Jimmy Wales – the Wikipedia inventor

The concept of Wikipedia started with a very radical concept: a freely-licensed online encyclopedia disseminating vast amount of knowledge on almost every part of the world. Aside from it being freely-licensed, users can edit and save its content easily. The concept is uncomplicated as it may seem; but not as simple as one should think about it. The usability of Wikipedia scattered all over the world, and is up to now a  great help for those who are looking for the easiest way to obtain compilation of knowledge from the cyberspace.The man responsible for the conceptualization and creation of this online encyclopedia was Jimmy Wales. Born in Huntsville, Alabama in August of 1966, he became best known as the driving force behind Wikipedia. Co-authoring with Tim Shell, he was also responsible for the creation of the website Bornis.com, seen in the internet in 1996. The money he gained from bornis.com was the money he used to start an online encyclopedia called Nupedia that influenced the creation of Wikipedia in 2001. Wales became popular, which considered him to belong to the top 100 most influential people of 2006 all over the world by the Time Magazine. As the online encyclopedia got into popularity, the demands heightened up. He allowed the non-profit organization, Wikimedia to handle Wikipedia, in 2003, still under his leadership. Wikia Inc. on the other hand is a for-profit organization hosting the wiki web pages publicizing various topics.Wales avoids talking about his birthday. Sites either mentions August 7th or August 8th, but it is sure that Wikipedia was launched on January 15, 2001 in his interview with the New Scientist magazine. It was a notion that Larry Sanger, who coined the name Wikipedia, was a co-author of the website. Wales corrects this notion and mentions Sanger being just his employee, who acted as the editor of Nupedia (Infoplease p. 1).According to Jimmy Wales’ lecture in Ted Conferences, LLC titled Talks Jimmy Wales: How a ragtag band created Wikipedia, Wikipedia runs on a model called free-licensing model, meaning the contents of the encyclopedia can be freely modified and used without any legal restrictions (en.wikipedia.org p.1). The process of adding, editing, and erasing contents is made possible the Wikipedia software, owned by the Wikimedia foundation. In the lecture conducted by Jimmy Wales in 2006, he mentioned about the encyclopedia reaching almost 600,000 English articles, and an overall count of 2 million articles written in different languages. It can be imagined how vast the number of employees Wikipedia must have to fill this number of articles, averaging up to almost 1.4 billion visits annually since its establishment. But there is only one employee, a software developer, who started in 2005 and paid $5000 in a part-time or full-time basis. Thousands of volunteers, contributors, and editors are responsible for everything aside from the system maintenance. No specific, traditional organization of the contributors was created, and nobody is in-charge. Everyone can contribute and edit the contents of the site. He even stated that these people behind the contents of the site are the smartest people he had ever met.A lot of controversies were thrown to Wikipedia and to Wales. Some of the concerns were with regard to the credibility of its contents and some with the management of the for-profit organization.Anytime that a controversial issue arises, the members should not take a stand but just report on the reputable party from which such controversies came from. The contributors of diverse political, cultural and religious background came up with very firm neutrality policy that is non-negotiable. Wales set-down this policy himself from the very beginning as the core principle that governs for the community, and it is not debatable. Diverting from this kind of behavior may lead to the expulsion from the organization. Wales introduced this policy from the very beginning to avoid issues against Wikipedia that it favors a certain party when it reacts or gives its statements. Considering that Wikipedia is visited by a vast number of users yearly, it is possible that publication of such insights will influence the minds of the visitors. There is also a possibility that the site may be alleged for such claims. The neutrality point of view policy then protects its contributors and editors against the above-mentioned possibilities.Contrasting to the negative comments about the website, Wales cleared-out to the public that they have a mechanism of validation of the submissions made by the users. It is not true that whatever content is added or modified, that just goes straight to the site without any process checking the additional contents. Real time peer reviews take place, so the members of the community may either accept or reject the entries.People may contribute to the content anonymously. An e-mailing system was included in the Wikipedia system in order