Board of trustees interviews conducted at Wikimania: Jimmy Wales
August 24-28, 2009
- Interested in the small language Wikipedias (not just about getting more readers in India and China,
but that is important as a first step already in progress)
- Need to identify different types of barriers (and solutions) for different Wikipedias to spur their growth
- There is a need for space within Wikimedia to experiment, pilot and learn
Vision for next 510 years?
- My bias is toward globalism: focusing on small languages
- Less concerned about tech infrastructure – not because it isn't important, but because we are
good at it; this will have an impact on other pieces and could be a barrier for expansion
- Interest in new languages and growth of smaller language Wikipedias
- Recognizes that countries may fall into different segments, face different challenges to growth.
- Chinese: what should we do to fuel growth? Need to stay unblocked, need to get known
(need media coverage)
- Punjabi: media is less important; the problem is that there is not a large enough community
there; we need help from an Indian chapter
- Does not think that the issue with India is that everyone is using English Wikipedia
- In some cultures, challenge that the concept of encyclopedia is foreign
- OSI report on Arabic encyclopedias notes there is less of a culture of encyclopedias
- Interested in expanding from 300M to 1B users. This requires getting India and China, but as a
charity, it is not just about getting more eyeballs.
- We need to care a lot about our charitable mission: the good we can do in a lot of languages.
- Goal: Someone, somewhere has access to the internet, wants to know more and is
wondering about something and can find the answer.
- Not so concerned about the mix of knowledge on Wikipedia; believes there is value in
reading, in looking things up and getting answers. Some concern about mix of topics, but not a huge amount – quality is key
- Recognizes tension in terms of focusing on new readers/editors and prioritizing Punjabis over
Americans, for example. As a charity, we should care about next 88M Punjabis as much as we do about the next 88M Americans, but there is a tension for fundraising. (Americans might represent significantly more money to the Foundation.) We have a moral mandate based on our mission to serve the Punjabis.
Concerns about strategy process?
- Wants to make sure that the Foundation doesn’t just listen to the squeaky wheels
- We will need to build the capacity to do pilot projects.
- To build out new languages, may want to experiment with hiring a language manager, having
them hire 45 college interns to start writing content
- We need a systematic process for trying, measuring, failing, and learning from that