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Wikipedia Actively Battling PR Sockpuppets 166

Posted by Soulskill
from the citation-needed dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Over the weekend we discussed news that PR firms have been selling their ability to modify Wikipedia entries to help clients clean up their image. Now, the Wikimedia Foundation's executive director has confirmed that Wikipedia editors are actively engaged in a wide-ranging battle against those PR firms. Over the past couple weeks, those editors have isolated several hundred user accounts linked to people 'paid to write articles on Wikipedia promoting organizations or products,' according to Sue Gardner. Those users' accounts violate Wikipedia's guidelines, 'including prohibitions against sockpuppetry and undisclosed conflicts of interest.' Some 250 suspicious user accounts have already been nuked. Correcting biased text is a thankless job for those Wikipedia editors — the literary-world equivalent of killing endless hordes of zombies approaching your protective fence. But that job gets even harder when a PR agency deploys dozens, or even hundreds of writers to systematically adjust clients' Wikipedia pages."
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Wikipedia Actively Battling PR Sockpuppets

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    • by mythosaz (572040) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @06:54PM (#45207273)

      Seriously though, Wikipedia - the online encyclopedia - is an MMO as well.

      Thousands of grinding edits, all of which are likely to be undone by griefing mid-level "players" are necessary to be taken seriously enough to rise though the levels. ...and if you get too infamous, a GM will ban you.

      • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:04PM (#45207833)

        No kidding. So many burnt-up, cynical admins who think that they can just do what they want and abuse people - because they pretty much can. Look at the way Toddst1 treats people as a great example of how crappy Wikipedia culture really is.

        Every time I see a story about Wikipedia, I remember this [livejournal.com] from years ago. And I chuckle, because that corrupt place hasn't changed one bit since. They have a new crop of Essjays now, and the Durova List behavior is alive and well too.

  • by deathcloset (626704) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @06:54PM (#45207277) Journal
    Thank you!
    • by Cryacin (657549) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:16PM (#45207461)
      Give you thanks by donating to the next Jimmy Wales appeal! Who could resist that face?
      • by deathcloset (626704) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:24PM (#45207543) Journal
        Who can resist that stare!?

        So personal. So appealing.

        "Jimmy, here's 20 bucks man. No, just keep it dude. I'll check out your cool homepage later."

        He's like that cool friend who rarely asks for anything, and when he does you totally don't mind hooking him up. His car is totally old and beat-up and has taco bell wrappers in the back seat but everyone loves riding to shows in it. And....

        The analogy goes further but I'll leave it there.

        • some sympathy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by globaljustin (574257) <[justinglobal] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:28PM (#45207985) Homepage Journal

          I kind of feel bad for Jimmy Wales...it seems like he's been in waaay over his head ever since I first read an interview....

          He was the lesser tech of the two who started wikipedia, and he kind of screwed his partner a bit...

          But...what major online company doesn't have a story like that in its history? Not an excuse but puts it in context...

          Wikipedia is awesome. The internet would suck without it.

          Wikipedia has never had ads or attempted to become a pay service in any way...in that way Jimmy Wales is a saint

          I know Jimmy Wales seems like a cheesey step-dad used-car-salesman type but he's capable of learning and improving...

          Credit him for keeping wikipedia open...

          • WP is a credit to Wales and the thousands of intellectually honest contributors, it much broader, more up to date, and just as accurate as a traditional encyclopaedia. Climate change is a prime target for unscrupulous lobbyists, yet they have managed to keep climate related articles reasonably clean from that sort of thing over the past decade.
            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              Because climate change is one of the obvious battle grounds. Articles about smaller companies with few editors are much easier targets. Even things you think might get a lot of attention tend to slip under the radar, e.g. nuclear power.

  • A local newspaper owner runs ads for prostitutes in his magazine. He also has a site (backpage.com) that has been accused by a local DA of being a conduit for child prostitution. An edit was made last week talking about this.

    Page in question.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dan_Pulcrano&action=history [wikipedia.org]

    Talk page with links to articles backing up the edit
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Dan_Pulcrano [wikipedia.org]

    Reliable sources

    Change.org petition http://www.change.org/petitions/ [change.org]

    • by mythosaz (572040)

      Backpage is where most of the Craigslist hookers went, once they stopped asking for donations of "roses."

