October 21, 2021

“Wikipedia Blocks 381 User Accounts For Dishonest Editing”

From the IDG News Service:

Editors of the English version of Wikipedia have blocked 381 user accounts for editing articles on the online encyclopedia despite being secretly paid to do so by various interests.

The editors also deleted 210 articles created by the accounts. Most of these were generally promotional in nature and were related to businesses, people in business or artists. The articles had biased information, unattributed material and potential copyright violations, the Wikimedia Foundation that runs Wikipedia said in a blog post Monday.

Read the Complete Article

From the Wikimedia Foundation Blog:

With this action, volunteer editors have taken a strong stand against undisclosed paid advocacy. In addition to blocking the 381 “sockpuppet” accounts—a term that refers to multiple accounts used in misleading or deceptive ways—the editors deleted 210 articles created by these accounts. Most of these articles, which were related to businesses, business people, or artists, were generally promotional in nature, and often included biased or skewed information, unattributed material, and potential copyright violations. The edits made by the sockpuppets are similar enough that the community believes they were perpetrated by one coordinated group.

Community opposition to undisclosed paid advocacy editing on English Wikipedia has a long history, reaching back to at least 2004 when the first conflict of interest guidelines were introduced. Since then, the English Wikipedia community has been vocal about its opposition to this practice. In October 2013, Wikipedia volunteers blocked hundreds of accounts related to the consulting firm Wiki-PR. The Wikimedia Foundation responded with a formal statement, which described undisclosed paid advocacy as “violating the core principles that have made Wikipedia so valuable for so many people,” and sent a cease and desist letter. The Foundation later amended its Terms of Use to clarify and strengthen its ban on the practice.

Not all paid editing is a violation of Wikipedia policies. Many museum and university employees from around the world edit by disclosing their official affiliations, and several prominent public relations firms have signed an agreement to abide by Wikipedia’s paid editing guidelines. Editing Wikipedia is completely free, and only requires compliance with the project’s editorial guidelines. If someone does have a conflict of interest or is uncomfortable editing the site directly, there are several other options to bring the subject to a volunteer’s attention.

Read the Complete Blog Post

Additional Background in this Post (via Wikimedia Editors Noticeboard)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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