Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Just a comparison

There are two projects that have their origin in the Wikimedia Foundation. Both are associated by people who have a claim to fame. Danny Wool used to work for the WMF and he seriously contributed to projects. Gerard Meijssen never worked for the WMF but he seriously contributed to projects. Danny's project is called Veropedia, Gerard's project is called OmegaWiki, one is a .com the other a .org. The first is based on Wikipedia the other has its origin on Wiktionary.

Danny used to be involved in fund raising for the WMF. Now his vitriolic contributions have a direct negative effect on the ability of the WMF both to function and to raise money.. if only because of all the time wasted to react to his allegations but also because people may find the reputation of the WMF tarnished.

Gerard is raising funds for his projects but these funds have a direct positive effect for the Wikimedia Foundation and its projects. Funding for localising MediaWiki and for improving the development infrastructure of MediaWiki. Funding for localising Commons.

Typically people are not interested in the positive approach; when Gerard urges people to localise at Betawiki because it has so much more impact, he gets told that he is not interested in the WMF projects. When people read Danny's negative comments, they react like "where there is smoke there must be fire".

Both organisations are outside of the WMF. One gets media attention, the other does not. One demostrably hurts the functioning of the WMF, the other does not.

I wish that people look at the bottom line. What is achieved by the actions of people. When the only justification is a right to the freedom of speech, then by all means let Danny have his say. But as what he has to say is about things that may have happened over a year ago, there is a limit to the credibility of the platform he has. As he does not want to see the positive things that are happening now, he effectively makes himself part of the problem and not a part of the solution.

The WMF has a budget outlining what it wants/needs to spend. The ability to get funding from the public is limited.

When a venture fund wants to donate serious money to the WMF, it is important to know if it comes with strings attached. The WMF currently has people with a serious ability to understand contracts and lawyerese. This is a major departure from the past. There are seriously rich people and organisations who appreciate WMF for what it is and what it aims to do. Many of them can easily help the WMF with its finances. The WMF, as an organisation, has its house in order and increasingly has the ability to make use of the rich network that has been build by Jimmy Wales.

Making use of the network Jimmy build can only be done with a positive attitude and appreciation of his accomplishments. It should be obvious but let me spell it out; when connecting to the people and organisations that know and appreciate Jimmy, dissing Jimmy is for the WMF effectively the same as shooting ourselves in the foot.

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