      • by t0qer (230538)

        I'm linking your post as a reliable source.

        • by mythosaz (572040)

          Please leave your "roses" in an envelope on the night-stand or a credenza near the door...

          Some Craigslist hookers moved to the normal personals section, with the usual "seeking generous older man" lines that are synonymous with "pay me for sex," but the transition to Backpage (where they were already advertising in smaller volume) happened pretty swiftly. ...now if someone would get sock puppets off TER, we'd have some unbiased reporting.

    • by cas2000 (148703) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:18PM (#45207475)

      A local newspaper owner runs ads for prostitutes in his magazine.

      it might be sleazy, but prostituion is a legal service - there's no reason why it shouldn't be advertised (with restrictions on appropriate style and location of advertising, of course).

      presumably, his magazine is for adults and the readers know what it's about?

      He also has a site (backpage.com) that has been accused by a local DA of being a conduit for child prostitution.

      being accused of child prostitution is not the same thing as being guilty of it. if he's arrested, charged, and found guilty in court, then he should be sent to jail. if not, the accusation shouldn't be used as a stick to beat him with.

      • by t0qer (230538)

        it might be sleazy, but prostituion is a legal service

        Not sure where you live, but where I live it's totally illegal.

        Personally, I'd rather we make it legal. I fall under the category of, "Whatever consenting adults want to do behind closed doors" but in its current, illegal state, most of the time we just have people being exploited for someone else gain (usually the pimps gain)

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        ...but prostituion is a legal service - there's no reason why it shouldn't be advertised (with restrictions on appropriate style and location of advertising, of course).

        Escorting is legal, provided it's just companionship. ...pretty much ever escort isn't just an escort, however.

      • by Nemyst (1383049) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:13PM (#45207891) Homepage
        Wait, what? Pornography is very much legal, but prostitution is illegal in all but one state: Nevada [wikipedia.org]. Considering the GP is speaking of a man operating in California, he was acting illegally, assuming he is indeed guilty.

        You're either confusing words or countries here. How the hell was this modded Informative in the first place?
        • by Fjandr (66656) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @09:20PM (#45208277) Homepage Journal

          There's an entire world outside the US.

          • But to what extent is sex for hire legal in Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, which are the other countries that read English Wikipedia?
            • You may perhaps be surprised to find there's a Wikipedia article about Prostitution in Australia [wikipedia.org].
            • by u38cg (607297)
              Legal in the UK, though only by individuals.
    • by pavon (30274) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:19PM (#45207487)

      Dude, they reverted your posts because what you posted was flat-out wrong, not because they are shills. You stated that Dan Pulcrano owns backpage.com, but he doesn't own it, operate it, or have any direct control over what goes on it. His newspaper does business with it, but that is a far cry from what you actually posted.

    • by ArbitraryName (3391191) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:43PM (#45207693)

      He also has a site (backpage.com)

      Your edit was reverted because it was factually incorrect as demonstrated by your own links. Backpage.com is owned by Village Voice Media. Dan Pulcrano has no ownership interest in VVM or Backpage. It looks like Backpage pays for a link from the metroactive.com website but that's about the extent of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:02PM (#45207349)

    Is there anything at all that advertising and marketing firms can't turn to shit? Anything?

    I say name 'em and shame 'em. Where is a list of companies and people that have hired a PR firm to manage Wikipedia articles? Once I know, I'll never deal with them.

    • by cas2000 (148703) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:23PM (#45207519)

      Cease and Desist orders for violating the terms of service would be more effective than just naming and shaming - although that's useful/satisfying too.

      also, accessing computer systems without proper authorisation is a criminal offense, not just a civil liability - so evidence can be handed over to the police for prosecution.

      • by rtb61 (674572)

        Well, when you stop and think about it, turning their own methods against them might prove effective. Think of the RIAA/MPAA, troll lawyers, how about turning some of those nasty folk against the trolls ie you keep what you kill. Let them start tracking down an suing the trolls that plant false information in wikipedia and they can keep say half the damages they gain.

