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tv   Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Delivers Remarks at the Cato Institute  CSPAN  November 24, 2016 3:36pm-4:49pm EST

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we are excited to see where you go next. jason: thank you so much. >> tonight, supreme court justice elena kagan reflects on her life and career and how education and public service or important parts of her family life growing up. justice kagan was appointed by president obama and his serve on the high court since 2010. she really spoke at equal justice works conference. see that 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> here is some of our future programs coming up this weekend on c-span. saturday night at 8:00 eastern, the state of the black world conference discussing the impact of the 20 16th election. panelists include the author of " theook "are we there yet, executive director of the national coalition for black civic representation, and the radio "makeus xm's baraka, mayor ras
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of newark, new jersey. >> we have to unite with other people, to win. the object is just to win. we don't want to struggle just for struggle's sake. there are thousands of people in our committee, hundreds jailed, dead. we are not activists and revolutionaries because it is fun. my mother and father did not participate in the movement for medals, awards, twitter, instagram, for all of these things, to be praised. >> 10:00, nebraska senator ben sasse on the founding fathers and the purpose of government. >> it turns out the meaning of america is persuasion. the meaning of america is love. is meaning of america building a better product or creating a better service or persuading some of each of mary you or persuading someone -- persuading somebody to marry you
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or presenting summary to join your church or synagogue. at 6:30, newt gingrich, van jones, former congressman patrick kennedy discuss opioid addiction and treatment. >> people have to change their minds, have willpower, but they also have to change their brains back. this is a biological thing. your brain is an organ. octors handed these pills and say, take these pills, for a lot of people, these pills damage that organ. >> watch on c-span and cspan.org anderson on the free c-span radio app. founder jimmydia wales on the importance of wikipedia being an online encyclopedia that offers access on a global scale. this is about an hour and 10
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minutes. >> good evening. make things difficult for him. good evening. thanks for being here. it is a pleasure to welcome you to the cato institute and also to welcome those viewing on c-span. i'm the president of cato. before we start, i want to tell you a little bit about -- this is our first in the mclachlan lecture series. i would like to tell you a
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little bit about joseph mclachlan. dr. mclachlan was a world-renowned cancer epidemiologist. he received his doctorate from the university of minnesota in 1981. he works for a number of years -- he worked for a number of years at the national cancer institute, and in 1994 was the cofounder of the international epidemiology institute, where he served as president. he was also an adjunct professor at johns hopkins. joe was a world-renowned epidemiologist and he believed in the rigorous application of the scientific method. he was occasionally known to bemoan the state of the field of -- of his field of science. i think he had a strong ability, unlike some of his peers and unlike most of us, who
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occasionally fall prey to the bias that correlation can be causality, i think he resisted that impulse. although he was a scientist of the first rank, that is not the only reason we are honoring him. he was a great friend of the cato institute, a generous sponsor of ours for over two decades. but he also had the broad and accomplished intellect to which so many of us aspire and fail to reach. joe had a library of thousands of volumes. he had an incredibly wide range of academic interests, ranging from economics to genetics to film noir. i have been told that he was
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interested in everything. he was particularly interested in the correlation between geography and achievement for civilization. questions like why is silicon valley the center of technological innovation? why did hollywood become home to the film industry? why was ancient athens the center of advanced thought at the time? we are delighted to honor his memory. i only met him once, it was before i joined cato. we both attended a lunch here where he was seated next to an equally impressive intellect, harvard psychologist and cognitive scientist steven pinker. that was unfortunately just a few weeks before joseph's untimely passing. but we are delighted that through the generosity of his
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tonight, is with us along with their daughter, this lecture series has been made possible. for those -- [applause] for those of you who are not as familiar with the cato institute, we view our mission very broadly as the defense and advancement of the critical human and american values of individual liberty, limited government, free markets, and peace. at a time when those values feel under assault our way -- or when the political process is giving us choices we find unpalatable, we sometimes get discouraged. but i think it is important to not get discouraged and to open the aperture a little bit and recognize all of the things that human freedom has given us.
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it has given us the environment in which innovation can take place. as a result, i often say, people who know me, this will be a bit of a broken record, there is no better time to be alive as a human being than today because of the great innovations that have made our lives very interesting. the leisure, recreation opportunities we enjoy here in the united states. but most importantly, the great level of prosperity that has increased as poverty has decreased substantially. i think we do liberty a disservice when we don't fully appreciate or take for granted these things. i think it is walter williams who told a story about how to appreciate the miracle of free enterprise and the markets. when you have to go to the grocery store, you don't call them up and tell them you are
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coming or what you want, but when you get there, the dozens and dozens of things you want are there at high-quality and modest cost. and hundreds and hundreds of things you don't want. the choice is incredible. it is miracles like that that remind me of the person we are going to hear from tonight. if i had told you 20 years ago when you were first trundling on to what we then called the information superhighway on your dial-up modem, if i had told you at that point there was going to be an encyclopedia available and it was going to be published in 295 different languages, you would stop me and say you didn't even know there were 295 different languages. but unlike that stack of books on your shelf, it would be completely available online. the largest version, the english version, is going to have 5.2
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million articles, and i believe 3.2 billion words. and that you were going to be able to access this as well free -- access this ad will free of charge whenever you want to do through the generosity of donors to the wikimedia foundation. of which come i think it is interesting to note joe mclachlan was one of them. thanks to the generosity of him and his fellow sponsors, they allow me to go to wikipedia time and again during the day. wikipedia, as i believe you all know -- if i had told you that such a facility was going to exist, and i made that prediction, you would have thought i was crazy. you would have thought i was particularly insane or under the influence if i told you that this vast encyclopedia was going to be written without compensation by registered
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users, of which there are now almost 30 million. we would have thought this could not be possible. but it is the genius of friedrich hayek, the namesake of this auditorium, that explains how things like wikipedia can -- how emerging orders like wikipedia can come to pass, and it was the genius of jimmy wales that brought wikipedia into existence. jimmy was born in alabama. he attended until eighth-grade a one-room school that was run by his mother and grandmother, which i believe was based on the montessori approach. i suppose it would not have to be this way, but it should not surprise us that he really enjoyed poring through encyclopedias as a child. he credits this upbringing as the source of his inspiration.
