Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales Restricts Discussion of

Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales Restricts Discussion of

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:55 am

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales restricts discussion of Tony Blair friendship

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has banned a critic from his page on the website for raising his friendship with Tony Blair and support of work funded by the authoritarian Kazakh regime.

By Christopher Williams, Technology Correspondent, Telegraph.co.uk

11:07AM GMT 24 Dec 2012

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Tony Blair with President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev, inside 10 Downing Street in 2006 Photo: ALASTAIR GRANT/AFP/Getty Images

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Jimmy Wales and Kate Garvey, Tony Blair's former diary secretary married at Wesley's Church in the City of London Photo: FIONA HANSON

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Tony Blair and wife Cherie attended the ceremony Photo: Fiona Hanson

Kazakhstan’s government sanctioned a foundation called WikiBilim last year, which creates material for a Kazakh Wikipedia. The organisation, which has 25 staff, is backed by Kazakhstan’s sovereign oil wealth fund and run by Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, an ex-government official.

The Wikimedia Foundation, the non-profit organisation that runs Wikipedia, provided a $16,600 grant from visitor donations and Mr Wales named Mr Kenzhekhanuly the first ever “Wikipedian of the Year” in 2011.

Wikipedia contributors in the West have questioned whether the Wikimedia Foundation and Mr Wales should be supporting a project backed by a government that Human Rights Watch said earlier this month was mounting a “growing crackdown on free speech”. Independent media outlets have been hauled before courts and shut down.

Last week, Mr Wales denied his or the Wikimedia Foundation’s work in Kazakhstan supported the regime.

On his Talk page on Wikipedia, he argued he takes a “thoughtful and nuanced” position on “working with companies and organization in difficult jurisdictions”.

“In Kazakhstan, there is a great group of volunteer editors - just like you - who are working in a non-political way with their own government to transition an older encyclopedia into Wikipedia, as well as to recruit quality volunteers,” he said.

“Like many people, I have concerns about potential problems, but so far I have been pleased with what I have seen.”

In a separate discussion on Quora, he added that “no one has produced any evidence of any kind of manipulation of Kazakh Wikipedia”.

Mr Wales shut down the discussion on his Talk page, saying it had become “absurd”, when critics raised his friendship with Tony Blair, who is advising the Kazakh dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, reportedly for $13 million. Mr Blair was a guest at Mr Wales’ wedding to his former diary secretary Kate Garvey in October, and the men have visited Richard Branson’s private island in the Caribbean.

“That's just totally weird and irrelevant,” said Mr Wales as he shut down the discussion.

“I have nothing to do with his consulting in Kazakhstan, and I have many political (and religious) disagreements with him, which I'm quite open about.

“I have lots of friends, many from difficult countries, many who are politicians, and I don't necessarily agree with everything they say (nor do they agree with me). But frankly, my personal life has absolutely nothing to do with Kazakhstan!”

The discussion was later reopened. He told The Telegraph attempts to link Mr Blair's work with Wikipedia in kazakhstan were the work of "some deranged conspiracy theorists".

The friendship was raised by Andreas Kolbe, a prolific UK-based Wikipedia contributor and frequent critic of the way the Wikimedia Foundation operates. Mr Wales told him to “please stay off my Talk page”.

“I've had enough of you. I'll delete anything you post there, and if you persist, I'll ask others to help delete anything you post there,” he said.

Mr Wales, who said he was strongly committed to free speech, is due to visit Kazakhstan in 2013 according to Rauan Kenzhekhanuly.
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Re: Wikipedia Co-Founder Jimmy Wales Restricts Discussion o

Postby admin » Thu Oct 10, 2013 7:59 am

Don"t mention my friendship with Tony Blair"! Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales bans discussion of former PM in new controversy over Kazakh links. Wikimedia Foundation works with Kazakh government-linked foundation on their own version of the site, The regime was this month accused of a 'growing crackdown on free speech' by Human Rights Watch. Mr Wales also questioned about links with Blair, who attended his wedding and with whom he has holidayed.

