Seth calls me to task for failing to condemn Jordan’s actions. So just to be clear, I think Jordan deserves condemnation for lying about his credentials. But given that Wikipedia has never claimed to vouch for the credibility of its contributors, I don’t see why Jordan’s actions (or Jimmy Wales’s refusal to condemn them) reflect poorly on Wikipedia, as opposed to just reflecting poorly on Jordan personally.
I think it’s important to keep in mind a fundamental difference between Wikipedia and more traditional reference works. What we really care about is the accuracy of the content. That is: if I open a random page, is the information there more likely to be accurate than the comparable information in other reference works?
With a traditional encyclopedia like Britannica, the credibility of the people who edited the encyclopedia is an important factor in judging the likelihood that the content is accurate, because we’re relying on the judgment and expertise of those. But for Wikipedia, the credibility of any one person—including Jimmy Wales—is almost completely irrelevant, because Wikipedia’s editing process does not rely on any individual’s judgment or expertise.
So even if some of the people who run Wikipedia are liars, that isn’t relevant in judging its reliability as a reference work, because Wikipedia doesn’t ask us to take anything its says on trust.
Update: Luis points out this comment, which changes my perspective a little bit. It appears that Jordan has not only been misrepresenting himself and his credentials, but has been using his supposed expertise to bolster his position in debates over content on the site. I think it does raise more serious questions about the robustness of Wikipedia’s peer production model if people are allowed to continue in positions of authority even after they’re demonstrated to have misused that authority–especially when they pointedly refuse to give a sincere apology.
On the other hand, as Luis notes, there appears to be considerable push-back from other Wikipedians. It will be interesting to see if other users force Wales’ hand in demoting Jordan. If that doesn’t happen, then I think you can make a plausible case that this reflects a serious problem with the site’s governance structure, if one guy has the power to keep people in positions of authority over the objections of the rest of the community.