About Jimmy

Jimmy Wales

  • Founder, Wikipedia
  • U.S. Internet Entrepreneur and Wiki Pioneer
  • One of TIME Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People”
  • Wikipedia: The 5th Most Visited Web Site Worldwide

Ranked by Forbes Magazine as a “Web Celeb”, Jimmy Donal Wales is a U.S. Internet entrepreneur, wiki pioneer, and technology visionary, who is best known as the Founder of Wikipedia, an international collaborative free content encyclopedia on the Internet, and the Wikimedia Foundation. He is co-founder of Wikia, a privately owned free web hosting service he set up in 2004.

The origins of Wikipedia began in March 2000, when Mr. Wales started Nupedia (“the free encyclopedia”), which was characterized by an extensive peer-review process
designed to make its articles of a quality comparable to that of professional encyclopedias. With the addition of wikis (a collection of web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content), the project was dubbed “Wikipedia.” Mr. Wales laid down the founding principles and content, establishing an Internet-based community of contributors during that year. Wikipedia was initially intended to be a wiki-based site for collaboration on early encyclopedic content for submission to
Nupedia, but Wikipedia’s rapid growth quickly overshadowed Nupedia’s development.

In a 2004 interview with Slashdot, Mr. Wales explained his motivations about Wikipedia, “Imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. That’s what we’re doing.” The success of the project has helped popularize a trend in web development (called Web 2.0) that aims to
facilitate creativity, collaboration, and sharing among users. As Wikipedia expanded and its public profile grew, Mr. Wales took on the role of the project’s spokesperson and promoter through speaking engagements and media appearances. His work with Wikipedia, which has become the world’s largest encyclopedia, prompted TIME Magazine to name him one of its “100 Most Influential People,” in 2006 in the “Scientists & Thinkers” category.

In 2003, Mr. Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a nonprofit charitable organization dedicated to encouraging the growth, development and distribution of free, multilingual content, and to providing the full content of these wiki-based projects to the public free of charge. The Wikimedia Foundation operates some of the largest collaboratively edited reference projects in the world, including Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website in the world.

In 2004, Wales co-founded, with Angela Beesley, the for-profit company Wikia, Inc. Wikia is a wiki farm – a collection of individual wikis on different subjects, all hosted on the same website. As part of his work at Wikia, Inc., Mr. Wales is developing a human-powered search engine, Search Wikia, which will be based on the same open, transparent, community-driven principles of Wikia and Wikipedia.
The World Economic Forum recognized Wales as one of the “Young Global Leaders” of 2007. This prestigious award acknowledges the top 250 young leaders across the world for their professional accomplishments, their commitment to society, and their potential to contribute to shaping the future of the world.

Mr. Wales is a Fellow of the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School. He serves on the Board of Directors of Socialtext, a provider of wiki technology to businesses and the non-profit organization Creative Commons. Mr. Wales has received an honorary doctorate from Knox College of Illinois and was presented with a Pioneer Award from the Electronic Frontier Foundation in 2006.

Mr. Wales received his bachelor’s degree in finance from Auburn University and started with the Ph.D. finance program at the University of Alabama, where he left with a Master’s. After that, he took courses offered in the Ph.D. finance program at Indiana University. He taught at both universities during his postgraduate studies, but did not write the doctoral dissertation required to earn a Ph.D.

From 1994 to 2000, Wales was the research director at Chicago Options Associates, a futures and options trading firm in Chicago.

14 comments on “About Jimmy

  1. Hi,
    I love Wikipedia and would like to contribute but cannot do so because I currently live in a country which restricts foreign currency transactions, this makes me feel as a free-loader and really bad. But it occurs to me that I would contribute yearly if I could do so in my local currency – so here goes my question to you, have you considered making it easier for all of us who would contribute? Wikipedia reaches all corners of the globe and I wonder if it would be worthwhile for the Foundation to set up the financial structures necessary to receive funds in other currencies (although in countries such as the one I currently live, this would then generate the hurdle of having to deal with repatriation of funds which is a nightmare for most multinationals – but not impossible and therefore ultimately additive).

  2. Dear Jimmy,

    I’m not sure this is the right page to address you, but I’ll write anyway…

    First, my hat’s off to your work – I find Wikipedia being a fantastic accomplishment! I also thank to all contributors! I’d like to suggest adding a new dimension to it.

    How about creating and establishing a designation program in science? Something similar to the CFA program in finance…”Wiki-Degree” would be structured by educational & scientific experts and in consultation with practical industry needs. The information is already part of Wikipedia, it just needs to be shaped in a “targeted expertise package” (e.g. chartered chemist, chartered biologist, chartered scientific associate etc.). Wikipedia has an educational advantage because of linking everything and having very fresh information…and I know the Wiki-team has capacity to make this happen.
    There are millions of brilliant minds in the world who would be happy to study hard and become valuable experts if not hindered by poverty or lack of proper educational institutions. It’s a chance for honest and hardworking talents to do more. The severity of the program would sort out only the really dedicated individuals. By making “Wiki-Degree” available for a low fee (an income without advertising), the world would be enriched with generations who understand the world better and act accordingly, creating a bright future for all. Also, with widely educated population, the value systems will evolve constructively. It would be a game-changer!

