supplied the financial backing for the project,[26][31] and entertained the notion of placing advertisements on Wikipedia before costs were reduced with Sanger's departure and plans for a nonprofit foundation were advanced instead.[32]


Wales has asserted that he is the sole founder of Wikipedia,[5] and has publicly disputed Sanger's designation as a co-founder. Sanger and Wales were identified as co-founders at least as early as September 2001 by The New York Times and as founders in Wikipedia's first press release in January 2002.[33][34] In August of that year, Wales identified himself as "co-founder" of Wikipedia.[35] Sanger assembled on his personal webpage an assortment of links that appear to confirm the status of Sanger and Wales as co-founders.[4][36] For example, Sanger and Wales are historically cited or described in early news citations and press releases as co-founders.[4] Wales was quoted by The Boston Globe as calling Sanger's claim as "preposterous" in February 2006,[37] and called "the whole debate silly" in an April 2009 interview.[38]

In late 2005, Wales edited his own biographical entry on the English Wikipedia. Writer Rogers Cadenhead drew attention to logs showing that in his edits to the page, Wales had removed references to Sanger as the co-founder of Wikipedia.[39][40] Sanger commented that "having seen edits like this, it does seem that Jimmy is attempting to rewrite history. But this is a futile process because in our brave new world of transparent activity and maximum communication, the truth will out."[18][41] Wales was also observed to have modified references to Bomis in a way that was characterized as downplaying the sexual nature of some of his former company's products.[13][18] Though Wales argued that his modifications were solely intended to improve the accuracy of the content,[18] he apologized for editing his own biography, a practice generally frowned upon at Wikipedia.[18][41]


Wales delivering the keynote speech ("The State of the Wiki") at Wikimania, the conference for Wikimedia projects, in Buenos Aires in 2009

In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Wales outlined his vision for Wikipedia: "Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing."[42] The growth and prominence of Wikipedia made Wales an Internet celebrity.[43] Though he had never traveled farther than Canada and Mexico prior to founding the site, his participation in the Wikipedia project saw him flying internationally on a near-constant basis as its public face.[3][14]

Although his formal designation is that of mere board member and chairman emeritus of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wales' social capital within the Wikipedia community has accorded him a status that has been characterized as benevolent dictator, constitutional monarch and spiritual leader.[44][45][46] He is also the closest the project has to a spokesman.[3] Despite his non-intensive involvement in the day-to-day operation of the encyclopedia, Wales has denied intending to reduce his role, telling The New York Times in 2008 that "Dialing down is not an option for me ... Not to be too dramatic about it, but, ‘to create and distribute a free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single person on the planet in their own language,’ that’s who I am. That’s what I am doing. That’s my life goal."[45]

Wales appearing as a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustees on a panel at Wikimania 2007.

Wikimedia Foundation

In mid-2003, Wales set up the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF), a non-profit organization founded in St. Petersburg, Florida, and based in San Francisco, California.[47][48] All intellectual property rights and domain names pertaining to Wikipedia were moved to the new foundation,[49] whose purpose is to establish general policy for the encyclopedia and its sister projects.[15] Originally its chairman, and an initial member of the Board of Trustees,[50] Wales has held the honorary title of Chairman Emeritus of the foundation since 2006. He serves on the Board of Trustees, holding its board-appointed "community founder" seat.[51] His work for the foundation, including his appearances to promote it at computer and educational conferences, has always been unpaid.[17] In a 2007 interview, Wales stated that he thought that "donating" Wikipedia to the foundation was both the "dumbest and the smartest" thing he'd done. On the one hand, he estimated that Wikipedia was worth US$3 billion; on the other, he weighed his belief that its donation made possible his success.[21]

Wales' association with the foundation has led to controversy. In March 2008, Wales was accused by former Wikimedia Foundation employee Danny Wool of misusing the foundation's funds for recreational purposes. Wool also stated that Wales had his Wikimedia credit card taken away in part because of his spending habits, a claim Wales denied.[52] Then-chairperson of the foundation Florence Devouard and former foundation interim Executive Director Brad Patrick denied any wrongdoing by Wales or the foundation, saying that Wales accounted for every expense and that, for items for which he lacked receipts, he paid out of his own pocket.[53] Later in March 2008, it was claimed by Jeffrey Vernon Merkey that Wales had edited Merkey's Wikipedia entry to make it more favorable in return for donations to the Wikimedia Foundation, an allegation Wales dismissed as "nonsense".[54][55]

