It has been a tough two weeks for Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales, and also for the Wikimedia Foundation, as a former chief scientist at one of the biggest technology companies claiming that Wales traded Wikipedia edits for donations.
Jeff Merkey, a former computer scientist at Novell, claims that Wales told him that in exchange for a substantial donation from Merkey, he would edit his Wikipedia entry. This happened in 2006, where Merkey’s entry was “uncomplimentary”.
Merkey did made the donation of US$5,000 and Wales personally made changes to the entry after wiping the entire entry and ordering editors to start over. His claims were made public by a statement on the mailing list. Wales called this allegation as “nonsense” on the same mailing list.
Earlier, an ex-girlfriend, Rachel Marsden leaked instant messaging transcripts that showed Wales using his influence to make changes to Marsden’s Wikipedia page so he could continue “f**king [her] brains out”.
These latest revelations are the most damning against Wales, who was accused last week by a former Wikipedia executive to have used funds from the Wikimedia Foundation – which receives donations from the public – to his own recreational use.
Merkey’s edits related to various lawsuits that he had been embroiled in. He was sued by Novell after his departure, allegedly for misappropriation of trade secrets.
In 2005, he had filed a harassment lawsuit against various people and organisations including Slashdot; and in 2006, he filed another suit against Natural Selection Foods and Delta Air Lines, claiming that his son became ill from eating spinach containing with the bacteria E. coli.