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"DonorGate" Is Latest Scandal To Hit Wikipedia 274

Posted by kdawson
from the who-to-believe dept.
MSTCrow5429 writes "In the latest of a long train of scandals to hit Wikipedia, the Sydney Morning Herald reports on an accusation that founder and Wikia President Jimmy Wales traded a multi-thousand dollar donation for an article re-write. Jeff Merkey, formerly of Novell, claims that Wales approached him in 2006 and said that for a fee, Wales would personally see to it that the article on Merkey, which had cast him in a negative light, would be re-written in Merkey's favor. Merkey claims that after he donated $5,000, Wales followed through on this quid pro quo. The Wikipedia edit history does indicate that Wales wiped out the article on Merkey, and then personally re-wrote it. The SMH reports that Wales has called the allegation 'nonsense.'" Merkey filed a harassment lawsuit in 2005 against a number of people and organizations, including Slashdot. Slashdot was removed from the suit on 2005-07-20.

Update: 03/12 00:39 GMT by KD : Wikimedia Foundation spokesman Jay Walsh provided this official statement: "Current allegations relating to Jimmy Wales soliciting donations for the Wikimedia Foundation in order to protect or edit Wikipedia articles are completely false. The Wikimedia Foundation has never accepted nor solicited donations in order to protect or make edits to a Wikipedia article — nor has Jimmy Wales. This is a practice the Wikimedia Foundation would never condone."
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"DonorGate" Is Latest Scandal To Hit Wikipedia

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  • by sk8king (573108) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:25PM (#22722812)
    there is fire. It seems that Mr. Jimmy Wales is the subject of a lot of news articles that don't paint him in a positive light.
    • Perhaps the news articles reflect the increasing importance of WikiPedia, and the desires of some people to control it.

      Quote from the Slashdot story: "Merkey filed a harassment lawsuit in 2005 against a number of people and organizations, including Slashdot."

      Maybe someday Slashdot will be important enough that there are a lot of accusations.
      • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:20PM (#22723278) Homepage Journal
        If you read the article closely, you'll see there really isn't a whole lot of fact, merely a bunch of accusations.

        The thing that kept running through my mind as I read the article was that [citations were needed].

        Bottom line: This article is definitely not NPOV, and none of the assertions therein have been substantiated.

        Wikipedia is still one of the best bargains in the world. You get an amazing amount of valuable content for no cost. Should you use it as a sole source for a PhD dissertation? Of course not. Is it the best place to go if you're not a mathematician but would like a little background into combinatorics, are looking for some quick background into the War of the Roses, or want biographical data on the "father of alkali", James Muspratt, or the structure of the Dominant 7th chord? Fuckin' Aye.

        When most of the conceptually anemic Web phenomena like Twitter are forgotten, Wikipedia will still be a valuable tool for people who want to look stuff up, and will be remembered for making the most of a brilliant idea and basically changing the way people use the Internet and facts.

        Naturally, you're going to find twerps like Merkey who are pissed that the world doesn't recognize their brilliance and so get pissed at someone who they believe has garnered the adulation rightfully their own. Despite his best efforts and the insatiability of a zillion web news aggregators, Merkey will continue to be nobody.
        • by SL Baur (19540) <steve@xemacs.org> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:34PM (#22723400) Homepage Journal

          Wikipedia is still one of the best bargains in the world.
          Could you explain this to me? Never mind the editing part. Why does Jeff Merkey rate a Wikipedia page at all? I know him as a guy who makes wild drunken posts to lkml from time to time.

          Anyway, having an entry on Jeff Merkey sure brings new meaning to "You get what you pay for".
          • by jgoemat (565882) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:48PM (#22723936)

            Why does Jeff Merkey rate a Wikipedia page at all? I know him as a guy who makes wild drunken posts to lkml from time to time.

            Because people might read one of his wild crazy posts about buying the Linux Kernel under a commercial license and want to know who that crackpot is :) Then they can find out that he used to work at Novell, allegedly stole trade secrets to form his own company, spent $4 million in the ensuing litigation, and founded his own Native American church in Utah so people can smoke peyote legally.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Maserati (8679)
            Because anyone who worked for years in the tech industry and managed to confuse a kill file [catb.org] with an assassination list, in a lawsuit on the topic is a legend in his own mind^h^h^h^h time.
        • That much I know for certain. I saw the Merkey article, and I saw the white-washed article.

