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Don’t Eye Wikipedia; Founder Jimmy Wales gets Tough With Elon Musk

Elon Musk is quite vocal about his viewpoints, and not many can afford to get into a war of words with him, but this time, Musk may have met his match as he is finally told of by Jimmy Wales.

Wikipedia does not need an introduction, for if you have been on the Internet, there are few chances that you have yet to visit this website. 

It is the world’s fifth-largest website, drawing in approximately 6.1 billion followers per month and is also the cheat sheet for almost any topic in the world. So momentous is the online encyclopaedia’s clout that it has as many as 56 million editions and is the biggest and “most read reference work in history”. 

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Jimmy Wales conceptualized this incredible piece of work.

The “Web Celeb” is ranked by Forbes Magazine and also counted by TIME Magazine as amongst the “100 most influnetial people” he is an internet entrepreneur, technology visionary and Wiki pioneer of the United States and is the founder of Wikipedia.

However, this genius who hardly makes news headlines is in the present having a war of words and adopting a tough stance towards the new Twitter CEO, Elon Musk.

Musk, who is known to be quite vocal and shares his opinions about anything and everything, has accused the encyclopedia website of having a left-leaning bias. 

Wikipedia has been accused of being hand in glove with mainstream media, setting and shaping a narrative and wanting to shut down its page regarding Twitter Files; we will explain that a bit further on. 

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Elon Musk VS Jimmy Wales

The war of words between the two has been going on since 2020. What started it was the highly theatrical release of the “twitter files” surrounding Hunter Biden’s (Son Of Joe Biden) laptop, which sparked a media frenzy and allegations on the FBI that it was pressurizing social media companies to suppress information surrounding the episode. 

As Wikipedia covers every topic, a page was curated on the website about Twitter files; however, what was different and noticed by millions around the globe is that it also came with a featured disclaimer at the top of the page, which said that it was considering deleting the entry. 

The conservative commentator Ian Miles Cheong said that the disclaimer and talk of deleting the page and the reason given by the wiki editors that the event had nothing notable about it since it was not covered by the media extensively is not enough grounds to delete the post. 

Cheong further went on to say that the narrative set and the shape it is given by “these people” is in accordance with what the mainstream media wants. 

What is to be noted is that despite Cheong’s strong words, the disclaimer at the top of the page has since been removed presently, but a new message has been added that warns readers that the facts can change quickly and “may be unreliable.”

Musk responded to Cheong on Twitter, “Most of Earth: ‘The MSM( mainstream media) is biased.’ 

Musk further said, “Wikipedia: Cite MSM source to confirm this claim,'” and stated, “Wikipedia has a non-trivial left-wing bias,” and asked Jimmy Wales (founder of Wiki) what his thoughts were.

However, Wales did not post anything on Musk’s comments, but there was a question on the Twitter thread that came from the New York Post politics and culture writer Jon Levine who questioned, “I wonder how much Wikipedia would cost?” 

Wales finally broke his silence and commented on Levine’s post, and declared that his company is “not for sale” and instead quickly turned the attention to a way to nab donations for the Wikimedia Foundation.

By jokingly asks people to check out his Soundcloud, only to be referred to a donation page.

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Why Were Twitter Files Published?

Matt Taibbi, a journalist, published The Twitter Files at the behest of Elon Musk. He further added more fuel to the fire last month by writing “The Twitter Files on free speech suppression soon to be published on Twitter itself. The public deserves to know what really happened.” 

At the time, Twitter, still under the now former management, had said the post was a violation of its “hacked materials” policy.

Jimmy Wales Gives His Thoughts On Twitter and Elon Musk

Wales, who is not as blatantly vocal as Musk, finally gave his two-piece regarding Musk’s handling of the Twitter takeover. 

In an interview last month, Wales expressed that Musk’s “diagnosis of what’s wrong with Twitter is completely wrong.”

He added, “Twitter has a real problem with trolling and abuse, it doesn’t have a problem with not enough freedom of expression.”

 

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Who is Ian Miles Cheong, who spoke on Wikipedia bias?

Cheong is best known for his commentary on Twitter and has become popular in right-wing circles by frequently expressing on U.S. politics.

However, before Cheong advanced into U.S. domestic issues, Cheong was known for his gaming journalist work and role as an influential moderator on Reddit.

Cheong is also known for his involvement in Gamergate, a term used to describe a controversy between primarily male gamers and female game developers that led to a widespread harassment campaign in 2014.

Initially, Cheong, who described himself as a “turbo-feminist” at the time, leapt to the defence of female game developers such as Zoe Quinn. However, as the years passed, Cheong’s politics began shifting to the far right.

Twitter users were shocked to learn this week that Ian Miles Cheong, a prominent pro-Trump conservative, isn’t actually living in America. The replies in nearly every recent tweet of Cheong’s are now filled with users telling him to butt out of U.S. politics.

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Wikipedia Co-Founder Larry Sanger, Not Happy

In one interview, Larry Sanger, the co-founder of Wikipedia, mentions how it has historically been monitored and written by a group of volunteers who cooperated and contested competing claims with one another and how these volunteers would “battle it out”. 

This battle of ideas on Wikipedia’s platform is what forms a crucial part of the encyclopaedia’s commitment to neutrality, which Sanger says was abandoned after 2009. 

In the years since, it has become increasingly partisan on issues ranging from Covid to Joe Biden, primarily espousing an establishment viewpoint that increasingly represents “propaganda”. 

This, according to Sanger, is why he left the site in 2007, describing it as “broken beyond repair”.

On Wikipedia’s Left-wing bias, Elon Musk

Interestingly, one can’t cite the Daily Mail and mention Fox News on socio-political issues. It’s banned. So what does this imply? It means that if a controversy does not appear in the mainstream centre-Left media, it will not appear on Wikipedia. 

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About Jimmy Wales And Wikipedia

The roots of Wikipedia were set in March 2000, when Wales started Nupedia, “the free encyclopedia”, which was distinguished by a comprehensive peer-review process created to make its featured articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. 

With the addition of wikis, i.e. a collection of web pages designed to encourage anyone who uses it to contribute or modify content, the project was anointed “Wikipedia.” 

Wales set the founding principles and content, setting an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was originally planned to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to Nupedia. However, Wikipedia’s quick expansion fast overshadowed Nupedia’s development.

In a 2004 interview, Wales described his motivations for Wikipedia, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” The project’s success has helped popularize a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users. 

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Wikipedia’s Success

As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Wales took on the project’s spokesperson and promoter role through speaking engagements and media appearances. 

His work with Wikipedia, which has become the world’s most giant encyclopedia, prompted TIME Magazine to name him one of its “100 Most Influential People,” in 2006 in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category.

In 2003, Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization committed to fostering the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content and providing the full range of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. 

The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the world’s largest collaboratively edited reference projects, including Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website.

In 2004, Wales co-founded, with Angela Beesley, the for-profit company Wikia, Inc. Wikia is a wiki farm – a collection of individual wikis on different subjects, all hosted on the same website. 

As part of his work at Wikia, Inc., Wales is now developing a human-powered search engine, Search Wikia, which will be founded on the same open, transparent, community-driven principles of Wikia and Wikipedia.

The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of the “Young Global Leaders” of 2007. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders worldwide for their professional achievements, commitment to society, and potential to contribute to shaping the world’s future.

 

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