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-- source of his creativity. he got a bachelor's degree at auburn university and a master's at the university of alabama, which i imagine means that iron bowl day must be very difficult for him. that is when auburn plays the university of alabama. or maybe it is easy because he doesn't care who went. -- who wins. but he went to work as a researcher at a chicago financial options firm, where he worked from 1994-2000. in 2000, he left his job because he was becoming increasingly interested in the internet and he started an internet company which did not succeed. but then founded wikipedia's forerunner -- actually, i don't think it is technically a forerunner, but it was his first attempt at an online encyclopedia. and then in 2001, he launched
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wikipedia, and the rest, as they say, is history. i will let him more aptly describe for us. please join me in welcoming jimmy wales. [applause] mr. wales: thank you very much. it is really great to be here. i actually did visit the cato institute about 150 years ago, i think it was. i am joking, it was maybe 20 years ago. something like that. i had a girlfriend at the time who was an intern here and i popped by one day. that was kind of fun. i'm going to talk about wikipedia and reasoned discourse , because for me this is one of the most important features of wikipedia, which is something that is sorely lacking in the world today, and one of the
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reasons for the popularity of wikipedia is that it is a place people can turn for this. going back to the beginning here , is the original vision statement for wikipedia, and that is for all of us to imagine a world in which every single person on the planet is given free access to the sum of all human knowledge. that is what we are doing. i think one of the reasons wikipedia has been so successful is that we have managed to gather this incredible group of volunteers, people who are very passionate about wikipedia, about getting it right, about sharing knowledge. one of the reasons they are so passionate is that we have a really big vision. i think if i had started with a smaller vision, let's all get together and write an entry for every u.s. president, people would wonder what the point was. this was really grand. every single person with the access to the sum of knowledge. community hasis
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created more than 40 million entries, we have monthly over 400 million unique visitors. this is a pretty staggering number to get your head around. actually, our internal server log suggests even higher traffic, these are the official numbers from comscore. but we know they are very good at measuring traffic in the u.s. and europe, but basically, the developed world their metric is to measure for advertising. even they admit they are not as good at measuring in the developing world and mobile traffic. they are improving all the time. but we believe this number is probably a little low, but is still a big enough number. we are happy about that. wikipedia is in 284 languages. i always think this number is a little bit unfair, i don't actually claim 284 languages, because a fair number of the languages are very small. there are 284 websites set up that have a very tiny community
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working. they have often translated interface and so on. if we really want to get an idea of the scope of wikipedia and scale of wikipedia, some of the key statistics. we have 10 languages with over entries. one millioni am excluding 2 languages primarily written by bots, a whole other topic we could talk about. in terms of human written, primarily human written languages, 48 languages have at least 100,000 entries, 28 have at least 10,000, and 234 have at least 1000. 1000 entries is quite small. not a useful are functional and cyclopedia. but i know there is a small community there. another10 active users, 20 to 30 they know a little bit. -- started to them
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themselves as a community and they start to think about how to get more volunteers. one of the things to think about is that wikipedia is not evenly distributed around the world. the distribution of where wikipedia is big or not big, in many ways you could predict it quite easily. what are some of the factors? degree of education is really important. access to broadband. there are various other cultural factors. one of the things that is interesting to look at, if you look at the top entries per capita, some of the top languages per capita, the number of entries versus the number of speakers of the language would be icelandic, estonian, swedish, danish. why is that? we don't know for sure. i have a theory. [laughter] mr. wales: it is really cold up there. they like to type a lot. it tie-ins to go out in the
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evenings for -- italians tend to go out in the evenings for gelato and norwegians are tapping on the internet. this is just a joke, but it is true that we see that some of the factors are hard to predict. northern european countries are very strong in wikipedia. when we talk about the global nature of wikipedia, one of the questions people always have is the question of china. quite famously, china has the most comprehensive program of censorship on the internet, and we had a long history in china. we were blocked in china for many years and then we were unblocked in china. we were -- for a very long time, we had an uneasy equilibrium. china had developed the capability and were able to block individual pages from wikipedia. they unblocked almost all of wikipedia but they filtered certain pages. the pages they were filtering for the most part were the
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obvious ones anything having to . do with tiananmen square. weiwei, the artist who is very annoying to them. the man who won the nobel peace prize for democracy. these were the things they filtered out, but they let most of wikipedia through. it was an uneasy truce but we made commitment that we would never cooperate, we have never participated in censorship. we cannot stop them from filtering their own network but , we have never made an agreement. there were overtures, they want us to come in to china and they offer that a university could host us and we said no because we believe that fundamentally, the right to an encyclopedia is a fundamental human right. it is the equivalent of freedom of expression. whatever restrictions you might accept on speech in different societies, the basic facts of