          Somebody on the yahoo scox message boards, who claimed to Merkey, and certainly seemed to be Merkey; bragged about having the negative information removed, in exchange for a "donation" and for Merkey dropping his harassment lawsuit.
        • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:08PM (#22723632) Journal
          "Is it the best place to go if you're not a mathematician but would like a little background into combinatorics"

          No. I've never read a maths article on wikipedia that wasn't written without regard to the ability of the average reader to understand it. Any time I try to read one I see an enormous chunk of long words, pages and pages of meaningless symbols and precious little explanation - whatever level they're written for, it's above me - and I have a degree in theoretical physics!
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kocsonya (141716)
            Agreed. Wikipedia's math pages are seemingly written by mathematicians to be read by other mathematicians. I've been taught enough math to falsely believe that I could follow a mathematical explanation but Wikipedia proved me wrong in no time at all. Wikipedia, in general, is a fast way to access information and follow information chains but in the particular case of maths it seems that dusting off an old uni book about the subject is both faster and way more productive.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          foolish post period.

          No one is suggesting that Wikipedia isn't a cool collection of link, and abstracts on mundane and sterile topics such as the canard you've trotted out here.

          What people are suggesting is that Wikipedia is not what it claims to be, a neutral collection of verifiable facts, and is rather a collection of facts highly selected and censored, whitewashed, and otherwise secretly dictated by a few individuals for personal and pecuniary interests.

          Rat poison is less than .01% arsenic, I suspect Wik
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:40PM (#22722960)

      there is fire. It seems that Mr. Jimmy Wales is the subject of a lot of news articles that don't paint him in a positive light.

      [Citation needed]
    • But it's Jeff Merkey (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:57PM (#22723088)
      He's long since lost [scofacts.org] any semblance of credibility [corante.com].

      Good for the occasional internet soap opera though.
      • by SL Baur (19540)

        He's long since lost any semblance of credibility.
        Jeff Merkey never had any credibility to begin with. He's always been a kooky guy who sometimes like to post drunk. Oh and that was his own admission on lkml after a particularly bizaare rant. That was around 1996 or 1997.
    • by CatherineCornelius (543166) <tonysidaway@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:33PM (#22723388) Journal
      This is the only Slashdot account I could remember at short notice (all the other ones are lame Ian M Banks ship names). My name is Tony Sidaway and I've been a Wikipedia editor about three years.

      Like the "Jimbo ordered people to fix Marsden's bio" thing, this is a non-story. Jimbo has frequently taken the initiative in stubbing down crappy articles and asking editors to start afresh. Good practice. Nice of Jeff to give a donation, but stubbing down a bad biography is standard practice.

      The reason for temporary protection (locking the article to stop edits by some users) is given by Wales as "an attempt to keep trolling to a minimum during an experimental rewrite" which is pretty sensible.

      One thing that does look very odd is that the protection was not removed until this story broke. We're as partial to kool-aid as the next guy, so we do tend to defer to him perhaps more than he would like. :/ But this did NOT stop anybody editing the article, and I'll explain why.

      There are two main modes of protection on the open source mediawiki software on which Wikipedia operates, usually called semi-protection and full protection, and in addition to that, protection applies to both editing and renaming/moving (because a common form of vandalism used to be to rename an article to something nasty). In the edit summary of Jimbo Wales' edit timestamped 20:58, 23 May 2006 , you'll see "[edit=autoconfirmed:move=autoconfirmed]". This indicates normal semiprotection ("autoconfirmed" users are those who have registered a username and waited about three days--there's nothing more to it than that--no vetting, no human intervention at all). So anybody patient enough to wait three days could edit that article.

      So it's really a non-story. We protect articles against people who want to write "WEE WEE WEE JACK IS GAY!" all the time and this is precisely the mode of protection we use for, say, "George W. Bush"

      Any Wikipedia editor with an account over three days old could edit that article for the whole of its post-Jimbo existence.

      • > Nice of Jeff to give a donation, but stubbing down a bad biography is standard practice.

        So you are saying that Jeff did give a donation? And I take it that the stubbing took place right afterwards?

        Can you explain why, even the negatives about Jeff that can be well documented were removed?

