Each year Jimmy Wales stares us into donating to Wikipedia; this year it's even easier than ever to make fun of the Wikipedia founder. Instead of having the photo of the Wikipedia co-founder on the right, this year, Wales' face is centered-left. It makes for some pretty entertaining juxtapositions, as TechCrunch's Alexia Tsosis points out, since his mug-shot now sits right on top of the topic title. (See below.) Over the years, given that Wales's face is staring right into your heart, the Wales ad has gotten plenty of scrutiny and jeering for its "creepiness." But apparently his in-your-face face approach works -- just ask Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who has borrowed the face-plastering tactic for his own campaign. As for Wales, the left-align is just this year's excuse to comment on the Wikipedia plea-ad.
The Wales left-align meme has taken off, unfortunately for Wales. It has made it onto the humorous Fail blog, with a clever "staring contest" addition and humor blog Oatmeal has taken it to the next (disturbing) level. Perhaps Wales should have kept the ad with his face aligned on the right, suggests Techmeme's Gabe Rivera. "Suggestion for @jimmy_wales: consider right-aligning your headshot in the "personal appeal" banner," he writes. He just gifted the Internet perfect fodder to make fun of the already much poked fun of ad. Seeing the founder begging money, photo alignment aside, has always drawn jokes and criticism. "Each time I go to Wikipedia, I see a photo of Jimmy Wales. It's as if he's watching over all of us … it's the wikiopticon," tweeted entrepeneur Andrew Keen.
No matter what Wikipedia does, the pleas for money with Wales big face on the top of every Wikipedia page draw criticism and spoofs. But apparently it works. Last year, the campaign guilted $16 million in donations, according to Technolog. And that other famous Wiki leader, Julian Assange, used the same face-all-over-the-place tactic to shamelessly ask for money. Like Wales, he too used his face as a fund-raising tactic. He put out multiple videos appealing for funds with him as the centerpiece of the campaign, including this MasterCard spoof.
That tactic worked for awhile for Assange. In December 2010 Forbes reported it had it's biggest fundraising month ever. Since, the well has run dry. Wikileaks announced last month it would stop publishing documents because of lack of funds. Given the Wiki-Wiki connection and the shameless self-promotion for money, it was only time before someone came up with a spoof: A Personal Appeal from Julian Assange.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.