      • by Tom (822)

        Yes, but you assume that the police will give a fuck. And for at least 20 years, nobody has given a fuck when it comes to public or shared property.

        You can steal one dollar from a million people and each of them will be laughed at when they go to the police. But steal one million from one person and you're going to have everything law enforcement has to offer on your tail.

    • by Tom (822)

      Is there anything at all that advertising and marketing firms can't turn to shit? Anything?

      As soon as someone finds an answer to that question and posts it, they will work on finding ways to fuck that up, too.

  • by tuppe666 (904118) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:04PM (#45207369)

    To show there is nothing new under the sun...ironically from the wikipedia entry "On January 24, 2007, Rick Jelliffe made claim on his blog that a Microsoft employee offered to pay him to make corrections in Wikipedia articles concerning Office Open XML" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Microsoft [wikipedia.org]

  • Vandalism (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If they are intentionally editing the site to delete factual information or add fake information. Couldn't the constitute vandalism which they operators of Wikipedia could sue them for? Especially since they are doing it "For Profit" so they can't say they did so erroneously or anything?

    Watch them get hit with a steep judgement against them PER ATTEMPTED EDIT and you will see them put a stop to it fairly quit I would think.

    • by shri (17709)

      Forum owners have dealt with this stuff for a while... Shills have been around for centuries.

      This is not news at all, it is the cost of doing business on the user generated web.

  • by deathcloset (626704) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:10PM (#45207413) Journal
    I wonder what articles have been targeted? (maybe a comment posted concurrently with my composition will list them).

    To speculate - I've noticed that articles on wikipedia fall into the three broad categories, unsurpisingly the same as those of nouns: 1) people, 2) places, 3) things.

    3) "Things" articles are the 'simplest' to disentangle or find the truth of because "things" include works of art, mathematics, science and physical objects. It's easy to tell a lie when an article says that the hit song, "I feel good" is written by Mozart, or when an article claims gravity makes things fall up. These claims are relatively easy to test or refute. The problem with these types of articles is they may require some real expertise (especially philosophical and mathematical articles) to verify - but that is also their virtue

    2) "Places" articles (which include 'historical events') become more difficult because often these places do not exist any more, or the events usually have already happened, usually a really long time ago. These articles suffer the classic problems of history multiplied by the power of the internet.

    1) "People" articles. These articles are rife with arguments over what actions events in a person's life are significant, and what elements of those actions are significant. The words chosen to describe a person can make all the difference - he was a "Great Leader" or he was a "Good Leader" - which one best describes Hitler*?

    So I would venture that this firm has targeted articles in categories 1 and 2, although I guess there maybe product articles in category 3 which could be gainfully modified.

    Ah the truth of things. And the relative truth of places and people ;)

    *you graciously forgive this overused example.

    • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:47PM (#45207729)

      If you read some press stories about the sock puppet companies they are mostly targeting products or corporations, attempting to manage commercial reputation.

      In truth, this is not always unwarranted. When someone writes about the rash of Brakes failures on Toyota vehicles, the company ought to be able to have a clearly labeled Official Response position, rather than having them feel forced to resort to sockpuppetry to get some actual facts, or corporate nattering as the case may be, across.

      Having policies in place that forbid official statements just begs for sockpuppet tactics. There have been cases where authors of books had their remarks removed because they were not considered a credible source [arstechnica.com] for information about their own books.

      Furthermore, it would seem that as long as the sockpuppet was indicated, in a foot note, as a paid source of a product or company, that fact alone should make the posting more official and credible rather than less so. Who is more authoritative on the capabilities of a product than the manufacturer? Some random user perhaps?

      • by Kjella (173770)

        Of course I can see this creating a whole new set of problems as trolls impersonate official responses. Wikipedia would have to manage official accounts and on which pages they have permission to act in that capacity and given the ever changing nature of Wikipedia that might not be so easy. Okay so Sony can make official responses on the Sony page, what when someone makes a page called Sony BMG copy protection rootkit scandal [wikipedia.org], does Sony get to make an official response there? What if they're unfavorably men

        • by icebike (68054)

          Sure, why not give everyone or any product or any company mentioned file a reply?
          Its disk storage, at worst case, and you could apply length limits. Doesn't have to be featured on the main page, it could simply be linked as a foot note.