    Merry Christmas and keep up the good work!


  3. I get whatever information I need through wikipedia. Students doing Ph.D can get various details through your wikipedia. You are doing a great job for people across the globe. But you need money to maintain it. Indians may not opt for online payment etc. So, Pls open account in a nationalised bank in India and flash the account number in wikipedia for donation so that you will get plenty of donations.
    B. Ramachandran
    Chennai, India

  4. wow.. at last, somehow I found you. and I want to tell you that… I hope you’ll do more great things for ‘humanity’. Good job.

  5. Mr. Wales – I apologize for my 2011 email, for taking out Israel’s bad behavior on you! I love the concept of Wikipedia – and it is pitiful that the pro-Israel machine has targeted y’all. It is just such an emotional issue…. There has to be a way to counter such attacks – I guess it means more fundraising…. I will encourage people to support Wikipedia. Happy 2012. Peace, Maggi Carter

  6. Please tell me you are going to fight SOPA and PIPA! Get people involved. Lamar Smith really isn’t as smart as he thinks apparently. I learned that when he opened his mouth. Censorship has no place in the U.S., we already have so many things that are censored and monitored. The internet does NOT need to be one of the governments victims.

  7. Welcome back, Wikipedia! I think we don’t realize how much we rely on the quick information until it’s gone for a day!

  8. Dear Jimmy,
    I am really very Happy to know about Wikipedia back. Thanks you. You are not save you. You save us because we find a lots of knowledge through wiki in many language.

    With best wishes

  9. hello jimmy, I’m proud to say that I’m one of the mad lover of wikipedia. there are thousands like me here in India. but our regret is that most of us couldn’t donate to wiki coz we have heart but not the way. almost everyone here owns a mobile. if it is possible for you to get partnership with mobile companies here in India so that we can send our little contribution by means of sms or recharge or something like that. please consider this request. once we love you jimmy for your greatest contribution of free knowledge.

  10. I’m a fellow Chicago-boy living in Europe. We rely on Wikipedia across the Continent and the UK for quick references and as a starting point for doing any research. Wikipedia provides additional references and cross references for one to truly seek out the facts they need or conduct more research. Considering the IQ of the average Congressional Member is lower than a 5th grader (presumably at a poorly funded state school – I used to work on the Hill and the moron factor is shockingly high)- and their ability to keep up with what their real voting constiuents want is abysmal at best. One might be amazed that things have gotten this far to destroy such a vital internet-based research tool, clearly founded in the spirit and purpose of the internet by its founder. One might also be amazed that the will of the few still dictate to the many what will govern the people of America. However, one shouldn’t be amazed. For as long as lobbying, PAC contributions and the like exist in the US, Congress will always have a reason and funding for bullying its citizens out of their rights, oddly enough, “enshrined” in the US Bill of Rights, on behalf of commercial interests of teh few. When the now thankfully deceased Jack Valenti (sp?) led Hollywood’s crusade against IP infringement on behalf of the music and film industry. He and those who funded his crusade under teh banner of IP protection actually put intellectual freedom in the US on a short, slippery slope into the abyss of full censorship – maybe not government censorship, but rather commercial censorship…afterall commercial interests fully drive the political interests in a PAC-fed US Congress. I live in Germany where an industry group (GEMA?) of media enterprises blocks one from watching YouTube content posted from the US. What we have here is not unlike teh censorship US legislators oppose. Sharing information, etc. amounts to fording the wide gap of ignorance. If we cannot cure “ignorance” then we bred intolerance, beligerance, which then leads to superstition and stupidity…four qualities of the legislators trying to shut down the like of Wikipedia and other intellectual communities. (Why wont teh US Congress focus on truly harmful things instead like child porn sites, etc. and protect us instead of hindering us?) Thanks for the chance to rant! My paypal donation is on its way.

  11. Dear Mr. Wales,

    I hope that you will read this post. I have been following the news related to SOPA and spreading the word on Facebook throughout the entire January. Big respect for what you have done. There is another problem tho which has recently appeared on the horizon. ACTA. Probably you already know about it. Polish goverment is due to sign it next week, on Thu 26th of January. Young people like me are doing what they can to protest against ACTA and to prevent it being signed, but the goverment remains deaf to our protest and sees nothing wrong with it. As far as I am concerned Polish Wikipedia is planning to protest, maybe together with the French, German and Czech, but so far no proper plans and arrangements have been made… I think this is not enough tho, people are planning to go out and protest on the streets, but I do not know if it is going to be enough to convince the goverment. No major newspapers and online news portals have posted anything about it untill today evening, general public has been fed with some stupid news instead. Maybe you could somehow help to stop this madness, we will not stop fighting but we definitely need support….

    Yours sincerely,

    Peter Korneta (hope posting my name will not cause me any trouble in my lovely homeland).

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