        > So it's really a non-story. We protect articles against people who want to write "WEE WEE WEE JACK IS GAY."

        Was the stuff about Merkey really of that nature? I saw the original article, and it did not look like tha
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          So you are saying that Jeff did give a donation?

          No, sorry. I nothing of any donation, although Jeff's claim that he had paid for his article to be fixed sounds familiar. We will fix anybody's article if it contains distortions, absolutely free, and if it's enough of a mess we'll have to stub it down (reduce it to a basic one or two sentence description) and start again from scratch.

          Can you explain why, even the negatives about Jeff that can be well documented were removed?

          Policy. It's called the "Biographies of living persons" policy, BLP for short, and it says that anything even slightly questionable that is unsupported can be removed, an

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        This is the only Slashdot account I could remember at short notice (all the other ones are lame Ian M Banks ship names). My name is Tony Sidaway and I've been a Wikipedia editor about three years.

        *yawn* BFD. Anyone can be a Wikipedia editor, claiming to be one adds no weight to your claims but does lead to the suspicion that you are trying to (falsely) argue from authority.

        The reason for temporary protection (locking the article to stop edits by some users) is given by Wales as "an attempt

      • by Dachannien (617929) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @10:07PM (#22724384)
        It's not the protection that's in question here, in my opinion, although most people would just write the article in a personal sandbox and copy the content into position when they were ready. It's the fact that the edit history now starts with Jimbo's edit in May 2006, when, by his edit comment, it's pretty obvious there was an article in place there before. Any normal editor (barring a need for actual oversight, meaning uncited defamatory BLP (biography of a living person) claims) would have just replaced the article's content with their own, but the way Jimbo did it means that all previous versions of the article are in the round file now, and the only way to recover such content would be to have archived it before Jimbo's edit.

        So the question is, did the previous version of the article contain BLP issues that required an oversight action to remove them from the edit history? Or did it contain properly cited claims that merely cast Merkey in a bad light?

        The sheer fact that Jimbo used "eerie powers", when replacing the article text with what he wrote, at least gives the impression of impropriety, whether or not anything wrong actually happened here. Yes, any admin could have deleted the article and started it anew, but most don't, because you're not supposed to do it that way. And Jimbo isn't just any admin - his edits carry additional weight, and therefore attract additional scrutiny.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by GaryPatterson (852699)
      I can follow your Slashdot user ID around posting stuff about you, but that doesn't make it true. There'd be lots of smoke, but no fire. (I wouldn't do this, by the way!)

      The whole smoke and fire thing is great for smearing people with scandal, but it can be terribly unfair.
    • by SeaFox (739806) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:47PM (#22723928)

      It seems that Mr. Jimmy Wales is the subject of a lot of news articles that don't paint him in a positive light.


      And unfortunately these are some articles he can't easily edit.
  • thats fine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by KevMar (471257) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:26PM (#22722814) Homepage Journal
    Im all for it if the details of the purchase is added to the page.

    Kevmar is a stand up guy. He speaks his oppinion yet heardly flames anyone, even when they do mock his spelling.

    this post was brought to you by Kevmar for no charge
  • by RingDev (879105) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:26PM (#22722828) Homepage Journal

    Slashdot was removed from the suit on 2005-07-20.
    Turns out Taco just had to take him out for an evening of dining and dancing, followed up with a night of naval gazing.

    -Rick
  • ...I can't imagine that Jeff Merkey would be high on anybody's list. I'd like to the Wikipedia article for full details, but, well....
    • by arivanov (12034)
      Ahem. Absolutely. One of the reasons why I unsubscribed from Linux kernel. Could not take any of his drivel any more. The man is a walking flamebait.
  • by flydpnkrtn (114575) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:30PM (#22722862)
    Citizendium [citizendium.org] can be the answer to many of these problems...

    Also Wikitruth [wikitruth.info] sheds a lot of light on ol' Jimbo Wales and his shenanigans
    • by Itninja (937614)
      Wikitruth? Isn't that the site that thinks racial genocide would be described using the same terms as a self serving Wikipedia article?
      But the other site, Citizendium, sounds like an intriguing idea. You have to be an expert on the subject and you have to use your real name. That must be why there is no listing for 'pornography'.
    • they can do no harm because they promised to do no harm... if you can create a wiki and give others the power to edit that wiki you're essentially not limited in what you can do.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tehniobium (1042240)
      To be honest there really isn't any content on citizendium. The concept is great...but they should concentrate on quickly copying as much as possible from wikipedia...coz until they do that noones gonna think "hey, I'll look that up on citizendium"!