Wikia and later pursuits

In 2004, Wales and then-fellow member of the WMF Board of Trustees Angela Beesley founded the for-profit company Wikia.[12] Wikia is a wiki farm—a collection of individual wikis on different subjects, all hosted on the same website. It hosts some of the largest wikis outside Wikipedia, including Memory Alpha (devoted to Star Trek), Battlestar Wiki (Battlestar Galactica) and Wookieepedia (Star Wars).[56] Another service offered by Wikia was Wikia Search, an open source web search engine intended to challenge Google and introduce transparency and public dialogue about how it is created into the search engine's operations,[57] but the project was abandoned in March 2009.[58] Wales stepped down as Wikia CEO to be replaced by angel investor Gil Penchina, a former vice president and general manager at eBay, on June 5, 2006.[59] Penchina declared Wikia to have reached profitability in September 2009.[60]

In addition to his role at Wikia, Wales is a public speaker represented by the Harry Walker Agency,[61] which characterizes him as "the founder" of Wikipedia.[62]

Personal life

Jimmy Wales with his second wife Christine

Wales has been married twice, and has one child.[1][14] At the age of 20, Wales married Pam, a co-worker at a grocery-store in Alabama.[14] He met his second wife, Christine Rohan, through a friend in Chicago while she was working as a steel trader for Mitsubishi.[1][11] The couple were married in Monroe County, Florida in March 1997,[63] and had a daughter before separating.[53] Wales moved to San Diego in 1998, and after being dissuaded by the housing market there, relocated in 2002 to St. Petersburg, Florida,[31] where he has remained as of 2007.[11][64]

Wales had a brief relationship with Canadian conservative columnist Rachel Marsden in 2008 that began after Marsden contacted Wales about her Wikipedia biography.[65] After accusations that Wales' relationship constituted a conflict of interest, Wales announced in March 2008 on his Wikipedia user page (and later on his personal blog) that there had been a relationship but that it was over and claimed that it had not influenced any matters on Wikipedia.[66][67] Marsden claimed that Wales had made statements to the contrary via instant messenger, and further claimed that Wales ended the relationship "via an announcement on Wikipedia".[68]

Thought and influences

Wales in June 2008

Wales is a self-avowed "Objectivist to the core";[57] Objectivism being an individualist philosophy developed by writer Ayn Rand in the 20th century. Wales first encountered the philosophy through reading Rand's novel The Fountainhead while an undergraduate,[1] and in 1992 founded an electronic mailing list devoted to "Moderated Discussion of Objectivist Philosophy".[3][69] Though he has stated that the philosophy "colours everything I do and think",[3] he has said "I think I do a better job—than a lot of people who self-identify as Objectivists—of not pushing my point of view on other people."[70] When asked about Rand's influence by Brian Lamb in his appearance on C-SPAN's Q&A in September 2005, Wales cited integrity and "the virtue of independence" as important to him personally. When asked if he could trace "the Ayn Rand connection" to having a political philosophy at the time of the interview, Wales reluctantly labeled himself a libertarian, qualifying his remark by referring to the United States Libertarian Party as "lunatics" and citing "freedom, liberty, basically individual rights, that idea of dealing with other people in a matter that is not initiating force against them" as his guiding principles.[1] An interview with Wales served as the cover feature of the June 2007 issue of the libertarian magazine Reason.[7]

Wales cites Austrian School economist Friedrich von Hayek's essay "The Use of Knowledge in Society", which he read as an undergraduate,[13] as "central" to his thinking about "how to manage the Wikipedia project".[7] Hayek argued that information is decentralised – that each individual only knows a small fraction of what is known collectively – and that as a result, decisions are best made by those with local knowledge rather than by a central authority.[7] Wales reconsidered Hayek's essay in the 1990s, while reading about the open source movement (which advocated that software be free and distributed). He was moved in particular by "The Cathedral and the Bazaar", an essay and later book by one of the founders of the movement, Eric S. Raymond, which "opened [his] eyes to the possibilities of mass collaboration".[13] From his background in finance and working as a futures and options trader, Wales developed an interest in game theory and the effect of incentives on human collaborative activity, a fascination to which he credits enabling much of his effort with Wikipedia.[71] He has rejected the notion that his role in promoting Wikipedia is altruistic, which he defines as "sacrificing your own values for others", stating "[t]hat participating in a benevolent effort to share information is somehow destroying your own values makes no sense to me".[14]

