What in the wiki?

March 24, 2007 at 10:43 pm Leave a comment

photo from BrazilI was just gearing up to use Wikipedia as a case study on trust, which is a topic that has occupied my thoughts of late. But I might look at Wikipedia from a governance perspective instead because things are getting interesting over at Wikipedia. Picked up the interesting news that two resignations have occurred – Danny Wool, who is grants coordinator and seen to be the number two person at Wikipedia; and Brad Patrick, general counsel and interim Executive Director of the not-for-profit foundation.

Wikipedia is built on a model of open source, community driven knowledge-generation and sharing. But it’s also a foundation that in December 2006, for example, raised US$1 million from over 50,000 people with its fund raising activities. Dealing with this level of funding requires good corporate governance and a Board with members who have sound business acumen and competencies. At present, Wikipedia’s Board comprises: a biotech and genetics researcher, a former CEO of an options trading firm, a couple of computer scientists, a law student at George Mason University, and a musician and composer.

Brad Patrick was recently quoted as saying: “I’ve said before that the board could just as soon have a pie-eating contest or flip a coin or Tiddly Winks to determine who the next board member would be and it would have the same legitimacy as an election.” Apparently, a new Advisory Board is being formed and will include members with business expertise to run a 501(c)3 non-profit.

Danny Wool (as grants coordinator?) could allegedly delete sites and change a user’s access level, according to a member of the Wikipedia community who didn’t want to be identified because of disagreements over deletion issues. Wikipedia itself suggests that people should not edit their own biographies, yet überpedian “Jimbo” Wales has edited his bio 18 times, including deleting phrases describing former Wikipedia employee, Larry Sanger, as a co-founder of the site. Wales and Sanger are currently in dispute over whether Sanger was co-founder, along with Wales, or an employee.

An age of participation I’m afraid also brings with it a demand for accuracy and transparent processes, so it will be interesting to see whether the shake-up results in an emergent phenomenon that is also one of quality, veracity and sound governance.

You can read Wool’s resignation here. And here’s a great post by Nicholas Carr who attacks the hive-mind mentality of Web 2.0 (which Wikipedia exemplifies) and examines the quality (or lack of) for two entries – Bill Gates and Jane Fonda.

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Entry filed under: Curiousity, Knowledge Management, Wikis.

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