      Also the name is too hard to spell...and not that catchy in my opinion.
  • am I the only one who's getting annoyed at any sort of unsavory behaviour being referred to as something-gate
  • Shocking! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by duffbeer703 (177751) * on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:32PM (#22722882)
    So this guy is a power-hungry freak. Wow... did anyone not see this like a year ago, when Jimmy Wales was basically telling the world that he was here to save us all?

    Hopefully he'll be selling timeshares again soon.
  • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:33PM (#22722890) Homepage Journal
    Jeff Merkey filed suit against me, and against PJ, some years ago. His family eventually convinced him to withdraw the suit against me, I don't know how his suit against PJ was resolved. The legal opinion I had at the time was that the suit would never see a hearing, but it was still a nuisance.

    Jeff mostly just wants to be listened to. He can be grandiose and can get somewhat separated from reality.

    Any article about Jeff on Wikipedia that relates events around Novell, SCO, and other stuff in 2005 would be a liability problem. I am not the slightest bit surprised that Wales had to re-write it. I don't think this has to be connected to a donation.

    Bruce

    • MOD PARENT UP, of course.
    • by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:45PM (#22722998)
      Wasn't there a big Merkey-related blow-up on linux-kernel way back? Oh yeah, "On October 4, 2004, Merkey offered US$50,000 on LKML, the Linux kernel mailing list, to anyone able to provide him a version of the Linux kernel that was not licensed under the GPL for his project". Well, you can imagine how well that went down- and of course he would have needed the explicit permission of every single contributor.

      Didn't strike me as a particularly balanced individual during that episode. More I can't say.
      • by nyet (19118) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:03PM (#22723126) Homepage
        For the sake of posterity (these things do tend to disappear quietly from WP quite often). Key points are in bold. They often occur right next to a statement saying the exact opposite. i.e. "treat everybody equal" but in the same breath "some people are more equal than others"

        Dealing with Major Financial Contributors of the Foundation who Edit Wikipedia (by Jeff V. Merkey)

        In general, major financial contributors who edit Wikipedia should be treated the same way and with the same level of courtesy as anyone else who edits Wikipedia and they should be required to follow the same rules. These rules also apply to admins, who, by ARBCOM precedence are expected to adhere to the highest standards of civility. Financial contributors to the Foundation contribute more than their time to the project. Some of them donate or invest in Wikipedia Projects each year many times the life savings of an ordinary person. Saying this does not matter is inaccurate and a breach of fiduciary duty owed to the Foundation by those who have been granted administrative or other privileges. It DOES matter. Not ony do these people donate their time, they pay for hosting costs, personnel costs, equipment, and other critical areas where the Foundation needs support, and not everyone is equal in this regard, their contributions are important as well. This does not entitle them to claim special treatment, but it does entitle them to the same high level of conduct and professional stewardship expected from any admin involved with the project. They should not be subjected to the same treatment the project reserves for troll or vandal accounts.

        If you find yourself in a situation with a major contributor editing Wikipedia who is problematic, do not threaten them, argue with them, or debate with them about who is helping Wikipedia more -- from the Foundations point of view, both parties are contributors, and more so of a person donating both time and money. Some serious problems for the project may be created if an admin threatens, argues, or attempts to ban a major financial contributor from editing. These situations are best handled by more mature members of the community or of the Foundation, without ever resorting to threats or implied threats of action. It is said you cannot argue with a customer in a business setting and the same is true of a major financial contributor. Be polite. Ask polite questions about their concerns and try to listen to them, without loosing your temper. Some of the problems mishandling contributors are:

                * The contributor may feel they are funding a usenet project or trolling site and discontinue support.
                * The contributor may have significant contacts or influence in the public sector, and either intentionally or unintentionally influence other groups to withdraw support.
                * The contributor may have business interests or projects the Foundation has time or financial investment into that the general community is unaware of, the you may damage or destroy months or years of important relationships with a thoughtless act.
                * If a contributor is also in the same business space as the foundation, banning a Financial contributor or posting ban notices may interfere and harm not only their business enterprises, but the Foundation and Wikipedia Projects as a whole, with negative results for everyone involved.

