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Wikimedia UK governance review finds significant failings

By Andreas Kolbe

Jimmy Wales and the Wikimedia UK team, circa 2010

The publication on 7 February 2013 of an independent report on Wikimedia UK governance, commissioned jointly by Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia UK, was covered the following day by Civil Society Media’s Governance magazine (“Wikimedia UK trustees have been ‘too involved’ to effectively govern charity”), aimed at charity trustees, chief executives and company secretaries, and by Third Sector (“Review urges major overhaul of governance at Wikimedia UK”), a UK magazine specialising on the voluntary and non-profit sector.

Background

The review, performed by management consultancy Compass Partnership, was paid for by the Wikimedia Foundation. It was commissioned in October of last year, in the wake of media controversy and community discussions around the Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia outreach projects. A key part of the dispute, Governance said, was—

“ an intellectual property dispute over QRpedia, a mobile web-based system using QR codes to deliver Wikipedia articles, that was developed by former chairman Roger Bamkin (who resigned as a trustee in 2012) and contributor Terence Eden. ”

Bamkin had undertaken a paid consultancy for the Monmouthpedia project, which involved the use of QR codes, resulting in a conflict of interest that according to report authors Compass Partnership was not drawn to the attention of legal staff at the Wikimedia Foundation who dealt with trademark applications. Bamkin then also charged for consultancy fees in relation to Gibraltarpedia, leading to a further conflict of interest which eventually resulted in his resignation from the Wikimedia UK board in September 2012.

As stated by Jay Walsh, Senior Director of Communications, on the Wikimedia Foundation blog,

“ The Foundation and Wikimedia UK saw the potentially damaging effect of these matters and we ordered this review and report. We both expect

…continue reading Wikimedia UK governance review finds significant failings

Selling Wikipedia By The Pound

 

By Delicious Carbuncle

 

See also Cover-up begins in Wikipedia’s Gibraltar scandal and Why there is no end to the Gibraltarpedia scandal – or Jimmy Wales’ silence.

 

It is October 2010. You are watching two middle-aged men give a presentation to CIPR, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. The men are Andrew Turvey and Steve Virgin. At that time, both are Trustees of Wikimedia UK. The presentation is called “What is your Wikipedia strategy?”. On the screen, an artlessly assembled Powerpoint slide entitled “Contributions as ‘soft’ advertising” poses a question to the assembled PR professionals: Imagine having your client’s name on the Front Page of the world’s fifth website?

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Jump ahead two years to the present day. There has been some bad press about Wikipedia’s Gibraltarpedia project lately, most recently about the number of “did you know” entries about Gibraltar appearing on Wikipedia’s front page. A debate has been raging on Wikipedia for the past month about those DYKs, as they are known. They stopped temporarily when someone first pointed out the flood of Gibraltarpedia DYKs and the involvement of Roger Bamkin (at that time both a WMUK Trustee and a paid consultant to the Government of Gibraltar). Imagine having your client’s name on the world’s fifth most visited website. Now imagine having it there 15 or 20 times a month.

The Billion Pound Product In the 2012 WMUK Annual Report, Roger Bamkin says: Quote: Wikimedia has enabled me to meet some wonderful people and QRpedia has put me into contact with enthusiasts around

…continue reading Selling Wikipedia By The Pound

Why there is no end to the Gibraltarpedia scandal – or Jimmy Wales’ silence.

By Andreas Kolbe

See also Cover-up begins in Wikipedia’s Gibraltar scandal

The English Wikipedia and Wikimedia UK came in for criticism in the media last month over the Gibraltarpedia PR scandal. Roger Bamkin, a Wikimedia UK trustee and former chairman of the British charity supporting the Wikipedia website, had taken up a paid consultancy position for the government of Gibraltar, in a project designed “to market Gibraltar as a tourist product through Wikipedia”.

As an article in Wikipedia’s internal newsletter, The Signpost, reported, controversy focused specifically on the number of Gibraltar-related articles appearing in the “Did You Know …” (“DYK”) section of Wikipedia’s main page. This section of the Wikipedia main page features new work added to Wikipedia. Roger Bamkin had taken an active role in ensuring that articles related to his project appeared there, on Wikipedia’s most visible page, in a way that “seemed to some observers to blur his roles as a Wikimedia UK trustee, a paid consultant for the projects’ government partners, and an editor of the English Wikipedia”.

As reported in The Telegraph, Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales expressed the view that having 17 Gibraltar DYKs in August, more than any other topic bar the Olympics, was “absurd”, and that it would be “wildly inappropriate for a board member of a chapter, or anyone else in an official role of any kind in a charity associated with Wikipedia, to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favorable placement on the front page of Wikipedia or anywhere else.”

The reach of Wikipedia’s front page should not be underestimated: it receives around 10 million views a day. A 2010 article noted that

Over the weekend, prominent placement on Wikipedia’s main page launched a nearly twenty-year-old Time magazine article about Scientology onto the Time site’s “most-read” list. The jump

…continue reading Why there is no end to the Gibraltarpedia scandal – or Jimmy Wales’ silence.