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Wikimedia Foundation is a private tax-exempt corporation (not-for-profit project) (IRS 501) in the state of Florida, USA.
Generally, its critics point to Wikimedia as a classic insider culture, and not a good model for Consumerium Governance Organization or any other nonprofit entity that is actually trying to serve users and disadvantaged people and other living things.
This article explains why, and why precedent and rules decisions from Wikimedia can't and shouldn't apply to Consumerium:Itself. The separate article Wikimedia corruption explains how Wikimedia fails to work in fulfillment of the wiki mission of Wikipedia itself.
It was founded by Jimmy Wales, on the Wikimedia Board of Trustees as "member for life". As this demonstrates, Wikipedia has no independent board. Three of the five members have association with Bomis in the form of being employed by the corporation, ex-employee or owner, and only 2 of the five current board members are elected by the community. The other three positions are currently held by "permanent" board members. As long as this structure remains, Wales and his close associates will maintain a permanent majority, with control over all final decisions. Wikimedia claims that they are in the proccess of revising this structure, and it will become more open very soon.
Wikimedia is funded by donors, and spends most money it receives as donations on providing hardware for MediaWiki sites such as Wikipedias and Wiktionaries. There are no salaried employees at the present time, and no immediate plans to have any at present levels of funding.
Bomis.com donates all the bandwidth needed for Wikipedia and its sister projects.
Claims of funding used to support MediaWiki software development
Some claim that part of the funds it raises is used to support development of the MediaWiki software (which Consumerium R&D wiki is running on). According to Mediawiki developers these claims are not true and they are receiving no money from Wikimedia - the software is "funded" like all other Free Software, by volunteer donations of labour.
Supporters of the Wikimedia foundation claim that most longstanding participants in the Wikipedia project have greeted the formation of the nonprofit with great enthusiasm. Plans are in the work to set up nonprofit organizations in European countries to complement a global foundation. Wales has given all rights and ownership in the Wikipedia name(s) to these foundations.
Supporters also can point to the fact that Wikipedia has grown to over 1.5 million articles, with editions in over 100 languages, and thus is probably the largest and best known Wiki community. They also might claim that this success would not have been possible without the current leadership or organizational structure, or the policy of "neutral point of view". They generally believe that widespread mainstream acceptance of the project would not have been possible had content been allowed to be more polemical, and less built on consensus.
Many dispute Wales' contribution and neutrality. The much vaunted wiki ideology of "neutral point of view" is also very strongly criticized: Though other editors ostensibly correct misinformation, there is no procedure to assure correction and when corrections are made, it can happen hours, days or weeks after the misinformation has been served and forked to readers and to other web services.
During election or war-time propaganda campaigns, a few hours of misinformation can be useful, but this possibility of disinformation cannot be avoided in wikis.
Jimmy Wales claims to try to stay out of dipute resolution and remain "neutral" as much as possible "so as to not influence editorial decisions," but it is apparent that he does intervene, e.g. the notorious case of English Wikipedia User Secretlondon. He can influence others who do "dispute resolution" and sometimes will block IPs for "vandalism". This is the most "heavily abused power", "especially" when extended to "trolls".
When Wales "chats" with other users they get a picture of how he tends to see things and usually "defer" to this person who they see as an awe-inspiring founder. Certain sycophants skew issues towards the way the founder sees them. None of these are unusual: Group dynamics suggest that this cannot be avoided but staying concious about this kind of phemonemom helps to minimize the damage it does, the systemic bias it creates, groupthink reinforced.
Wikimedia supporters cite as one of the greatest difficulties that Wikipedia has faced maintaining an open and welcoming culture in the face of repeated attacks from "vicious" trolls, such as the ones that they view as beginning to "plague" Consumerium. Conveniently, they ignore the fact that these so-called trolls actually authored the majority of the useful material at Consumerium!
failure or success
Wiki management issues are complex and difficult, and there are many lessons yet to be learned. However, to invent a pet label for "heretic" or "dissident" and use that to compel or enforce an existing community point of view violates every principle of an open project.
