From inception, Wikipedia made transparency a core principle. Anyone can edit a page, authors can be asked to defend or clarify their work, and disputes can be readily tracked on "edit history" pages.
"When you build a social network, you're asking people to use your facilities to build a community," Wales says. "If you have a lot of secret mechanisms that regulate your site, people aren't going to feel comfortable. It's about building trust."
Wikipedia is run by a nonprofit foundation that posts its yearly financial statements on the site for anyone to see. When Wales was caught altering his own Wikipedia entry in 2005, he was busted by his own transparency; the site's publicly available search history logged all of his edits.
Letting users see its internal workings has made Wikipedia one of the most trusted brands on the Internet - despite its famous inaccuracies - and is one of the main reasons people spend so much time building and improving the site for free.
"If you work on a [Wikipedia] page for months, and then all of a sudden it's deleted, you want to be able to go to a delete log and find out why," Wales says.