Honors, awards and positions

Jimmy Wales receiving the Quadriga award on October 3, 2008
  • Mid-2005 — Wales is appointed as a member of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.[1]
  • October 3, 2005 — Wales joins the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses.[72]
  • 2006 — Wales joins the Board of Directors of the non-profit organization Creative Commons.[73]
  • May 8, 2006 — Wales is listed in the "Scientists & Thinkers" section of the 100 influential people special edition of Time magazine.[74]
  • June 3, 2006 — Wales receives an honorary degree of doctor of laws from Knox College.[75]
  • May 3, 2006 — The Electronic Frontier Foundation awards him a Pioneer Award.[76]
  • 2006 — Wales is appointed to the advisory board of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence.[77]
  • January 23, 2007 — Forbes magazine ranks Wales twelfth in its first annual "The Web Celebs 25".[78]
  • 2007 — Wales is recognized by the World Economic Forum as one of the 'Young Global Leaders' of 2007.[79]
  • May 2008 — Wales co-chairs the World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2008 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.[80]
  • 2008 — CORUM awards him The Global Brand Icon of the Year Award for 2008.[81]
  • 2008 — Wales accepts on behalf of the Wikimedia project the Quadriga award of Werkstatt Deutschland for A Mission of Enlightenment.[82]
  • October 30, 2008 — Wales is awarded the Business Process Award at the 7th Annual Innovation Awards and Summit by The Economist "for public collaboration as a form of product and content development."[83]
  • November 4, 2009 — Wales is recognized with the Nokia Foundation annual award (2009) "for his contributions to the evolution of the World Wide Web as a participatory and truly democratic platform".[84]
  • November 2009 — Wales is awarded the Monaco Media Prize for enabling collaborative knowledge-seeking.[85]
  • December 7, 2009 — Wales announces that he will be joining the New York City-based as Board Member and advisor.[86]

