Wikipedia founder embroiled in online spat with ex-lover

Wales' T-Shirt is being auctioned on eBay. Marsden (pictured) says he left it in her New York flat

So you’re the founder of Wikipedia. Your name is Jimmy ‘Jimbo’ Wales. Like the rest of us, you have relationships with other people. Only unfortunately, you have a relationship with somebody called Rachel Marsden. Trouble is, she’s a political pundit not known for her lack of controversy.

So when things soured, where else to air your dirty linen but on the internet? Wales struck first, using a talk page on Wikipedia to “set the record straight on a couple of issues” before Marsden decided to retaliate by auctioning a T-Shirt Wales left behind on eBay – it’s currently fetching over $300 (£150).

Wales said the pair had “one meeting” and that he wanted it to be clear that he hadn’t altered Marsden’s Wikipedia bio as a special favour, but is routinely involved in complaints about erroneous pages on the site.

“Rachel Marsden first approached me via email two years ago with complaints about her bio. We had never met. I subsequently reviewed her bio and I found it not to be up to our standards. My involvement in cases like this is completely routine, and I am proud of it.”

Leaked IM conversations

By the time they did meet, there was clearly something of an attraction. But according to The Times there is a discrepancy in where they met. Ramsden says Wales left the T-Shirt at her flat in New York City, while leaked IM conversations (she used the Google Talk feature in Google Mail which records all your chit-chat) suggested a hotel in DC.

However, it seemed Wales may not have been too fond of Marsden’s growing Google Talk library. It seems this was with good reason, since they’ve ended up on Valleywag. They’re so involved that you feel like you’re wearing somebody else’s pants when reading them.

Marsden says: “You are the sleazebag I always suspected you were, and should have listened more carefully to my gut instincts” Oo-er.

Wikipedia's integrity compromised

Furthermore, Valleywag suggests that Wales transgressed Wikipedia’s conventions to edit Marsden’s entry. That’s something Wales refutes in his post. “I care deeply about the integrity of Wikipedia, and take very seriously my responsibilities as a Member of the Board and as a member of the Wikipedia community. I would never knowingly do anything to compromise that trust.”

Marsden is hardly generous about her ex-lover: “Both of these items have been washed, twice, with Tide extra-strength liquid detergent. Otherwise, they would not be in salable condition.

“I took them out of…isolation from a plastic bag in my closet (where they were placed to prevent the ongoing terrorism of my olfactory senses) and washed them out for the purposes of this auction.”


Dan (Twitter, Google+) is TechRadar's Former Deputy Editor and is now in charge at our sister site Covering all things computing, internet and mobile he's a seasoned regular at major tech shows such as CES, IFA and Mobile World Congress. Dan has also been a tech expert for many outlets including BBC Radio 4, 5Live and the World Service, The Sun and ITV News.