How to describe His Holiness Jimbo Wales? The pugnacious entrepreneur Jason Calacanis can't stand dealing with Wales, because the Wikipedia founder is so humble, so calm, so staid that, unlike Calacanis's other would-be competitors, he takes no bait and is above reproach. So Jason must be pleased to see Wales revealed as human, and in fact as a dude who picks up chicks using his own online encyclopedia. The nerds have already heard this story in, like, fifty volumes on Valleywag, but here's a quicker version. The point: Jimmy Wales is an Internet Christ figure, this was his Last Temptation, and even though he failed he's still the Son of God.
- Who is Jimmy Wales? Everyone knows he founded the collaborative encyclopedia edited by a mob of prickly nerds. But it's also important to know that Wales is very much like Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist: His fans treat him like a holy man. He's not like Steve Jobs, who wants to come across as hip and spiritual but is really just an old corporate dude in a turtleneck. Jobs gives nothing to charity; Wales runs a non-profit. Wales is Jesus.
- What's Wikipedia? Again, you know this. But you also should remember Wikipedia is a symbol of the Internet's promise. It's a bit less accurate than the Encyclopedia Britannica, but that doesn't matter, because it was built in seven years and it covers everything. Most importantly, Wikipedia proves that a crowd of strangers can accomplish something just to make the world better.
- Really? Not really! Because lately Jimmy Wales has been acting less like Jesus and more like Pat Robertson. He wants to overthrow Google with his search company, Wikia. And:
- What's his sex life like? I know, you didn't actually ask! But remember that to a growing crowd of nerds, this is like asking if Jesus porked Mary Magdalene. And he did! He shagged conservative Canadian commentator Rachel Marsden — or at least just talked about shagging with her, in these lurid IM chats that feel exactly like every lame flirty IM conversation I've had since I was 13. [UPDATE: Marsden confirms she shagged him "seven times," and I'm updating this post in hopes that I've at least earned some heavy petting.]
- Who's Rachel Marsden? She was fired from Fox News comedy-news show Red Eye; she says it was nothing, but the New York Post says it was for "erratic behavior." (You can read more on her Wikipedia page.) She's not just a right-winger and thus an odd match for the supposedly liberal, technoutopian Wales; she's also crazy.
- So. Why does this really matter? Because Jimbo violated the rules of his own holy church. He met Marsden when she asked him to fix her Wikipedia entry. That's not how things are done at Wikipedia! And that's why Wales reportedly sent a memo to Wikipedia staff saying he'd stay out of her profile. It sounds like a confession that he'd been meddling.
- So he's a mere man now. Jimbo denied any wrongdoing in a personal note yesterday. "A few gossip websites," he said, had spread rumors that he was in a relationship, but in fact he has "one meeting with Rachel Marsden on February 9th, 2008." The Clintonesque precision helps Jimbo avoid admitting that his non-relationship with Marsden included all the dirty IMs about having sex in hotel rooms. So Jimmy gets to break site policy to intervene in some hot woman's profile, talk dirty to her, brag to her about his plans to beat Google, bang her, then wash his hands clean of his own affair and pretend he's still untainted. Why doesn't he just run with it and get all the notable women of the world to spend a night with him so he'll tweak their profiles? That seems more fun.