Jimmy Wales - Wikipedia

US Ankara, Turkey Embassy held a teleconference with Jimmy WalesWikipedia and Wikia founder on Feburary, 19 2008. Students and instructors related to the subject from various universities in Ankara as well as professional people were invited to take part in the event. I and a couple more friends and instructors from my M.A. program were invited as well.

The conference started with Jimmy Wales’ speaking for about 30 minutes, talking about what Wikipedia is, how it works and the logic behind (mentioning what open-source and open-content are), how it is funded and other general information. One interesting thing he said about Wikipedia was that he called it a system where people can access “the sum of all human knowledge” freely. Personally, I have found this quite exaggerated. Then Wales talked about his ad-supported commercial project Wikia.

This was followed by a question-answer session. I have found some of the questions pretty lame. One Communications student asked if they were planning to increase the number of articles/entries in Turkish on Wikipedia. Well, why not start with reading what a wiki is first? Some other question was on the credibility or trustworthiness of knowledge/information on Wikipedia. I again found this attitude pretty lame as neither Wikipedia nor any other encyclopedia can actually brag about the accuracy or completeness of any information/knowledge they offer.

Others followed the pattern of the typical questions that start with “As you know, in this globalized world blah blah” following showing gratefulness and thankfulness. One person asked if Wikipedia was ever banned in any countries. Those that follow this kind of news already know that China has been blocking Wikipedia for more than two years. However, the addition Wales did was quite interesting: He stated that they have not done anything to compromise with the Chinese Government to lift the ban on Wikipedia as it would be against the philosophy behind Wikipedia.

In his speech, Wales mentioned Wikia Search as a rival to Google, critisizing Google for intransparency on how it works. As you might already know, Google has been accused of self-filtering certain keywords or websites from coming up in search results. As opposed to Google, Wikia Search, which is alpha at the moment and uses Grub‘s Distributed Web Crawling, appears as a open-source searching software that makes its search algorithms available. However, the question I had in mind and asked to Wales was how they were planning to list search results. Google uses Pagerank to rate and rank sites – a site gets higher rank when it has more incoming links from other sites, and lower if otherwise. However, with SEO techniques out there, this is easily exploitable with commercial and all other reasons. I asked what kind of a method they were planning to use to sort sites in a search query and what they were planning to achieve this transparency. He said that they have been thinking of a healthier way to do this in the last few years. He stated that the system they use will be similar to Pagerank – adding that a healthy community should be able to make it function properly.

This post has no comment.