A perpetual dilettante, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has a habit of flitting in and out of his many projects. It's hard to say whether they suffer more from his neglect or from his attention. Wikinews, a news site operated similarly to Wikipedia and run by the same nonprofit parent, the Wikimedia Foundation, has seen Wales suddenly return asking for administrative privileges suspended in his absence to be restored. But why? Wales didn't specify which story he wanted to intervene in, but one tipster suggests that an article about a copyright-infringement claim by the Mormon Church — over a story posted on Wikinews itself — was the proximate cause.
Any news organization struggles with covering itself, all the more so when, as with Wikinews, the authors are unpaid volunteers who do not report to anyone. But that difficulty makes the hamhanded approach the Wikimedia Foundation has taken all the worse. Contributor Jason Safoutin recently told Valleywag that Wikimedia administrators, acting at the behest of foundation lawyer Mike Godwin, deleted two articles he wrote, one on a legal case involving literary agent Barbara Bauer, and another looking into Wikimedia Foundation deputy director Erik Möller, the outspoken defender of pedophilia.
But let's return to Wales's supposed interest in the Mormon copyright fracas. Likely he's just concerned with protecting Wikimedia's legal position against the church's claim, which seems specious; the document in question was linked to by Wikinews but not published on the site.
But the document itself is intriguing. A set of directions for church leaders, it was written in part by Lorenzo Snow, who is an ancestor of Michael Snow. Snow, a devout Mormon, serves with Wales on the board of the Wikimedia Foundation. On his Wikipedia user page, Snow maintains that he is a devotee of Wikipedia's "neutral point of view" principle. But one wonders how he can stay neutral on this particular issue.