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the world should not be part of that. well now, due in no small part to revelations from edward snowden, there was an indication that wikipedia was an easy site to spy on, because it wasn't encrypted. we worked very quickly to encrypt wikipedia. what this has meant for freedom of expression worldwide is actually quite interesting. is https, that means anybody who is spying cannot see what page you are reading. the policy option of being able to filter out specific pages is no longer available. they have to adopt an all or none approach. i'm happy to report that everyone who was filtering out pages is now allowing access to
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it unfettered. it is too big a price to pay to ban all of wikipedia just to block access to pages you don't like. that has been a big win. that unfortunately has not worked in china. china is now completely blocking wikipedia. we will continue to have dialogue with them. i am very much a believer of having conversations. trying to bring them along. we are very patient. we have no plans to compromise. unfortunately, i think they have no plans to compromise, so we are in a bit of a deadlock. i will say, there was something very interesting that has happened over the years. we were blocked in china for several years, and just before the beijing olympics, china had ofthe experienced a period more openness. they knew millions of foreigners
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were coming from overseas. they open websites that were previously blocked. someone sent me this interesting image, it is a menu from a restaurant in beijing. you can see that, it says "wikipedia fried with eggs." another one here. brisket in wikipedia flavor." someone sent this and asked me, what does this mean? i wrote back and said i have no idea. but i do know who will probably will know. i sent an e-mail to the beijing area wikipedians. i said to them, what does this mean? they conferred among some cells and came back and said, jimbo, we have no idea. [laughter] mr. wales: the best we can figure is that because wikipedia had just been opened up and a ll the foreigners were coming over, a lot of restaurants that they needed to translate the menus and they were just going
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on google to try and translate. anything you type into google, what the name of a food what is , the first thing that comes up? wikipedia. how do you say this in english? let me check. must be wikipedia. there are a bunch of these. stirfried wikipedia. i like it spicy myself. anyway, we have had a cultural impact in china, even though we are currently blocked. of course, we are a nonprofit and we think a lot about sustainability for the long run, and if things get really tough, we can open up a restaurant chain in china. i'm just joking. one of the other things people are always interested in, when we talk about the global nature of wikipedia it is important to , understand that wikipedia is not written in english and translated to other languages. it is written organically in these languages.
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obviously, a lot of translation goes on, but i would say just as much translation goes into english as out of english. what is interesting to think is how does the content differ across countries? we did this little study, a preliminary small study where we looked at what are the most popular pages in wikipedia? this is not what portion of the content, but what readers are interested in. mr. wales: if you take a look the graph. for english, japanese, chinese, german, russian, spanish. one of the first thing that pops out at people is if you see the big green bar, for japan, it says pop culture. the japanese love pop culture. it is a big part of life in japan and the japanese internet.
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for me, this makes sense when i saw it. another thing that is interesting is the germans are the most interested in geography. [laughter] mr. wales: not sure that is a good thing. i don't make that joke when i am in germany, so -- [laughter] mr. wales: almost all of the languages, human sexuality. topics about sex is a topic people are interested in. spain, they are actually having sex. the rest of us are just reading about it on the internet. [laughter] host: this is fun to joke about. one of the interesting things about our community, we have a very diverse immunity. a lot of people around the world. people like to play around with stereotypes and things like
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this, but one of the great things about the community is a group of people who are global in their outlook. people have made friends all around the world and don't think of themselves as being other cultures. they are learning about each other and so forth. one of the important questions we should all ask ourselves, because wikipedia is now part of the infrastructure of the world, is who writes wikipedia? who are the wikipedians? this is a quote from a school librarian on twitter who said "yesterday, i asked what my students if she knew what an encyclopedia is and she said, is it like wikipedia?" [laughter] mr. wales: so if you think about wikipedia, wikipedia is now 15 years old. it has been around for 15-15.5 years now. that means that for kids who are entering university today, wikipedia has existed from the time they were learning to read. that means the kids who are
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entering universities today are the wikipedia generation. certainly in the last five years, which is the time when they were old enough to start researching topics online for school or personal interest, wikipedia was huge and ubiquitous and part of the atmosphere for them. for that generation wikipedia is , really and truly part of the infrastructure of the world, something very familiar to them. and so we should really care who , writes wikipedia. we should all care about the quality of wikipedia because it is so important to the world. so just a few things by the , numbers. our community is about 87% male. we have looked at this number multiple times. sometimes when we measure it, it is a little bit lower or a little higher. i think 87% is a plausible guess. i think it may more like 80% these days, but it is still not good. we know the gender imbalance is something that probably has to change in order to address some of the problems we have with in