        If you have strong feelings about the editing of a major financial contributor, be polite, do not threaten them. Many of these people will take great offense at being threatened by admins or users since they may feel you are doing so on servers and equipment they purchased to support the project.

        In summation, they should be treated the same way everyone else is treated who edits. With the same high level of civility and stewardship expected from an Admin when dealing with any editor or member of the project. And certainly not subjected to threatening language.

    • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:59PM (#22723104) Homepage Journal

      Any article about Jeff on Wikipedia that relates events around Novell, SCO, and other stuff in 2005 would be a liability problem. I am not the slightest bit surprised that Wales had to re-write it. I don't think this has to be connected to a donation.


      Actually, not a legal liability problem, except perhaps for the person who wrote an article that lied about Merkey (or somehow created other liability like violating some contract, breaching some trade secret, etc). Wikipedia is not liable for what it publishes in its site when that content is written by someone else (like practically all its content), because it doesn't moderate it. Though it could be a "frivolous lawsuit target" problem for Wikipedia, as you were. Did you stop doing what you were doing that ticked Merkey off?

      OTOH, by rewriting the article, Wales became responsible for what he wrote. If he used an account that has any privileges that people not on the Wikipedia editorial staff don't have, then he was making Wikipedia responsible for what he wrote. And since he was thereby moderating the Merkey article, he was thereby making Wikipedia responsible for the article.

      Now, it's by no means clear that a court would have found that editing out article parts that Merkey complained about would make Wales/Wikipedia liable for what had been deleted. Though just the act of moderating content for any other reason than something like "clear and present danger" (or technical problems) could indeed be argued that "Wikipedia does moderate, it is therefore responsible for all content". Not necessarily a winning argument, but in fact Wales' editing likely created liability that didn't exist until he edited that article.

      Now, it's all moot because Wales dropped his complaint. And perhaps he dropped his complaint because Wales made those changes. But Wales did probably increase his liability (from practically zero) by doing it. And he might have even produced evidence that "Wikipedia moderates content", which could make Wikipedia liable for all content. Including later complaints by Merkey. Including if someone else changed it back to the old version. But also including any other person who wants to complain, who could now hold Wikipedia liable for all content, because it does moderate.

      Again, not a clear case. But not quite a frivolous one. Therefore increasing the risk by the action, if only in the longer term. But a serious change.

      The real question is why didn't Merkey just edit it himself - that's what Wikipedia is for. Conversely, why didn't Wales have someone outside the Wikipedia org edit it, so the liability would be harder to prove.

      And of course the ultimate question is whether Merkey did indeed pay Wales $5000 to make the change. If there's real evidence of that, things become clearer, but not better. Probably including Wikipedia's liability for all its content, to say nothing of its credibility.
    • by rahvin112 (446269)
      Wikipedia shouldn't have to edit anything. As they don't create anything (everything being publicly generated) they are only responsible in an order to remove, not for any sort liability for statements made.

      It's not good to say they would be liable, the MOST he could do is get a court order to force removal of certain phrases, not a rewrite to a positive light and then he has to prove it's defamatory and NOT opinion (when the every wikipedia page includes a note that this it everything is generated by the p
    • by Alascom (95042)
      Riiiiight...
    • by petrofsky (702225) on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @02:08AM (#22725624)

      Bruce Perens wrote in Slashdot comment #22722890: "Jeff Merkey filed suit against me, and against PJ, some years ago. His family eventually convinced him to withdraw the suit against me, I don't know how his suit against PJ was resolved."

      I (Al Petrofsky) was also a defendant in that case, Merkey v. Perense, et al., No. 2:05-cv-521-DAK, D. Utah, filed June 21, 2005. You can find full details here: http://scofacts.org/merkey [scofacts.org]

      Merkey voluntarily dismissed his case against Pamela Jones. In the written dismissal notice he filed with the Court [scofacts.org], he said that he was dropping it in favor of "pursuing criminal prosecution in the various states these offenses occurred". Needless to say, I am not aware of any such criminal prosecutions ever taking place.

