Wikipedia Search

This is nonsense:

Sicore’s main WMF legacy appears to be the role he played in the Knowledge Engine fiasco that led to executive director Lila Tretikov’s resignation in early 2016. Sicore had been accused of being involved in “top secret” plans to take “a run at Google” and spend $32m of donors’ money to try to turn wikipedia.org into a Google-beating search engine, but we cannot confirm this.

The Register UK

First, to The Register:  You state that you cannot confirm your statement, yet you publish it anyway? You are wrong. You should have confirmed first.  Please practice journalistic integrity.  This affects people’s lives.  Mine and my kids’.

Here are the facts that you missed:

  • I actively avoided and wanted nothing to do with forming any project to take “a run at Google.”  In fact, I pursued the opposite:  I argued it would be almost impossible for Wikimedia Foundation to be successful at building a search engine to rival Google. Too expensive.  Too late.
  • My documents were top secret because I didn’t want anyone to think that we were going to do anything like building a search engine to rival Google.  Any documents containing premature discussions or data showing search engine intermediation were encrypted and shared only with Lila Tretikov, my executive peers, my direct reports and members of WMF that I trusted.  I was instructed by Lila to not share anything with the Board. Those documents were eventually leaked, and they confirm these statements here.
  • It is not true that I proposed to spend $32 million.   That’s the number I made up and used as an estimate to discourage Lila Tretikov and the rest of the executives that attempting to build a search engine would be astronomically expensive for WMF and should not be attempted. 
  • My plan was to charge Google, Apple, and Bing for the direct and unlimited access that they enjoy today.  I do not believe it is fair to the public of the World to ask for donations to fund Wikipedia when Google, Bing, and Apple are making tens of billions of dollars every year using Wikipedia.
  • The “media blitz” that I planned was to work with other open source projects which provide data to/from Wikipedia (Open Street Maps, etc.) in order to build awareness of how Google and Apple are affecting Wikipedia so that we could demand that Google, Apple, and Bing pay for the work of countless humans building Wikipedia in 180 languages.
  • Lila Tretikov hired her personal friend as an executive without my or others’ consent to create what she called a “Moon Shot” search project.  I protested.
  • I asked repeatedly to discuss this with the WMF Board; however, I was instructed by Lila to not discuss anything with anyone, especially someone on the Board.  I believed they should know everything.  So I set up meetings with board members anyway, and before I could meet with them to inform them and ask for help, I was fired.

I’m not here to defend my decisions on technology and the direction. I did those things together with my teams publicly.  I’m confident that my ideas were and are sound. I was not wise in choosing my boss. 

What has been reported about me is not true. Lila used me as a scapegoat after she destroyed WMF’s confidence in her after repeatedly lying about strategy, hiring efforts, and budgets. She acted with impunity against her own employees, destroying everyone who reported to her.

After I left, I watched one public WMF meeting after another, and employees and the community refused to accept her open and blatant dishonesty in the face of direct questions from the audience.  They demanded she resign publicly, and she acted as if the statements weren’t being made. Total denial. I’m guessing that she thought she might be able to get away with things if she could blame the Search/Knowledge Engine fiasco on me.  In reality, I was doing everything I could to stop it.  

I wanted to give the World the truth about who is hurting Wikipedia, and instead, it was my family who has been, and continues to be, hurt.