Jimmy Wales's "gold-plated washing machine"

It's not the sex. It's the money. So contends Danny Wool, a former top administrator at the nonprofit which runs Wikipedia. Wool reports on how Wales ran up $30,000 in expenses on trips abroad, many of which allowed him to pick up speaking fees which he kept personally. Florence Devouard, chair of the nonprofit, confronted Wales about this. "I don't make any money, and my wife needs a washing machine," Wales reportedly told her. Her reply, according to Wool: "A gold-plated washing machine?" Wool is right.

Forget the bimbo eruptions. Rachel Marsden wasn't Wales's first wild fling, and it won't be his last. Wales used to run Bomis, which he describes as a "Web portal" and the rest of the world calls a "porn site."

What Wikipedians need to ask is where their money is going. Ads have been appearing on Wikipedia for months soliciting donations, ostensibly to pay for bandwidth and other costs of running the site. How will those donors feel when they learn that they funded Wales's extravagant trips? (In his chats with Marsden, he brags about how he flies first class, though he only got first-class tickets when flying on a speaker's dime.)

And ultimately one can't really separate money and sex. Wool suggests Wales visited a massage parlor on a trip to Russia — and expensed the subway ticket he used to get there. To what extent has Wales mixed business and pleasure? Only Devouard and the other staff at Wikimedia Foundation, the charity which runs Wikipedia, know for sure. But the IRS, which must approve of Wikimedia's nonprofit status, may start asking questions.