Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales on collaboration

Yesterday, hundreds of marketers players in the digital industry descended upon Allstream Centre in Toronto to attend Digital Day 2010.  On Monday we featured an interview with closing keynote speaker Joseph Jaffe.  Today we bring to you the founder of Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales.  Jimmy opened up yesterday’s event.  Here is my conversation with Jimmy:

Why has Wikipedia been a go-to source of reliable information and what makes it so trustworthy?

I think Wikipedia has become extremely popular for a number of reasons.

First, it is free and easily accessible, and the community has done a great job of making it highly readable.  Second, as you note, Wikipedia is often a reliable source of information – although we always caution people to be careful… we are our own best critics!

Why are people so willing to participate in collaborative efforts with brands and corporations?

At Wikia we are finding that good companies with good products have serious fans who are interested in talking with others who love the same things.  This has particularly been true of “information dense” brands, things like large entertainment franchises or gaming franchises.

I reject this strange notion many people have of “companies versus people” – we’re all here on the planet trying to do useful things and have a good time.

Do you think people will ever start asking for reimbursement and will brands ever be willing to pay for crowd-sourced content?

I strongly support the development of business models in which creative people get paid for their work.  But I also strongly support open platforms where people can do as they please without the incentive or worry about monetary concerns in their hobbies.

Only a few people in the world imagine that people only do things for money.  I feel sad when I realize people think that – it’s a very hollow way of living.  Follow your passions, and if there is money, that’s fine too!

What role will wikis play in marketing brands in the near future?

I think wikis will be quite important to brands, but it is a new and different world in which “marketing” in the classic sense is being displaced by consumer creative control.  Brands have to give up on broadcasting messages and concentrate on something much more important: make a great product that is worth talking about!