Exeter, Devon UK • Apr 18, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Comment Musk and Wikipedia: Collective resource vs billionaire

Musk and Wikipedia: Collective resource vs billionaire

Irem Ozdemir discusses Musk's war on Wikipedia and how it threatens the non-profit organisation.
3 mins read
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Image: Harleen Quinzellová, Wikimedia Commons

In an interesting rebranding by the famously unconventional plutocrat, Elon Musk recently declared over X (formally twitter), “I will give them a billion dollars if they change their name to Dickipedia.”.

Following Jimmy Wales’ critique of X and Musk’s amendments to the app, arguing that the changes made it impossible to distinguish real journalists from fake ones during the Israel vs Palestine conflict, Musk reacted vigorously, responding with “Please fix Wokipedia.”

But this minor dispute only escalated as on 22nd October, Musk woke up wondering “why the Wikipedia foundation wants so much money”. Numerous Wikipedia enthusiasts were displeased as Wikipedia is a global website run as non-profit and forms a vital source of knowledge.

Zoe Williams, a columnist for the Guardian, suggests Elon Musk has particular motivation behind his interest in Wikipedia. In Musk’s world there’s no media outlet that can be seen as reliable, especially one that seems to criticise him. One of his followers on X suggested someone had been paid to write a negative Musk entry on “Wokipedia”, to which Musk agreed.

Furthermore, Musk could be censuring Wikipedia’s donation requests because he believes it should be self-sustaining given it’s a website with extensive reach and utility. Unfortunately, it can be argued that this is a poor excuse on his behalf as received donations boosts the savings that fund new projects, and so ultimately benefit the public.

Though it is safe to say that the name of Wikipedia is safe for now, this situation has worrying future implications. Wikipedia stands as one of the most impressive accomplishments of humanity. It’s a website created by the people for the people. Created in 2001, Wikipedia has stood the test of time, highlighting the potential of selfless volunteer work and collaborative effort.

Wikipedia has stood the test of time, highlighting the potential of selfless volunteer work and collaborative effort.

The truth is a conflict with a high profile figure like Elon Musk could threaten Wikipedia’s neutrality and credibility. Although Musk’s offer of a billion dollars might not be feasible, this offer could potentially spark discussions for alternative funding resources for Wikipedia.

It is no surprise that someone like Elon Musk would have an issue with a global website that thrives on free speech and public contributions. This is further emphasised by him openly stating that X has no actual choice about government censorship requests (unlike Wikipedia which has actively stood against Chinese censorship).

If only Musk opened his eyes, he would realise how ridiculous his complaints are. Perhaps some people really do have too much time and too much money…

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