In contrast, supporters point to the "incredible success of Wikipedia" as an excellent model for any community organization. Wikipedia faces far greater challenges than any single-purpose community such as consumerium, because by design, it draws from a very broad range of ideological backgrounds, and must be welcoming to them all.
Consumerium, or other narrow-purpose projects, will likely find a more homogeneous user base, thus making governance decisions much easier.
Detractors point out Wikipedia's consistent refusal to accept any end-user-driven quality criteria, lack of vocabulary control, relative slow growth of its Simple English project, which has been sabotaged to the point of being useless for translation, leaving translators defaulting to complex full English, which necessarily carries a degree of serious English culture bias - sometimes called EPOV.
Wiki management and policy criticism
Some participants in the Wikipedia and other GFDL corpus projects have raised concerns with the people and processes employed by the "foundation". They claim that it has structural problems and that is unlikely to ever outgrow these. Most of the criticisms have to do with wiki management problems:
- Claims that Wikipedia violates GFDL.
- Claims that Wikipedia's name space is EPOV and favours Wikipedia itself inherently, e.g. creating use of ISO language codes in mediawiki as if they are invocations of Wikipedia in that language, not simply references to "that page in that language".
For example [[Wikipedia:fr:Commerce �uitable]] or [[w:fr:Commerce �uitable]] map incorrectly to the interwiki link standard name which is [[fr:Wikipedia:Commerce �uitable]]:
- It is not up to the service to decide what languages to serve in, nor is it up to the service to decide how to carve up space within that language - that's up to the language itself. Not only that, but the name of the service is itself expressed in a language: Hawaiian and Greek, combined using English rules of proper noun formation.
Other Unicode character sets make this problem more poignant: So to use a label like <;nowiki>Wikipedia:ch</nowiki> is to impose the English word "Wikipedia" first - only if you understand this in English are you then to be allowed to go on to read in Chinese.
- Promoting its own community point of view as if it were actually a neutral point of view. Under this policy, sysops are guilty of ignoring systemic bias questions, and letting sysop vigilantiism and sysop vandalism occur freely against outsiders, to the bizarre extremes of assuming that the Wikipedia mailing list consensus on legal issues overrules the best legal advice of actual qualified legal experts, or citing echo chamber assertions in Wikipedia articles as if they were true.
- Recently, on Meta-Wikipedia, Users Erik Moeller and Angela Beesley agreed that "only the community point of view" should even be permitted on Meta, with every dissenter forced to reveal "their real name" to attach to positions that dissented. This of course would put these dissenters in positions of very extreme vulnerability and weakness.
- Moeller even advocated openly on the Wikipedia IRC channel that Wikimedia should have thugs on call in every country to make sure this point of view was enforced by violence. This led to complaints about him which you can read here. More importantly, the idea that systemic bias is something to be enforced, not balanced has taken root, thanks to advocates of sysop vigilantiism - who were destroying and damaging essays presenting alternative views even in advance of discussion of this policy point.
- Allegedly planning (certainly discussing open whether) to modify its contributor agreement to make Wikimedia the contributor's copyright infringement agent. This would pose some potential threat to the open content status of Wikimedia projects, by letting Wikimedia use a legal bludgeon to shut down even legitimate mirrors and full GFDL corpus access providers on the basis of even minor inconsistency with the GFDL - in places where Wikimedia itself may be arguably inconsistent or in GFDL violation. At the moment it requires some degree of consensus before that could happen, since a fair number of contributors would have to sign up for any legal action. Eliminating that hurdle would significantly increase the potential for locking up the content. See w:Wikipedia:Submission Standards
- Libel chill employed as a tactic to silence critics, including those who have raised simple legal issues re the GFDL and charitable status, which any contributor or citizen has a right to do.