          Disk is dirt cheap, and history would thank you. Most companies would probably not even bother.

      • by fatphil (181876)
        > authors of books had their remarks removed because they were not considered a credible source

        Where did the word "credible" come from? I don't see it in either the linked article or the thence-linked Roth letter itself. The actual quote from wikipedia maintainers is "we require secondary sources", which I think is perfectly valid.

        An author should not source of information on himself for an encyclopaedic work. It's not that he *can't* be believed (i.e. that he is not credible), it's that he *shouldn't* b
        • by fatphil (181876)
          Doh, what a fuckup.
          "I don't see it" should have read "I don't see its true source being identified". The word is in quotes in that article, but that's a quote of Roth. Roth is claiming that he's being called that by wikipedia, yet there's no quote to support that precise verbiage. The trail to the root of that accusation just runs dry.
      • by Maury Markowitz (452832) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @07:26AM (#45210805) Homepage

        > Having policies in place that forbid official statements just begs for sock puppet tactics

        And if such a thing existed, you might have an argument worth considering.

        But as no such thing exists, and anyone can insert any statement from any source *as long as it is independent* then I don't see what you're caterwauling about.

        Using the example in the previous post, if Toyota wants to refute claims of sudden acceleration in the Wiki, all they have to do is publish an article on the topic in a major source - say the Wall Street Journal or IEEE Spectrum. Such an event will quickly result in the information being included in the article, as well as also informing many people that wouldn't have seen it otherwise.

        A lot of these complaints boil down to "well I don't think you should have to have a 3rd party reference". That's just laziness. If the topic in question isn't interesting enough to warrant such publication, then there's probably nothing worth complaining about in the first place. YMMV, because if it's about *you* then it's hyper-focused. But just because you find something important doesn't mean anyone else will, and that's the *whole point* of the wiki's policy,

      • by gsslay (807818)

        Like many people, you have a misunderstanding of what Wikipedia is. It is an encyclopaedia. It is not a newspaper. It is not a consumer forum. It is not a substitute for a company's own website. That means it does not publish original material. It does not provide a platform for anyone to either raise, or respond to, criticism. It only publishes a summation of what other reliable sources have already published.

        If a company wishes to release an "Official Response" then their own website is the plac

  • by Animats (122034) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:13PM (#45207433) Homepage

    Some of the paid PR I've seen recently has been on biographies of living persons, especially rich ones. Lots of happy talk about their charitable work and affiliations gets put in. Stuff about their career failures, lawsuits, and criminal history gets taken out. This is tougher to fight, because Wikipedia has a "biography of living persons" policy which discourages negative comments for anything short of a felony conviction. (Even after a felony conviction, sometimes.)

    On the product and business side, though, pushing back against paid editing usually works.

    • by ebno-10db (1459097) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:20PM (#45207491)

      Wikipedia has a "biography of living persons" policy

      Sometimes the solution is right in front of you.

  • People are more concerned with whether or not they are to be caught and less with whether or not it's the right thing to do. These bits and pieces of character should be coming from parents and school and society at large. I got lots of that sense growing up. I teach those lessons to my sons. I think for most people, however, those lessons never made it in and they are people of lesser character because of it. It makes me sad. None of those people even care that they are of weak and/or poor character.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      It was pointed out to me a while ago that we seem to not have any absolute morals any more and everthing is relevent or subject to interpretation now. This leads to what you are saying about charector. For instance, is theft bad. To those that had something taken, it usually is. But to those who took something, it might not be because they will never miss it, or i needed it, or they have more than i do, or whatever as long as you can justify it to yourself.

      • by erroneus (253617)

        Well in this case, it's about actively seeking to deceive people about reality. Wikipedia is supposed to be factual and up to date. Opinions and spin have no place there.

        As for theft? I'm going to say "you caught me" on that. Upon reflection, I will admit I have "perspectivized" my own actions on occasion. And in retrospect, I was doing myself no favor by doing so. I should have decided differently back then and wish I had. I suffered no ill consequence, but the benefit of doing the right thing was n

  • by rgbe (310525) <simonwerner.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:16PM (#45207463)

    We all know how StackOverflow works. You can always ask or answer a question, but other privileges are based on your reputation. Reputation is only gained by creating good questions and answers. It takes work to get a good reputation on StackOverflow.