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-- with unbalanced content. people tend to write about something they know. we have an average age of 26. we have double phd's compared to the general public. all of these things are basically fine, except i think the gender in balance -- inbalance is a problem. if you look at award-winning novelists and you look at the entries on the mail novelists as opposed to the female novelists, you will see that the mail novelists -- male novelists have longer entries. maleis not because the go, "girls, who cares." it is that people write about books they've read and what they're passionate about. and there are books that are primarily aimed at a female audience, books that are
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primarily aimed at a male audience. this is something we really want to address. one of the things that when you are using wikipedia, you are typing and reading -- and of course, wikipedia is written in an authoritative style and it is somewhat impersonal. it is not like a message board where you feel the personality of the person who wrote it. and so for many people new to , wikipedia, it seems so institutional, so it is hard to imagine the volunteers. i will show you a short video of some volunteers, letting them speak their own words about wikipedia. >> if you have knowledge, you must share it. i think. >> i like that the purpose of this website did not say website, it did not say wiki, it did not say internet, it just said free knowledge for everyone
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in their own language. >> it really is open. it is really made of those who dare taking this invitation. it is really an invitation. you don't have to take an invitation, but there is an invitation out there to edit and be part. what you know is as important as what we know. >> you're giving education to not just any-- people but the whole of the world. i feel great by contributing to an encyclopedia that is available to virtually everyone in the world. >> it is making yourself happy by helping others. you are working together with so many different people from so many different cultures. it is just amazing. >> the thing that it is really about for me is that it is really sweet people. there are always really sweet people who are just online and
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typing and instead of yelling at each other or just having a conversation or reading about gossip or whatever, they are trying to build something that everyone will find useful. i think it's really sweet. really nice people. let us talk about a bit about the real community. one of the things that i complain about a lot in the internet world is people talk about online communities, but often times, they just mean the general public when they talk about the communities. in fact, this is not the right way to understand wikipedia. if your mental model of how wikipedia works is 100 million people writing one sentence each, this is not correct. in the introduction, i forget the number, a total of 4 million -- i forgot the number you said. however many people. this number is irrelevant because what really matters is that there are 80,000 or so , whoteers, loosely defined these are people, 80,000 is
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about the people who edit at least five times a month. a lot of people make one edit a month. or one edit and they never come back. those people are important to the overall process, but they are not part of the community. care of it.y take these are the people who build wikipedia. the idea that you can just throw up a wiki and millions of people will come sounds incredible and impossible because it is incredible and impossible. selfis possible is organized small-group collaboration. the key here is that these are people who know each other and they work together under a set of guiding principles. we are talking about human beings so i am going to tell you would think about the community and how they work together. you can't forget we're talking about human beings. there is a lot of drama and noise underneath the surface but
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there are several of these things we are going to talk bedrock,ch are really fundamental, that people turn to again and again to help resolve disputes. before i go into that, i want to talk a little bit about the hayek on my thinking. essayshis most useful was about society. you don't need to be an economist to read it. google it. it is available online and very accessible. is talkingwhat he about, he discusses the problems that we wish to solve when we try to construct a rational economic order. it is only an analogy. basically what hayek said is the problem we are facing -- at that time, was a really live dispute, that a centrally planned economy could outperform a market economy. he questioned, for a centrally
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planned economy, you need to pull in all of the information you need and then you could -- the advance of science and mathematics, you could solve the equation and determine the factors of production and there you go. he pointed out, the problem is, we cannot gather all of that information into the center or it would be too expensive. -- the question is, what do we bring all the information in and make all the decisions in the center or push the decision-making to the endpoint? this is part of the concept of wikipedia that we could try in a very traditional way, like amoco or something like that, and synthesize it. and we would come up with something that might be fairly decent but very small and limited and errors would be hard to correct because we would have a small group of experts and if they were wrong, they might all caps and other people and so on and so forth. or the wikipedia model is too
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will be decision-making often the endpoint. we let people come in, take up ver interest they have and then we find people who are experts -- expertise is widely distributed in society. it is not necessarily falling along professional lines. i will give an example, completely randomly, like any other geeky person, i have taken up a new interest and i don't know if i can explain why. this came up on me. i have become interested in the history of aviation, airplanes, and jets. this is not something i have been interested in before, but i have been reading a lot on wikipedia about it. it is astonishing to read. if you want to read in wikipedia the history of the dc8 passenger jet, it is incredible. this huge, long entry including ,very variant of the d.c. eight you cannot pay anyone to write this stuff.
