Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales didn't have such a good weekend. First the blogosphere and then Wikipedia itself lit up with news of his messy breakup with controversial Canadian TV pundit Rachel Marsden. Now, accusations are flying that Wales has been living the high life on the expense account of the nonprofit foundation he created.
On Friday, reports surfaced that the married-but-divorcing Internet icon carried on a clandestine affair with Marsden. Evidence of the affair included lurid IM transcripts, which appeared on Silicon Valley gossip blog Valleywag. On Saturday, Wales posted a statement on the Wikipedia Foundations website (which he later moved to his personal site) denying that his actions went against Wikimedia Foundation's policies, and stating that the affair had ended. Marsden responded by listing the clothes that he left at her house up for auction on eBay.
So, what's the big deal when a relationship goes sour? Well, the two met when Marsden contacted Wales to help her "clean up" what she perceived to be errors on her personal Wikipedia page, and there have been allegations that Wales used his influence to improperly make changes.
Former associates of Wales' are using this scandal to bring up other worries they have about the organization of the foundation. Former Wikimedia exec Danny Wool, who left the foundation last year, wrote a blog post insinuating that Wales used the non-profit foundation as his own personal piggy bank. Expenses that Wales tried to apply to the foundation included $300+ bottles of wine and visits to Moscow massage parlors, Wool alleges. According to Wool, the expenses got so out of hand that the Wikimedia foundation took away Wales' corporate credit card.
"There were occasions where he used [the Wikimedia Foundation] for personal advancement under the guide of the mission. And, as someone who was in there for the mission part of it, I found that rather distressful," Wool told EPICENTER.