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Wikipedia's year-in-review video; checking in with Wikipedia's founders

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By Gamaliel

Wikipedia releases first year-in-review video

Numerous news outlets are reporting on Wikipedia's December 17 release of its first-ever year-in-review video, accompanied by the hashtag #Edit2014. The video, produced by Wikimedia Foundation storyteller and video producer Victor Grigas (Victorgrigas), is just under three minutes in length and is set to a performance of the Prelude from Bach's first cello suite. The video features screenshots of and images uploaded on various Wikipedia projects, highlighting events documented by Wikipedia editors in 2014 including the Ebola virus epidemic in West Africa, the Indian general election, 2014, the Umbrella Revolution, the 2014 FIFA Club World Cup, and the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Wales under fire for $500k prize from UAE

Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

The Daily Dot reported (December 15) on the blistering criticism directed at Jimmy Wales on his user talk page following his receipt of the Knowledge Award on December 7. Wales and Tim Berners-Lee jointly shared the award and a one million dollar cash prize, presented at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Dubai by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and constitutional monarch of Dubai.

According to Human Rights Watch:

The Daily Dot highlighted criticism from some editors, including one who identified themselves as Emirati, directed at Wales for accepting money from the UAE. Following the criticism, Wales pledged that "Every penny of the money will be used to combat human rights abuses worldwide with a specific focus on the Middle East." He did note that his actions were not in response to the criticism because "I started the process from the moment I was told about the prize."

This echoes prior criticism of Wales for his alleged links with the government of Kazakhstan (see previous Signpost coverage), criticism which was reiterated during the talk page discussion. Wales wrote that this was "total and utter and complete bullshit. I have no past connection of any kind to the Kazakh dictatorship."

Sanger launches a "Wikipedia for news"

Larry Sanger

Newsweek reports (December 16) on Larry Sanger's new project Infobitt, which promises to be a "Wikipedia for news". The users of the crowdsourced website supply a collection of facts, each a sentence long and taken from published news articles, for each story called a "bitt". Users then vote on how to rank each fact within the bitt and the importance of each bitt.

During an AMA, a question and answer forum on the social media website Reddit, Sanger wrote:

He also wrote of his hopes that Infobitt would channel the impulses of information seeking in a way that would produce reliable news content:

In brief

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Regarding the Kazakhstan episode, there is a useful write-up by Casey Michel from Columbia University's Harriman Institute here, in his paper "Blair's Kazakhstan Network".

I had no hand in Michel's authoring this piece – I was entirely unaware of it, and found it accidentally online the other day. But I am unpleasantly aware that, as reported in the Telegraph at the time, Wales banned me from his talk page for inquiring about precisely the same issues Michel raises. Rather remarkable for a self-proclaimed champion of free speech. And like Michel, I still do not understand why Wales – and the Wikimedia Foundation – praised what was essentially the first state takeover of a Wikipedia.

The problems with regard to Kazakhstan are not limited to the Kazakh Wikipedia. The English Wikipedia articles on Kazakhstan too are rife with whitewashing. Have a look at Elections in Kazakhstan, for example, and compare the information provided there to what Human Rights Watch have to say about the country's parliamentary elections: [2]. Or compare the remainder of that HRW report to Kazakhstan#Human_rights_and_media.

As for the UAE award, the Daily Dot initially reported that Wales had pledged to donate the money to charity. He subsequently e-mailed The Daily Dot and asked for the article to be amended. The headline now is "Jimmy Wales pledges $500k UAE award to human rights causes" (changed from "After criticism, Jimmy Wales pledges $500k prize to charity"), and the text contains the following clarification:

In an email to the Daily Dot, Wales specifies that he never planned to keep the money and will use the funds to start his own foundation dedicated to furthering human rights.

So Wales has stated that he will not donate the money, but use it to start his own foundation: that is an important difference to note, as readers of his talk page may well have been left with a different impression. Andreas JN466 14:36, 19 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]

He will, presumably, start a foundation or a charitable trust (more appropriately), with a $500k donation. That ring-fences the money and allows careful non-rushed decisions to be made as to the application of funds. There are a considerable number of trusts in the UK that employ their funds wholly, or almost wholly, in the form of grants to other charities, this is a tried and tested model. All the best: Rich Farmbrough14:54, 19 December 2014 (UTC).
It is indeed a tried and test model. As Michel points out, in the same paper,

In Nov. 2013, Bloomberg confirmed that, “[s]ince the spring of 2011, the Nazarbayev government has paid 8 million pounds ($12.9 million) a year to [Blair].” According to sources in Kazakh media, the figure could reach as much as $16 million annually.13 Blair, naturally, has denied such figure, saying that “remuneration for the team [in Kazakhstan] is obviously confidential.”14 He has added that he sees no personal profit from his venture in Kazakhstan, and that all funds are “instead [used] to fund his charities.”15

--Andreas JN466 18:36, 19 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]
As a footnote, I noted that Wales contributed to a "Future of Government Smart Toolbox" – a Guide to Good Government and Trust-Building – launched by the World Economic Forum "with the support of the Government of the United Arab Emirates", as announced here earlier this year on the website of the World Economic Forum:

The Smart Toolbox also includes governance best practices from a number of countries, as well as case studies written by Council Members, including Abdulla Al Basti, Director-General, The Executive Office-Government of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Jimmy Wales, Founder and Chair Emeritus, Board of Trustees, Wikimedia Foundation, USA.

"Good government" is a little ironic, considering the nature of reports by Human Rights Watch, Freedom House and others on the UAE government. Andreas JN466 18:31, 19 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]


When I read, under "Sanger launches a 'Wikipedia for news' ", about Infobitt - A movement to do for the news what Wikipedia did for encyclopedias., I remembered User talk:Jimbo Wales/Archive 169#Tweeting Wikipedia snippets (August 2014) and Factbites: Where results make sense.

Wavelength (talk) 16:58, 20 December 2014 (UTC)[reply]


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