The Story of Jimmy Wales and Bomis Babes

In an interview with Wired News, Wikipedia leader Jimmy Wales renewed his objection to the statement that Bomis Babes was pornographic:

If R-rated movies are soft porn, it was porn. In other words, no, it was not. That description is inaccurate.

If you're not exceptionally proud of the erotic web site you ran before the dot-com bust, a defense that hinges on the definition of soft pornography probably won't help matters.

Bomis Babe Sylvia SaintAs someone who grew up after cable television and before the web, I thought "soft porn" described the late-night movies on pay cable that stop your channel surfing dead in its tracks. "Look, Shannon Tweed caught a burglar and now she's giving her a hot-oil massage!"

It's tough to judge Bomis Babes fairly, because at some point it was removed from the web along with the Internet Archive cache and other not-porn on the site. I know this because I did a comprehensive Google image search last night on the term Bomis looking for smut, clicking through page after page of results.

And people say bloggers don't do any original reporting. My right wrist is killing me.

The Bomis Babes homepage now contains nothing but the message "Hi, mom!" I could find only one babe -- the site's 404 error page contains porn actress Sylvia Saint in a company T-shirt.

Saint appears on the Bomis entry of the French and Luxembourgian editions of Wikipedia. The picture was released with Wales' consent, as he acknowledged in a 2003 Wikipedia edit:

Bomis owns the copyright to that photo, and while we don't release all of our promotional photos under the GNU FDL, that one is fine. I always wonder what happened to the photo of Aria Giovanni on my Ferrari. Hmm ... the mysteries of Wikipedia.

According to Wikipedia, Giovanni is an actress who posed on a Ferrari given away by Bomis in 2000 (though the winner reportedly took cash instead). "She has gained particular respect for being among relatively few large-chested models working in the field who have not undergone cosmetic surgery."

The last vestiges of Bomis Babes on the web are several hundred thumbnail images and cached pages that haven't disappeared from Google yet. (Some may be excluded by Google SafeSearch.)

My guess is that Bomis Babes depicted nude models comparable to Playboy magazine, so it would be smut by the standards of the American Family Association but not the Clinton administration. But Bomis was eagerly associating itself with porn stars, stuffing them in poorly sized company T-shirts and filing reports from events such as the 2003 Adult Entertainment Expo:

There was lots of cleavage at the show. We just happen to like Stormy's the best.

Brian Lamb asked Wales about Bomis content in a Sept. 24, 2005, C-Span interview:

LAMB: Well, what's the dirty picture thing?

WALES: Well, Bomis is -- it's a search engine so there's all kinds of content on there. And Bomis always had a market similar to say Maxim magazine. So it's kind of a guy-oriented search engine. But, yes, no. The story is much exaggerated by -- through history so.

LAMB: So ...

WALES: Something I struggle with constantly by the ...

LAMB: At some point somebody said you drove a Hyundai but then there was a parenthesis around it, no, he actually has a Ferrari.

WALES: Well, I do actually have a Ferrari. It doesn't work at the moment and my Ferrari cost less than most people's SUVs.

Update: I suggested a compromise to end a ferocious war of the editors currently taking place on Wikipedia about whether Bomis Babes was porn.


After looking through several hundred thumbnail porn images, your right wrist is killing you? I always thought you were a comedian at heart.

That interview with 'Wired' magazine mentioned a comparison between Wikipedia and the Encyclopedia Britannica by 'Nature' found error rates between the two publications were comparable in a number of expert subjects.

When I was a student, the Britannica seemed to be regarded by most people as the irrefutable 'last word' on any subject. When I got older and learned how political academe really is, I wondered just how authoritative some of its articles were.

Maybe it's not his wrist that is aching. Praise Allah and vote for Achmed Chalabi!

Wow. I never realised Luxembourg has its own official language, Luxembourgish, beside French and German. Looks like I'll have to update my Luxembourgian porn collection.

What do you mean "poorly sized company T-shirts"? They were sized just right, imho.

My reaction to this news about Jimmy Wales? A big yawn. He's human, so what else is new? Everybody who posts at this blog, or any other, for that matter, has his or her foibles. Jimmy has his, like everybody else. At least he seems to like 'em 'au naturel'.

You people. You got nothing better to do than dump on this man that created something so cool? If you ask me, this is a hi-jack of a guy's singularity.

I'll give the man props. Wales has a sense of humor, and he's got a measurable amount of libido. Does somebody have a problem with that? He's no angel, but who is?

I've got more entertainment out of this little exploit than anything on my TV, lately.

To paraphrase, "Thrown together in a crisis, Strangers share life stories."

Take me back, way back.*/

Now, that's poetic.

Is it just me, or is there something subliminally suggestive about the word "denuded"?

I like that T-shirt, because it's natural. To me, it says, "This is who I am." I like that.

It's not about if he is human or not. It's not like I would be happy if he was married with children or something. It's about a guy who pays porn stars to take sexy pictures of them (and I guess the action continues in the Ferrari) asking you to donate to Wikipedia. I am not going to donate to any motherfucker to spend money on ferraris and hookers. I can do that myself. Of course now he understands how this story destroys his image and that's why there is only one site online reffering to that.

you can find that there most definitely was pornographic content on Bomis (or at least linked-to from Bomis) by checking the internet archives...

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