      The above comment, that Merkey's "family eventually convinced him to wihdraw the suit against" Perens, is the first I've heard of there being any involvement by Merkey's family in Merkey's decision-making in the case. At the time, Merkey wrote an entry on his website, which he later filed with the court, stating that he was dropping the action against Perens in exchange for Perens having allegedly made a written statement about "a large number of written attacks with violent connotations made against [Merkey]":

      PLAINTIFF JEFFREY VERNON MERKEY'S EX-PARTE MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF MOTION TO CONDUCT EXPEDITED DISCOVERY [scofacts.org]

      ... 11. Bruce Perens approached Plaintiff and negotiated setttlement of his claims in exchange for withdrawing his false and libelous comments, and adminishing Linux and OSS members for posting death threats on the public Internet, and was dismissed from the complaint without prejudice. (Exhibit 4)

      ... DATED this __20___ day of July, 2005.

      ... Exhibit 4

      Bruce Perens Dismissed without Prejudice from Federal Action 2:05-CV-521-DAK

      Wednesday, July 06 2005 @ 06:30 PM MDT

      Contributed by: Admin

      We are pleased to announce settlement has been reached between Mr. Bruce Perens and Mr. Merkey relative all claims and causes of action arising from Federal Lawsuit 2:05-cv-521-DAK filed in US District Court in Utah. All claims and causes of action have been dismissed relative to Mr. Perens as of this date.

      On a personal note, Mr. Merkey applauds Mr. Perens courage, candor, and demonstrated leadership in addressing these issues.

      Mr. Perens has issued the following public statement regarding the litigation and this statmeent is posted here pursuant to an agreement between the parties.

      STATEMENT OF BRUCE PERENS

      "You may have noticed that Mr. Jeff Merkey has filed suit against a number of net entities and I. Mr. Merkey subsequently offered to withdraw his claims against me if I would issue a short statement. Of course I was concerned that his request could be an attempt to suppress my right to free speech on the net, but it turns out that the statement that Mr. Merkey asked for contains nothing I would not want to say.

      Several people who have my sympathy are still being sued. I feel that my removal from the case will only hasten its demise, and I need to spend my time on important fights rather than this silly one.

      I have made some statements regarding Mr. Merkey's relationship to SCO and Canopy Group that he would like me to clarify. He sold certain assets of his company to Canopy Group some time ago, but did not go to work for Canopy or SCO. Mr. Merkey has expressed a very strong disdain for both companies.

      I subsequently suggested in public statements that Mr. Merkey work to cultivate his people skills in engaging and interacting with others, which is something he himself has admitted needs improvement. Subsequent to making these public comments, I oberserved

      • by Bruce Perens (3872) * <bruce@perens.com> on Wednesday March 12, 2008 @03:24AM (#22725880) Homepage Journal
        Hi Al,

        It looks like I owe you an apology. FYI, my phone number is 510-984-1055, it's on my web site too. You are welcome to call any time if you have questions or complaints, as are all in the community. It rings in my home and office. It doesn't accept calls when we would be asleep.

        I am surprised that the thing actually got one hearing. I never knew. Obviously the fact that you were involved at all is absurd, that a Magistrate would suggest that sort of judgement against you is highly absurd.

        That looks like the statement I made. I haven't run "diff".

        At the time the lawsuit was filed, I asked Slashdot's company and Novell for help. No help was forthcoming from either company. This worried me more than anything about the case, not because I needed help that much, but because those companies were willing to let their community down that way.

        I had some advice from Larry Rosen, who felt that the case was bull, and that nobody was really threatened. If I had known that you would be threatened to the extent you were by the Magistrate's statement, I might have acted differently. But in the end, Larry was right - nothing came of the case.

        My main reason for getting out of the case was that in a fight as stupid as that, everybody looks stupid. Walking away was the only respectable action, in my opinion at the time.

        Jeff Merkey's family thought it was stupid too, and pressured him to stop, and he approached me and settled. I gave him a statement that did not compliment him and did discourage the folks on Slashdot who really did talk about physical violence. Remember, this was at the hight of the SCO stuff, and tempers were high. Sure, the talk about physical violence was inflated and taken advantage of by anyone who wanted us to look bad in the press. But the reality is that if you don't want to look bad for that sort of stuff, you have to make sure that you and your friends are not doing any of it at all. My comment was effective at stopping that stuff.

