Even Wales finds his wall-to-wall Wikipedia pictures 'annoying'

However, founder tells critic there's a reason his photo is everywhere on Wikipedia


You know the old line: "Look up (whatever) in the dictionary and you'll see (whomever's) picture next to it." Well, try that on Wikipedia -- and no matter who or what you look up -- the first picture you'll see is of Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.

prince of wales

That's because it's fundraising season for the online encyclopedia and, as in years past, a primary mechanism for driving donations is a banner ad (above) that features a plea from Wales ... and his picture, the latter of which incidentally lands directly above the subject title of most if not all of Wikipedia's 3.7 million pages.

The juxtaposition of the Wales photo and page title (see: Prince of Wales, right) can be amusing and has prompted much sharing of the funnier examples.

(Steve Jobs ... in LEGO)

However, a number of people -- apparently including Wales himself, as we'll see - find the omnipresence of his mug irritating if not self-aggrandizing. An exchange between one such critic and Wales has found its way onto the social bookmarking site Reddit ... and it caused the critic to rethink the matter. Here's what Reddit user "kecr" wrote to Wales:

"Please discontinue using Wikipedia to further your own personal celebrity."


To which Wales apparently responded:

"Trust me, I'm very sympathetic. Unfortunately, we have done extensive testing and my banner performs much better than banners of readers or even of most editors. A few have done well, and we are using them too. I find it very annoying - I don't want to be a celebrity. - Jimbo"

After receiving the reply, an admittedly chastened "kecr" told the Reddit community that it was "the reason I donated to Wikipedia."

Translation: Let's cut Wales some slack on the picture thing.

After all, those who still find the photos annoying can hasten their removal by making a donation to Wikipedia here.

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Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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