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it would cost a fortune and also you would not necessarily find that that person who knows the most about it is sitting somewhere in a university and is one thing that is so esoteric that no one else could possibly understand it. what you find is there are air -- airplane geeks who found each other online, we discuss and they debate and they work on this. by pushing the decision-making to the endpoint, we don't have to commit to get all of that information into the center and judge it. they work on it together, discuss it, debated, and so on, and do so under this set of guiding for the bulls, shared concepts. one of the main concepts is that wikipedia is an encyclopedia. what does this mean? there is a whole page on wikipedia called "what wikipedia is not." it is not a history book. it is not a library. for example, very early in the history of wikipedia, someone started uploading the full text of hamlet and we started having a discussion and debate, like
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does this belong here? we said, actually, the full text of hamlet is not an encyclopedia article. that deserves to live some are online, wiki sources. our entry on hamlet should not be the full text of hamlet. you know what a wikipedia entry would look like for hamlet. it is not youtube. as much as i love a funny cap video, they don't belong in wikipedia. an encyclopedia is something that is really easy for everyone to share. if i say to you, encyclopedia entry about five of power, everyone in the room knows more like what this is going to look like, to tell the history of when it was built, why was adult, the cultural impact, some pictures. we all know what we are driving at. wikipedia is not a travel guide. our entry on the eiffel tower will not tell you here is the
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five best restaurant nearby, this and that. we have wiki voyage, a travel site around the kind of thing. the idea that it is an encyclopedia has been really important at gathering community together. another core value, basic principle is neutral point of view. the idea here is that on any controversial topic, wikipedia itself should not take a stand on the topic but should describe all of the major sides in a fair way. ands both a social idea epistemological idea. the social idea is the only way to get people to work together. a you are going to have controversial issue like abortion, you can imagine a kind and thoughtful catholic priest and kind and thoughtful planned parenthood activist and as on it as they both understand wikipedia is not going to tell you whether or not abortion is good or bad it is going to describe it, wikipedia cannot
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say abortion is a sin, but it can't they the catholic church's position is such and such and the pope had said this and critics have said that. but if the melodically, this is istemologicallyep this is what i want from an inside the pdf. is an encyclopedia. i want to understand why people are saying different things. when this works well, that catholic priest and that planned can bothd activist point to the entry with pride and say, look, if you read this, you will understand the debate. that is really important. that is one of the most fundamental goals of wikipedia is not to persuade people of any particular point of view but to persuade them that learning and knowledge about the world is the best way to come to a particular point of view.
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another core principle is free licensing. everything in wikipedia is free. be freely to redistributable. you can copy, modify, redistribute, redistribute modified version, you can do that virtually were noncommercially -- commercially or noncommercially. we are really happy when they do that. in order to make it legally possible to do that, we have to respect the law. we respect copyright. we don't allow copyright violation. it is actually a broader than that. you can plagiarize something without technically violating copyright, but we really don't want to plagiarize things. it is really important for us as an ethical thought within our community to say, "look, whatever the problems are with wikipedia, we can say with pride that we made that, we wrote it ourselves, we cited our sources." ant is important from ethical point of view for us.
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the community is very passionate about this. if you think about the kinds of legal problems that we might have actually dealing with copyright infringement is very minimal for us because the community polices itself. very seldom does a copyright complaint even rise to the level of the legal department because the community aggressively looks out for that sort of thing in the first place. another core value is stability. one of the earliest rules of wikipedia is no personal attacks. we all know that if you go online to any kind of discussion of everything, it can very descendto send -- into vicious personal attacks. attacks on you as a person instead of your ideas. this is very against the wikipedia ethos. i'm not going to say it never happens, but there is a fundamental vibe in the community that it is wrong. we do ban people who cannot behave in a proper manner. it is not a perfect system but it actually works pretty well
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and it does help to attract a really kind and thoughtful people who really care a lot about getting it right. newcomers to the community can have a hard time because they come from other environments where the way to get something people, it'sll at all people. that is normal behavior in some parts of the internet. you come to wikipedia and you start off, you are going to edit the entry on, i don't know, hillary clinton, and you immediately come in and start going, you leftists! and it is like, hold on. we are writing an encyclopedia. let's try and improve the entry together. one of the strangest rules of wikipedia is iar, which means ignore all rules. [laughter] mr. wales: this again has two kind of meetings to it.
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it is basically, we want to be able to question our own rules. are the world actually valid and -- are the rules actually valid and helpful? we want people to say, if you see a way to improve encyclopedia that is against a rule, go ahead and do it, that but you better be sure you can justify it. it is not an easy thing to ignore all the rules. the other meaning is that the rules themselves should be written in such a fashion that they should be almost intuitively obvious for people. things like don't go around calling people hitler is obviously a good idea. we have mike in the front -- front can obviously obviously agree. these are basic kindergarten ethics. don't lie about who you are, don't write biased things, don't misrepresent sources, these are basic things. if there is a rule about the exact formatting of a footnote, ideally if you do not do it right, no one should tell you,
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that's yell at -- no one should yell at you they should come fix , the footnote and give you a pointer. they should give you the style guide and have nice behavior. we should not be excessively will bound. truth is we've been doing this a , long time and i think this is one of our failings that we are very experienced in writing an encyclopedia and newcomers sometimes are not and they feel off put as the community corrects their work. we try to be nice, but you know. we are human beings. finally, i just wanted to speak for just a moment about our business model. the wikimedia foundation is a charity. (c)(3) nonprofit. we are running the fifth most popular website in the world, which is astonishing. it is very unusual. we have about 270 employees, mostly in san francisco. we of local chapters around the world, local nonprofit organizations to organize local work and deal with the press
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locally, and things like that, but it is an unusual model. the vast majority of the funding more than 90% of our funding is , from small donors, from people who are giving the bulk of the , money comes from people who are giving $50 to $100. as it turns out the last numbers , i crunched on this, it cost about one u.s. penny per month per reader to provide wikipedia. so if you give $20 to wikipedia, , then the next 20 people you say,use can -- you can hey, i paid your wikipedia bill this month. [laughter] mr. wales: we've been reasonably successful. we run the organization in a financially conservative way and we try to build up the amount of reserves that are recommended for nonprofit of our size. so on and so forth.