        Jimbo Wales problems now stem from the Wikipedia's growing pains, the mistakes that any leader makes when going from nothing to high visibility, the fact that various entities would like to see Wikipedia tarnished, and just the fact that his and Wikipedia's profile is high enough that gossip about him gets web hits for news sites. I've been there. IMO, his worst problem is nothing to do with this, it's the fact that Google looks as if they might do their best to screw Wikipedia and get something that they own, and that carries their ads, in its place. We've never really seen Google turn against an Open Source project before, this will be interesting if it really happens. IMO, Google would lose.

        So, you must be angry about all of this. I'm sorry. I didn't know.

        Bruce

  • by adam613 (449819) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:40PM (#22722956)
    Jeff Merkey got banned from Wikipedia for making legal threats. I'm not terribly surprised to hear he's making accusations like this.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Wikipedia:Requests_for_arbitration/Jeffrey_Vernon_Merkey&oldid=148079940 [wikipedia.org]
  • by SirFozzie (442268) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @06:40PM (#22722962)
    Let's not forget this was the person who wanted to buy Linux because the GPL would be its doom, so he could re-issue it under a Cherokee license.

    This is the person who demanded that all homosexuals recuse themselves from dealing with the ArbCom case the last time he was banned from Wikipedia.

    He demanded special treatment the last time he was on there, because he was such a big donor. (didn't get it mind you, but he wanted it, real bad).

    This is a person who:"In 1998, the Fourth Judicial District Court of Utah found that Merkey "regularly exaggerates or lies in his comments to others about events happening around him. It is as though he is creating his own separate reality" (From SCOFacts)

    JVM is a smart guy, no one denies that.

    But he's also nuttier then a fruitcake.

  • Wales had a brief relationship with Rachel Marsden [wikipedia.org], aka "the scariest women alive".

    This does not speak well to his judgement. Guilty as sin, I say.
  • by MikeRT (947531)
    I learned a long time ago that you can almost always count on someone who talks about the "little guy" or the "wisdom of crowds" or some other populist crap to be trying to angle for something in the process. Populists are almost always out to manipulate someone and get something.

    Hence I am not surprised in the least by this. The warning signs about Wikipedia have been there for a while now.
  • Ehm...confusing? (Score:2, Informative)

    by tehniobium (1042240)
    Go to mr. Wales' blog [jimmywales.com], scroll right to the bottom and press the "powered by wordpress" link.

    I get "therightpills.com" (tested on 2 computers, so i doubt its adware). Has the self proclaimed dictator of history been hacked?

    :P
  • I've been donating a few hundred bucks to Wikimedia Foundation each year (with my employer matching my donation dollar for dollar). I won't be donating this year unless I am sure beyond a shadow of doubt that my money is being properly spent. Sorry folks, if I wanted to burn the cash, I'd do it myself.
  • DonorGate? (Score:3, Funny)

    by v3xt0r (799856) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @07:42PM (#22723464)
    Is this a sperm-bank conspiracy?

    Who comes up w/ these buzzwords, anyhow?
  • I made the mistake of thinking from the headline that this was an actual story. But if only the Sydney Morning Herald had done due diligence and checked out who Jeff Vernon Merkey is, they'd realize that it's no more of a story than "Homeless man pushing shopping cart insists that Vatican implanted electrodes in his pancreas for mind control." The SMH story mentions at the very end of the article that Merkey has been in several lawsuits; one wishes they'd looked more closely at the Novell v. Timpanogos R [groklaw.net]
  • $5000 to rewrite an article? I'll do it for $.10/word.
  • Non-Denial Denial (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MSTCrow5429 (642744) on Tuesday March 11, 2008 @08:38PM (#22723844)

    "Current allegations relating to Jimmy Wales soliciting donations for the Wikimedia Foundation in order to protect or edit Wikipedia articles are completely false. The Wikimedia Foundation has never accepted nor solicited donations in order to protect or make edits to a Wikipedia article - nor has Jimmy Wales. This is a practice the Wikimedia Foundation would never condone."
    Notice the scope shift from "Jimmy Wales" to "Wikimedia Foundation," and then stating that the Wikipedia Foundation "has never accepted nor solicited donations in order to protect or make edits to a Wikipedia article," not Jimmy Wales.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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