I took the above picture at Wikimania 2009 in Buenos Aires. It’s of Micah Alpern giving a talk entitled, “Designing a large scale community moderation system for Yahoo! Answers.” Micah, now at LinkedIn, was the design lead for Yahoo! Answers, and at the time, he was still at Yahoo!.
As you can see from my annotations, Jimmy Wales (co-founder of Wikia) and Jack Herrick (founder of wikiHow) were also in the audience. I thought nothing of this at the time. We’re all friends and are part of the same community, which is why we were all there in the first place. But afterward, I realized that folks from other industries might find this picture exceedingly strange. You could argue, for example, that wikiHow competes with Yahoo! Answers. (A bit of a stretch, but valid.) And at the time, Wikia was developing its own Q&A system.
In other words, here was Micah, freely giving away all of his lessons learned to two people who were arguably competitors, not to mention the rest of the audience and whoever else ended up watching the freely available, openly licensed video of the talk.
I was reminded of this picture and this moment by Kellan Elliott-McCrea’s short and sweet post, “Openness rocks.” He cites a few examples, and he concludes, “This is how we get better as an industry.”
That quote right there embodies the mindset that makes innovation happen, that makes certain industries a joy to be in, and that makes the world a better place. Openness indeed does rock.
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