Todd, putting the caveats before the main thrust of Jimmy Wales'
email, is a strange way of reading it. I read the email the obvious
way, and I encourage others to read the original for themselves,
rather than relying on cherry-picked quotes towards the end.


On 28 February 2016 at 20:17, Todd Allen <> wrote:
> Fae,
> Your second citation didn't at all match what I recall Jimmy saying on the
> subject, so I went and read it. Even the specific email you cite is not, in
> any way, "...arguing the case against
> introducing charges for commercial reusers of WMF services...". Some quotes
> from the email you cited:
> " general view is 100% in agreement with him on the core issue - where
> commercial re-users are getting enormous value from our work, they should
> be paying for the engineering resources required for their support."
> "...I come down firmly on the side of being careful about falling into a
> trap of doing lots of expensive work for commercial re-users without having
> them pay."
> He does say that there would be some caveats and it would be something to
> step lightly on, but I don't think it could be any clearer that he does
> want commercial reusers to pay for WMF services in at least some cases.
> I'm all for discussion and identification of potential conflicts of
> interest. But if you're going to accuse someone of that, you really do need
> to make sure you've got your facts straight. Misrepresenting someone, or
> some things they said, will not get anyone to take you seriously.
> Todd
> On Sun, Feb 28, 2016 at 12:47 PM, Fæ <> wrote:
>> Jimmy Wales has never declared a conflict of interest or loyalty when
>> acting as a WMF trustee. He is co-founder of Wikia Inc, set up in
>> 2004, a commercial company that often benefits from new MediaWiki
>> developments, and clearly he benefits financially from resulting
>> profitability of Wikia. The original vision for Wikia was as a
>> "Google-killer" open search engine, so it would seem highly prudent
>> for Jimmy to have declared a conflict of interest and avoided WMF
>> board discussions and votes in relation to new development projects
>> around open Knowledge Engines / Search Engines.
>> I welcome some feedback as to whether the general perception of
>> Wikimedians is that WMF trustees should be seen to do more to declare
>> and manage their potential conflicts of interest, and whether Jimmy
>> Wales is perceived to have a conflict of loyalties when steering the
>> WMF board member in areas which overlap with Wikia Inc.'s marketing
>> strategy, and that they might otherwise fund commercially.
>> With regard to his potential conflict of loyalties when serving as a
>> voting unelected trustee on the WMF board, Jimmy Wales has stated:
>> "I did not have any conflict of loyalties during that process.
>> Spending a reasonable portion of our IT budget on an ambitious project
>> to improve search and discovery, and to conduct research and community
>> consultation on that, is a great idea for Wikipedia and for the
>> broader Wikimedia movement and I strongly support it."[1]
>> Most recently Jimmy Wales has been arguing the case against
>> introducing charges for commercial reusers of WMF services, with an
>> obvious reuser of MediaWiki code improvements and WMF supported open
>> project data being Wikia Inc.[2]
>> There is no record in the WMF board minutes for 2015 of Jimmy Wales
>> having ever declared a conflict of interest or loyalty for Wikia Inc
>> or for any other reason, nor of any other trustee doing so. In order
>> to comply with standard company law, these are expected on the
>> standing agenda for board meetings, and it is worrying for a
>> Foundation with control of $100m assets to never have a trustee or
>> director ever declare an interest as a reason to abstain from a vote
>> or discussion.[3]
>> Jimmy does not appear to see there may be a public perception of
>> conflict of interest or loyalties[6] when he is involved in steering
>> the WMF strategy for prioritizing new developments that are likely to
>> benefit Wikia Inc. The Knowledge Engine / Search Engine project was
>> discussed by the board during 2015 and Jimmy has been a public
>> advocate of the project since it was publicly leaked. The overlap of
>> what is thought to have been the original proposal to the Knight
>> Foundation with Jimmy Wales' original vision for, being
>> "Search Wikia", described as a "Google-killer search engine", is an
>> obvious concern. Jimmy Wales: "Obsession: Currently, it’s
>> It is meant to take on Google by creating a search engine where all
>> the editorial decisions are made by the general public and all the
>> software is open."[5]
>> Nine years later Jimmy is promoting the same ideas but with the WMF
>> investing charitable donated funds to support a development that will
>> benefit Wikia, rather than it being commercially funded while using
>> much of the same rhetoric, such as the importance of transparency.[4]
>> Links
>> 1.
>> 2.
>> 3.
>> 4. Search Wikia interview
>> 5.
>> 6. Company directors and trustees are expected to declare both
>> "conflicts of interest", normally interpreted as having a direct or
>> indirect financial interest, and "conflicts of loyalty" where their
>> non-financial interests may be seen to potentially influence their
>> judgement as a board member. There may be no demonstrable conflict for
>> this to be an issue, it only needs to be potentially be seen to be an
>> issue by others, in order to require a declaration.
>> 7. "Take advantage of Wikia's custom research solutions to achieve
>> campaign objectives, including brand lift studies, target audience
>> insights, and more!", "Reach the right audience with the right message
>> using Wikia's multitude of targeting opportunities, including
>> demographic, psychographic, geographic, contextual, genre, devices,
>> conquesting, and more!"
>> Fae


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