    I actually don't know what Wikimedia has in place, but it could implement a similar reputation based approach as StackOverflow. Of course the algorithm and mechanism would be different since Wikipedia is not a Q&A site.

    To make things even harder, they could implement a reputation killer. For example: if user A improved the score of user B, then user B gets nuked because they are one of these PR firms, then user A should suffer a major reputation dive.

    While I'm at it... Instead of Wikipedia begging for money once a year, they could implement a wikipedia.com site which has some light advertising. By default all users go to wikipedia.org, but for those who want can manually redirect to wikipedia.com. I would be glad to support such a system.

    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:31PM (#45207603)

      I don't think StackOverflow's solution applies very well to Wikipedia. Hell Wikipedia's solution doesn't apply well to Wikipedia, where you have people knowledgeable in fields being overruled by editors utterly unfamiliar with the subject. The problem with implementing any new system is converting anyone already in the system appropriately and how to prevent new users from being discouraged.

      Instead of Wikipedia begging for money once a year, they could implement a wikipedia.com site which has some light advertising. By default all users go to wikipedia.org, but for those who want can manually redirect to wikipedia.com. I would be glad to support such a system.

      No advertiser will move to advertise on a site that users won't see unless they explicitly go to it. I'd rather Wikipedia stick with the begging, much like NPR it lets them maintain a degree of independence from corporations who do shit like this.

    • by vux984 (928602) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @08:48PM (#45208093)

      We all know how StackOverflow works. You can always ask or answer a question, but other privileges are based on your reputation.

      I'd hardly call that a model, it rapidly becomes as annoying as expert sex change.

      Half the questions are stuffed with meta bickering about the "rules", who should get reputation, who shouldn't, disputes over whether the question is too much like some other question, a bunch of asshats duplicating and expanding on the same answer while trying to out-answer it to game the system for reputation.

      I think my least favorite though is "not constructive". Yes, yes, it doesn't' have a definitive answer, but the ensuing discussion is generally pretty enlightening, and should be encouraged. And most of the real "hard" programming stuff falls into that category. (How to name things well for example (be it classes, database tables, interfaces, etc...)

      No, actually that's wrong, my least favorite thing about stackoverflow is shitty hacks being up-voted. The C stuff about strcpy strncpy, or snprintf vs _snprintf vs sprintf_s etc is full of just really piss poor advice as a for instance. There's good info mixed in, but the bad never goes away and some of its rated really high.

      If wikipedia followed stackoverflows model, every article would be 50 pages long of competing articles, voted up and down by

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mutantSushi (950662)
      The outcome of that would be PR firms would just have their sockpuppets build up a history of 'good editing' so that their PR-shill edits will not be challenged. Alot of that can be done by automated means, e.g. scanning articles for generic grammar issues, minimal human input to verify it makes sense, and you can have a large number of 'good editing' events build up.
      • Assuming the edits aren't auto-reverted by the owner of the page.

        (Yeah, yeah, I know the theory - there are no page owners on Wikipedia. I also know the reality.)

    • Call it sour grapes, if you want.

      I have no idea why I was banned. I have not even been there in about six months. Just got a message that I posted too many "low quality questions." WTF?

      I have no way to find out exactly what was wrong with the questions I posted. Nobody complained about the questions when they were posted. The questions were entirely honest. I was always polite, and respectful.

      I think people should be banned when they post constant spam, or obscenities, or racist remarks, or something like

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:20PM (#45207493)
    Pharmaceutical shills pushing dangerous "standard" medicines is a huge problem. I ran into an outside Vioxx lawyer with COI and a lot of "company loyalty". Pretty tough sledding to set it straight. Worse are the Quackwatch trolls. These contribute a lot to the bankrupting of America, and some unpleasant deaths.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      Yes, lets keep a drug that helps people off the shelf becasue it has the same rate of mycardial infarction as every NAISD.

