Thoughts Jimmy Wales: "Wikipedia as a sausage ..."

Original author: Jimmy Wales
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Imagine a world in which every person on the planet gets free access to the knowledge of all mankind . This is what we do.

I often advise people who are frustrated in the war of edits to think about those who live without clean drinking water, without any proper means of training, and how our work can ever help this person . I suppose it is worth the appearance of flames.

Wikipedia is like a sausage: you might like its taste, but you don’t have to want to see how it is made.

When someone writes 'f ** k, f ** k, f ** k' we just fix it, laugh and move on. But complex social problems are borderline cases -people who do a good job, but are also a pain in the ass .

Wikipedia is, first of all, an attempt to create and distribute a free encyclopedia with the highest possible quality for every person on the planet in his native language. Asking whether the community comes before or after this goal, you are actually asking the wrong question: the whole goal of the community is this goal .

Ideally, our rules should be formed in such a way that an ordinary helpful, kind, thoughtful person does not even need knowledge of the rules . You just get to work, do something funny, and no one bothers you, as long as you are kind and kind.

Most people understand the need for neutrality. The real struggle is not between the right and the left — that is what most people assume — but the struggle between the party of reasonable people and the party of idiots. And neither side of the political spectrum has a monopoly on any of these qualities.

Free licensed textbooks are the next major breakthrough in education .

We are turning from a funny little town where everyone is waving to you from his porch, to the subway of New York where people are rushing past you. How to preserve a culture that works so well?

Honestly, and let me be very frank, Wikipedia is not a readable product for us. This is for them . This is for the girl in Africa who can save the lives of hundreds of thousands of people around her, but only if she has the knowledge to do it.

We are Wikipedians / Wikipedians. This means that we should be:

  • kind
  • thought out
  • passionate about getting certain things right
  • open,
  • tolerant to different points of view,
  • openly criticizing
  • boldly changing policy
  • as well as cautious about changing our policies.

  • We are not vindictive,
  • don't behave like a child
  • and we do not stoop to the level of our worst critics, no matter how annoying we may consider them.

This is quite strange. A few years ago, I was just a guy on the Internet . Now I send an email or edit an article, and it hits the headlines around the world ... I was just a guy - now I'm Jimmy Wales.

We come from a geek culture , we start from the era of free software, we have many technologists. If we carried out the same comparison with poets or artists, I think that we would not have achieved even approximately this result.

It turns out that many people do not understand this at all. Wikipedia is like rock and roll; This is a cultural shift .

We have always had a relationship with numbers on the verge of love and hate.

Random speculative pseudo-information should be removed if it cannot be obtained directly from any source.

Lack of information is preferable to misleading or false information .

Honestly, some people editing the article should not be allowed to get close to the keyboard until they learn to properly write in the encyclopedia.

I think the argument is completely immoral, and I think that people know this when they do it. There is a very big difference between a sincere, passionate interest in the topic and being a sales puppet ... Especially for PR firms, this is something they really should avoid: ever touch the article.

Wikipedia is a non-profit project.It's either the stupidest thing I've ever done, or the smartest thing.


Hayek's work on price theory is central to my own thinking about how to manage a Wikipedia project ... No one can understand my ideas about Wikipedia without understanding Hayek.

Just having rules does not change what people want to do. You need to change incentives.

I think that MySpace is doomed, I give them another two years ... I think that Facebook is the next Microsoft in both a bad and a good way. This is an amazing company that is going to do a lot of good and bad things.


The biggest misconception about Wikipedia: We are not democratic. Our readers edit posts, but we are in many ways snobs. The core community appreciates when someone is knowledgeable, and thinks that some people are idiots and should not write.

There are a lot of rude things on the Internet. People say on the Internet that they will be ashamed to tell each other. If people could relate to others as if they were talking face to face, it would be great.

I have said this many times in the past and I will say this many times in the future, I am sure: some people need to find another hobby, because whatever their purpose is, it clearly is not to help create an encyclopedia.

We're going to change the license to the free [GNU] documentation so that Wikipedia can be licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike license. And this is not a party in honor of my 50th birthday, as some people thought on Facebook. This is a party dedicated to the liberation of Wikipedia.

If we give people enough time, they will spoil Wikipedia just as they ruined everything else, but for now it's still not so bad.

