Jimmy Wales is proud of Wikipedia
Wikipedia wants to be cultural weight against big money
Jimmy Wales: I don't think Knol is a competitor at all. Knol cannot be compared to Wikipedia and it has no potential to develop into something like Wikipedia. The design is more reminiscent of a blogging platform. Google expressly wants people to enter their own opinion. This leads to a kind of comment style. In addition, there are no editorial structures like ours with which we can achieve a higher quality.
Other, more traditional encyclopedias such as Britannica or Brockhaus are also starting to present themselves online. Tough competition?
Reference works are very popular in Germany
That is a good thing. It is very difficult for them to compete with us. After all, we are a non-profit project and have no advertising on the site. The spend on what we do is low and there doesn't seem to be any demand for their product so they have a tough job ahead of them. On the other hand, we welcome everything and everyone. We are not a competitive organization, we can work together and are cooperative. We give things away for free, we really don't think much about competition.
Can you imagine a cooperation between Wikipedia and, for example, Encyclopedia Britannica or Brockhaus?
Yes. I am actually thinking of such a cooperation where they should consider whether they want to use the many pictures from Wikipedia as well. As I understand it, the amount they have to pay for image licenses is a large part of their budget. Actually, they have to save costs. We distribute our pictures for free and you are welcome to use them.
After a recent false entry on Wikipedia, which said that US Senator Ted Kennedy had died, you called for new controls to filter the content. Doesn't this violate one of Wikepedia's central missions - to allow the unhindered flow of information?
We always had controls. We always had the option to block items and we did. That was called protection. We didn't like to do it, though, so we introduced what is known as semi-protection. If an article is half protected, you can only edit it if you have an account for at least four days. When we introduced this principle a few years ago, the press made a lot of fuss. But we thought, 'No, we're actually loosening control. People who previously couldn't edit articles were now able to. ' It is really a subtle change.
Read on the next page which Wikipedia entry Jimmy Wales likes best.
What is your favorite entry or topic on Wikipedia at the moment and why?
Wikipedia has 39 languages on offer
I always enjoy quirky articles that deal with different, funny things. One that I really like is called "inherently funny words," which are only found on the English Wikipedia page. Many famous comedians have talked about how when you tell a joke that some words are just funnier to use than others. They also say that German words mostly sound funny to someone who speaks English.
You say on your Wikipedia and Facebook pages that you have been learning German for some time. Do you have a favorite German word?
Carillon. It sounded great and it made you laugh.
Why is German the most important Wikipedia language after English? Why not Spanish, Chinese, or Japanese?
There are various reasons. First, Germans have long had a love for encyclopedias. Also, I think Germans speak better English than French, so they had heard of Wikipedia earlier and were able to interact more with the international community.
Children growing up in the western world today will not experience a life without immediate access to information via the Internet. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
It is impossible to imagine life without computers with Internet for children and young people
I just think that's the way the world is. We also cannot remember the time when there were no telephones. I do, however, remember the time when there weren't any cell phones or when they were big as bricks. My daughter gets very angry when she opens her computer somewhere and doesn't get a wireless internet signal. I think this is okay, I think this is progress.
The founders of Google and Facebook have made hundreds of millions or billions of dollars with their companies. Do you sometimes wish you had set up a commercial site instead of Wikipedia?
No. The thing about Wikipedia is, it has a certain cultural importance. In 500 years, when people look back at the beginnings of the Internet, they will point to Wikipedia and say, 'That was something really important that happened there, something really good. People have volunteered to share their knowledge in a non-commercial setting and have created something amazing. ' And I'm proud to be a part of it.
Is Barack Obama the first president to really understand and understand the internet?
I have a few things to say about that. I know Jimmy Carter and he's really good at the internet. When I met him, I thought, 'Oh, how exciting. I'll have to explain my work to him, he's an older man, he'll probably have no idea. ' But he knows everything about Wikipedia, he uses it all the time. He understands how to edit it, an amazing guy. But this is Jimmy Carter, he really is a one-off person. I doubt George W Bush knows anything about the internet at all. I recently spoke to Obama's Transition Team and after that I was super happy. You came up to me to talk about the site and get some general advice. And to ask if I had any ideas for her. I think that's impressive.
Jimmy Wales is co-founder of Wikipedia, the free online portal that started in 2001 and is now considered the largest encyclopedia in the world. Jimmy Wales is also a board member of the Wikimedia Foundation, founder of the commercial internet portal Wikia and - according to Time Magazine - one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
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