      Since the withdrawal of Vioxx it has come to light that there may be negative cardiovascular effects with not only other COX-2 inhibitiors, but even the majority of other NSAIDs. It is only with the recent development of drugs like Vioxx that drug companies have carried out the kind of well executed trials that could establish such effects and these sort of trials have never been carried

      • There are still differences in benefits and risks. Vioxx had more risks. Celebrex appears less deadly, and for some advanced cancers, very beneficial for the specific molecule. 1/4 aspirin has interesting benefits for less risk, too. It is not the existence or presence on the shelf that I object so much, but the lies and hype for an high priced fantasy with extra, unadmitted dangers that I object.
  • by jodido (1052890) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:23PM (#45207527)
    Anyone who takes Wikipedia's word for anything without another source deserves whatever they get, and this is not due to the growth of sockpuppets. It's always been true. A teacher I know tells her students that to cite Wikipedia "is like telling me you saw it written on a bathroom wall at the bus depot."
    • by Teancum (67324)

      That is a little bit harsh, but if you get into a proper discussion of people who cite Wikipedia articles as factual information need to be also discussing reliable sources of information in general and what it means to find any source of information as reliable and authoritative. If you are going to be complaining about Wikipedia, you should be saying the same thing about any encyclopedia reference, as they are all tertiary sources (not even secondary reporting like is commonly done by traditional news ou

      • That is a little bit harsh

        Actually it's Wikipedia's own policy. Wikipedia is not and should never be considered a source (it's a destination.)

  • Who would have thought someone would use a freely editable site to spread misinformation?

  • by Arker (91948) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:25PM (#45207545) Homepage

    Vandals are a plague, but *paid vandals* are much more difficult to deal with.

    Paid vandals who make admin status are even worse again, of course, but I suppose that is a different subject.

    • by Teancum (67324)

      Much of the controversy right now is with regards to a press release and a website that claims a certain professional Wikipedia editing service indeed has a group of Wikipedia admins on its payroll that will help in terms of "protecting" those articles from edit wars and libelous statements added to those article. If those admins are doing more than simply enforcing Wikipedia policy (aka keeping trolls away from throwing in random unsourced and blatantly false information into articles), I would agree that

      • "website that claims a certain professional Wikipedia editing service indeed has a group of Wikipedia admins on its payroll"

        And the key word, for everyone else reading this, is "claimed".

        This whole debate is about a PR firm fluffing the image of it's customers. It is highly probably they did the same to themselves.

        As the example of the one and only customer who talked about the issue shows, it appears they have nothing remotely like what they say they do, and are unable to get even the most minor articles p

  • by gnasher719 (869701) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @07:28PM (#45207571)
    Why not make it official? Let's say politician X doesn't like the article written about him. Let him add a section _under his own name_ where he says what the truth is according to himself. Obviously the reader would know that this part wouldn't be unbiased.

    On the other hand, there was the case of a German politician where Wikipedia got the name wrong - and wouldn't accept his statement what the correct name is. So it would be really good if that person could add a paragraph saying "these Wikidiots got my name wrong, and here's the correct name..."
    • He could simply add that information to the biography on his personal or government web page and it could be added to Wiki from there. Adding information like that shouldn't violate any rules [wikipedia.org].
    • by geekoid (135745)

      " Obviously the reader would know that this part wouldn't be unbiased. "

      hahaha, no.
      That leads to manipulation and 'all sides carry the same weight' type thinking that is destroying actual discussions.,

    • by Tom (822)

      Wikipedia has this strange policy that it only accepts secondary sources, not primary sources.

      So if WP gets your name wrong, you can show up in person with your passport in hand and they won't change a thing. But if you write a post on your blog about how WP got your name wrong - you can use that as a source and get the page changed.

      I understand what the rule is for, but there are edge cases where it's insane.

      So, the "correct" (according to WP) procedure for your politician is to add his statement to his ow

  • ... on the part of the wikadors [urbandictionary.com] to maintain vigilance for this sort of abuse.