Published work


^ Although Wales' 1997 marriage certificate (to Christine Rohan), the Encyclopaedia Britannica, Current Biography Yearbook and Who's Who in America state that he was born on August 7,[87] his Florida driver's license gives his birthday as August 8, and he has stated that the August 7 date is incorrect.[88]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Lamb, Brian (September 25, 2005). "Q&A: Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia founder". C-SPAN. Retrieved 2006-10-31. 
  2. ^ "Wikipedia: 50 languages, 1/2 million articles". Wikimedia Foundation Press Release. Wikimedia Foundation. 2004-04-25.,000_Wikipedia_articles&oldid=473206. Retrieved 2009-04-10. "The Wikipedia project was founded in January 2001 by Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales and philosopher Larry Sanger," quoted from the April 25th, 2004 first-ever press release issued by the Wikimedia Foundation.
     • "Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, reaches its 100,000th article". Wikipedia Press Release. Wikipedia. 2003-01-21. Retrieved 2009-04-10. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Brain scan: The free-knowledge fundamentalist". Technology Quarterly (The Economist). 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Bergstein, Brian (March 25, 2007). "Sanger says he co-started Wikipedia". MSNBC. Associated Press. Retrieved March 26, 2007. "The nascent Web encyclopedia Citizendium springs from Larry Sanger, a philosophy Ph.D. who counts himself as a co-founder of Wikipedia, the site he now hopes to usurp. The claim does not seem particularly controversial—Sanger has long been cited as a co-founder. Yet the other founder, Jimmy Wales, is not happy about it." 
  5. ^ a b Olson, Parmy (October 18, 2006). "A New Kid On The Wiki Block". Forbes. Retrieved 2009-03-28. 
  6. ^ Frith, Holden (March 26, 2007). "Wikipedia founder launches rival online encyclopaedia". London: The Times. Retrieved 2008-03-07. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Mangu-Ward, Katherine (June 2007). "Wikipedia and beyond: Jimmy Wales' sprawling vision". Reason 39 (2): p. 21. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  8. ^ Kazek, Kelly (August 11, 2006). "Geek to chic: Wikipedia founder a celebrity". The News Courier. Archived from the original on March 20, 2008. "Doris Wales’ husband, Jimmy, wasn’t sure what she was thinking when she bought a World Book Encyclopedia set from a traveling salesman in 1968." 
  9. ^ a b c d e Pink, Daniel H. (March 13, 2005). "The Book Stops Here". Wired 13 (3). Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  10. ^ Brown, David (2007-12-11). "Jimmy Wales '83". Alumni Profiles (Randolph School). Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f Barnett, Cynthia (September 2005). "Wiki Mania". Florida Trend 48 (5): p. 62. Archived from the original on October 17, 2002. 
  12. ^ a b c McNichol, Tom (May 1, 2007). "Building a Wiki World". Business 2.0 (CNN). Retrieved October 31, 2007. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g Schiff, Stacy (2006-07-31). "Know It All". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
    b "Even Wales has been caught airbrushing his Wikipedia entry—eighteen times in the past year. He is particularly sensitive about references to the porn traffic on his Web portal. 'Adult content' or 'glamour photography' are the terms that he prefers, though, as one user pointed out on the site, they are perhaps not the most precise way to describe lesbian strip-poker threesomes. (In January, Wales agreed to a compromise: 'erotic photography')."
  14. ^ a b c d e Lipsky-Karasz, Alisa (September 2008). "Mr. Know-It-All". W magazine. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  15. ^ a b c d The Atlantic Monthly, September 2006, p. 93. "Wales, though, was a businessman. He wanted to build a free encyclopedia, and Wikipedia offered a very rapid and economically efficient means to that end. The articles flooded in, many were good, and they cost him almost nothing. [...] In 2003, Wales [decided to] diminish his own authority by transferring Wikipedia and all of its assets to the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation, whose sole purpose is to set general policy for Wikipedia and its allied projects. [...] Wales’s benign rule has allowed Wikipedia to do what it does best: grow. The numbers are staggering."
  16. ^ a b The Atlantic Monthly, September 2006, p. 88. "In 1996, Wales and two partners founded a Web directory called Bomis. [...] Wales focused on the bottom-up strategy using Web rings, and it worked. Bomis users built hundreds of rings—on cars, computers, sports, and especially 'babes' (e.g., the Anna Kournikova Web ring), effectively creating an index of the 'laddie' Web. Instead of helping all users find all content, Bomis found itself positioned as the Playboy of the Internet, helping guys find guy stuff."
  17. ^ a b Brennen, Jensen (June 26, 2006). "Access for All". The Chronicle of Philanthropy 18 (18). 
  18. ^ a b c d e Hansen, Evan (December 19, 2005). "Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio". Wired News. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  19. ^ a b Rosenzweig, Roy (June 2006). "Can History Be Open Source? Wikipedia and the Future of the Past" (reprint). The Journal of American History 93 (1): 117–146. Retrieved April 22, 2009. 
