Jimmy Donal Wales (7 August 1966 in Huntsville) is the co-founder of the politically left online encyclopedia Wikipedia and self-described libertarian. Jimmy Wales claims to be an objectivist who follows the philosophy of atheist Ayn Rand. His favorite book is Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Wales told an interviewer in Reason magazine, "One can't understand my ideas about Wikipedia without understanding Hayek...Wales is fleshing out and bringing to life Hayek's insights about the power of decentralized knowledge gathering, the surprising strength of communities bound only by reputation, and the fluidity of self-governance."  These ideas that Wales claims to follow were put forward in Hayek's essay "The Use of Knowledge in Society". However, there is thin evidence for his being a true follower of Hayek politically given the radical leftist agenda of Wales close confidants in control of Wikipedia. Wales describes himself as a communitarian (someone who could be said to be "radical center", meaning they agree with the left on issues relating to the economy, such as the need for environmental protection and public education, but not on cultural issues, but instead generally agree with the right or conservatives on cultural issues, such as support for character education and faith-based programs). The revisions have since been deleted by liberal Wikipedia administrators wishing to protect Jimmy's public image. Editors trying to make this point in Wikipedia are routinely profiled, stalked, harassed, slandered, and banned. An irony of internet history is that Jimmy Wales, despite being an atheist, refers to himself as Wikipedia's "spiritual leader".
From 1994 to 2000, Wales was the research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago. Jimmy Wales became a millionaire[Citation Needed] by trading commodity options; before funding Wikipedia, he funded Bomis Inc. in 1996, which contained pornographic material. Bomis produced two unsuccessful search engines: "Search Bastard" and "3Apes", which went out of their way to insult users with obscenities. Besides funding the non-profit Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales also funded the for-profit Wikia, a company that provides wiki services for businesses and organizations.
From 2008 to 2014, Wales' main source of income was speaking fees based on his celebrity for co-founding Wikipedia. Unlike many other non-profits, the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF) does not require Wales' to share his speaking fees or honoraria with the charity.
In 2014, Wales accepted a new job as executive director of strategy and digital community for The People’s Operator (TPO), a cell phone startup company with ties to the British Labour Party. Wales owned 10% of the new company. TPO struggled to gain subscribers in the UK and the United States, and it has lost over 90% of its market capitalization. Wales became the Chairman of TPO's Board of Directors upon the death of its founder, Andrew Rosenfeld on February 8, 2015. Wales then ran TPO into the ground while drawing an impressive salary. On January 25, 2017, Wales stepped down from leading TPO.
In order to replace TPO as his source of income, in April 2017, Wales decided to found a for-profit news organization, WikiTribune. According to the BBC, "Mr Wales said he would be '100% hands-on' with the project in its early stages and would be likely to serve as Wikitribune's chief executive for at least a year." In addition to paying Wales a salary, WikiTribune will hire ten professional journalists and also work with volunteer editors and fact checkers. Unlike Wikipedia which is owned by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation, WikiTribune is owned by Jimmy Wales Ltd, a private company. WikiTribune is being financed by crowd-sourcing with both startup donations and pledges of monthly subscription payments. Because of the obvious conflict between WikiTribune and The Guardian, Wales was forced to resign from the Guardian's board, where he had been serving for one year. To date, he has not been forced to resign from either the WMF Board or the Tide Foundation's WMF Endowment Advisory Board. Wales' advisors on WikiTribune include: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Guy Kawasaki, Journalism lecturer Prof Jeff Jarvis, US law professor Larry Lessig, and Model/actress Lily Cole. The WikiTribune project follows a 2014 news project created by Wikipedia co-founded Larry Sanger called InfoBitt or the ongoing WMF-owned Wikinews.
WikiTribune is based in London, England, which is a controversial choice because UK law makes it much easier for celebrities to recover for libel. Also, WikiTribune's terms of service requires volunteer editors to indemnify WikiTribune for any liability resulting from their work including libel damages. So, if a public figure, such as Donald Trump, cannot sue a United States-based news outlet for libel, WikiTribune will be able to be sued in London under British legal standards, and any US-based volunteer that helped to write or edit the article will be forced to pay if the court awards damages.
In early October 2005, former Robert F. Kennedy aide and retired journalist John Seigenthaler Sr. contacted Wales about false and libelous information in his Wikipedia biographical entry. Essjay got the call to deal with the situation. On December 1, 2005 Wales told Editor & Publisher magazine, the nation’s oldest trade journal serving the newspaper industry regarding Daniel Brandt,
|“||I don't regard him as a valid source about anything at all... I find it hard to take him very seriously ...||”|
|“||we are very, very responsive to complaints and concerns.||”|
Essjay was entrusted with oversight responsibilities in the wake of the Seigenthaler scandal and wrote to a professor to persuade her to allow students to cite Wikipedia as a "reliable source,"
|“||It is never the case that known incorrect information is allowed to remain in Wikipedia; we strive to provide a resource that is both accurate and expansive. As we approach one million articles (far more than any other encyclopedia could ever hope to attain) on the English Wikipedia alone (there are hundreds of thousands of articles in the projects that make up the Wikimedia Foundation in dozens of different languages), we prove ourselves as a resource like none ever known before.||”|
The derogatory smears against Brandt, self-cited to a certifiably "extremist source" which "should never be used" remained in Brandt's biography for one and half years, with Jimmy Wales and the WikiMedia Foundations full knowledge.