I do not agree that most scientists expressed disapproval when they heard about Wikipedia. Most scientists are very passionate about the concept of Wikipedia, and I really like it. [...] The number of scientists who really dislike Wikipedia is actually quite small, and we see that the number of scientists dissatisfied with Wikipedia, which is covered in the media, is not proportional to the number that actually exists.

We are a passionate community of volunteers who are trying to create a free encyclopedia for every person on the planet. Therefore, we do not often think about competition.
We’re going to do what we’re doing, and we hope Google does great things too ... If we treated it like a business, we would always think, “Oh, how can we position ourselves in the market ... We just don’t do anything from this.

My team is focused on the interface, working on the user interaction algorithm, and on making sure that we have all the wiki-like tools that people need so they can work on the site. We just retreat.

For me the main thing is to achieve the goal. And if a person is really smart, and he does a fantastic job, I don’t care if he is a high school student or a Harvard professor; This is an important job.

I do this almost all the time. I edit Wikipedia every day, I’m on Facebook, I’m on Twitter, I’m reading news. During one of the US elections, I actually went through my computer and blocked viewing of major newspaper sites and Google news for myself, because I could not do my job.

What we will not do is pretend that the work of crazy charlatans is the equivalent of "true scientific discourse." This is not true.

Real people are involved, and they can suffer from your words. We are not tabloid journalism, we are an encyclopedia.

I think that reality exists and that it is knowable.

Wikipedia is something special. It looks like a library or public park. It looks like a temple for the mind.. This is a place where we can all think, learn, share our knowledge with others. When I founded Wikipedia, I could turn it into a commercial company with advertising banners, but I decided to do something else. We worked hard for many years to keep it simple and fun. We effectively fulfill our mission.

Interview with Brian Lamb (September 25, 2005)

Wales: We help the internet not to suck.
So Wikipedia for many people is what we all thought the Internet will be in the first place, which ... as you know, when most people first started the Internet, they thought it was fantastic, people can communicate around the world, and build knowledge and share information. And then we went through this whole dot-com boom and a number of problems, and the Internet seemed to be the site of pop-up ads and spam, as well as porn and selling dog food via the Internet. And now Wikipedia echoes the original vision of the Internet. And therefore for the entire business, for the entire Internet, it is important that there are quality resources that people can turn to and want to turn to.

Wales: Our goal has always been Britannica or something of better quality. We do not always achieve this.

Lamb: Could you take them out of business?

Wales:You know, I don't know. I thought so, but I was just in Germany, where Wikipedia is really great in Germany [..]. And Brockhaus is the publisher of the traditional encyclopedia of Britannica style. And their sales have grown by 30 percent over the last year, although Wikipedia is breaking all records. And I think that there is a certain probability that in the end they complement each other, that people [..]. Thus, Wikipedia helps people remember that hey, in fact, there is something that a group of people can edit, control and set the level of trust in information. And this makes Brockhaus more attractive, makes Wikipedia more attractive. So it's hard to say.

Lamb: Another thing I read about you is that you are a follower or were you a follower of Ayn Rand at some point?

Wales: Right, yes.

Lamb: Who is she, and you still follow her and what do you like?

Wales:Yes. Ayn Rand wrote “Atlant Shrugged” and “Source”, as many know, which, as you know about something like the foundation of the libertarian way of thinking in the United States. She, I think, would quite allow the libertarian label. But I think that for me one of the main things that is very applicable to my life today is the dignity of independence - this is a vision, you know, if you know the idea of ​​Howard Roark, who is an architect in Source, who has a vision regarding what he wants to accomplish, and, you know, there is a period in the book when he is disappointed in his career, because people do not want to build the type of buildings he wants to build. And he has a choice, a difficult choice, to compromise his integrity or to leave the business substantially. And he has to get a job in a quarry. And for me, this model has a lot of resonance. You know, when I think about what I do, and how I do it, this is more important to me than any amount of money or something like that, because this is my artistic work.

Lamb: In which year did you read “Atlas Shrugged” or “Source”?

Wales: I guess I was about 20 years old when I read The Source

Wales quotes

The more time I spent on the site, the more I thought of Wales as some kind of ant womb allowing a huge colony to do its work, in the center of the system, where knowledge of the community is infinitely more than the sum of the experience of all its people.


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