  20. ^ Gouthro, Liane (March 14, 2000). "Building the world's biggest encyclopedia". PC World (CNN). Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  21. ^ a b Marks, Paul (February 3, 2007). "Interview with Jimmy Wales: Knowledge to the people" (video). New Scientist (Reed Business Information) 193 (2589): 44. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  22. ^ a b c The Atlantic Monthly, September 2006, p. 91. "The wiki [technology] quickly gained a devoted following within the software community. And there it remained until January 2001, when Sanger had dinner with an old friend named Ben Kovitz. [...] Over tacos that night, Sanger explained his concerns about Nupedia’s lack of progress, the root cause of which was its serial editorial system. [...] Kovitz brought up the wiki and sketched out 'wiki magic,' the mysterious process by which communities with common interests work to improve wiki pages by incremental contributions. If it worked for the rambunctious hacker culture of programming, Kovitz said, it could work for any online collaborative project. The wiki could break the Nupedia bottleneck by permitting volunteers to work simultaneously all over the project. [...] Wales and Sanger created the first Nupedia wiki on January 10, 2001. The initial purpose was to get the public to add entries that would then be “fed into the Nupedia process” of authorization."
  23. ^ a b Sidener, Jonathan (December 6, 2004). "Everyone's encyclopedia". The San Diego Union-Tribune: p. C1. Retrieved April 22, 2009. 
  24. ^ Getz, Arlene (February 1, 2007). "In Search of an Online Utopia". Newsweek ( Archived from the original on April 18, 2007. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  25. ^ Tapscott, Don; Anthony D. (2008). Wikinomics. Penguin Group. p. 71. ISBN 1591841937. 
  26. ^ a b Singer, Michael (January 16, 2002). "Free Encyclopedia Project Celebrates Year One". Jupitermedia. Archived from the original on 2003-03-16. Retrieved 2008-02-27. 
  27. ^ Sanger, Larry (April 18, 2005). "The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A Memoir". Slashdot. Retrieved October 31, 2005. 
  28. ^ Sanger, Larry (January 18, 2002). "What Wikipedia is and why it matters". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  29. ^ Sanger, Larry (March 5, 2007). "My resignation--Larry Sanger". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  30. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (January 6, 2006). "Wikipedia's co-founder eyes a Digital Universe". CNET News. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  31. ^ a b Smith, Wes (January 15, 2007). "He's the "God-King," but you can call him Jimbo". Seattle Times. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  32. ^ Finkelstein, Seth (September 25, 2008). "Wikipedia isn't about human potential, whatever Wales says". The Guardian (Guardian Media Group). Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  33. ^ Meyers, Peter (2001-09-20). "Fact-Driven? Collegial? This Site Wants You". The New York Times: p. C2. Retrieved 2008-10-31. "I can start an article that will consist of one paragraph, and then a real expert will come along and add three paragraphs and clean up my one paragraph."  —Larry Sanger.
  34. ^ "Free Encyclopedia Project, Wikipedia, Creates 20,000 Articles in a Year (Wikipedia 2002 Press release)". Wikipedia. January 15, 2002. Retrieved 2009-04-04. 
  35. ^ Wales, Jimmy (August 6, 2002). "3apes open content web directory". Yahoo! Tech Groups forum post (WebCite). Archived from the original on 2009-04-01. Retrieved 2009-04-03. "I'm Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Nupedia and Wikipedia, the open content encyclopedias." 
  36. ^ Mehegan, David (February 12, 2006). "Bias, sabotage haunt Wikipedia's free world". The Boston Globe: p. 4. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
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  38. ^ Cadenhead, Rogers (December 19, 2005). "Wikipedia Founder Looks Out for Number 1". Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  39. ^ Mitchell, Dan (December 24, 2005). "Insider Editing at Wikipedia". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-22. 
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  41. ^ Miller, Rob "Roblimo" (July 28, 2004). "Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds". Slashdot. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  42. ^ Ilse Arendse (2007-04-20). "MySpace will fail..". News24. Retrieved August 27, 2009. 
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  45. ^ Gleick, James (August 8, 2008). "Wikipedians Leave Cyberspace, Meet in Egypt". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved May 12, 2009. 
  46. ^ Twist, Jo (November 5, 2005). "Open media to connect communities". BBC News. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  47. ^ Cadelago, Chris (August 24, 2008). "Wikimedia pegs future on education, not profit". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  48. ^ Neate, Rupert (November 7, 2008). "Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales goes bananas". Retrieved April 21, 2009. 
  49. ^ Anthere [Florence Devouard] (August 23, 2004). "Board of Trustees". Wikimedia Foundation. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  50. ^ Terdiman, Daniel (April 30, 2008). "Wikimedia Foundation restructures its board". CNET News. Retrieved May 19, 2009. 
  51. ^ Moses, Asher (March 5, 2008). "Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales accused of expenses rort". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  52. ^ a b Kim, Ryan (March 5, 2007). "Allegations swirl around Wikipedia's Wales". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  53. ^ Moses, Asher (March 11, 2008). "More woes for Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  54. ^ "Wiki boss 'edited for donation'". BBC News. March 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-31. 
