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Wikipedia’s Friends With Benefits

By Gregory Kohs

This blog post is one of a five-part series of investigative reports by Gregory Kohs, documenting conflicts of interest among individuals and organizations who have financial ties with the Wikimedia Foundation.

The first report is The Thin Bright line The second report is Wikipedia donors feel entitled to more than a mug or a tote bag The third report is Business as Usual The fourth report is Wikipedia’s Friends With Benefits The fifth report is Look who’s visiting the WMF

The big news recently at the Wikimedia Foundation was the announced hiring of Silicon Valley tech professional, Lila Tretikov, to replace Sue Gardner as the executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation (WMF). Tretikov will take over an annual revenue stream of about $50 million, garnered almost entirely from donors who probably have no idea how little of that money actually goes toward program services that support the WMF mission. Meanwhile, the WMF board of trustees is edging closer and closer to implementing an amended Terms of Use for editors. The amendment would require editors to “disclose your employer, client, and affiliation with respect to any contribution to any Wikimedia Projects for which you receive, or expect to receive, compensation.”

This rule could become an embarrassing problem for Tretikov, because if past history is any indicator, some of the Wikimedia Foundation’s biggest cash donors seem to regularly flout the ethical demand for disclosure when conflict of interest editing is involved. This is Wikipediocracy’s fourth installment delving into major donors who edit Wikipedia to enhance their profile, but don’t always reveal that they have a conflict of interest. The previous three installments are found here: The Thin Bright Line, Wikipedia donors feel entitled to more than a mug or a tote bag, and Business as Usual.

Mark Amin

One

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