  • Unlike Slashdot, Wikipedia does not permit PR people to post openly under their own names. The result is what anyone would have predicted, sock puppets. Wikipedia needs to follow Slashdot's example and permit us to post under out own names.
  • Great. Just great. Zombie apocalypse is a good metaphor. If everything I hear about the Wikipedia editors is even half true, they're more dangerous than the PR people to most articles. They'd be the guys guarding the zombie free compound and when you walk up waving saying "Thank God I made it to safety." they shoot you, possibly for no reason and just announce another zombie killed. There are reasons that the Wikipedia editors get no thanks and a lot of it has to do with them deleting everybodies additions

    • by Teancum (67324) <robert_horning@n e t z ero.net> on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @03:13AM (#45209811) Homepage Journal

      I take it that you've never maintained any sort of wiki for more than a few minutes. I dare you to start your own wiki on any topic of your own choosing and try as you might to keep the cruft off of it. Use your own definition of cruft as well, but penis enlargment pill links thrown into the middle of a discussion of Princess Leia might easily fall into most typical definitions I can imagine. Going to a place like wikia.com is one way to start your own wiki, although other wiki hosting services are plentiful.

      After awhile, you will find that random nonsense and pure junk is the rule rather than the exception, and for high profile wikis like Wikipedia really get some absurd junk. For those poor souls who make a hobby of diving into the sewer of recent changes and the new page patrol, it is just freaking amazing that they don't simply say "screw it" and reject everything.

      There are reasons why the Wikipedia social structure is the way that it is. Admittedly it could certainly be improved and there are some real asshats and jerks that make putting edits onto Wikipedia sort of a pain in the behind. None the less, it is possible for anybody to edit Wikipedia and to get the edits to stick as generally permanent content. It just takes more than a few seconds to get that to happen.

  • by msobkow (48369) on Tuesday October 22, 2013 @09:35PM (#45208355) Homepage Journal

    If someone cracks into a system, they get charged with illegal use of computer resources. if someone violates the EULA for a website, they can be similarly charged.

    I see no reason why these PR firms couldn't therefore be charged with similar violations in court.

  • This would be easy to combat. Setup an approval system in place before updates go live for a current events, products or companies.
  • Wikipedia: The Encyclopedia that anybody (whom we approve) can edit.

    They refuse to privilege, in any way, expertise, so why should they engage in demotion of non-expertise?

  • How about we publish a Wiki page which names and shames said PR companies and their clients! That way we know exactly what products and services to avoid.
  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Wednesday October 23, 2013 @12:52AM (#45209311)
    There are episode by episode breakdowns of crappy TV shows but then you will get some interesting scientist who's entry is deleted for some reason such as relevance.

    Then you get admins who "own" an article. So the new census will come out and someone will update the population of a city to reflect the new census and even cite the new census; but 5 minutes later the old numbers are back and the citation gone.

    Then you get excellent articles filled with excellent information but some OCD twerp is threatening to delete it due to formatting issues.

    Lastly you get the show off types. This is at its worst in mathematics. There is almost zero educational value in many of the mathematics related articles. The mathematics are perfect but instead of making things clear they use the most esoteric terminology/symbology. So 2+2=4 will become something like:
    Using a Yungra transform you can compute that the Dirac set of {1, 1} when concatenated with the set Ramublablajan set {1,1} (each of which represents the empty set {0}) will have a resultant set of the Miller-Shiefler Series {1, 1, {0}, 1}.

    An example of a complicated thing being made simple would be the article on RSA. The example math they use could be done using a pen and paper. Most Wiki Admins and editors would seem to despise this sort of simplicity and instead would probably rewrite the entire (excellent) article as a single formula that concisely sums up RSA. I personally prefer the sing-along version that is there now.
  • It only takes a few years after something wonderful is invented for somebody else to come along and make their livelihood by fucking up the wonderful new thing.

    I would like to think these sockpuppet firms would get their asses sued into the ground somehow but I can't see that happening. In fact I think increasingly you cannot trust any opinion in any comments these days because there is so much of this shit going on everywhere.

    The first mistake we made was in allowing commercial enterprises on the 'net :P

  • A not-unrelated problem is the creation of individual entries for living "non-famous" people. Every time I turn around I find another puff bio on someone that looks like a rip-mix-burn from their LinkedIn page. Some of these are for people I know personally, and it leaves me shaking my head. I suppose I could edit the prose to bring supposed accomplishments down to size, etc., and that might be the right thing to do, but who wants to start a war?

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