  55. ^ Bjortomt, Olav (August 18, 2007). "The arts online". London: Times Online. Retrieved May 11, 2009. 
  56. ^ a b Deutschman, Alan (March 2007). "Why Is This Man Smiling?". Fast Company. Retrieved 2008-10-31. ""Wales revealed that Wikia, his for-profit Silicon Valley startup, was working on Search Wikia, which he touted as "the search engine that changes everything ... Just as Wikipedia revolutionized how we think about knowledge and the encyclopedia, we have a chance now to revolutionize how we think about search."" 
  57. ^ Wales, Jimmy (March 31, 2009). "Update on Wikia - doing more of what’s working". Retrieved on May 4, 2009.
  58. ^ "Wikia taps eBay exec as CEO". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 2006-06-05. 
  59. ^ LaVallee, Andrew (September 9, 2009). "Wikia Hits Profit Target Early". Digits. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved October 17, 2009. 
  60. ^ "Jimmy Wales". Harry Walker Agency. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  61. ^ "Jimmy Wales (full biography)" (pdf). Harry Walker Agency. Retrieved September 25, 2009. 
  62. ^ "Florida Marriage Collection, 1822-1875 and 1927-2001". Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  63. ^ Lewine, Edward (November 18, 2007). "The Encyclopedist’s Lair". New York Times. Retrieved March 7, 2008. 
    C "Greatest misconception about Wikipedia: We aren’t democratic. Our readers edit the entries, but we’re actually quite snobby. The core community appreciates when someone is knowledgeable, and thinks some people are idiots and shouldn’t be writing."
  64. ^ The Canadian Press (March 2, 2008). "Canadian pundit, Wikipedia founder in messy breakup". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  65. ^ Moses, Asher (March 4, 2008). "Ex takes her revenge on Mr Wikipedia". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  66. ^ Bergstein, Brian (March 5, 2008). "Wikipedia's Wales defends breakup, expenses". USA Today. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  67. ^ Agrell, Siri (March 4, 2008). "Ms. Marsden's cyberspace breakup: tit-for-tat-for-T-shirt". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2008-10-31. "Hi, my name is Rachel and my (now ex) boyfriend, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, just broke up with me via an announcement on Wikipedia," she writes in the auction posting. "It was such a classy move that I was inspired to do something equally classy myself." 
  68. ^ Runciman, David (May 28, 2009). "Like Boiling a Frog". London Review of Books. Retrieved May 21, 2009. 
  69. ^ Sirius, R.U. (July 29, 2007). "Jimmy Wales Will Destroy Google". 10 Zen Monkeys. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  70. ^ Cole, Bruce (March/April 2007). "Building a Community of Knowledge". Humanities 28 (2). Retrieved December 27, 2009. 
  71. ^ SocialText (October 3, 2005). "Jimmy Wales Joins Socialtext Board of Directors; Wikipedia Founder to Advise Leader in Enterprise Wiki Solutions". Press release. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  72. ^ Garlick, Mia (March 30, 2006). "Creative Commons Adds Two New Board Members". Creative Commons. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  73. ^ Anderson, Chris (April 30, 2006). "Jimmy Wales: The (Proud) Amateur Who Created Wikipedia". Time.,9171,1187286,00.html. Retrieved February 17, 2008. 
  74. ^ "Knox College Honorary Degrees", Retrieved on 2008-10-31.
  75. ^ "EFF Honors Craigslist, Gigi Sohn, and Jimmy Wales with Pioneer Awards". Kansas City infoZine News. April 28, 2006. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  76. ^ "People: Advisory board", Retrieved on 2008-10-31.
  77. ^ Ewalt, David M. (January 23, 2007). "The Web Celeb 25". Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  78. ^ "Participants > Speakers > Jimmy Wales". 2008. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  79. ^ "World Economic Forum on the Middle East 2008". World Economic Forum. May 18–20, 2008. Retrieved May 12, 2009. 
  80. ^ "Corum announces Jimmy Wales as The Global Brand Icon of the Year Award". September 14, 2008. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  81. ^ Woodall, James. "Peter Gabriel: Rocker, Human-Rights Advocate". Intelligent Life. The Economist Group. Retrieved October 20, 2009. 
  82. ^ "The Economist Innovation Awards and Summit". October 30, 2008. Retrieved November 8, 2008. 
  83. ^ "Nokia Foundation awards the founder of Wikipedia". November 4, 2009. Retrieved November 05, 2009. 
  84. ^ Barnett, Emma (November 17, 2009). "Jimmy Wales interview: Wikipedia is focusing on accuracy". 
  85. ^ Wales, Jimmy (December 7, 2009). "What’s new for me: Hunch". Retrieved December 7, 2009. 
  86. ^ "Jimmy Wales". Britannica Book of the Year. 2007. Retrieved 2007-07-25.  In support of this date, the Britannica article cites:
    • "Jimmy Wales". Monroe, Florida's County Clerk website (Marriage License Database). Retrieved 2008-05-21. 
    • editor, Clifford Thompson... (February 28, 2007). Current Biography Yearbook. H. W. Wilson. ISBN 978-0824210748. 
    • Who's Who In America: Diamond Edition (60 ed.). Marquis Who's Who. October 12, 2005. ISBN 978-0837969909. 
  87. ^ Rogoway, Mike (July 27, 2007). "Wikipedia & its founder disagree on his birth date". Silicon Forest. The Oregonian. Retrieved October 31, 2008.. 