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but it is something we have to take seriously. it is not easy to get all of the money we need, and obviously every organization in theory , could use more money to do good work, but we are doing ok. it is very important that people do donate. finally, i want to talk a little bit about laws and our position in the world. bad laws can really damage our work. the way the internet works is not an automatic. there is a certain set of legal frameworks, certain set of things that are necessary to preserve the ability for websites like wikipedia to exist. and far too often, lawmakers are thinking of internet law as adjudicating conflict between silicon valley and hollywood. sope was a big issue, the a/pipa bill that was going to be
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extraordinarily bad and we , fought that and won. there is a simple trade-off with security. in the u.k. where i live now, they locked down and spy on the internet, and sort of treat everyone on the internet as a potential criminal. we ask lawmakers to please consult with us before making stupid laws. a lot of times, lawmakers propose laws and it is fairly clear they do not even have the most rudimentary understanding of how the internet works. that is a bad thing. the sopa/pipa thing we are proud of. it is rare for us to speak on political issues. i do personally, sometimes. i try to limit what i say politically to issues where i feel my community will generally agree with me, but i try to divide my personal views from my foundation. but the sopa/pipa law required the building of a censorship framework, not dissimilar to
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what china does blocking , overseas websites with copyrighted content without a hearing. it was very poorly thought out. we were told at the last minute it was being rushed through, it had bipartisan support and it going to make it through. there was people in congress who delayed it and installed it until christmas that gave us time to talk to our community and decide what to do. we decided to do a protest. in january of that year -- which year was that? 2011. january 2011, we went black for one day. though -- the english wikipedia went completely black, not just in america. >> early 2012 was the blackout. mr. wales: fall of 2011 is when we were discussing it.
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anyway, on that day, when wikipedia went black. you can imagine the results. people went crazy. we heard that 10 million people contacted congress that day. [gasps] mr. wales: we heard that the house of representative's phone system crashed. it was a big deal. what was important in our role in that is that we really put forward the message, we are noncommercial, we are a group of volunteers trying to provide the world with a gift. this is not about google versus hollywood. that is not the only issue. many years ago, copyright could be thought of as an industrial revelation. it did not directly impact most people. you know, publishers, authors of books, their relations with each other. now everyone deals with copyright all the time. one of my favorite examples to get people to step back and really think about copyright is if you take a video at a child's
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birthday party and in the background, there is a miley cyrus song playing and you upload it to youtube and send link to grandma so she can view the kid's are the party, a normal use of copyrighted content, it is likely google will automatically detected and silence the soundtrack. i'm not blaming google, they have to do what they have to do. this is strange. this is not what we think of as piracy or economically impactful. i think it is time to revisit some of these issues. another issue we have been active on in europe is what is known as the so-called right to be forgotten which is a very , amusingly named thing, because obviously existentialy this is right tong, to have a allow other people to forget you. you cannot control what is in other people watch minds. i think it should be called the right to censor google. the right to be forgotten is a
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concept in europe for certain types of content. i'm not talking about libel or child born these are things that , are deemed by the person it is about to be irrelevant, out of date, and so on. the bigger problem with it is not just that it is a violation of freedom of expression, the bigger problem is that the way it is implemented is through legal decision from a law that existed before google, about database information rights. the right to information about you. people when the law was written, , they were clearly thinking about things like your personal medical records. if a company has your personal medical records you should be , able to ask them to delete that. this newspaper wrote an article about me 10 years ago and i don't want it available anymore. that is a very different story. the problem we have now is that if you want to get something deleted, there is not really a
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well formed the process. i say, if you are going to require google to delete a link to a newspaper archive, you better get a judge involved. that does not happen. if google does not do it, they can be subject to fines. as a publisher, like wikipedia, if google is the leading links links toeting wikipedia, which they are, we don't really have a clear course of action. we can complain to google but we , cannot really do anything. this is the kind of activism we do. it is easy to get the public excited by turning wikipedia off for day, but we don't want to use that too often. we don't want to be like, what are they moaning about today? they are on strike after time but it is a tool i think we , should be willing to use when the moment is right. and when we can have a positive change. i'm going to conclude now and then we have a little time for questions.
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i have run over a little bit. i'm going to talk about the forces of anger and hate. i think right now, we are in , this incredibly highly, intellectual and clever election cycle. [laughter] mr. wales: where issues of substance are debated. no, of course not. the world today is filled with voices of anger and hate. the media is a disappointing circus. i think wikipedia is and should be as much as humans can make , it, a place for reasoned discourse. a place to prepare oneself to make valid judgments about the world. you don't come to wikipedia to tell you how to think. you come to wikipedia to get the information you need to make up your own mind. contrast the world i was telling you about. the world of wikipedia editors as iiscussion and debate, was telling you about earlier to , -- this is not our world. we are about building bridges, not walls.
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wikipedia is a force for knowledge and knowledge is a force for peace and understanding. thank you for your time. [applause] mr. wales: so we have time for questions, possibly four minutes. please wait to be called on. wait for the microphone so everyone in the room and our audience watching online can hear the questions. announce your name and affiliation. i think we will be waiting for the microphone, -- oh right. >> how do you decide about disagreements as to certain entries in wikipedia? mr. wales: so, you know, disagreements are normally resolved through a process of dialogue and debate. very often one of the great , things about text is that there is very often away if you , keep rewriting, to accommodate both points of view.
