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We have a certain set of values that we aspire to, live and we up

COWEN: How contingent do you think is the history of Wikipedia or something like it? If you and the people you were working with had not come along when you did and done what you did, and the field were left open, would Wikipedia be more maximizing engagement to a for-profit company? It wouldn’t be called Wikipedia, but it would be some kind of online encyclopedia, something maybe more like a Facebook model.

WALES: It’s a very good question. In many ways, it’s contingent. I think it didn’t have to exist at all. The idea of a publicly written encyclopedia using a Wiki model is not necessarily something that was inevitable. Then a separate part of that is, was it inevitable that we would choose a nonprofit, nonadvertising business model? Definitely, that was not inevitable. That was a set of conscious choices that we made.

What’s your formal education and in what field. Is it a well-known institution? For more recent grads, I’ll also look at their GPA and whether they received any excellence awards or honors such as making the Rector’s or Dean’s list. Since Data Science is a wide-open field without any standardized tests or required knowledge, people can enter the field in various methods. In my last blog, I wrote about the 3 main paths taken into the field and based on your education and timing, I’ll figure out which one you probably took. Hence, the timing helps understand your story — how and when did you transition into data science. If you don’t have any formal education in data science, that’s fine, but you need to either demonstrate a track record of work in the field and/or advanced degrees in similar fields.

I’m going to quickly run through your CV to look at your previous positions and see which are marked as ‘Data Scientist’. There are some other adjacent terms (depending on the role I’m hiring for), such as ‘Machine Learning Engineer’, ‘Research Scientist’ or ‘Algorithm Engineer’. I don’t include ‘Data Analyst’ in this bucket as the day-to-day work is typically different from that of a Data Scientist and the Data Analyst title is an extremely broad term.
If you’re doing data science work at your present job and you have some other creative job description, it’ll probably be in your best interest to have your title changed to a Data Scientist. This can be very true for Data Analysts who are de facto Data Scientists. Remember, even if the CV contains descriptions of the projects you’ve worked on (and they include machine learning), a title other than Data Scientist will add unnecessary ambiguity.
Additionally, if you’ve undergone a data science bootcamp or full-time masters in the field, this will probably be considered the beginning of your data science experience (unless you worked in a similar role earlier, which will warrant questions at a later stage).

I used to joke it was either the best decision or the worst decision I ever made, but then I stopped even making the joke because even if I said it was a joke, I would get headlines saying, “Oh, Jimmy Wales regrets that he’s not a billionaire.” That’s not what I said, actually, and it’s only a joke anyway. It’s clearly a great decision, but ultimately, it didn’t have to be this way. It could have been different. In fact, you could imagine several different models.

WALES: Well, this is what I always have trouble with because I always say I’m a pathological optimist. That’s part of why Wikipedia exists as it is, because I just think we can find a way, and it’ll all work out, and it’ll be fine.

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Ideally, I’d like to read what you did (technical aspects) and what the business outcome was. There’s a lack of technically savvy data scientists who can talk in business terms. If you can share the business KPIs that your work impacted, that’s a big thumbs-up in my book. For example, indicating your model’s improvement in AUC is alright, but addressing the conversion rate increase as a result of your model improvement means you ‘get it’ — the business impact is what really matters at the end of the day. Compare the following alternatives depicting the same work with a different emphasis (technical vs business):

Let’s say that I was still in charge of everything, and instead of putting it into the nonprofit structure, I’d kept it in a for-profit structure, but it pursued — like a Craig Newmark of Craigslist — a model where I say, “Look, I’m going to maintain complete control of the stock, and I’m not going to raise venture capital money. I’m going to run it as a very profitable hobby and get some donations. Or maybe I’ll stick a little ad here or there, but I’m not going to try to monetize like crazy.”

We got a year between the time we ask you for money to become a part of your life and make it meaningful enough for you to say, “I want to click, and I want to contribute to this.” That’s just a completely different set of incentives in front of us in terms of, how do we optimize that?

That’s possible, although hard to really imagine, just as Craigslist is hard to really imagine. It’s like, Craig’s made a ton of money, but he could have made 10 tons of money. He’s just the person for whom a ton is plenty. It’s an interesting question, really.

But the things that I would say that we focus on and think a lot about are, really, it’s about community health. How do we make sure that the community is happy, productive, not full of trolls, thoughtful, kind, all of those great Wikipedia values? Which are like all communities, all groups of people.