On December 14, 2012, WND columnist Judith Reisman defended heavy-metal drummer Bradlee Dean, who had been unfairly attacked on Wikipedia. She wrote,
"Jimmy Wales, Wikipedia’s creator, made his original fortune as a pornography trafficker. Wales’ cult of far-leftist volunteer editor zealots labor minute-by-minute to mislead readers who think Wikipedia’s half-truths – and worse – are a legitimate 'encyclopedia.'"
Wales sent an email in response claiming, "I have never been a 'pornography trafficker' at all." Instead of posting a correction WND posted detailed documentation which includes a posed photo of Wales flanked by two mostly undressed female models.
Some people start discussions on his user talk page much as supplicants approach a monarch. In response, he might engage in a discussion, promise "to look into it", or simply delete it. However, the number of deletions and users banished from his talk page have increased in 2013.
In 2014, Wales received the "Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Award", which is named after the Vice President of the United Arab Emerates (UAE) and carries a $500,000 value. Many Wikipedia editors were troubled because of the poor record that the UAE has on human rights. In response, Wales said that he would use the money to establish his own private foundation to address human rights.
Wales has had a turbulent private life. Prior to starting Wikipedia, Wales was a minority partner in Bomis, which provided adult photographs for a male audience. As Wikipedia's fame grew, Wales traveled without his family around the world to promote it. He created controversy when he sought travel reimbursement from the Wikimedia Foundation for a trip to a Russian massage parlor. Wales then established Wikia, a new for-profit venture with Angela Beesley. When the Foundation grew to the point that it could afford a paid staff, Wales ensured that a number of women were hired for management roles, including all three Executive Directors, Sue Gardner, Lila Tretikov and Katherine Maher. Wales also became romatically involved with a number of women, both before and after his divorces. Wales has been married three times. At the age of twenty, he married Pamela Green, a co-worker at a grocery store in Alabama. They divorced in 1993. He met his second wife, Christine Rohan, while she was working as a steel trader for Mitsubishi. They were married in March 1997, and had a daughter before separating. Wales had a brief relationship with Canadian conservative columnist Rachel Marsden in 2008 that began after Marsden contacted Wales about her Wikipedia biography. Wales later broke up with Marsden over the internet. Marsden was so angered by Wales that she put an item of intimate apparel up for auction on eBay.
- Interview with Jimmy Wales conducted by Brian Lamb, C-SPAN Transcript, September 25, 2005.
- Wikipedia and Beyond, Jimmy Wales' sprawling vision, Katherine Mangu-Ward, Reasononline.com, June 2007.
- Davis, Jim. "Left in Control of Wikipedia", NewsMax, May 14, 2007. Retrieved on 2007-10-04.
- Before Wikipedia: Search Bastard and 3Apes (December 23, 2014). Retrieved on December 24, 2014. Search Bastard existed from 2000 to 2006.
- Wikipedia Founder Edits Own Bio Wired. Accessed 17 March 2008
- Ruddick, Graham. "Wikipedia founder to float mobile phone company", The Telegraph, October 11, 2014. Retrieved on October 14, 2014.
- Frazer, Steven. "The People's Floperator", Shares Magazine, September 30, 2016. Retrieved on April 25, 2017.
- "Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales creates news service Wikitribune", BBC, April 25, 2017. Retrieved on May 16, 2017.
- "Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales exits Guardian board over conflict of interest with Wikitribune news site", The Telegraph, April 25, 2017. Retrieved on May 16, 2017.
- User:Essjay/Letter. Retrieved from WikiTruth, November 3, 2007.
- Wikipedia Founder, Readers Respond to Seigenthaler Article, Jay DeFoore, Editor & Publisher, December 01, 2005.
- Wikipedia#Impugning critics, Conservapedia.com
- Here's Your Correction, Wikipedia Founder. WND (December 17, 2012). Retrieved on December 26, 2012.
- E.g., Speaking of "Unreadable Crap" (Dec. 5, 2005). Retrieved on Sept. 20, 2013.
- Orlowski, Andrew. "What's Jimmy Wales going to do with $500k from the UAE? He's gonna set up one of them darn foundations, of course...", The Register, December 22, 2014. Retrieved on December 22, 2014.
- "Broken promises of Jimmy Wales", Examiner, December 26, 2014. Retrieved on December 27, 2014.
- Chozick, Amy. "Jimmy Wales Is Not an Internet Billionaire", June 30, 2013.
- Meyer, Susan (2013). Jimmy Wales and Wikipedia. Rosen Publishing.
- Donnelly, Laura. "Wiki wedding: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales marries Tony Blair's former aide", October 6, 2012.
- Jimmy Wales' Blog (this blog was last updated Jan. 19, 2012)