External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That's what we're doing.

Jimmy Donal "Jimbo" Wales (born 8 August 1966) is a U.S. Internet entrepreneur and wiki pioneer who is best known as the founder of Wikipedia, an international collaborative free content encyclopedia on the Internet, and Wikimedia Foundation.



  • I frequently counsel people who are getting frustrated about an edit war to think about someone who lives without clean drinking water, without any proper means of education, and how our work might someday help that person. It puts flamewars into some perspective, I think.
    • Quoted in Robin "Roblimo" Miller, "Wikimedia Founder Jimmy Wales Responds," Slashdot (2004-07-28)
  • [Wikipedia is] like a sausage: you might like the taste of it, but you don't necessarily want to see how it's made.
  • When someone just writes 'f**k, f**k, f**k', we just fix it, laugh and move on. But the difficult social issues are the borderline cases — people who do some good work, but who are also a pain in the neck.
    • "Who knows?", The Guardian (26 October 2004)
  • Wikipedia is first and foremost an effort to create and distribute a free encyclopedia of the highest possible quality to every single person on the planet in their own language. Asking whether the community comes before or after this goal is really asking the wrong question: the entire purpose of the community is precisely this goal.
  • Ideally, our rules should be formed in such a fashion that an ordinary helpful kind thoughtful person doesn't really even need to know the rules. You just get to work, do something fun, and nobody hassles you as long as you are being thoughtful and kind.
    • User talk statement (7 April 2005)
  • The real struggle is not between the right and the left but between the party of the thoughtful and the party of the jerks.
  • We are growing from a cheerful small town where everyone waves off their front porch to the subway of New York City where everyone rushes by. How do you preserve the culture that has worked so well?
  • Frankly, and let me be blunt, Wikipedia as a readable product is not for us. It's for them. It's for that girl in Africa who can save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around her, but only if she's empowered with the knowledge to do so.
    • Wikipedia-l mailing list (23 October 2005)
  • We are Wikipedians. This means that we should be: kind, thoughtful, passionate about getting it right, open, tolerant of different viewpoints, open to criticism, bold about changing our policies and also cautious about changing our policies. We are not vindictive, childish, and we don't stoop to the level of our worst critics, no matter how much we may find them to be annoying.
    • Wikipedia-l mailing list (18 December 2005, 15:39 UTC)
  • We come from geek culture, we come from the free software movement, we have a lot of technologists involved. If we had done the same sort of comparison on poets or artists, I think that we would not have fared nearly as well.
  • IAR is policy, always has been
    • Edit comment, removing attempts to minimize the significance of the Wikipedia:Ignore all rules policy statement (19 August 2006)
  • Quite frankly, several of the people who contributed to the article should be banned from coming near a keyboard until they have learned to engage in proper encyclopedia writing.
    • In a discussion about Wikipedia article (07 September 2006)
  • I think that argument is completely morally bankrupt, and I think people know that when they make it. There's a very big difference between having a sincere, passionate interest in a topic and being a paid shill ... Particularly for PR firms, it's something they should really very strongly avoid: ever touching an article.
    • PRWeek (30 Jan 2007) In response to suggestions Wikipedia might change policies to allow PR firms to edit the site without breaking a rule called "WP:AUTO".
  • I don't see any particular problem with that.
    • Responding to the deletion of a Wikipedia article from non-administrator view, while the article's deletion was being reviewed by the community. (27 March 2007)
  • EssJay was appointed at the request of and unanimous support of the ArbCom.
  • Greatest misconception about Wikipedia: We aren’t democratic. Our readers edit the entries, but we’re actually quite snobby. The core community appreciates when someone is knowledgeable, and thinks some people are idiots and shouldn’t be writing.
  • There’s plenty of rude stuff online. People say things online that they would be ashamed to say face to face. If people could treat others as though they were speaking face to face, that would be huge.
    • As quoted in "The Encyclopedist’s Lair" in The New York Times (19 November 2007)
  • I have said this many times in the past and will say it many times in the future I am sure: some people need to find a different hobby, because whatever they are here for, it is not to help build an encyclopedia.
    • Comment about "drama mongers" on the Wikipedia Administrator's noticeboard, (23 November 2007)
  • I don't really agree that most academics frown when they hear Wikipedia. Most academics I find quite passionate about the concept of Wikipedia and like it quite a bit. [...] The number of academics who really really don't like Wikipedia is really quite small and we find that they get reported on in the media far out of proportion to the amount they actually exist.
    • Wikimania 2008 Alexandria, press conference, 0'14 (August 2008)
  • We are a passionate community of volunteers who are trying to create a free encyclopedia for every single person on the planet. So we don't often think in terms of competition. We are going to do what we do and we hope Google does wonderful things as well. [...] If we were approaching this as a business we would think always: Oh, how can we position ourselves on the market... We just don't do any of that stuff.
    • Wikimania 2008 Alexandria, press conference, 0'20 (August 2008), asked about Google Knol
  • I have my team focused on the front end, working on the user experience, and making sure we have all the wiki-like tools people need to work on the site. We're just cranking away.
    • About Wikia Search, in an interview with Susan Kuchinskas in iMediaConnection, March 26, 2009 (only days before Wales would shut down Wikia Search and lay off two developers)

C-SPAN interview (2005)

Interview with Brian Lamb (25 September 2005) Transcript and Realplayer video
Wales: We help the internet not suck.

Wales: Our goal has always been Britannica or better quality. We don't always achieve that.
Lamb: Would you put them out of business?
Wales: You know, I don't know. I used to think so but I just was in Germany where Wikipedia is really big in Germany[..]. And Brockhaus is the — is the publisher of the Britannica style traditional encyclopedia. And their sales are up 30 percent in the last year even though Wikipedia is going through the roof. And I think there's a certain maybe there ends up being some complementarity to it that people[..]. So Wikipedia helps people to remember that hey, there is actually something to having a group of people edit, monitor, and put a level of trust to information. And so that makes Brockhaus more appealing, makes Wikipedia more appealing. So it's hard to say.