UPDATED:13:55 GMT, 24 December 2012

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Censorship: Jimmy Wales, co-founder of Wikipedia, shut down a discussion of his links to Tony Blair and Kazakhstan on his Talk Page on the website

Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales has censored critics from his page on the website after they questioned his friendship with Tony Blair and work with the authoritarian Kazakh regime.

Mr Wales shut down a discussion about the links on his Talk Page and said criticism of his relationship with the former PM and his work with Kazakhstan had become 'absurd'.

The Wikimedia Foundation – the non-profit group that runs Wikipedia – last year set up a foundation with Kazakhstan's government to create material for a Kazakh version of the site.

But Wikipedia contributors in the West have questioned whether Mr Wales and the foundation should support a project backed by a government accused of mounting a 'growing crackdown on free speech' by Human Rights Watch.

Mr Wales also came under fire from one contributor for his friendship with former PM Mr Blair, who was a guest at his wedding in October and with whom he has holidayed on Richard Branson's private Caribbean island.

Mr Blair is an advisor to the Kazakh regime, which has been ruled by autocrat Nursultan Nazarbayev since before the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union over two decades ago.

In April last year, President Nazarbayev was re-elected to another five-year term receiving 95.54 per cent of the vote with 89.9 per cent of registered voters participating.

The Wikimedia Foundation has been collaborating with Kazakhstan's government in the running of WikiBilim, a Kazakh version of Wikipedia run by Rauan Kenzhekhanuly, a former government official.

WIKIPEDIA IN DECLINE

The number of new administrators on Wikipedia has fallen dramatically since what might be considered the site's 'heyday' of 2007.

Administers are able to delete posts, block editors and protect pages, and are one of the site's most valuable assets, particularly on controversial topics such as religious controversy or breaking news stories.

But The Atlantic, reporting from the Wikimania conference held in Washington over the summer, said that the number of administrators and editors were dropping.

Writing for The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer said: 'In October 2005, Wikimedia promoted 67 people to become sysops. 2005 and 2006 were filled with months like this, where 40 or 50 people would become administrators – but since then, their numbers have been dropping off. A few years ago, Wikipedia's oldest stewards started to worry: The number of administrators promoted every month was skidding in the high single digits.

'Volunteer editing of Wikipedia is on a long decline. The number of editors peaked in 2007 and has been falling since. Lots of people know this.'

It provided a $16,600 grant from Wikipedia visitor donations to the organisation – also backed by Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund – and Mr Wales last year named Mr Kenzhekhanuly the first 'Wikipedian of the Year'.

Nevertheless, Mr Wales last week denied his work in Kazakhstan or that of the Wikimedia Foundation supported the Nazarbayev regime.

'My position on working with companies and organization in difficult jurisdictions is, I think, thoughtful and nuanced,' he said as he announced the shut down of the discussion over the links on his Talk Page.

'In Kazakhstan, there is a great group of volunteer editors – just like you - who are working in a non-political way with their own government to transition an older encyclopedia into Wikipedia, as well as to recruit quality volunteers,' he added.

'Like many people, I have concerns about potential problems, but so far I have been pleased with what I have seen.'

He added in a separate discussion on Quora that 'no one has produced any evidence of any kind of manipulation of Kazakh Wikipedia', the Telegraph reported.

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Tony Blair greets Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev in Downing Street: The former PM now has a contract to advise Nazarbayev's regime which is worth a reported $13 million (8 million)

Mr Wales also hit back at critics who raised questions over his friendship with Mr Blair, whose contract for advising the Nazarbayev regime is worth a reported $13 million.

'I have nothing to do with his consulting in Kazakhstan, and I have many political (and religious) disagreements with him, which I'm quite open about,' Mr Wales said.

'I have lots of friends, many from difficult countries, many who are politicians, and I don't necessarily agree with everything they say (nor do they agree with me).

'But frankly, my personal life has absolutely nothing to do with Kazakhstan.'

Mr Wales's links to the controversial former prime minister was raised by prolific UK-based Wikipedia contributor Andreas Kolbe.

Mr Wales told him to 'stay off' his talk page, adding: 'I've had enough of you. I'll delete anything you post there, and if you persist, I'll ask others to help delete anything you post there.'
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