Discussion Questions: Jimmy Wales Is Not an Internet Billionaire
1. What do you think the article means when it calls Wales the “Benevolent Dictator for Life” or B.D.F.L.? How much power/influence over Wikipedia do you think Wales has actually exercised? Is this an appropriate title for Wales?
2. Do you agree with the article when it says that using advertisements would cause members of the Wikipedia “community” to revolt? What do you think of Michael J. Wolf’s paradox: “That what makes Wikipedia so valuable for users is what gets in its way of becoming a valuable, for-profit enterprise”? How do these concepts tie together?
3. Do you agree with the article that Wale’s celebrity “relies largely on being the guy who made the sum of the world’s information free without making a penny himself”? Does the public truly recognize and appreciate this aspect of Wales or do you think he is largely criticized for “leaving money on the table”?
4. Wikipedia prides itself in giving anonymous volunteers with the same power as established experts. What do you think of this approach? Has it been successful for Wikipedia?
5. How has the “community’s” view/opinion of Wales changed over the years? Do you think Wales has stayed true to Wikipedia’s original “higher purpose” or shifted to other motivations since starting his company?