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i give you this example of abortion. let us take another example. something has happened in israel. one group of people is saying it is a massacre and other people are saying, no, it was a defensive operation. wikipedia cannot decide that. there is going to be competing sources and perspectives on it. what wikipedia can do is go meta, step away from it for a moment. at this particular time, he said this, other commentator said this and that, this is a result of a tribunal that was held later. we can basically give you all of the facts of what other people's perspectives were and you can judge what you think about it. that works in most cases. say,e are able to "actually, this is what an encyclopedia should do. in encyclopedia should not come to a final conclusion." other mechanisms we use is that
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there is a real passion for reliable sources. we look for high-quality sources. this is a very, i would say we , have a fairly sophisticated view of what constitutes of a high-quality source. it is not so simplistic as saying we will accept the new york times but not the daily mail. even though those are clearly of different quality. we will say, actually daily mail , is not that great of a source, most of the time but they , sometimes do breaking news journalism, important things that should be credited to them and so on. how should we treat a blog? well, it depends. in many cases, blogs would not be considered reliable sources, just one person's view but as an , example of where blogs can be a reliable source is if a politician writes about their own view of something in their own blog, that is a good source of what their own view is. there is a lot of subtleties. frankly, there is no magic bullet there is no algorithm, no , simple answer to some of these
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things, other than chewing on it. discussing, debating and trying to reach a consensus. ok? next, i think, david? influentialof my mentors from back in the day. >> jimmy, but to see you. i must say what you have , accomplished is staggering just awesome. my congratulations to you. having said that, my question is a little ironic because i want llusion to your a to the distributive nature. your slide suggested that was only an analogy. i want to say something more literal about it in that it seems to me that the -- that wikipedia achieves a degree of objectivity and accuracy that aptly be described
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as a result of human actions, but not as of human design. in the sense that it emerges from a spontaneous order of people interacting in the way you describe. granted it is your design, but , even the rules are evil. i am just interested in your take on that? mr. wales: yeah i think that is , certainly true. when you have people of good faith working together who may be of very different ideological perspectives the important thing , is when i specify they are kind and thoughtful because kind and thoughtful people who i are much better to work with them a raging ideologue who won't listen to anybody i actually agree with. that is an annoying person to edit with. what comes out of wikipedia is not necessarily something that
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you would get from a smaller group of people. that ability for anything to be challenged at any time means a few things, it means it can be challenged, but as people are challenged, they are thinking in their minds that they cover possible objections. that is a big piece of it. i have a friend of a different philosophical perspective from your own who says that all knowledge is convention. it is human convention, so for him, wikipedia is true because it is conventional. i don't agree. i think reality exists, but there is something very important about convention, about dialogue and to work off the rough edges by a knowledge of different perspectives. i want to be fair here. i am always looking for women to speak up because, it is true, all the way down to about five years old, the boys raise their hands first. i only try to be a little more balanced. >> hi, david.
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as wikipedia's presence in what i might call an apparatus of a civilization's knowledge base rises it seems to me that from , all sorts of political accuracies, the stakes rise for a lot of holders to influence the content. and so, in particular, have you noticed -- and i am just making this up, but it is easy to imagine this kind of thing happening, if you think about, for instance the scale resources , that are available to typical actors, the chinese might say tomorrow, "let's hire 10,000 people to just have them revision to wikipedia, right up new pages and so on." if you have a hearty band of to 5000 people trying to cover 3000 all knowledge, and you have 10,000 chinese going after what
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they care about. maybe the iranians wake up t wo days later and say, we are going to do this. you seeing evidence of that? what effort do you imagine yourself making to deal with it? mr. wales: here is what i think about this. we have not seen any large scale efforts or state level efforts to flood wikipedia with hundreds of editors. that is not something we have seen. it is something we worry about in the abstract but it is not , something we have actually seen. i had a conversation once that i think will help illustrate the problem. actually, two conversations and they both happen to involve russia but it could be other , places. i was in russia and i had dinner with an editor of a popular magazine, not a political magazine. he was very skeptical about wikipedia. he said, if i wanted to change something in wikipedia why don't i just go pay 10 of your editors $100 each and make wikipedia say
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what i wanted to say?" i said, "look, think about it, you would have to do that and trust that none of those 10 editors would leak that the editor in chief of the magazine was bribing people to edit wikipedia." that would be a great story. people would be happy to expose you. furthermore, you're an editor and chief of a magazine. it is easier for you to do that. if i am putin and want to change what is in the press, it is easier for me to control you and hundreds of wikipedia volunteers. to the next question, somebody said recently there is this conflict between ukraine and russia over the crimea. somebody said to me, russian wikipedia is very different from ukrainian wikipedia. and indeed from english , wikipedia on certain aspects of this conflict. the question of the plane that were shot down, what are the facts there?
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russian wikipedia was one-sided. i have a problem with that. someone was saying quite alarmingly, it is obvious, the russians have agents controlling wikipedia. we have a ukrainian board member who speaks russian, she is a great wikipedian. basically what they said is that "we are aware of the problem, but the problem is not that the russian wikipedians are control. it is that the government controls all the sources in the russian language." it is harder for people to reach neutrality when they go to newspapers that they normally regard as perfectly legitimate reliable sources. frankly, they have quality newspapers in russia that are quite good on topics, unless it is a particular topic in which they toe the line. that is a problem. obviously, people speak other languages and this is no longer a world where people control information.
