Dave Snowden relates an experience with Wikipedia where the inner circle decides that the actions of a user are not appropriate and he is subsequently banned.
I don’t know all of the details here, but my interest is in the underlying model of Wikipedia. There is a major difference between open source and a free Web service. Most open source projects can be forked, or moved in another direction by a sub-group of the community. An example is the Mozilla Browser fork that became the wildly successful Firefox project. They were able to take the source code and then get rid of all the redundant stuff in Mozilla and create a light and effective web browser.
It appears that Wikipedia can be forked [please correct me if my interpretation is wrong]. It would take a large amount of effort, but if enough people were outraged by the actions of the inner circle, a new project could be started.
The beauty of the open source model, of which there are several variants, is that it is more difficult for a project to be controlled by special interests. This is definitely something to consider as we use more and more web applications for education. For instance, should we use the free Ning platform, open source Drupal or proprietary SharePoint for our educational community of practice?