Lamb: Another thing I read about you is that you are a follower or have been at some point a follower of Ayn Rand?
Wales: That's right, yes.
Lamb: Who was she and do you still follow her and what is it about it that you like?
Wales: Yes. So Ayn Rand is the — she wrote Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, as is viewed by many as, you know, something of the founder of the libertarian strain of thought in the U.S. She would have rejected quite rightly, I think, the libertarian label. But I think for me one of the core things that is very applicable to my life today is the virtue of independence — is the vision, you know, if you know the idea of Howard Roark who is the architect in The Fountainhead who has a vision for what he wants to accomplish and, you know, there's some time in the book when he is frustrated in his career because people don't want to build the type of buildings he wants to build. And he's given a choice, a difficult choice, to compromise his integrity or to essentially go out of business. And he has to go and take a job working in a quarry. And for me that model has a lot of — a lot of resonance for me. You know when I think about what I'm doing — what I'm doing and the way I'm doing it is more important to me than any amount of money or anything like that because it's my artistic work.
Lamb: What year did you read Atlas Shrugged or Fountainhead?
Wales: I guess I was around 20 when I — when I read The Fountainhead.

Citation of undated articles

  • It's a very simple and pure goal. It's something that's good for the world. We're still not there by a long shot.
    • Comment to the Birmingham News, "Alabamian is brain behind Wikipedia"
  • "It's been an ongoing process of figuring out how the social model actually should work, how can you control the site to generate quality," Wales said. "It's an ongoing series of modifications."
    • Comment to the Birmingham News, "Alabamian is brain behind Wikipedia"
  • It's very exciting to all of us. I travel all over the world. I think that worries my mom some, (but) it's nice.
    • Comment to the Birmingham News, "Alabamian is brain behind Wikipedia"
  • Like the great artists Jerry Lewis and David Hasselhoff. I'm only appreciated overseas.
    • Regarding a cancelled event in St. Petersburg, as quoted in TechNewsWorld (dead link)
  • I'm more like the Queen of England — my power is decreasing over time. Soon, I'll just wave at parades.
  • To me the key thing is getting it right. And if a person's really smart and they're doing fantastic work, I don't care if they're a high school kid or a Harvard professor; it's the work that matters.
    • Long displayed quote on his User page at Wikipedia, and many other Wikimedia projects

About Jimmy Wales

  • The more time I spent on the site the more I came to think of Wales as some kind of Queen Ant, letting the vast colony go about its work, at the centre of a system where the knowledge of the community is infinitely larger than the sum of experience of all its individuals.

See also

Simple English

Jimmy Wales
File:Jimmy Wales Fundraiser Appeal
Jimmy Wales in December 2008
Born Jimmy Donal Wales
August 7, 1966 (1966-08-07) (age 44)[note]
Huntsville, Alabama, United States
Residence St. Petersburg, Florida
Nationality United States
Other names Jimbo (online nickname)
Alma mater Auburn University
University of Alabama
Indiana University Bloomington
Occupation Internet entrepreneur
Known for Co-founding Wikipedia
Title President of Wikia, Inc. (2004–present)
Chairman, Wikimedia Foundation (June 2003 – October 2006)
Chairman Emeritus, Wikimedia Foundation (October 2006-present)
Successor Florence Devouard
Board member of Wikimedia Foundation, Creative Commons, Socialtext, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (advisory board)
Awards EFF Pioneer Award (2006), The EconomistTemplate:'s Business Process Award (2008), The Global Brand Icon of the Year Award (2008)
Personal weblog
English Wikipedia userpage

Jimmy "Jimbo" Donal Wales was born on August 7, 1966. He is the co-founder of the Wikimedia Foundation. He was also the chairman until October 2006. He is best known as the co-founder of Wikipedia with Larry Sanger. He currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Wales and Larry Sanger developed a website named Nupedia. It was a free encyclopedia. Then he and Sanger launched the website Wikipedia, which was supposed to be a side project to Nupedia. Instead, it received a lot more interest than Nupedia. It became a large online community with over two million articles.

He also launched another website project called Wikia. He worked on the site with Angela Beesley.[1]

Wales was replaced as chair of the Wikimedia Foundation by Florence Nibart-Devouard. But after this he was given the name Chairman Emeritus.

Personal life

File:Christine and Jimmy
Jimmy Wales with his second wife Christine

Wales has been married twice. He also has one child.[2][3] When he was 20, Wales married Pam.[3] Pam was a worker at a store in Alabama.[3] He met his second wife, Christine Rohan, through a friend in Chicago.[2] They had a daughter before their marriage ended. Wales moved to San Diego in 1998. In 2002, he moved again to Florida.[4] In 2007, he still lived there.[5]

He says that he follows the idea of Objectivism. He also says that he is a libertarian to some extent.


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