for the contributors to be notified on the validity of their entries. Still, upon rejection, the contributors are given chance to verify their sources to consider their entries for another review.Many students are thankful to the creation of this online encyclopedia. The website facilitates the online searching that caters almost everything under the sun. Searching in Wikipedia is economical in time, since almost everything you need in a particular topic is there. In addition, links to other relevant topics are available for additional information, making it even easier for the users to come up with a variety of ideas, sometimes not even needing to type in more keywords to search engines like Google. Just in case that the user wants to verify the information uploaded in Wikipedia, he could always go back to the list of references provided by the editor or contributor. As I listened to the lecture conducted by Jimmy, I was convinced of the credibility of the content of Wikipedia, but then, Wales admitted that some parts are weak, but most of the parts are strong in content.To think that Wikipedia is a non-profit site, one could already determine the heroism Jimmy Wales had shown. He was even able to gather several volunteer to maintain the credibility of the sites as high as possible. The ‘tightly knit community’, composing of around one thousand to two thousand individuals that Wales mentioned is also one of the evidences that the site established by him was for the betterment of the academic community, specifically for those who are connected to the cyberspace. This is a great opportunity for everyone that only this dot com encyclopedia can offer.We can also consider him being a hero for he still fights controversies, conducts seminars to eliminate the misconceptions on the Wikipedia community, gets towards the improvement of the site for the benefit of the users and those who find happiness by just contributing and editing the site for its improvement, and even manages to meet up with his volunteers just to maintain the existence of the site. This tightly-knit community, to emphasize, is a clear manifestation of how powerful Wikipedia is, and how a lot of people believe in the core principle of Wikipedia, and what kind of impact it is to the contributors and editors the dedication of Jimmy Wales that they remain to be intact with the organization, that is Wikipedia, without being paid at all. This is the true manifestation of volunteerism and dedication among work. The people working behind the site may have truly imbibed the true spirit of volunteerism among themselves.Jimmy Wales gave this statement in his very own Wikipedia news titled: Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia’s knowledge is power to the people:Humans are portrayed as irrational captives to their background and identity unable to be objective. I do not share this view. Seven years ago I founded. We are a charitable humanitarian effort to create and distribute a free high-quality encyclopedia to every single person on the planet. Already we are the biggest fastest-growing and most popular general reference work in the world… We are a charitable humanitarian effort to create and distribute a free high-quality encyclopedia to every single person on the planet. Already we are the biggest fastest-growing and most popular general reference work in the world. Wikipedia attracts 683m visitors annually with more than 10m articles in over 150 languages. Today there are around one billion people online. In the next five to 10 years the next billion people will be joining the great global conversation by coming online to participate in blogs mailing lists and of course Wikipedia itself. If we look beyond the languages of Europe plus Chinese and Japanese most Wikipedia projects are small but fast growing (p. 1).This is a very inspiring quote that summarizes his dedication, and how radical his idea of Wikipedia was. Wikipedia, in my own personal opinion, will be of greater help in the future, and will always be strengthened as its volunteers continue the website’s principle, and work for the betterment of the community for a grand purpose: a unidirectional, mind-enriching, an most of all, human empowering site that delivers relevant information.Works Cited“Free content.” 22 April 2009 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_content>Guardian Unlimited. “Jimmy Wales: Wikipedia’s knowledge is power to the people.” June 22, 2008. Wikipedia News. 22 April 2009 <http://www.journowiki.org/2008/06/jimmy-wales-wikipedias-knowledge-is-power-to-the-people/>Infoplease. “Jimmy Wales: Inventor / Entrepreneur.” 2007. Infoplease: All the knowledge you need. 22 April 2009 <http://www.infoplease.com/biography/var/jimmywales.html>Ted Conferences, LLC. “Talks Jimmy Wales: How a ragtag band created Wikipedia.” August 2006. TED: Ideas worth Spreading. 22 April 2009 <http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/jimmy_wales_on_the_birth_of_wikipedia.html