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for a period of time, you can have impact and influence. we see this more often on much more minor things. we see minor disputes in different countries about different things. i spoke to a parliament member in lithuania once, who talked about even the historian, he talked about the famous battle between lithuania and poland. he could read english, german, lithuanian, and polish. he printed out before he met me all the articles about this them all. read he said, basically, what i see is that, well, lithuanian versions of the lithuanian version of the story. the poles are telling the polish version. the germans aren't even telling it. english actually told both sides of the story and actually explains the historical conflict about the sources and what other people believe. mr. wales: i said, it does not surprise me. if i ask people who are born in the u.s. or any english speaking
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country who invented the airplane, like that is the , simplest second-grade answer. the wright brothers invented the airplane. we all know that. apparently if you ask french , people the same question you , get a different answer. [laughter] mr. wales: it is not because there is any genuine jihad missed conflict between the americans and the french over who invented the airplane people , just know of things that they grew up with. if you go to wikipedia, somebody call somebody out french , wikipedia and english wikipedia are different. if you go to english to peter, you read the history of aerodynamics, it was a brazilian guy and so on. most of us have this view -- i have this cartoon a few of how the airplane was invented. there was a bunch of people with crazy flapping wing things and then the wright brothers genius ly invented the airplane. this is really off-topic. the wright brothers invented the first plane, and it went further
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than it would have if it was a glider. it did not go up, which is kind of important for an airplane. the brazilian guy was the first one to make one that went up. there is legitimate claim to priority on this. this is the kind of thing that, hopefully, while having in open -- an open dialogue where people from different dialogues can challenge and say that in second grade i was taught that the wright brothers invented it. but then we can talk about this and we can learn more together. a lot of wikipedia volunteers are passionate about that. learning new things that are surprising in some way. here, back here in the red jacket. >> my name is cindy crawford, and this is sort of related to the last question but from a commercial perspective. i was wondering if you find that if there is a new movie or product coming out, if you are offered page entries so that
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there is an entry up before the actual actual offering is available to the public? mr. wales: so we discourage that sort of thing. we would say it is a very tricky thing. so when people try to use wikipedia for marketing purposes, it could backfire badly. people write a press release and try to publish in wikipedia and the wikipedians say this is not even out yet. there is no news articles so they will delete it. and also, we think wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not an advertising directory. so we really, really discourage it. there are a set of guidelines for people because commercial entities, just like any other organization, just like any other person, have the right to engage in the public dialogue. we say there are right ways and wrong ways of going about it. the most important thing to do is to engage with community in an honest fashion. sort of say i am with this , company, and ideally say and , there is an error that we have
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sources to third-party news coverage that show the error. that is important. a lot of times, celebrities -- i have met celebrities, quite controversial people that have , said, my wikipedia article is terrible. so i say let's see what this is all about. i often think it will be 18 outrageous, obnoxious things they said or did in their life. it is usually a minor factual detail of their life and it really bothers them that we got it wrong. and we have a source so we can fix that. basically, if you have a conflict of interest, the best thing to do is never edit the page directly. that is best practice, but to engage with the community. what would you do if there was an error about you in the new york times? you don't change the new york times, you call them up or e-mail the author and say you got this wrong and correct it. obviously, some organizations are more responsive than others. we are very responsive or we try to be very responsive. i always say to people, if you had that experience and it did not work, keep escalating and
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e-mail me personally because we are very passionate about getting it right. [applause] mr. wales: thank you. >> jimmy thank you for an , outstanding presentation. i especially liked the part about asking legislators to consult with you before they pass any stupid laws. that is something we could relate to. [laughter] >> here at cato. we also encourage them to get rid of some of the stupid laws we have already got as well which is the other side of the , equation. but thanks for a great presentation. you have won so many great accolades being named one of times 100 most influential people. i think in 2007 the world , economics named you one of the young global leaders, which is impressive to old,
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local followers. we really think you so much, not just for this presentation, but for wikipedia. and it is so indispensable to many of us who are alive. thank you again to gene for your generosity in making this evening possible. thank you everyone for being here, and have a great evening. [applause] [indistinct conversation]
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>> here is some of our featured programs coming up this weekend on c-span. saturday night at 8:00 eastern, the state of the black world conference discussing the impact of the 2016 election. panelists included the author of the book "are we there yet?" and moderatorll, marc thompson, host of serious irius xm radio. >> you have to understand that we also have to unite with other people. right, to win! the object is to win. we don't want to struggle for the struggle's's sake. there are thousands of people in
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our community, hundreds of people in jail, that have been beat, people in debt. activists and it revolutionaries because it is fun. my mother and father did not participate in the movement for twitter,or wars, for for instagram, to get all of these things, to be praised. they did it because it was necessary. >> followed at 10:00 by the nebraska senator, american values, and the purpose of government. >> the meaning of america is persuasion. the meaning of america is love. the meaning of america is building a better product or creating a better service or persuading someone to marry you or join your church or synagogue. there is a huge civic-mindedness in american history. >> sunday evening at 6:30, newt gingrich and packard kennedy discuss the old addiction and treatment. >> people have to change their minds and have willpower

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