Wikipedia Through the Looking Glass/Alex Roshuk

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Alex Roshuk

Jimbo Wales with Alex, 2006 Wikimania

basic info

AKA Alex7561 [editor's note: the Wikipedia article, Alex Roshuk notes that Roshuk died November 9, 2014. Confirmation on Facebook, which indicates that death was on or before November 9.]

  • The Brooklyn attorney who served as the (apparently unpaid) legal advisor to Jimbo, and filed the original IRS nonprofit tax documents for the Wikimedia Foundation in July 20042
  • Alex started editing WP in April 2003. He quit Wikipedia in great disgust in January 2007.


According to this WR thread3, essentially, he has three main beefs:

The project was initially designed to be a free, open social experiment in sustaining a membership community around the principal of writing a better encyclopedia. Jimmy Wales personally derailed that design by striking "membership" as a construct, and by taking personal control of the encyclopedia's editorial process -- something which he is not qualified to do.
(2) Criticism from dissatisfied former contributors is all too often suppressed or erased.
(3) From a legal standpoint, Jimbo Wales doesn't have the foggiest clue what he's doing. The guy is loud, boisterous, and really has his moral compass fixed with SuperGlue.

As a side-note, he also thinks Jimbo's confrontation with MyWikiBiz proved only one thing -- the "rule" is that the only person who can personally profit from Wikipedia is Jimbo Wales.

Alex has posted this statement on all of his user and talkpages:

Alex756 never thought when granting a GFDL license to the foundation that his membership rights would be unilaterally terminated and he hereby gives notice that he also revokes all GFDL and CC licenses due to said misrepresentation of the Board of Trustees (BoT) and herewith demands that all his contributions to the Wikipedia encyclopedias prior to this page be removed because they are infringements on his copyrights.

This quote from Alex, concerning [Wales], appears frequently:

The point is he is pretty flaky and he does not keep his word. He just makes statements and expects us "peons" to forgive him for his lapses because he thinks we want access to him. I don't need people like that, we have a word for them here in Brooklyn: hypocrites.

From Kelly Martin’s blog

  • Kelly Martin at 8:32 AM on Dec 4, 20074 posting about interview with the


  • Alex Roshuk commented
  • "For what it is worth I think the problem is that nobody followed up from 2003 on Wikipedia being a membership organization (which is what is stated in the IRS 501(c)(3) application signed by Jimmy). I spent a lot of time discussing this with Jimmy at the time he and I were trying to come up with bylaws (necessary to file the tax-exempt application) but I don't think he ever understood that by empowering people through membership that the social contract mentioned by moulton that would create a real community (outside the pseudo community created by editing various WP projects). I think he saw the bylaws as a legal formality, not as something that had real consequences because he and Tim Shell and Michael Davis never really implemented what they agreed to when they signed those bylaws in 2003-04.
  • "The were so-called "elections" which never were properly "noticed" to all the volunteer editors who were the members (I know you think there never were members Kelly because no one ever "paid" a membership fee, but I never thought that was the critical element of membership as you could also be a member just by being a contributor to a WP project) and then in 2006 we were told that there never was a membership because no one ever paid a membership fee? That seems very lax to me. There were members, that was the basis upon which WMF got its tax exemption.
  • "Since 2006 when talking about all the editors Jimbo and other people on theboard now use the euphemism "community" (a world that commercial sites like eBay, myspace and Amazon use too). The problem is that without it every having been a membership organization the "members" or "volunteer editors" have no real sense of belonging and there is no organized place outside of the projects that many people who contribute to WP projects or to WMF can deal with disputes or discussions. Membership organizations have lots of activities that build community amonst the members and even though I put that in the original bylaws it was never really examined or implemented, I guess no one had the experience I did regarding what NPO membership organization do. Finally it was taken out by Brad Patrick (a corporate lawyer who said WMF was NOT A DEMOCRACY) when he gave WMF its "new and improved" bylaws by fiat.
  • "Most organizations that grow organically (and I have been actively involved in dozens over the past 30 years) have their infrastructure boosted by their being various committees and activities that individuals can participate in outside the general work of the organization, and I think WMF did not really know how to deal with that because none of the people in the administration or board level ever really ran or even participated in a community based NPO so they had no experience with the steps necessary to build a healthy support membership that feel empowered to make the organization their own. I think, and I have said this elsewhere, that people were "scared" of trolls or teenagers taking over WMF and what has happened is they the bad element is taking over various WP project and really there is no way to distinguish between good and bad, it is just a war and whomever has the most power will win, it has nothing to do with NPOV anymore because there is nothing neutral about eliminating articles you don't think are important (this is a point of view, no?).
  • "From my pov there was an attempt to create real community on the metawiki level when the organization was small, but when money needs became a big deal and the website became so high profile people became so obsessed with working on their project or promoting the role in starting WP they didn't realize that the work of creating a community that was different from just editing dispute discussions was needed. This, IMHO is why there is so much chaos at WMF and WP projects. I doubt at this point if it can be corrected; it is certainly not going to be corrected through some mailing list.”


  • Roshuk's law firm5
  • Cornell University webpage on him6
  • Twitter account7
  • Flickr account8

(note: Roshuk once had a blog here9 , which appears to be abandoned and is filling up with spam. has an archive of it from 2008. I have copied the contents to .)