Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

You Ask, Jimmy Wales Answers: A Crowdsourced Interview With Mr. Wikipedia

Jimmy Wales’s Wikipedia relies almost entirely on free contributions from its users to create a mammoth Web encyclopedia.

Could an enterprising/lazy blogger use the same technique to interview Wales?

Surely someone else has thought about this stunt before. But I’ve never heard of it, so it’s new to me. I tried it out yesterday when Wales dropped by the Bloomberg BusinessWeek Media Summit: I asked my Twitter pals to suggest questions I should ask the Wikipedia co-founder, and–boom!–I got plenty of suggestions.

Some of the crowdsourced queries:

  • What is Wikipedia’s funding target for 2010? What happens if it doesn’t reach it?
  • Has Jimmy looked at selectable, respectable and relevant ads from big brands as a means of revenue?
  • What is he doing to promote Wikipedia in schools as a tool?
  • Is he warming to the idea of paying contributors?

Pretty good stuff! I don’t think I could rely entirely on reader questions to conduct an interview–Wales and I also took time to chat about other topics, like Wikipedia’s push-pull relationship with Google (GOOG). But it certainly was a useful starting point.

Which is a pretty good way to think about Wikipedia in general.

Thanks to @Albertoriva, @msmobileconverg, @kavidmathis, @ac_luke and @jasonhirschhorn (yup, that Jason Hirschhorn), among others, for their suggestions.

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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik