Yep, it's partly the =absence= of qualified professionals that made Wikipedia so great.
Wales still seems to have trouble understanding this. It's like, he still wants Wikipedia to be a "proper", legitimate, "official" encyclopedia that he can be proud of when he talks about it at dinner parties, staffed by proper academics and proper encyclopedia professionals. He wants it to be a certified, corporate, properly quality-controlled enterprise. Like Microsoft, or Disney, or , uh, Fox News.
Trouble is, if you take a successful and thriving volunteer programme, and you get a chunk of money and hire a bunch of academics to "sort it out", the project dies. The guys you hire won't be as involved or as dedicated or as knowledgeable or enthusiastic or as involved as the people they replace, because if they were ... they'd already be contributing.
Wikipedia is huge. Any academic who isn't already a serious contributor isn't worth hiring, and any academic who already //is// contributing, you already have for free, so ... why spend donor's money fixing what ain't broke?
The other problem is that Wales sometimes seems to be fairly reeking disdain for the Wikipedia project. If he starts hiring-in "proper" academic editors from "outside" in an attempt to change the culture, then by rating those individuals as more important than the people who actually built and maintained Wikipedia, he'd be basically pissing in the faces of the people who made WP such a success. How do you stay motivated as a contributor, if the organisation basically declares you to be inferior to some newbie outsider who's going to get all the credit, and public glory, and superuser priveleges, and get paid for it too?
Wikipedia does have some serious issues that need sorting out, but those are arguably partly Wales' fault. For instance, he keeps complaining about the lack of serious researchers contributing to WP, and cites this as a reason why the WP project has failed, and why other encyclopedia projects are necessary.
Truth is, the reason why more experts don't contribute isn't just because of WP culture, it's because one of Wales' own favourite WP rules expressly ==prohibits== anyone from adding or editing information that relates too closely to their own original research. A lot of good technical info seems to be added to WP by people breaking this rule, and editing under aliases. If Wales wants more expert-written articles, the obvious thing to do (without spending any money!) is to relax the current rule that explicitly bans experts from writing about their own specialist fields (on the grounds that they're biased). Or maybe to accept that WP actually has a large number of articles written and edited by known experts, who are smart enough to do it anonymously, because their priority is that the article be great, and that it not be turned into a political debating forum between people with something to lose. Articles should be judged by their content, not their authors' reputation. Using named experts means that article debates become personalised.
Another problem with hiring academics who aren't already contributing is that some of them won't be prepared to put up with being edited by less qualified folks, and some of them, although they might be top-notch as experts, are likely to absolutely suck as encyclopaedists. A world-class organic chemist or mathematician or particle physicist may have no idea at all as to how to write a coherent Wikipedia article. They may not have ever used Wikipedia. They may not have used any encyclopedia at all since they were kids. They may be completely clueless about what an encyclopedia is, and what people use it for.
Wikipedia, when it's working well, it a ruthless meritocracy. Edits and articles live and die purely on perceived quality and usefulness. It doesn't matter what your qualifications might be, or how many years you spent studying a subject, or whether you won the subject's Nobel Prize last year ... it still might be that you know less about how to write a clear, efficient properly-formatted introductory WP sentence and paragraph on your specialist subject than some spotty eighteenyearold.
I think that one of the things that damages Wikipedia is its continuing association with a founder who doesn't seem to believe in the project's core values, who seems to think that the project is fundamentally flawed, and who always seems to be trying to reshape WP to be more like one of the other, more "pro" encyclopedia projects, which so far have all been dismal failures, or trying to set up competing projects that he seems to think ought to replace WP. Someone who believes that the WP project was a mutant that shouldn't have been successful and that it ought to die and be replaced with something else of his own devising, isn't really the best person to be promoting WP or working seriously on its improvement.
I'm not even sure why Wales is still involved with WP, except that it gives him a useful platform for promoting himself, and through that, helping to increase the visibility and fundability of his future non-WP projects. Right now, I think he's a net liability.